WHAT’S IT LIKE? This W property from Starwood Hotels and Resorts was the brand’s first foray into the Middle East, and remains the only one in the region, until the W Amman opens in July 2013. The W Doha launched in March 2009, joining a flurry of new high-rise buildings shooting up in the West Bay area of the Qatari capital.
It prides itself on being a luxury product aimed primarily at the business travel market, but with a significant emphasis on design, meaning it has a slightly more youthful and modish bent to it in terms of the way it looks inside. Many of the public spaces and rooms are very dimly lit and feature curved furnishings and unconventional layouts, lots of purple and black, and the occasional example of style over substance (for instance, the complicated touchscreen phone in my room had no button for the front desk, or any mention anywhere of what number I should dial to contact it).
Not everyone will respond positively to W’s somewhat wacky sense of self (see the room names) but it does provide a stylish base camp for the corporate, with good service, upmarket drinking and dining options, an outdoor pool and some decent meeting space. Free wifi is available in the lobby (or “living room”), as is the option to smoke, and plain-clothes staff always seem to be on hand to wish you a good day.
Although many of the bedrooms have views across the Gulf, a new tower is being built next door that will obstruct the panorama, although when I stayed (in summer 2010), construction work had been put on hold. There are also 154 residences measuring from 73 sqm to 136 sqm, and featuring fully fitted kitchens, exclusive private entrances and spa-inspired bathrooms.
WHERE IS IT? In the West Bay district of downtown Doha, about 25 minutes’ drive from the airport and within a stone’s throw from the Arabian Gulf.
ROOM FACILITIES Bedrooms range from 42 sqm to 320 sqm, and standard fittings include a bed with 400-thread count sheets and goose-down duvets and pillows, a workdesk with universal adaptors and sockets, an LCD TV (minimum 32-inch) with DVD and CD player, an iPod dock (although sound quality was quite poor), a separate bath and walk-in rainshower, robes and slippers, room service, air conditioning, and an iron and ironing board.
A mini bar and “Munchie box” was stocked with Oreos (QR30/£7), Pringles (QR15/£2.65), rice crackers (QR35/£6.20) and the like. Alcohol is also available but is expensive – for example, a miniature bottle of whisky is QR55 (£10), while wine is QR75 (£13). Guests should note that during Ramadan, minibars are emptied of booze, and bars will not offer any alcoholic drinks. Wifi and wired internet access is available for QR85 (£15) per 24 hours.
I was staying in a standard “Spectacular” room, which had views through floor-to-ceiling windows of buildings under construction in front. It took me a while to find the TV remote, which was in a leather-bound book cover on a shelf near the bed, and the DVD player, which was in a panel beneath the TV. It was handy to have a full-length mirror and an armchair, and I was glad to find plenty of free mineral water, a Nespresso machine and a sleek spacious bathroom with Bliss bathing products in mini bottles (larger bottles in suites).
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are seven food and beverage outlets including the ground-floor Market by Jean-Georges, which offers a lavish, high-quality international hot and cold buffet for breakfast (6am-11am), lunch (12pm-4pm) and dinner (6am-11.30pm). I ate here a couple of mornings, and was impressed by the attentive service – staff were on-hand to offer fresh orange juice and coffee and seat guests as they arrive – and the variety of foodstuffs. But you can be guaranteed excellent hummus at any time of day
Wahm bar (open 12pm until late) serves snacks and alcoholic drinks either inside in the exotic shisha-lounge or outside in cabanas by the pool. (In summer there is even outdoor air conditioning here.) Sports fans can catch a game on the flatscreen TVs. I also ate in Spice Market, which dishes up tasty Asian cuisine for lunch and dinner. The dimly lit Living Room (open from 6am until late) offers light meals, power smoothies and DJs in the evening.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILTIES There are three meeting rooms with natural for up to 40 delegates theatre-style, and a ballroom (no daylight) accommodating up to 650 people standing. Internet access in the 24-hour business centre on the mezzanine floor is free, and there are three PCs available for guests to use. For those lacking concentration in long meetings or brainstorming sessions, bubble wrap is provided for popping.
LEISURE FACILTIES There are two outdoor pools including a long one for laps, a modest-sized 24-hour fitness centre with Technogym equipment including treadmills, bikes, ellipticals, cross-trainers and weight machines, a hair salon, and Bliss spa (open 9am-12am) with nine treatment suites.
VERDICT A centrally located, luxury business hotel with a trendy flavour. Expect excellent service, stylish well-equipped rooms with minibars, and a good variety of dining options.
- HOW MANY ROOMS?There are 291 rooms across floors three to 15, including 240 Spectacular/Marvellous rooms (42 sqm), 20 Fabulous rooms on floors three to seven (60 sqm), 16 W suites on floors eight to 15 (107 sqm), 14 Wow suites on levels eight to 14 (123 sqm), and one Extreme Wow suite (320 sqm) on the 15th floor. There are also 154 residences on floor 16 to 28, including 52 Witty, 51 Warm and 51 Wonderful apartments.
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The Nespresso machine, sumptuous bed, and walk-in rainshower.
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in January started from QAR1,344 (£235) for a Spectacular room.
- CONTACT W Doha hotel and residences, West Bay, Doha; tel +97 444 535 000; starwoodhotels.com