Since starting this blog I’ve discovered that Actually people know very little about Qatar, and certainly isn’t on a lot of people’s bucket lists so I thought I would share something I love about Doha – that’s all the great restaurant you can chose from in this town. From High End to Cheap Eats, Doha is full of unusual and interesting restaurants. So here are my favourite restaurants in Doha from A to Z! Continue reading Doha’s Best Restaurants from A-Z
Qatar, not on everybody’s bucket list but it is gaining momentum on the tourist front especially through layover/stopover offers with Qatar Airways. I have lived in Qatar for over three years and have discovered that people’s perceptions of the country are limited and many people even expats don’t really head off the beaten track. So here are my hidden and not so hidden gems of Qatar!
Most people when they think of the Middle East think of swanky 5* and luxury hotels where expats can sun themselves all year long. One of my favourite hotel beaches at the Intercon – you can read about our recent staycation here
Today we went for Saturday brunch at Nozumi. It was a more low key affair than Friday brunch and had a dedicated a la carte dim sum menu!
On arrival the staff were friendly and I was impressed with the modern interior overlooking the Persian Gulf! The waiter was happy to explain the menu set up and suggested we let him order for us which we were only too happy to do. When the food arrived he was able to knowledgable explain what we were eating.
The menu is laid out in vegetable, fish and meat dumplings but each serving brought out offered a little of everything.
I have been a big fan of Westin Doha since I first went to Hunters Grill and am always eager to try their offerings. I am not a huge desserts fan, as regular readers will know, so when I read about the afternoon tea buffet I was very excited. An opportunity to have afternoon tea where I could have more sandwiches and scones and less cake. My ideal afternoon tea; that’s why what we had was even more disappointing.
My parents were in town and afternoon tea has always been on my mum’s bucket list so we decided that this was the perfect opportunity. With so many great 5* hotels in Doha we had plenty of places to choose from. We settled on the Four Seasons as it was one of the few that could cater for diabetics!
We were shown to our table quickly, given a sofa in front of the large window, with plenty of room to manoeuvre the pram.
We opted for a mixture of Earl Grey and English Breakfast tea but there were plenty of more exotic teas on offer for the more adventurous. Our boring Britishness with tea did shine through!
The afternoon tea was plentiful with a combination of sandwiches including some of a more local flavour including Cucumber and Mint Labneh and Lamb pittas as well as more traditional sandwiches. This was accompanied by a tier of cakes, and my personal favourite – a tier of scones! The scones were accompanied by cream and jam but perhaps the best thing was the jam for the diabetic. This came out warm as the chef had freshly prepared it and it was truly delicious. Often when you go to places with a diabetic, their plates can look a little miserly by comparison. This was not the case with the Four Seasons who were committed to providing an outstanding experience for all.
Overall this was a great experience for everyone and something I would not hesitate in returning to do again.
Last night we had a rare baby-free evening so decided to check out Hunters Room and Grill at the Westin Doha. Steak, rare steak is one of my all time favourite foods so having nine months of being forced to eat my steak well done, I was desperate for a ‘properly’ cooked steak.
We started at the bar for some pre dinner cocktails. The theme of many of their signature cocktails seems to be the element of grilled fruit. I ordered the Grilled Citrus Margarita while Wandermust Daddy ordered the Grilled Peach Whisky Sour which he said was one of the best whisky sours he has ever had. The atmosphere was great, especially with the live saxophonist.
The setting of the Hunters Room, is split into two from the non smoking and smoking area. The smoking area is set in a bright indoor garden and the non-smoking in a more traditional dark NY steakhouse fashion. Both lovely, depending on the kind of atmosphere you are after. As a rare romantic night out and being non-smokers we chose to sit in the more traditional area.
We started with sourdough bread with three flavoured butters including strawberry and sumac. Both of which were delicious. We then opted for the tomahawk steak which comes with three sides (our choice was asparagus, button mushrooms and confit potatoes). All of which were outstanding. The worry with a steakhouse is always whether they will be able to cook the steak correctly. Hunters did not disappoint with a perfectly cooked rare steak throughout! The portions were large so we regretted having starters – the crab cakes and Mediterranean Lobster – (only because it meant we had to share a pudding – creme brûlée). Each course was outstanding, and we can’t wait to return to try more.
On top of the outstanding food, the service has to be mentioned. The restaurant manager is affable and visible at all times running a tight ship and the waiters have obviously been trained to fine dining standards. A particular shout out goes to our waitress Anna who was attentive and very knowledgable about the menu.
We can’t wait to return to try more restaurants at the Westin if this is a standard and have a feeling this may become our go-to steakhouse in Doha!
Have you been to Hunters Room and Grill – what did you think?
We have lived in Qatar for almost three years and think we’ve got to know it pretty well so in honor of Qatars national day we have compiled our a-z list of things to do in Qatar!
A is for al Khor & Purple Island
One of my favourite places to go outside of the city. Purple island is located in al Khor and is called purple island because of the small snails found there which are said to create the color of the Qatar national flag when crushed. You can read our post about why Purple Island is the perfect desert experience for kids here! In the winter you can see flamingoes but it is a great spot for bird watchers all year round.
It’s also worth remembering that Al Khor has a great public park for children.
B is for Barzan Towers
I love history. Qatar has some great forts located in the north but Barzan is even closer – right near IKEA in fact. Definitely worth a visit.
C is for the Corniche
Anyone who visits Doha has to visit the Corniche! You can walk around the whole corniche from the Museum of Islamic Arts to West Bay with great views of each. Al mourjan is a good place to stop to have lunch right on the water front. I love walking by night where you can get great views of the city.
D is for Dhows
Dhows are a great way to see the skyline and catch some rays. Qatar international adventures offers trips from the dhow port opposite the souq. You can do a day or night trip and have a BBQ on the boat. We even enjoyed jumping in the salty sea to cool down.
E is for East meets West
The famous Richard Serra sculpture in the desert at Zekreet. It’s size in such a barren landscape is such an awe striking scene. Nb you will require a 4×4 to visit
Nearby you can enjoy a beach day at zekreet and see the amazing mushroom rocks.
F is for Fuwarit
Fuwarit is a beach to the north of Qatar. One of the few powdery beaches in Qatar it also is a breeding site for turtles.
A beautiful structure in the center of Doha. It’s worth a drive past at night to see it in its full splendor.
H is for al Hazm mall
Although not open quite yet, the mall is a great architectural nod to the malls of Milan and Naples.
I is for the inland sea
A remarkable geological feat. The inland sea is a great place to go dune bashing. We went with Arabian Adventures and had an amazing day. The driving was safe but exhilarating. I would recommend doing only with a recommended company as driving the dunes is tricky and not something to undertake on your own.
J is for al Jassasiya rock carvings
Comprising of 874 petroglyphs, you can see carvings showing boats, stars and rosettes amongst others. A great site for the archaeology lover!
K is for Katara
The cultural village of Doha. It has lots of great restaurants, (one is on my list of dohas best restaurants from a-z), is a great space for art with and exhibition space run by Qatar museums, and performance space. There is also a stamp museum specializing in stamps from the region and is a lovely place to go for a walk. In the winter, katara hosts a series of festivals the most well known is the show festival which takes place in November.
L is for lusail
A must see for sports enthusiasts. At the moment it is a city under dvelopment but it is worthwhile to try and get an event at the lusail arena.
One of Most iconic buildings in Doha, designed by I.M. Pei. It has a great collection comprising of jewelry, astrolabes and carpets amongst others and home to great temporary exhibitions such as the recent Treasures of China exhibition containing five terra-cotta army.
The park is also a beautiful place to go for a walk and has the cafe with the best views in Doha.
The park also has the al Riwaq exhibition space which houses exhibitions such as the Damien Hurst retrospective. Check the QM website for current exhibition details.
N is for the National museum
Although not open yet it is worth driving by the museum. An architectural gem in the making. Designed to resemble a desert rose, a geological feature of a Qatar, it will reopen to show the history of the country.
O is for Oryx
Qatar’s national animal. Unfortunately I’ve only seen as statues at the st Regis or on the tail of a Qatar Airways plane but there are apparently some in the wild. I would love to see one.
P is for the Pearl
Doha’s answer to the Palm. Great shopping and even better restaurants (see my a-z of Doha’s best restaurants for more information). We love strolling around the marina and looking at all the boats.
Q is for the qanat quarter
A largely residential area of the Pearl made to look like Venice. It even has its own Rialto bridge. A great place to walk around especially now more shops and restaurants are opening. I personally can’t wait to try the Breakfast Club.
R is for al ruwais
A town in northern Qatar. Known for its port, it has a lovely park and is a great jumping off point to see the forts of northern Qatar. You can read about our experience of al ruwais and forts here.
S is for Souq Waqif
Meaning standing market Souq Waqif is Doha’s main souq. It is a great place to experience local culture. Don’t miss the gold Souq and handicraft market.
Why not check out our Souq waqif series to find out more about visiting with a baby and our favourite restaurants in the Souq!
T is for the Torch
A striking building in the aspire zone. You can have dinner and view the city from above. Then why not take a stroll around the aspire zone park!
U is for under the stars kayaking
Ran by the company Entalek, kayaking under the stars is definitely on my Doha bucket list.
V is for villagio
A mall modelled on Venice with gondolas running through the center. Can be visited at the same time as the torch.
W is for al wakra
The old pearling center of Qatar. Today, it is known for having the second souq of Qatar, located on the waterfront.
Z is zubarah
Qatar’s only UNESCO world heritage site. A fort and museum that is worth the drive out of Doha to visiti! You can read all about how to get there and out experience here.
How many have you done? And what else do you think should be on the list?
I have never really been one to stay in my own country for holidays. Something that I actually regret now we live in a country that is only 11,000km. But when I hit the point of no return mark – aka the airlines will not let you fly anymore, Wandermust Daddy and I decided that we would do a Doha staycation to enjoy one of our last baby-free weekends!
Before being pregnant, I would never have considered staying in the place I live for a stay cation but it was amazing how relaxing it was. No airport queues, no travel tiredness, no worries about hospital or travel discomfort – third trimester stay cations in your hometown i think are a definite winner!
For our staycation we decided to spend the weekend at the Intercontinental Doha Hotel using a buy one get one free Entertainer Qatar Voucher . The first nice surprise when we arrived was that they upgraded us to a suite which was bigger (significantly) than our flat in London.
The Intercon boasts a lovely pool, plenty of shaded seating and a beautiful beach. Being so close to popping, we made use of the pool and covered beds to provide me with some respite from the Middle East sun.
You are not short of food and beverage options at the Intercon. Our favourite place to have lunch being the Greek restaurant Mykonos which overlooks the pool and has a tasteful Santorini inspired décor and a reasonably priced menu. I would thoroughly recommend the calamari and the mousakka! The vast mocktail menu also meant that I had something more interesting than fizzy pop or water to drink.
Despite, being under refurbishment – the spa provided a lovely prenatal massage which provided welcome relief from the aches and pains of pregnancy. I look forward to returning when the new spa is opened.
The benefits of a staycation towards the end of pregnancy mean that you can get away right before the baby is due, without worrying about being away from your hospital of choice and means you can get away really close to your due date.
The Intercon Doha is definitely a family favourite and I can’t wait to return to test the children’s facilities in the Autumn.
As expats in Qatar many of us can be guilty of not getting out of the city but there is more to Qatar than Doha!
Our day started by driving 1 hour and ten minutes out of the city as we headed towards al Ruwais! Al ruwais is the port town of Doha. With 4000 inhabitants it is more a sleepy fishing town than what you would imagine a commercial port to be like.
We loved seeing the old dhows and fishermen at work. We particularly enjoyed watching this from the beautiful Abu Dhalouf Park ( open for families only with restrictions to women on Tuesdays and Wednesday).
After a brief stop at the park we headed towards Zubarah. By driving from al Ruwais to Zubarah you drive along the coast and visit sone of the less well known and less preserved forts such as al thugab and rakiyat to name just two. Important – you will probably want a 4×4 to visit these.
The final fort you come to is zubarah – the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Qatar.
The fort is small but contains a small but interesting exhibition which tells you about the fort’s history and trade links.
The day we went, there was a vintage car rally on displaying 80s Nissan cars. Everyone was very friendly and Wandermust Daddy was in his element. It was really nice to see so many people at the fort and we got some great pics of old versus the new especially with the camels.
I think every expat should really make the effort to go out and see more of the country than currently call home as there is lots more to Qatar than Doha. Keep watching this space for more Qatar day trips!
I don’t know about you but whenever I’m booking a hotel, especially a luxury one I seek the opinions of others. Travel bloggers have often tried a range of hotels from quirky and one offs to high end chains. The Middle East, in my opinion, has some great hotels to suit every type of traveller. Here I, and some of my favourite bloggers, have picked their favourite Middle Eastern hotels that they have stayed in during 2016! I hope this inspires your travels in 2017!
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
ABU DHABI,UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Magnificent desert oasis Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter is just a couple of hours drive from the capital offering the luxury traveller the epitome of elegance set against a stunning panorama of sand dunes.
This imposing and architecturally impressive retreat blends old-world desert charm honouring Emirati heritage and culture with modern-day hospitality. Beautiful interiors combine traditional furniture, textiles, ceramics and artefacts in a series of low-rise buildings that are accessed via large wooden doors with walkways lined with water features and Arabic lanterns.
The service is impeccable, stylish restaurants offer a variety of cuisines, there is a fantastic spa and a multitude of activities from camel rides, dune bashing and falconry. The perfect sanctuary for a long weekend to relax and enjoy a peaceful little snippet of desert life.
You can read Jo’s full post here: anexpatabroad.com/2015/05/31/eid-getaways/ and follow on the below social media:
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
What Catherine has to say:
I was staying with a friend for most of the time I was in Dubai, but I was desperate to really experience a hotel as Dubair are so famous for their luxury hotels. I booked myself into the Four Seasons Resort Jumeirah Beach for a night, and from start to finish the service was just incredible. The hotel itself was beautiful and despite my short stay, it was one of the best hotel experiences I’ve ever had. I think it’s well suited to couples and older families, and it was totally worth the money.
You can read Catherine’s full review here and why not check out her social media channels:
What Polly has to say:
My husband and I visited Anantara on The Palm Jumeirah when our daughter was just two months old. It was our first experience of travel with a baby and we were looking for some peace and tranquility as well as somewhere that was friendly and accommodating to a young couple with a newborn. Luckily, the hotel gave us all of this and more. The South East Asian inspired villas which are spread out over the extensive grounds feature private balconies and steps down to lagoon-like swimming pools where Sophia had her first swim. The friendly staff, beautiful setting and unique features make this hotel ideal for young families and honeymooning couples alike. It has an exclusive feel, and is pricey but in my opinion, totally worth it.
What Chris and Vicky have to say:
We chose the Taj Dubai mainly because it’s location. It is located in Business Bay within walking distance (if it’s not to hot) to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. Our favourite thing about the hotel was the choice of restaurants and the quality of the food, especially Friday Brunch. If you have a bit of cash to splash then we would recommend this hotel as even by Dubai standards it is quite pricey, but in our opinion well worth it. With swimming pool, spa and gym it has great amenities. Ideal for business travellers, couples and families.
You can read there full review here
And follow them on social media at:
HOTEL AND LOCATION: JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai, United Arab Emirates by Shaun at www.eatdrinkstaydubai.com
What Shaun has to say:
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai – the tallest hotel in the world – wins our top vote with its combination of opulent luxury, fantastic leisure facilities and award-winning restaurants and bars like Weslodge, Rang Mahal and Tong Thai.
Best of all though, it can be amazing value. We’ve managed to get rooms in this five-star hotel for as low as 335 AED/night using the Entertainer Free Night Offer.
Ideal for business and leisure travellers, who need never leave the hotel due to excellent range of leisure venues and facilities, and close to the dazzling new Dubai Canal.
You can read the full review here and follow him on the below social media:
RAS AL KHAIMAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
What Keri has to say:
Proving that luxury and family really can go hand and hand we were blown away by Doubletree Marjan Island. Large family-sized villa rooms overlooking the lush gardens with several pools to choose from. For kids there is a giant playground, and all day (and evening!) kids club – but most loved by our little family was the giant pirate ship with 4 amazing slides! With multiple restaurants to choose from this resort makes a perfect weekend getaway.
You can read Keri’s full review here or if you would like to find out more about Keri and the BabyGlobetrotters travels you can follow them at:
What Wandermust Mummy has to say:
The Intercon is a family favourite of the Wandermust Family. With a great pool and lovely beach with views of the city centre skyline to die for. Coupled with the fact, it has amazing service and brilliant restaurants – we particularly love the Greek restaurant Mykonos – The Intercon is the place to go for the ultimate relaxing break.
We went for our final baby moon here and its perfect for couples but would also be great for families. We would love to go back this time with our little one in tow!
You can read the full review here and the Wandermust Family can be followed on the below social media channels:
HOTEL AND LOCATION: Shangri-La Doha
By Catherine Lux of www.luxlife-blog.com
What Catherine has to say:
I am huge lover of Shangri-La hotels after staying in their Singapore hotel regularly as a child, and stay with them whenever I can so it was a no-brainer for my visit to Doha. One of the reasons I love Shangri-La’s so much is that each one feels ‘on-brand’ and familiar, and I always feel safe and at home in them (especially when I’m travelling alone). The staff are always fantasti, and honestly can’t do enough for you. The Doha hotel was stunning: the pool was an oasis in the middle of a very futuristic and high rise city, the spa was super relaxing, and even the standard rooms are huge!
Catherine’s full review is over on her website for you to check out and can be found here
You can follow Catherine on the below social media sites:
HOTEL AND LOCATION: The Grand Hyatt, Doha by Wandermust Mummy from www.wandermustfamily.com
We booked into the Grand Hyatt using the entertainer app buy one get one free voucher and were not disappointed. We were upgraded to the Presidential Suite which was spacious as well as beautiful filled with local decorative touches. The bathroom was particularly impressive with a huge bath and a technology fueled shower. The club lounge offers free breakfast and an evening happy hour, a perfect retrace for couples, We enjoyed spending time round the heated pool, perfect for a winter break with kids.
What A Girl and Her Passport has to say:
While I live in Qatar, sometimes I need to get away from my normal life, so I opted to do a staycation at the W Doha. Part of the reason I chose the W Doha is that offered a staycation rate that included early check-in and late check-out. It meant I could spend more time at the hotel. I also chose the W Doha because it is one of my favorite places to eat in Doha, so I knew I would be happy with the food choices. My favorite thing about this visit is that I was able to relax and unwind in a peaceful room with a comfortable bed. The service is always something I am impressed with when eating there and this extended into the hotel. This hotel is great because you can relax in your room, but enjoy the restaurants and nightlife the W Doha offers. It was a wonderful getaway in my hometown.
HOTEL AND LOCATION: The Chedi, Muscat by Wandermust Mummy from www.wandermustfamily.com
What Wandermust Mummy has to say:
We are not beach bums! Hotels are usually where we rest our weary heads after a long day sightseeing. So the fact we never left the chedi tells you how good it is! Three pools, including the longest in the Middle East, a beach, beautiful architecture and several amazing restaurants mean the Chedi is a must for any couples wanting a romantic weekend in the Middle East!
You can read the full review here and the Wandermust Family can be followed on the below social media channels:
HOTEL AND LOCATION: Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort (specifically the Al Husn) Muscat, Oman by Jersey Girl at adventuresofajerseygirlblog.wordpress.com
What Jersey Girl has to say:
We were recommended the resort (made up of 3 hotels) and specifically the Al Husn as the must stay in Muscat.The pool area is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. The horizon infinity pool is stunning and tranquil atmosphere is uber relaxing.
Not a cheap get away (GBP 250+ per night) but worth every penny. They include complimentary afternoon tea, evening drinks reception and full mini bar use daily. With pool, gym, private beach areas, free wifi, use of the full resort, 10 restaurants and 3 bars.
The Al Husn is adults and perfect for that luxury couples get away. However the other 2 hotels on the resort are family friendly. The service, food and luxury finishes are second to none at this hotel and why we come return time and again.
You can read the full review here and follow Jersey Girl on the below Social Media Channels:
Zighy Bay, Oman
What Eric has to say:
We stopped at the Six Senses Zighy Bay on our around-the-world trip for one reason: the paragliding entrance. But we loved everything about the hotel, including the excellent food, our private plunge pool, the warm ocean water, the bicycles we rode all around the resort, the library, the tubing and the kids club activities. It’s a lot less expensive in the (hot) summer, but even at the resort’s high-season prices, there’s a lot of value provided. The service was outstanding. Highly recommended for adventurous, non-budget-minded travellers who want to be pampered in a unique location.
You can read Eric’s full review here
And follow him on social media here:
What Kath says:
I chose Toledo Hotel because it is located in Abdali, a largely residential area of cream-coloured townhouses and apartments intermixed with government and commercial buildings. There are no heavy traffic and loud noises unlike Downtown Amman. The nearest bakeries and shops are within 15 minutes’ walking distance while the major tourist attractions are a few minutes’ drive away, costing only 2-3 dinar by taxi.
The hassle-free bookings of city tour or day tours outside of Amman. The front desk will make the necessary arrangements, after which, guests can further discuss with the hired drivers for other requests. For example, I hired the same driver for the additional two days to drive me to Madaba and later, an excursion tour to Mount Nebo, Bethany and the Dead Sea – all at a reasonable price.
The rates for a single and double room range from USD68 – USD80 a night including breakfast at their Moorish-designed Andalusia Cafe.
In the room, there is air-conditioning, TV, desk, tea & coffee facilities, bar fridge, closet and a private safe box. I found no faults with the room and the attached bathroom as it was very clean, tastefully decorated, comfortable bed and everything functioned as it should be. The hotel has a gym and an indoor swimming pool. And of course, free Wi-Fi! Perfect for solo, business and family travellers.
You can read the full review here and follow Kath on her Social Media Channels:
Have you stayed at any of the above? We’d love to hear your thoughts or tell us about your favourite Middle Eastern hotel of 2016!
Great Middle Eastern Hotels will be annual feature so if you would like to be featured or for the Wandermust Family to review your hotel please contact us at wandermustfamily at wandermustfamily.com