MADE UP OF NINE HIDEAWAY HOTELS IN THE HEART OF DOHA’S SOUQ WAQIF, THE APTLY NAMED COLLECTION OF SOUQ WAQIF BOUTIQUE HOTELS BY TIVOLI IS LIKE FINDING THE CITY’S BEST KEPT SECRET – AND ONE THAT YOU WANT TO KEEP TO YOURSELF BUT ALSO QUIETLY BRAG ABOUT. FACT’S CRAIG FERRIMAN SPENT A FEW NIGHTS AT AL JASRA HOTEL ONLY TO BE MET WITH A LABYRINTH OF LUXURY AND WARM HOSPITALITY.
Whether flying in as a tourist or having lived in Doha for years, you’re guaranteed to be surprised when you stay in one of the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli. Ensconced within the bustling mercantile metropolis that is Souq Waqif, lies nine bespoke boutique hotels that transport you into an oasis far away from mundane life. They offer the highest quality of service that is particularly personalised to each guest. This is what I found when I checked in for a weekend staycation at the majestic Al Jasra Hotel. None of the properties are big, and that’s the beauty of it. Mine certainly wasn’t but what it did have is an intimate and cosy feel with immaculate design. My spacious room had impressive wall paintings, high ceilings, a humoungous bed and a bath that was possibly bigger than the bed (no exaggeration). The bathroom was massive with his and hers wash basins and compartmentalised shower and lavatory.
I was spoiled staying in a Presidential Suite and my every want and need was tended to. A weekend was not long enough – a week may just have sufficed. When I dropped my bags in my suite with a balcony that looked out over the souq, I paid a visit to the best Moroccan restaurant you can visit in the country, Argan, to taste their signature lamb tagine with caramelised prunes and almonds while sitting in a colourful majlis. I then had a relaxing afternoon in their Moroccan Hammam and was scrubbed to within an inch of my life. My whole body felt refreshed and my skin was exfoliated. Black soap was used first then a eucalyptus oil before I was scrubbed down head to heel with a kessa. I was completely rejuvenated as a person could possibly be within just an hour. The gym there was a fabulous way of enjoying some individual downtime in a well equipped, spacious facility that I had all to myself. There was no fighting for dumb bells or a spare rowing machine here! There are so many eating options within the boutique hotels that you need not leave your weekend sanctuary.
Al Shurfa Arabic Lounge in Al Jomrok Hotel has great Lebanese food but is outdone by the glorious views it offers looking out across the sea and the West Bay skyline with glimpses of the Emiri Diwan on the left and the Museum of Islamic Art on the right. The roof terrace there is a perfect place to share some shisha with friends and feel the oncoming winter breeze. Another great spot is Al Matbakh Lounge which was recently transformed as a culinary concept and is now serving hot, wholesome and tasty Indian dishes. I tried their tandoori chicken which came out sizzling and smoking on a grill and enjoyed a brilliant butter chicken. Al Terrace is another great outlet and is part of Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel, and as the name suggests, it’s a restaurant with a beautiful terrace! Bask on it and enjoy some hummus and tabouleh or a succulent shish taouk at the back of the bustle of the souq, slightly hidden away.
Another spot that made the weekend special was La Pattiserie which is part of Al Bidda and located in a lane that leads towards the sea where I enjoyed some macaroons, cafe au lait as well as a great brie baguette and some onion soup. It was delightfully French and tasted lush! I have never spent this concentrated quantity of time in the Souq before but I was amazed by its secret hot spots, vast scale and the eco system of how this subculture operates. It is totally pedestrianised though easy to get lost as you meander through its colourful lanes and walkways passing pet shops, stalls selling spices and of course the infamous gold and silver souqs.
One of the greatest standouts during our weekend stay at Al Jasra Hotel was the people. From the doorman to the front desk, the housekeeping team and other members of staff, you can expect to find exceptionally friendly and helpful people at Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli. A young man in the lobby of my hotel was so keen to extend the hand of Qatari hospitality that he would not let me go out one morning without offering me some local karak tea and dates. The gesture was as memorable as the tea.Service was almost faultless. If I had to give it any criticism, it would be to say that staff were too helpful by half – but not intrusive, you still get plenty of privacy and alone time to enjoy the surroundings.
The staff want you to relax and have a great time leaving all your worries aside. The hotels also offer guided tours of the souq so if you’re not sure where to start, where to shop and what to do, they’ll even point you in the right direction and give you some tips on how to barter for the best bargain. As far as staycations go, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels really do have that extra special edge over other 5-star hotels in Doha; location is on point, views are breathtaking, service is impeccable and, most of all, you’ll get a cultural experience with ALL the comforts of both home and a hotel – what more could we really ask for?
CALL 4433 6666 OR VISIT WWW.SOUQWAQIFRESORT.COM FOR RESERVATIONS AND MORE INFORMATION.