Hotel Shangri-La Doha review, Qatar: Luxury hotel in an attractive stopover destination for Aussies

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE LOCATION

In the heart of West Bay, Doha's high-rise CBD, it's a short walk from the Corniche. Though smaller and friendlier than nearby Dubai, Doha's accommodation is more affordable, making it an attraction stopover destination between Australia and Europe.

THE SPACE

Opened in 2015, the 50-storey, genuinely five-star version of the luxurious Hong Kong-based chain is one of the tallest in Qatar. The helipad on the roof (not yet approved for actual landings) can be hired out for sunrise breakfasts or sunset dinners with 360-degree views of the city. The elegant green glass and steel tower exudes spaciousness. For example, the entire seventh floor is reserved for leisure: well-equipped gym, signature Chi Spa and an enormous open air lagoon pool, with plenty of palm tree shade. Likewise the 42nd floor is dedicated to the Horizon Club, the largest executive lounge in the country - where guests in the more expensive rooms enjoy a panoramic breakfast or complimentary sundowners from 6-8pm (rare for a Muslim country).

THE ROOM

All 272 rooms are generous (the smallest being 45 square metres). My corner "premiere" room is even larger – 70 square metres, with floor to ceiling windows, king bed, three-seater sofa, two armchairs, coffee table and large TV. Think cream, sage and wood veneer contemporary decor. There's also a separate work area with desk, reclining chair, USB and Apple ports. The en suite alone is the size of some hotel rooms I've stayed in, with bath, separate walk-in shower and frosted glass protected loo.

THE FOOD

Great range. As well as Sridan (international buffet, complete with Arabic delicacies), The Lobby (traditional British afternoon tea) and the poolside service, the hotel boasts three standout restaurants which appeal to Doha's ex-pat community. Fuego (Argentinian: meat and red wine) won the best Latin American category at the local food awards in 2017. Santorini (Greek, as its name suggests) is strong on seafood/Mediterranean.

However if you dine in-house just once, make it the spectacular two -storey Shanghai Club and Bar, (just below the helipad – there's a special lift).The over-the-top decor (like walking onto a James Bond set) and unforgettable view of Doha's LED-lit skyline (each skyscraper competes for more colours, more intricate patterns) make it worth visiting the bar for a nightcap alone.

But those classic har gow crystal prawn dumplings? The Boston lobster? The mafo tofu? And the "hot stone sizzling broccoli, peppers and edame fried rice"? Delicious. Did I mention the Den, the British-style piano bar with live jazz every Saturday?

STEPPING OUT

Doha's first mall (undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation when I visited in April 2018) is directly connected via a passageway from the hotel, which means there's no need to venture outside airconditioned comfort if what you want to do is shop. All Doha's main tourist attractions are within a 45-minute stroll (though it's likely to be very hot, so take a taxi).

The "ancient marketplace" Souq Waqif (with camel, falcon and songbird sections) is largely rebuilt with modern plumbing and hygienic cafes and restaurant.  And the fabulous Museum of Islamic Art contains treasures from around the Muslim world.

THE VERDICT

If this is your first visit to Qatar, it's a good choice. Excellent value, in the centre of Doha's CBD with a plethora of restaurant and visitor experiences either inside the hotel or within easy reach (but check the internet specials before you book).

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ESSENTIALS

Shangri-La Doha, Conference Centre Street، P.O.Box 9282، Doha, Qatar. See shangri-la.com.

HIGHLIGHT

The 90-minute hydrotherapy, steam bath and Ku Nye massage at the in-house Chi Spa.

LOWLIGHT

Doha is hard to walk around in the heat. Transport will get infinitely better when the metro arrives in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Steve Meacham was a guest of Shangri-La Doha and Qatar Airways.