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Qatar: Sharq Village and Spa, Doha

Matthew Teller
21 May 2015

The Arabian atmosphere and vibrant Qatari aesthetic at this well-presented bolthole on the Gulf make for a perfect sun-soaked escape. Matthew Teller is impressed

THE LOWDOWN:
The Qatari capital Doha is on the rise. Long an also-ran to its better-known neighbours Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it now holds its own as a key Arabian hub for business and international deal-making of all kinds. And enjoying a plum seaside location at one end of the thriving city’s sweeping waterfront Corniche is the Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village and Spa.

Designed to evoke memories of the old fishing neighbourhood it replaced, the hotel’s vast lobby is broken up with tent-like spaces, beneath overhanging drapes. Sunken majlis-style seating — a majlis is a traditional reception room and meeting space — fills corners all around the public interior, and also on the open-air roof terrace.

And that terrace — wow. A place to relax with drinks and a waterpipe, it gazes out over the hotel’s broad private courtyard pool area, dotted with palm trees and surrounded by lounge seating. Floodlit at night, this is the hotel’s most evocative visual feature, blue water shimmering in front, with the deeper blue waters of the Gulf shimmering on the horizon beyond.

The 174 rooms and suites, which are scattered throughout fourteen traditionally styled villas around the pool’s perimeter, sport an attractively heavy Arabian aesthetic of dark wood, arabesque patterning and swathes of fabric. A maritime theme prevails, with prints of traditional dhows on the walls beside sea chests and doors thickly studded with nails.


The rooms, of course, are spacious and luxuriously kitted out, with hand-woven carpets, four-poster beds and Asprey’s of London branded toiletries in the bathrooms.

Service is smoothly and charmingly efficient, though all of the hotel’s character comes from its architecture and visual setting; staff do their best to stay well out of the way unless summoned.

THE GOOD:
The hotel’s fabulous styling, with a fistful of bars, restaurants and lounges.

A landmark spa.

Aside from the private beach, there are lush pools, fountains, gardens and courtyards in which to seek a shady spot.

THE NOT SO GOOD:
Staff are so unobtrusive that sometimes communication is lacking.

THE VERDICT:
A seductively luxurious haven in a busy, growing city.

BOOK IT:
Double rooms from £172, including breakfast. Sharq Village And Spa, Ras Abu Abboud (+974 4425 6666; ritzcarlton.com/sharqvillage)