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I was landing in Doha at 10:05PM, and departing to Abu Dhabi the next day at 8:15PM. So I had a ~22 hour layover, though also had the intent of getting to the airport way early, given that the whole reason for the Doha “excursion” was to visit the new Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge.
In the past I’ve had some overnights near Hamad International Airport. The more convenient option is The Airport Hotel, which is located in the “secure” area. For a quick layover you can’t beat walking straight from your room to the gate without even having to clear security.
For a hotel close to the airport I’ve stayed at the Crowne Plaza The Business Park, which is just a short drive from the airport.
In this instance, though, I decided to stay at the St. Regis Doha, which I’ve wanted to review. I’m a big fan of the St. Regis brand, and figured this was a great opportunity to review this location. The St. Regis is near the Diplomatic District, which isn’t the most convenient if you’re simply transiting Hamad Airport, as it’s about a 30 minute drive away.
The rate for my stay was quite good, at 1050QAR (~275USD) for the one night stay. Best of all I booked through Starwood Luxury Privileges, which comes with the following perks at this hotel:
- Upgrade on arrival if available
- Early check-in if available
- Daily full breakfast
- One 100 USD food and beverage credit per room, per stay
- Late check-out if available
So basically I’d get a $100 food & beverage credit, plus free breakfast. As a Platinum I could otherwise select free breakfast as my welcome amenity in lieu of 500 Starpoints, so basically I was earning an extra 500 Starpoints by booking this rate. Given that it was the same as the hotel’s published flexible rate, I thought it was quite a deal.
For what it’s worth, the St. Regis Doha is a Category 6 SPG property, meaning a free night redemption would cost 20,000 Starpoints. Given that I value those points at two cents each, paying cash for the stay represented a much better value.
I took a taxi to the St. Regis, which took about 30 minutes. On the plus side the drive to the St. Regis is along the waterfront, so the views are quite nice, especially at night.
As we pulled up to the St. Regis I was immediately impressed. The hotel is massive, though does look a bit sterile. I hadn’t realized until we pulled up that it’s actually right next to the dated InterContinental Doha, which was the first hotel I ever stayed at in Doha.
Upon arrival a bellman immediately greeted me and directed me towards reception, which was located inside the lobby and to the right.
The ceilings in the lobby were extremely high, made even more evident by the vertical display behind the reception desk, which put things into scale.
At check-in I was helped by an extremely friendly associate, who advised me I had been upgraded to a John Jacob Astor Suite. Woot! She further confirmed all the perks I’d receive for booking through Luxury Privileges.
I quickly walked around the lobby before heading up to my room. I was impressed by the sheer scale of the lobby, as it was massive, especially in terms of the height of the ceilings.
At the same time there was something about the design which felt extremely sterile and uninviting. Usually I consider St. Regis lobbies to be among the most “comfortable” places to plop down in a chair and just watch people, but this lobby was so huge and symmetrical and lacked character.
There were two exceptions. One was the very cool antique car which was “parked” on top of a water display.
The other was the stunning floral display at both the forward and rear entrance. Those two things really made the otherwise sterile lobby a bit more inviting.
Also off the lobby is Sarab Lounge, which feels intimate thanks to the partitions between the couches.
After a quick tour of the lobby it was off to the second floor, where my suite was located. My suite was at the far end of the gorgeous hallway.
You always know you’re in for a nice suite when it has double doors at the entrance.
The suite was stunning, with a large entryway which led into the living room.
In the entryway was the minibar along with a Nespresso machine and kettle.
Across from that was a half bath, with a sink, toilet, and bidet.
The suite was huge, and even the living area was separated into two spaces thanks to an “arch”
In the front of the living room was a desk with a comfy chair, and across from it were two chairs next to the door to the connecting room.
Past that was the living room, which had two couches and two chairs, set up in a way which was rather conducive to conversation (when you’re traveling by yourself, that’s less of an issue, of course). 😉
The couch faced the TV.
I was blown away by the welcome amenity. This was my first stay as a 100 night SPG Platinum Ambassador member, and one of the cool perks of that is that you get a single point of contact at SPG who helps you with your stays. I had explained to my Ambassador how much I loved planes, so he sure made me smile when I had the below welcome amenity waiting for me.
Separated from the living room by a door was the large bedroom, which featured a king size bed facing a TV.
Closer to the bathroom was a chair with an ottoman.
Past the bedroom was a vanity.
And then past that was the bathroom, which had double sinks, a soaking tub, a toilet and bidet, a walk-in shower, etc.
As usual, the room featured Remede amenities.
Overall I thought the room was gorgeous, though I’ll note two things:
- The wifi wasn’t especially fast; not problematically so, but just not as good as I’d expect for a new, luxury city hotel
- The construction was a bit shoddy; I find this to be the case in the Middle East in general, but you could tell some corners were cut in some areas, like the doors didn’t close exactly evenly, etc.
Five minutes after I got to my room the butler showed up to welcome me and give me a tour of the room. As I’ve written about before, I’ve never really understood what purpose butlers serve in the context of a St. Regis. I know they serve complimentary coffee & tea and you can get two shirts pressed per night, but aside from that I don’t really get it.
This butler was friendly and was following exact protocols I suspect, but I do wish they’d tone down the butler service a bit at times. For example, it was almost midnight by the time I got to my room, and I was tired. Perhaps it’s just me, but when I get to my room at that hour I just want to sleep, rather than get a rundown of all the things they can do over the course of my quick overnight stay.
Like I said, I think the guy was doing exactly what he was supposed to, but I’d love to see the general butler protocol be modified somewhat. For example, maybe if checking in after a certain hour, the front office associate who checks you in could ask if you’d like the butler to swing by to introduce themselves. On second thought I should have probably put the “do not disturb” sign on faster, but I’m usually still taking pictures of the room by the time the butler arrives, and don’t even think about it. No big deal, just some general thoughts from me.
Despite arriving late I woke up super early, and was treated to a gorgeous sunrise.
It was so beautiful that I had to run outside to the pool and snap a picture from there. I especially loved the cloud reflections on the pool.
Shortly after sunrise I headed to breakfast, which is served in Vine Restaurant from 6AM until 11AM. I was the first guest in the huge restaurant, and chose a seat by the window which still had a view of the rising sun.
The restaurant also had an outdoor patio, though it was still quite hot, so I chose to dine inside.
The breakfast buffet was insane, as I’ve come to expect from hotels in the Middle East. The true sign of a good breakfast buffet is that it has pizza, and this hotel passed that test. 😉
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
While I had a $100 food & beverage credit, there’s no point in binge eating just for the purpose of spending a credit. I knew I was going to the Al Safwa Lounge where I’d get a great meal and Krug, so I didn’t utilize the whole credit.
However, since I had breakfast super early, I ordered some coffee and granola at around 11AM as lunch.
After that I decided to explore the property a bit. The hotel had a pretty cool extended patio area, with lots of comfortable outdoor seating. I imagine it’s a nice place in the evening when it cools off.
The patio area also has a view of the massive oryx statue which is in the garden.
The hotel had a beautiful pool with lots of seating around it.
There’s also a great view of the building from the pool.
Past the pool was an artificial beach.
The hotel also had a good size gym with modern equipment, as you’d expect from a new St. Regis.
At around 4PM I checked out of the St. Regis and headed to the Hamad International Airport to check out the new Al Safwa First Class Lounge.
St. Regis Doha bottom line
While hotels in the Middle East tend to have some quirks, overall I was extremely impressed by the St. Regis. It’s a gorgeous property with a beautiful setting. My suite was gorgeous, and the overall setting was great as well.
The challenge with staying here on a layover is that the property isn’t especially convenient in relation to the airport. But for a stay in Doha I’d definitely consider returning to the St. Regis.
Do you have a favorite hotel in Doha?