Top Restaurants that are Open During Ramadan in Doha

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Political upheaval aside, is it just me or have things been a little quiet around here lately? Not that I'm complaining, I genuinely do enjoy the Ramadan period in Doha and the chance it gives me to slow the pace down and sort my life out a bit. Now that we've hit the halfway point in the holy month, however, then chances are if you are not fasting then you'll be on the hunt for restaurants that are still open so that you can enjoy something good to eat.


While most restaurants in Qatar only open after sunset this month, there are several that remain open during the day, although their hours may have changed a little.

I have already covered my top picks for Iftar and Sohour, but here are my top restaurants that are remaining open for other meals during the month of Ramadan.

Quick Bites, Marriott Marquis



This light and bright cafe is always popular, but during Ramadan it is positively rammed - and for good reason. From their excellent breakfast menu (which includes dishes from around the world, such as traditional egg dishes and Shakshouka, tasty Huevos Rancheros with refried beans and Sweetcorn Fritters), to their excellent flatbreads and 'make your own' salads, Quick Bites offers a little bit of anything that takes your fancy at any time of day.

Open: Daily, 6am - 7pm

Don't miss: The delicious Ricotta Hotcakes with glazed figs, honeycomb and Chantilly Cream. You can catch them before the restaurant closes for breakfast orders at 11.30 during the week, and 3pm at weekends.

Elements, The Four Seasons



One of my favourite (and certainly one of the best value) business lunches remains open throughout Ramadan and I'm not ashamed to admit that my family have visited twice in two weeks. After our last visit, Mr Sunshine said, "I would literally go to Elements every day if I could justify it" (I told him he was EleMENTAL but truth be told, if we didn't have a child, we might actually be able to!). The Som Tam is fresh and authentic, the Chicken Shui Jiao full of flavour and the Pecan Chocolate Cake is surprisingly light and moreish. At QAR 95 for three courses, you're laughing.

Open: Daily, 12pm - 3pm

Don't miss: The juicy Rosemary Roasted Chicken, which reminds me of home

W Cafe, W Hotel



For breakfast, a light afternoon snack, or just a really good coffee, then the W Cafe is always a good idea. Tucked away discreetly at the back of the W Hotel, its lively and bright interiors are a welcome retreat from the summer heat. Our family tend to use the cafe as a meeting point, so many different meals and snacks have been enjoyed here at various times of day, but it's criminal to leave without ordering one of their signature cakes...or three.

Don't forget that Doha staples Market and La Spiga are also open next door if you fancy a meal which packs a little more punch.

Open: Daily, 9am - 12 midnight

Don't miss: The W Cafe Afternoon Tea which includes some of the best scones this side of the Persian Gulf

Cafe Murano, Marsa Malaz Kempinski



I was really surprised when my friend who works at the Marsa Malaz messaged me to let me know that Cafe Murano was open throughout Ramadan and has excellent pasta and burgers on the menu. I had previously only associated this beautiful cafe, with its stunning artwork and lavish soft furnishings, with coffee and cake (excellent coffee and cake, nonetheless). Naturally, I had to head over there to sample these new discoveries for myself. If you are a sucker for a larger than life, juicy beef or chicken burger then Cafe Murano might just become one of your favourite places in Doha this Ramadan.

Open: Daily, 6:30am - 6:30pm

Don't miss: The 200g Black Angus Big Beef Burger with Swiss Cheese and BBQ Sauce

Nobu 



There are many reasons why Nobu is my favourite restaurant in Doha. From the architecture to the interiors, the rooftop views to the thoughtful attention to detail in the menu, this is not just a special occasion restaurant, but a once in a lifetime one.

The sushi and sashimi selection is not only one of the broadest in the city, but it is, in my opinion, by far the best. The innovative dishes that have been curated by Chef Nobuyaku Matsuhia, and are overseen by Doha's Chef de Cuisine, Andrew Bozoki, include Lobster and Artichoke Salad with Dry Miso which is a delicious balance of flavours and textures; the King Crab Three Ways which creatively takes one main ingredient and makes it sing in a trio of different ways; and the Mochi Icecream in blueberry and matcha, which are the most moreish little parcels, and the perfect way to round off your meal.

While most of Doha's best fine dining restaurants close their doors this month, Nobu remains resolutely open, and for that, the foodies of Doha are incredibly grateful.

Open: Daily, 6:30pm - 11:30pm

Don't miss: Where to start?! Try not to miss anything on this menu if you can help it. But it would be criminal if you walked away without ordering the Nagasaki Tuna or Sea Bass Sashimi, the Rock Shrimp or the famous Black Cod.

Which great restaurants are open during Ramadan that I've missed?

Ramadan in Doha: My Pick of the Iftars 2017

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Having lived in Qatar for three years now, and remained in the country for the duration of each Ramadan, I have joined my friends and family on numerous occasions, and in numerous different settings, for Iftar. I've come to love this time of year, when, whether fasting or not, we can all partake in Islamic culture and tradition by coming together to eat and socialise after the sun has set.

Dozens of Iftars later, and I'm starting to get a flavour for what makes a Ramadan tent memorable. From great entertainment and atmosphere, to family-friendly touches, and of course, an array of excellent food, each of the tents on this list are equally as worthy of a shout-out, albeit for different reasons.

While some indelible favourites from last year's list remain, there are also a few newcomers for 2017...

Best traditional atmosphere

Intercontinental Doha The City



If you are looking for a traditional, Middle Eastern vibe then this is the Ramadan tent to head to this year. Much like last year, the Al Jawhara Ramadan Oasis is a delicious blend of sumptuous fabrics, rich colours and ornate decorations, with live Tounora shows and traditional music playing from 9pm onwards for Sohour. The various stations dotted around the tent offer a variety of traditional dishes from around the region, and there is an Arabic dessert buffet on offer like no other.

Favourite dish: The melt-in-the-mouth lamb kabsa with mint and jasmine sauce
Iftar: QAR 195
Sohour: QAR 195

Best live cooking stations

The Westin 



The beautiful set-up of this tent is inspired by an Arabian Food Bazaar, and features several live cooking stations constructed to look like market stalls, offering everything from Shakshuka to Pad Thai, and traditional Ouzi to Turkish street food. If you're looking for something a little different to your standard buffet, then you will really enjoy this Iftar. It also features the largest date and chocolate display in Doha, and a very friendly-looking camel!

Favourite dish: The delicious tacos from the Mexican stall. Olé!
Iftar: QAR 195
Sohour: QAR 220


Best variety

Marsa Malaz Kempinski



Once again, the palatial Iftar at the Marsa Malaz surpasses all others when it comes to the choice and quantity of food. The hotel has over TWO HUNDRED dishes on offer from fifteen different cuisines from around the world, including live sushi, wok, shawarma and pasta stations; plentiful salads and carvery meats; clay pot Arabic dishes and curries; Mezzes from Al Sufra; and a vast selection of sweets, including some of Cafe Murano's delectable specialities. If variety is the spice of life, then the Marsa Malaz is bringing the heat this Ramadan.

Favourite dish: The fresh sushi, made on the spot by the dedicated sushi chef.
Iftar: QAR 240
Sohour: QAR 290

Best for a private affair

Marriott Marquis City Center



The Marriott Marquis' Wanassa tent offers diners something different this Ramadan. Instead of mood lighting in a shadowy pavilion, you can expect a bright and upbeat ambience, with exquisite decor and attention to detail. This is the place to come if you want to dine in privacy, as the tent has no less than 18 private majilises, complete with a beautifully set formal dinner table, sofas, soft furnishings and TV sets reeling off relaxing scenes. Don't forget to say hello to the Turkish icecream seller while you are there - he's a bit of a comedian!

Favourite dish: The succulent rib of beef
Iftar: QAR 210
Sohour: Á la carte


Best overall experience for the entire family

The Four Seasons Hotel



I have nothing but glowing praise for the Four Seasons' Ramadan Tent, which is set in their Al Mirqab Ballroom. The traditional Arabic cuisine is beautifully done, the international cuisine varied and plentiful, the live cooking stations fun and interesting, and everything I tasted was delicious. Importantly, the service was also on point, despite it being a busy night when I attended.

The whole family will remain entertained throughout your meal as Jové Club have taken up residence throughout the duration of Ramadan, to provide a dedicated playroom for the children. Oh, and those of you that are familiar with the chocolate shawarma stand will be pleased to hear that it is back this year by popular demand!

Favourite dish: Difficult to choose, but that dreamy and unique chocolate shawarma just about pips it!
Iftar: QAR 235
Sohour: QAR 270


Best of the rest...


There are a few Iftars that have received glowing praise from my fellow foodie friends and bloggers alike, but which I haven't had a chance to check out yet. Here are the best of the rest, and why I'll definitely be visiting for an Iftar or two before the holy month comes to an end.

W Hotel


The W's Ramadan tent is always a hit, but this year's Sultan's Tent looks particularly exciting, as Chef Narwal Al Sayed has his own live cooking station dedicated to the very best of Qatari cuisine. 

City Centre Rotana 


The Almas Ramadan Tent has some of the best offers and promotions in the city, with incredible discounts for group bookings.

Ritz Carlton 


The Ramadan tent at the Ritz Carlton is always one of my favourites and I'm disappointed that I haven't had a chance to attend yet this Ramadan The theme of this year's tent sounds particularly inspiring, based on traditional Qatari heritage. I can't wait to see it for myself!

Doha Marriott


Because I love the Marriott's Street Food brunch so much, I know that I am going to enjoy this Iftar, which is based on a similar theme. Live cooking stations and plenty of variety is the essence of this tent, with a relaxed and upbeat vibe.

St Regis


As always, the St Regis offers guests not just one, but two Ramadan tents: The Souq in the Grand Ballroom, and Layaly Ramadan in the Al Gassar Ballroom. Combined, these tents cover over 3,000 sqm of space, with displays that are as sumptuous as they are elegant.

Intercontinental Doha


Coral plays host to Iftar, while The Shahrazad Tent, located in the Intercon's Al Wajba Ballroom is the location of Sohour, with decor inspired by the magical settings of 'One Thousand and One Nights'. I'll be heading along because the Intercontinental knows how to do a really good buffet (and I wouldn't mind trying my hand at winning one of the daily prizes either...free hotel stay anyone?!).

 Picture courtesy of Intercontinental Doha

Where would you recommend to enjoy Iftar in Doha this year?
I was a guest of the above hotels for Iftar, but as always all views are my own.

What To Do On A Short Layover In Doha

Thursday, 1 June 2017

One of the best things about being an expat is getting the opportunity to give visitors from home an insight into what your country's like and how you live when they come to stay. It's even more satisfying when you live in a country like Qatar, which is an unknown entity to your average tourist. I take great pleasure in debunking a few myths and showing people just how much there is to see and do in Doha, when you scratch beneath the surface.

  
Excitingly, my home is about to be placed firmly on the tourist map as a number of new initiatives have been designed to position Qatar as a new stopover destination. A free transit visa launched by Qatar Tourism Authority in collaboration with Qatar Airways allows transiting passengers to enter Qatar for up to 96 hours in between flights. Over the summer months, Qatar Airways passengers are also being offered free hotel stays at some of Doha's top hotels, and if this isn't enough, a range of free tours around Doha are being offered to tourists too, to give them a taster of what the city has to offer.

  
So what should you do with your 96 hours in Doha? I put my tour guide skills to the test with a recent four day visit from my friend Emma (of Adventures of a London Kiwi fame) on her way through to Australia, and showed her some of my favourite Doha pastimes. Here's a snapshot of what we got up to (and a little more besides).


1. Visit the Museum of Islamic Art


As you travel from the airport to West Bay, it's likely that you'll notice the unusual boxy building, occupying its own piece of land which protudes out into the waters of the Persian Gulf. Designed by famous architect I. M. Pei (probably better-known for his glass pyramid outside of the Louvre in Paris), the Museum of Islamic Art is my favourite piece of architecture in the world, with one of the most interesting collections of artefacts that I've seen in a museum. 



Not only is it home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of Islamic artwork, spanning 1,400 years, but Alain Ducasse's famous restaurant, Idam is located on the top floor - an unmissable restaurant for a very memorable dinner.

2. Have brunch in a five star hotel



If your layover happens to be over a Friday or Saturday, then you absolutely can not miss out on brunch. Brunch in the Middle East has taken on its own meaning over the years, evolving from the late morning meal comprising of coffee and eggs that the rest of the world recognises, into a veritable feast consumed throughout the afternoon on a Friday (usually in the form of a buffet and accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol). 

You haven’t really experienced Doha until you have experienced the party atmosphere of one of its hotel brunches alongside scores of merry expats. 

Emma and I enjoyed two very contrasting brunches while she was visiting - the family-friendly, warm and welcoming 'We Love Saturday' brunch at Coral in the Intercontental Hotel, and the upbeat and lively Friday Shangtastic Brunch at the Shangri-La (look out for upcoming blog posts on both of these post-Ramadan).

For an iconic Doha brunch experience, you can't go wrong with the St Regis or Four Seasons brunches, and if you have children then the Ritz Carlton offers something very special for the little ones.

3. Haggle for Arabic wares at Souq Waqif

If you crave a culturally authentic experience when travelling to new cities, then a visit to Souq Waqif (the standing market) is a must. It is essentially a muddled centre of traditionally-built Qatari buildings, recently constructed on the site of a much older Souq, where you can easily get lost for hours while searching for little trinkets and hand-crafted gold jewellery or fabrics.


Emma and I quickly wandered through the hot and crowded lanes of the Souq just before she was due to catch her taxi to the airport...and then spent a panicked 40 minutes trying to locate said taxi! Hopefully the fear that she might be about to miss her connecting flight to Australia didn't put too much of a downer on the experience!! 

4. Wander through Katara Cultural Village

Katara was built to showcase Qatar’s varied cultural identity and exhibits regular art installations, music concerts and fairs. However, even when there is nothing going on, it is still a beautiful place to take a stroll. Stop at one of the restaurants for a bite, marvel at the architecture of the stunning blue-tiled mosque and its iconic dove cots or climb to the top of the sandstone Amphitheatre to admire the view. 


Don’t leave without sampling an authentic Qatari drink and snack from Karak and Chapati.

5. Head out into the desert for some dune bashing 


Outside of Doha itself, the huge expanse of the Arabian Desert stretches off to the north and to the south, and apart from the occasional settlement, it is largely remote and uninhabited. The best way to get around of course, is by 4x4, where specially-trained drivers take you far too quickly through the desert in an off-roading style known as ‘dune bashing’. 

Organised tours can combine a morning’s dune bashing with other desert activities such as camel rides, and a visit to a traditional bedouin camps, and they’re definitely worth the money.

6. Visit the Pearl for a coffee and some retail therapy

Comprising of 400 hectares of shops, restaurants and leisure facilities as well as numerous residential towers and a large marina of yachts, The Pearl Qatar is a manmade island in the shape of two inter-linked horseshoes. It is also where my apartment is located. Due to the large community of expats that reside on The Pearl, this area is the most laid back and liberal area of Qatar, and because of that, it's especially appealing to tourists.

Emma and I enjoyed strolling around the marina on a regular basis, grabbing a coffee in Qatar's best coffee shop, Flat White and taking in the sunset views across the marina.

 

7. Take a traditional Dhow out onto the Persian Gulf

Prior to the discovery of oil and gas, Qatar's economy was based around fishing and Pearl diving, which took place on traditional wooden boats called 'Dhows'. These days, Dhow boats are more commonly used by tourists who want to catch a glimpse of the city from a different perspective, out on the sea. 

You can grab a boat from anywhere on the Corniche near to the traditional Dhow boat harbour by the Museum of Islamic Art. Wait until night time, when all of the lights come on in the city, and the Dhows light up in neon colours for the full experience!

8. Eat, eat, and eat some more!

I have never eaten so well in my life as I do now in Doha. The hotels across the city are the best places to get your fill, providing a range of restaurants and cuisines to cater to every palette. The one thing that they all have in common is that the food they serve is really, exquisitely good!




Restaurants that you shouldn't miss: 

For fine dining you can't go wrong with the stunning architecture, excellent happy hour and faultless Japanese at Nobu; the city views, cocktails and and pan-Asian eats at Zengo; the cool vibe and modern Cantonese cuisine at Hakkasan; the refined luxury and meticulous attention to detail of Gordon Ramsay

For something a little more casual, try breakfast at Eggspectation, traditional Arabic food at N.Zain or any of the restaurants in Souq Waqif.


I hope this little guide will help you when planning your layover in Doha. If you have any questions about anything mentioned above, then please don't hesitate to drop me a message below.

Safe travels!

For further information on Qatar please visit: www.visitqatar.qa





20 Things I've Learned Since My Baby Became A Toddler

Sunday, 28 May 2017

If I thought the first few months of my baby's life presented me with a steep learning curve, I wasn't even close to being prepared for what the last few months have thrown at me. At around 11 months, when Sophia started walking and talking, thereby entering the realm of the 'toddler', I suddenly felt like I had to learn how to be a mummy all over again.



Here's what being a mummy to a toddler has taught me so far:

1. You thought your baby would sleep through the night by the age of four months, then when four months rolled around you laughed SO HARD and adjusted your expectations. Eight months is surely more realistic?! Wrong again! Try EIGHTEEN. And only that one time because they were jet lagged, sick and didn't nap all day. And it still didn't happen in their own bed.

2. Speaking of sleep, trying to put a toddler to bed is a sure-fire way to evoke every single emotion you have ever felt over the space of a 40 minute time period, and have you questioning your sanity.

3. The most important thing to ask yourself as you enter the toddler years is "Am I ready to have that annoying cartoon's theme tune stuck in my head for the next four years?"

4. You might be a pro wrestler, bench press 400 kg in your spare time, and be able to carry your entire weekly shop from your car to your house in one go, but you have never known real strength until you've tried to wrestle a toddler that doesn't want to wear a sleepsuit, into a sleepsuit.

5. Trying to engage a toddler in helping with household tasks will never end well. Folding laundry = throwing it all around the house. Helping to make dinner = unravelling all three tin foil rolls in the kitchen drawer and trying to wrap the cat in clingfilm.

6. Hell hath no fury like a toddler who is hungry and whose mum forgot to pack snacks.

7. Baby wipes are every parent-of-a-toddler's best weapon against the world. With them, you're invincible. Leave them at home and no matter where you're going and what you're doing, you'll all return home looking like the extended family of Worzel Gummidge.

8. You thought that you might have been able to go to the toilet by yourself by this point, now that you have a few distraction techniques up your sleeve, but the Toddler Toilet Radar is a finely oiled machine, and within two seconds of sitting down on the seat, you will inevitably hear your name being called. If not, something is terribly wrong, and you should probably stand straight back up and go to check what's going on.

9. When you've scoured the entire house for a dummy but can't locate one, it's nearing bedtime and you know your toddler can't sleep without it, try not to despair. Instead, set your toddler free, giving them full reign of the house and I guarantee that at some point in the next five minutes they will return with one in their mouth. Toddlers have magnetic dummy properties which us adults do not possess.

10. You could cook your toddler dinner, or you could just cut out the middle man and throw a plate on the floor and pour custard on the cat.

11. The amount of time and trouble you spend cooking is inversely proportional to the amount of time the food spends on your toddler's plate before it's thrown on the floor.

12. The small size of a toddler's head, versus the enormous volume of snot that stems from said head, is one of the remaining mysteries of the world.

13. You've given up trying to keep your house tidy. A toddler going about their everyday business creates mess at a greater rate than even a whole squadron of cleaners can clear.

14. Baby babble sounds uncannily like Dothraki once you've been listening to it for 14 hours straight.

15. The rate at which your toddler picks up new words and skills is, quite frankly, astounding.You start dreaming of Harvard degrees and high flying careers with every 'baa' and each roly poly.

16. Of all the new skills your toddler picks up, their ability to learn and retain swear words is the most impressive.

17. Nobody exaggerates a situation quite like a toddler mid-tantrum.

18. One unsupervised minute of toddler time has the equivalent effects of one hour in the eye of a hurricane.

19. Despite all of the above, you grow prouder every day. Your baby is developing into a real, tiny human with their own personality. They can demonstrate empathy, and show kindness to others. They are interested in the new things you show them. They can sing, dance and even hold some resemblance of a conversation with you. You didn't think it was possible to love them more than when they were first born, but somehow you do.

20. Yes, this new phase is really, incredibly exhausting, frustrating, wonderful and fulfilling all at once. And still, you wouldn't change a thing.

Mummies, what has your toddler taught you that I have missed?

For 20 things that I've learned since becoming a mummy, head here.

A Weekend at Al Gassar Resort

Sunday, 14 May 2017

What do you look for when searching for a place to call home?

As a travel blogger, I'm no stranger to nosing around hotels (including dozens of other travel bloggers' hotel rooms on a daily basis on their Insta Stories!) and making decisions about what makes a perfect holiday, but it is not often that I get the opportunity to have a snoop into someone else's living accommodation and decide on the perfect combination of ingredients to make a place a home. So when Alfardan Properties approached me to ask whether our family would like to leave our apartment behind for a weekend to find out what it would be like to be a resident of Al Gassar Resort, I was intrigued about what I would discover.

Al Gassar Resort is a luxury and exclusive sea-front residence set within the grounds of the iconic St Regis Doha (one of our favourite places in Doha for a staycation), and the luxurious and elite look and feel of the five star hotel extends to the three towers of executive apartments.

Despite already being privy to the exclusive service provided by the resort, I was still taken aback as our taxi pulled into the forecourt, and we were greeted warmly by name, firstly by security, and then by the staff at the front desk. The receptionist, Lovely, genuinely lives up to her name and turned out to be a friendly breath of fresh air throughout our entire stay.

The Apartment


We were staying in a two bedroom sea-view apartment, which looked out across The Corniche to the city skyline beyond.  There aren't many clearer, uninterrupted views of the city anywhere else in Doha.


When I managed to tear myself away from the window, I found myself in a well-appointed, fully-furnished apartment, with contemporary decor and exemplary attention to detail. The rooms were all large and family-friendly, with plenty of seating and soft furnishings, and spaces for socialising and lounging alike.


Much like the furniture and layout, the interior design was elegant and well-considered. Monochrome prints and fabrics were punctuated by splashes of colour in the artwork and ornamentation.



The kitchen included all of the white goods that you would expect, and was fully kitted out with pots, pans, crockery and cutlery. I couldn't stop thinking about how easy this place would have been to move into when we first arrived in Qatar with nothing but a couple of suitcases of belongings to our name.


I was excited to discover that the apartment also housed not one, not two but THREE bathrooms (one each!): a guest closet off the living room and two others with walk-in rain showers. 

My favourite rooms, however, were the bedrooms - the smaller of the two contained twin beds and the master had floor to ceiling windows which looked out over 'that view',  as well as comfy armchairs, a flat screen TV, and a huge, comfy yet luxurious leather king sized bed. 

 

By the time we'd finished exploring, it was well past Sophia's bed time, and when she refused to go down in the cot that they had kindly set up for us in the master bedroom, we allowed her to climb beneath the sheets of the king sized bed in between us, which she much preferred (let's face it, with a mattress as comfy as that, who could blame her?!) and she soon drifted off into peaceful slumbers.
 

The Services and Facilities

 

The next two days were spent exploring all that Al Gassar has to offer, and making the most of every moment. We had decided to treat the weekend as we would any staycation, and the free internet, concierge and housekeeping service certainly helped us to feel as though we were staying in a five star hotel rather than a normal place of residence. Satish and his team who came to clean our room each day were incredibly efficient and accommodating, and graciously accepted us adjusting the time that we'd asked them to come and clean the room on several occasions because we juuuust needed an extra half an hour in bed.

The communal pool on the second floor was top of our list of facilities to make use of during our stay. We met a group of friends down there and for a few blissful hours, Sophia enjoyed splashing around with the other toddlers in the children's pool, while I enjoyed a few rare moments soaking up the rays from one of the many loungers that were dotted about.

 
 


The pool area is spacious, and designed around relaxation and family life, with two pools, a jacuzzi, a BBQ area and picnic tables. Next to the pool terrace is the Terrace Restaurant, which has a pub-like feel and serves excellent bar food and alcoholic beverages - a handy place to grab a poolside snack or to meet friends for a game of pool.


Outside Tower 1, there is also a fun, animal-themed children's playground which Sophia loved! Bar the swings at nursery, it was actually her first experience of a proper little park and once we'd introduced her to it, it was rather difficult to tear her away! Of course, we had to return at least two more times over the weekend to visit the 'baa baa!' again!

 
Besides the pool and playground, there are several other facilities which we weren't able to take advantage of during our stay, including:

  • Private tennis courts
  • Fully-equipped gym and changing rooms, with personal trainer and regular yoga and fitness classes
  • Steam room 
  • Limousine and golf cart services 

The Icing on the Cake  

 

Probably the most exciting thing about Al Gassar Resort is the exclusive, FREE access that tenants receive to the facilities of the St Regis. We headed over there to lounge beside the huge, luxury swimming pool and ordered snacks...

 


We sat and watched the sun go down from the white, sandy beach..


 


We ate supper at Astor Bar & Grill, one of our favourite St Regis restaurants, where the staff are super friendly, the steaks juicy and soft as butter and, like all of the St Regis' restaurants, all Al Gassar residents receive 10% off their bill. 


The Concierge App which I downloaded on my phone kept me up to date with exclusive entertainment and wellness offers such as spa day discounts and cut price meals, and I could even reserve a table at one of several restaurants around Doha using the App. I tried it out and received a call back from the restaurant within two minutes, asking for my table requirements. I was blown away by the efficiency of it all!   

In summary, the whole package was perfect. A weekend that started off as an opportunity to snoop into the life of someone else became so much more to us - a retreat; a holiday; a couple of days of pure luxury and pampering.

This video summarises the kinds of things that all three of us will be looking from now on in any future home:




I have a feeling that Al Gassar will be difficult to beat.

The Details:

Al Gassar Resort, West Bay, 2999 Doha
For enquiries & viewings, call: (+974) 4440 8908, or email: afpleasing@alfardan.com.qa

We were guests of Al Fardan Properties this time, but as always all views are my own.

Qatar's Best Family-Friendly Restaurants According to 7 Parent Bloggers

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Deciding where to eat in Qatar with a young family in tow has not always been an easy task. In the past, it seemed that the more 'child-friendly' the restaurant choice, the less appetising the food, and vice versa. Luckily, this trend is gradually changing and restaurants are starting to become more accommodating to the needs of a variety of age groups. 

Finally, an appreciation for food is no longer a pastime reserved exclusively for the adults in Doha. 

So, where can these elusive family friendly restaurants be found and why are they worth a visit? I asked those in the know, the Instagram-snapping, delightfully discerning expert eaters - the parent bloggers of Qatar.

Karen from Clumsy Chic: W Cafe



Naomi and I go on a mommy and daughter date once a week and W Cafe is one of our favorite places to go to. The cafe is small and cosy with a lovely quiet atmosphere and friendly staff. They all know Naomi and I by now and are always so attentive and accommodating to our requests. Full-fat yogurt instead of low-fat one? no problem! No salt? noted. 

W Cafe is definitely one of my top go-to restaurants as I know there are a number of child-friendly, healthy Baby Led Weaning approved menu items like their egg avocado, and Naomi's favorite yogurt with fresh berry compote. I also love the fact that the place is carpeted and you'll often find Naomi running around the cafe, while I sit back and watch her from a far with a cup of tea and scones on hand.
 
 
 
Becoming a parent of 3 kids (who are now 8, 5 and 4 years old) caused a lot of changes in our lifestyle including our choices of places to dine out. Frankly, there was a time when we actually stopped going to restaurants AT ALL, because eating out with 3 kids meant chaos rather than fun! This changed when Noodle House opened its branch at Porto Arabia. Now, our weekend stroll and kids cycling at the Marina always ends up with a family meal at Noodle House.
 
The kids love having their Prawn Crackers and Chicken Satay for starters, followed by Tempura Fish Fingers (Kids Meal). While my husband and I enjoy their Thai Curries, Wok Fried Noodles and other specialities but our all time favourite is their spicy Black Pepper Beef along with Bakmie Goreng Noodles. When the kids are done with their meals, they go back to riding their bicycles while we enjoy our drinks and dessert, sitting on the patio while watching them at the same time.
The location of the restaurant is not the only reason, but also their food quality, flavorful dishes, a lovely kids menu, friendly staff and the value for money, which makes it one of our most favourite restaurants as a family.

Zeke from Best Life Qatar: Max's Restaurant


 
When asked about our family’s top restaurant picks, our answers are varied and it shows each one’s favorite - and by favorite, we mean having visited it several times already. With three highly opinionated members in our family (good thing our little girl still couldn’t participate in the poll), each one has his/her own preference. But the choice also depends on where we are going and every time we go out to eat, we make sure it is a happy compromise.

We would go to Tofu House if we want something Korean, we go to Chilli’s if we are craving for stake, we go to Buffalo’s whenever we are at Ezdan Mall, or IHop when we are at Gulf Mall. But generally, our family’s go-to restaurant would be Max’s Restaurant in B-Ring. It’s not only a family’s choice but also our friend’s usual hangout every Friday night. We might have bias for some Filipino food but definitely, it’s something that’s not debatable. 

Aside from the location, which is close to our house in Mansoura, the familiar ambiance always makes us feel we’re home. They have a wide selection of menu but our standard orders would usually go with their classic spring chicken, ox’s tail stew in peanut sauce, and sizzling cubed tofu and mayo dressing. Surprisingly, there are also non-Filipinos who are dropping by this restaurant and it’s a comfortable place to have practically any celebration.

Fazeelah from Dhillon Deeds: Asia Live!




Dining out with our little girl can get trying at times and I've gotten a few nasty stares in my short time being a mum. So it's not surprising that I keep my eyes peeled for places to have a nice sit down dinner with my little family and not always having to settle for the food court, it doesn't quite scream "fine dining experience". 

We discovered Asia Live while looking for a quiet place to catch up with a friend who had jetted over for a quick visit from Dubai. This little restaurant is situated inside the Marriott Hotel and serves mainly Asian-fusion cuisine. We didn't need a reservation which was great! Our daughter is 7 months old so she doesn't need much in terms of food and really just eats whatever we eat but she really enjoyed chewing away on the prawn crackers they served as a complimentary dish that they kept filled for our eating pleasure. 

I loved that they had high chairs on hand and that there were other families enjoying their dinner there too. The interior was lightly lit up and had a very romantic laid-back ambiance which made rocking her to sleep so easy. There was also enough space for our stroller right next to our table. I also breastfed her and I wasn't make to feel uncomfortable about it. 

The service was flawless, friendly and welcoming. The waiters deserve an extra cheer for being so patient as our little girl threw her food all over the place - the best and worst of baby led weaning. I also loved that the hotel offered valet parking making the drop off and pick up really quick and efficient. Having to circle around a parking lot with a crying baby isn't always the best feeling just before dinner. The restaurant is open for dinner every night except Sunday. Our mission for the evening was to find a child-friendly restaurant that served gluten-free food  for our friend. I believe we did well. We will definitely be going back again.

Leona from Wandermust Family: La Veranda 



We eat out a lot but the one place that stands out as our family favourite has to be La Veranda! We love their brunch and have sampled it on a couple of occasions. They have the most amazing outdoor seating area which is great for little ones to run around on between courses. The staff are always super helpful ensuring that families have a good table - not too close to the band and ensuring adequate shading, and the high chairs are of a good quality!

Unfortunately there are no changing facilities at La Veranda but the staff always open up the changing rooms and create an area with multiple towels to make sure the little one is comfortable. But most importantly the food is great. Although not the range of other brunches, this brunch is all about quality over quantity and they have lots of child friendly options! Pasta, vegetables, pizza and a variety of meat and fish dishes are available. My little one always eats amazingly well at La Veranda and we will keep returning!

Kiren from Yummy Mummy On Duty: Carluccio's



Well what can I say, Carluccio's is hands down the best breakfast in town.  WHY?  It's got variety, it's fresh, it's healthy and naughty both at the same time!  For kids it's just perfect, a simple menu offering that kids and parents can both relate to.

And finally...

My top picks: Eggspectation and the Superhero Picnic Brunch at the Ritz Carlton


There are three things that make a restaurant family-friendly to me: good basic baby facilities (high chairs and a changing table are a must), child-friendly menu options (or the option to tailor the menu to your childs dietary requirements and tastes) and staff that like children. Both Eggspectation and the Lagoon at The Ritz Carlton where the Picnic Brunch is held fulfil these requirements in spades.


The restaurants are at the opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways: Eggspectation is a fantastic everyday diner, where a group of mums and I met every Thursday for weeks over the long, hot summer months during our maternity leave last year. Over several weeks, the staff learned all of our names, plus our babies names (not an easy task - they all looked practically identical at that stage in their development!). They gave us our own space away from the main restaurant where the crawlers could roam free. They didn't bat an eyelid at spilled drinks, broken crockery or noise. And best of all, their coffee and eggs saved my days following many a sleepless night.


The Superhero Picnic Brunch on the other hand, is the ideal location to celebrate a special occasion with kids. It's light-hearted, entertaining and chock-a-block with exciting and fun food to entice even the fussiest of eaters to enjoy their meal (if you can tear them away from the bouncy castle that is!).

So there we have it, not just one or two, but EIGHT family-friendly restaurants in Qatar which are very different but equally deserving of a mention. 

Over to you - what makes a restaurant family-friendly to you and which ones have we missed?
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