Welcome to the new Kempinski Hotel in Doha: The Marsa Malaz. Isn't she a stunner?!
In just two years, this typically Arabic-looking piece of architecture has risen from the sand at a rate of knots while Rich and I looked on with interest, at first speculating what on earth this gargantuous building was going to be, and later, when the website was launched and the sign was erected outside, when it was going to open.
Well, it seems that time is nearly upon us. With its official 'soft opening' today, the hotel has now officially opened its doors to the public. And before this happened yesterday, we were lucky enough to be welcomed inside for a little tour.
We traipsed through bustling new kitchens and work-in-progress restaurants, bars that were nearing completion and nightclubs that were still under construction. Our guide asked us to keep our cameras tucked away for the majority of the time so that we wouldn't spoil the big reveal, but take my word on it that if you live in, or are planning on visiting Qatar in the near future, then you are going to be in for a treat.
Let me show you some of the reasons (that I am allowed to show you!) why.
The hotel's entrance hall is the biggest, brightest and grandest I have ever seen. Your footsteps tap on the shiny marble floors, and echo off the marbled walls. Plant pots the height of two full grown men frame the entrance to the staircase at the far end. There are panoramic views of the turquoise sea outside from the gigantic windows. An enormous silver hummingbird chandelier hangs from a huge domed ceiling above your heads.
The interiors of this hotel take grandeur to the extreme. It promises to be an 'ultimate luxury hotel'; a 'premier destination', and even though the corridors are currently void of people and atmosphere, there are already whispers of it fulfilling its promises.
We were taken up in a service lift to the top of the hotel, where the elite nightclub, Illusion is under construction. When this beautiful space is completed, it will exude Hollywood glamour, and I have no doubt that it will be 'the place to be and be seen' in Doha. I was happy to discover that there are also a few surprises in store up here, which I will leave for you to discover for yourself when it opens. However, the greatest surprise of all was the breathtaking view that hits you when you walk out onto the enormous roof terrace at the back of the bar.
It was a beautiful sunny day, with clear blue skies reflecting off the shallow azure seas. From this vantage point, we could look out over the different facades of the hotel, and beyond to the islands of the Persian Gulf. I could have stayed up there for hours.
But alas, our guide is a very busy man, and he had business to attend to.
Thanking him for our tour, we headed back down to Cafe Murano on the ground floor for refreshments while we looked through our photos.
This pretty cafe serves delicate cakes and pastries.
And my absolute favourite - white hot chocolate.
Gooey, creamy and thick, it was just what hot chocolate should be. I shamelessly scraped the bottom of the cup clean with a spoon.
Keen to make the most of the sun before it disappeared again, we headed outside to catch a few rays.
As we rounded the side of the hotel, we almost bumped right into this 18 metre tall beauty.
I enjoyed photographing his handsome features against the backdrop of the similarly handsome hotel for a while, before we settled in for a little chill time.
We both agreed that we couldn't wait to return for the full opening.
To enjoy the cuisine at one of the world class restaurants...
Or just for another excuse to explore those opulent corridors once more.
Follow the Marsa Malaz on Twitter or Facebook for updates and details as the hotel opens its doors to the public.