Five minutes down the road from my flat, practically on my doorstep stands a stunning five star hotel, which looks out proudly over the Persian Gulf.
The St Regis is the definition of Middle Eastern opulence, with interiors akin to the majesty of a Sheikh’s palace.
Including a car port the size of a small Cathedral…
A Grand Lobby clothed from floor to ceiling in the finest Italian marble...
A constant stream of beautiful music echoing from the walls of its caverness interior...
And did I mention the car?
We visited the hotel for an afternoon of treats on Saturday to celebrate our first full day off together for a fortnight.
Sarab lounge is a cosy space in the midst of the cavern of the hotel. Soft armchairs and sofas sit neatly around mirrored tables, adorned with silverware and pretty flowers.
The furnishings make the typically English pastime of taking afternoon tea feel quite foreign, and despite the fact that we had done this many many times before, somehow it felt like a whole new experience.
The lovely Marie welcomed us to our table, before wheeling out a beautiful silver table, containing slots for eight little tea caddies containing the St Regis’ Exclusive Blends: different loose-leafed teas made especially for the hotel.
She passed each silver caddy to us one by one, describing the composition of each tea, explaining how it was made, and allowing us to have a smell.
There were some really unusual ones, including the pretty chamomile tea which contained whole dried blooms.
I plumped for the sweet and aromatic ‘Birthday Tea’: black tea with vanilla, while Rich went for ‘Valentine tea’: black tea with red fruits. We were obviously in the mood for a celebration.
After we’d finished the important task of selecting the right tea, we cast our eyes back to the menu to choose our afternoon tea experience. This part was a no-brainer. The Lady Caroline Astor Afternoon Tea includes a selection of 5 sandwiches, four mini scones with homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream, and a pastry ensemble. Classically British. Inevitably, we both went for the same thing.
The perfect-looking sandwiches arrived in no time, and again, each was explained to us in detail: smoked salmon with lemon zest; roast beef and horseradish; chicken and tarragon, minted labneh with cucumber; and date and tahini cream cheese.
All were delightful, with little innovative twists on the classic English sandwich, although the bread had obviously been out for a while and had lost a little of its soft freshness.
However, when I asked Rich whether he’d enjoyed the different flavoured breads, he looked down at his empty, crumb-strewn plate and admitted he hadn’t even noticed that each bread was different, which I took as a very good sign from his side!
Now back to that tea…
I adored the little gold-gilt teapots, cups and saucers, and the solid silver tea strainers were so old fashioned-looking, and reassuringly heavy.
My ‘Birthday Tea’ paired beautifully with my sandwiches, and even more so with the scones and pastries when they arrived on the most adorable mini three-tiered afternoon tea stand.
The set-up was so pretty that even Rich couldn’t resist taking a few iPhone snaps (check out my man on Instagram here – he’s only just started using it properly and could do with a few more followers!).
The teeny tiny scones were the highlight of the meal – buttery, bite-sized, sweet cakes of joy!
We had the age-old ‘cream or jam first’ debate, before deciding that we were firmly in the Devonshire camp…
My camera would only focus on the glistening silver tableware however, so I’ll leave you to imagine how good these looked.
The pastries were a little less mind-blowing, but pretty all the same.
The texture of the Macaron wasn’t quite right as it was almost chalky, but the raspberry and chocolate cup (back right) more than made up for it with its sweet gooiness.
Full to the brim and satisfied, we heaved ourselves from our sofas, and waddled down to the basement for the next portion of our afternoon of decadence.
Remede Spa is just as opulent an experience as you would expect from a hotel like the St Regis. We were given a warm welcome by the staff in the bright and clean lobby, before going our separate ways to robe up, ready for our couple’s massage.
We met again in our dark, sweet smelling room for an hour of bliss. We had visited once before for the same massage, and I had forgotten the pièce de résistance; the warming heat packs which they apply to your feet at the beginning and take off near to the end, which just feel amazing.
I had a bit of a sore shoulder that afternoon, and I was happy to find that my masseuse ironed out all of the kinks, and I was left feeling supple and refreshed.
Herbal teas were brought to the room at the end of our massage, which we enjoyed in a state of bliss.
Before wiling away half an hour in the stunning aqua-tiled Jacuzzi.
We had been invited by The St Regis to view their new bar, The Rooftop, but with forty minutes to kill, we decided to hot-foot it over to Gordon Ramsay’s Opal, one of the St Regis’ signature restaurants for some more food (please don’t judge us…).
It was a warm-ish evening for January in the desert, so we opted for seats outside on the terrace. The warm, glowing pyramid heaters took the edge off the breeze blowing in from the Persian Gulf, and we felt positively cosy as we settled in with our menus.
On the recommendation of our waitress, we opted for the drink of the day – a bittersweet cognac, basil and lemon cocktail, which was refreshing and warming all at once.
Then, having been informed that the catch of the day was our favourite fish, Seabass, and feeling in need of something a little healthier after our carbolicious afternoon tea, we both chose the same item on the menu for the third time that day.
But we didn’t regret it. The seabass was cooked to flaky perfection, layered with sweet tomato salsa and the bowl was drizzled with a sticky balsamic glaze which bound the whole dish together. The only fault? There just wasn’t enough of it.
We scraped our plates just in time to take a speedy elevator to meet manager Anna for our introduction to The Rooftop…and just in time for the skies to open up.
With the rain coming down in sheets (or relative sheets for Doha), the bar unfortunately had to close before we had a chance to enjoy a drink. However, we were welcomed onto the roof and invited to take a few photographs all the same.
This place is something really quite special. White furniture adorns the bar, which is lit with provocative neon lighting.
Which extends all the way up the side of the walls of the hotel behind it.
The bar is the longest in Doha...
And as a result it is pretty well-stocked!
From Wednesday through to Saturday, a DJ plays house music until the early hours, and I am reliably informed that on Thursdays and Fridays it is heaving.
To escape the rain, we hopped to the other side of the roof, and the shelter of Jazz at The Lincoln Centre. I won’t tell you too much about this place right now because we were too early for the band and we’re heading here again on Wednesday with friends.
But I will say that their Brambles are lovely.
Oh yes, and we couldn’t resist one more bite to eat. When truffle chips are on the menu, truffle chips need to be ordered!
We had a truly brilliant time at the glorious St Regis; I can’t think of a better way that we could have celebrated a day back together again.
The St Regis,
Doha West Bay · Doha, 14435 · Qatar · Phone:
(974) 4446 0000
My rating: *****
Has anybody else paid a visit to a St Regis Hotel? I’d love to hear whether you had a similar experience. And Doha people, what do you think about the St Regis, Doha?