There's only one answer in my book: a 'daycation'.
We had seen a voucher in The Entertainer for buy one get one free day passes to The Marriott including use of the hotel's beach and pool. At QAR 250 (GBP 45) for us both, this is a bit of a steal. A little further around the coast from our usual haunts in West Bay, in a part of the city affectionately known as 'the old airport area', this hotel is a place we would usually bypass en route home from the airport, or dismiss in favour of nearby Sharq Village & Spa where we got engaged. I was quite excited to finally visit and see what it was like.
Expecting interiors akin to the clean and airy space of its counterpart, the Marriott Marquis, City Centre, we were a little disappointed to find a rather dated-looking lobby which was lacking in character. Rich stayed at this hotel back in 2011 when he came to Doha to assist in Al Jazeera's production of the Asian Cup, and he thinks things have definitely gone downhill since then. This must be due in part to the growing competition of the booming hotel industry and proliferation of five star resorts in the thriving West Bay area, but it is sad to see a place with so much Doha history (this hotel outdates even the iconic Doha Sheraton which was built in 1979) being left to rack and ruin.
I perked up a little however, when we discovered the gorgeous, bright corridor which led us through the hotel's spa, and out into the sunshine.
The pool area, which was surrounded by relaxing-looking cabanas and comfortable loungers, was heaving, so we followed a palm-lined path down to the quieter haven of the beach.
The yachts of Doha Sailing Club lined the waters in front of us, and past them sat the stunning city skyline.
It was the perfect place to sit back and relax for a few hours, while reading a book and admiring the view.
It was from this spot that I tried to reconcile my thoughts about this hotel. Yes, it is cheap, but given the distance we travelled and the shabby-chic feel, I wouldn't have wanted to pay much more than that to use the facilities for the day. On the other hand, it is a fantastic place to bring children, due to the numerous sports facilities dotted around the place.
(Adults can obviously get involved too).
My favourite thing about this hotel however, was actually technically not on Marriott soil. About 200 metres offshore is a sand bar which stretches far out into The Corniche. We swum to it through the deep, still waters of the Persian Gulf, and when we found the white sand of the sea floor rushing up to meet us, we put our feet down and stood up. There, right in the middle of the ocean, we walked as if on water, towards the city view in front of us until we found the perfect vantage point from which to sit in the shallows and watch the sun begin to dip behind the city. I obviously have no photos of this moment, but it was just a little bit magical.
We swum back to shore feeling hungry and ready for home. And after a quick stop at the little foyer coffee shop, that's where we went.
Would I return? Probably not. But the Doha Marriott Hotel gave us a couple of really special moments, which will remain forever more in my Doha memory bank.
Do you ever take yourself off for a 'daycation'? Where's your favourite place to go?
The details:Doha Marriott Hotel
Ras Abu Aboud Street
The Entertainer deal