Sometimes all you need to re-energise is to pack your luggage and go for a staycation. Hannah Nesbitt headed to InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa to experience a mini-break without jumping on a plane.
For more than two decades, InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa has enjoyed its exceptional placement right on the beautiful shores of West Bay Beach. Resembling a castle with its sandy-coloured battlements, the sound of the car tyres rumbling on the cobblestones as you approach echoes the anticipation of a delightful staycation experience. The fountains leap as if extending a warm welcome to arriving guests.
The traditionally dressed hotel porters assisted me with parking and luggage whilst I was free to arrive unburdened through the revolving doors. Having been assigned a Club Room, I was able to enjoy numerous benefits, including exclusive Club InterContinental check-in on the mezzanine level and access to the Club InterContinental lounge. The corridors leading to the room, tastefully decorated with regal royal blue carpets, showcase elements reminiscent of Qatar’s rich cultural heritage and architectural design.
In a conscious effort to minimise their carbon footprint, the key card has undergone a transformation away from plastic. As someone who deeply values sustainability, it was heartening to observe the IHG chain taking additional measures to enhance their use of alternative materials that are eco-friendly and considerate of our planet.
The room provided incredible panoramic views stretching from wall to wall, encompassing the mesmerising and inviting pool area below. The distant towers of The Pearl Island on the far left and the captivating West Bay towers on the right added to the visual delight, creating a truly breathtaking vista to enjoy from the desk, couch or even the bed. The linen was immaculately pristine white, with a luxuriously soft and voluminous texture, surpassing all expectations.
Additionally, there was a selection of pillow options available to cater to individual preferences and ensure maximum comfort. Further promoting their commitment to improving sustainability, refillable toiletries by Byredo, in their sleek, monochrome bottles, were available in the bathroom. The wardrobe offered ample space to accommodate belongings and, as part of Club InterContinental service, I enjoyed the convenience of complimentary pressing services.
The sandy shoreline is adorned with plentiful loungers and parasols, providing the most picturesque setting. Despite the hustle and bustle of a busy weekend, it was a wonderfully peaceful place to sit back and relax or to avail yourself of the pool menu, which offers a selection of snacks and refreshing cold beverages delivered straight to your lounger. As the ocean’s pleasantly warm waters call out temptingly, you’re invited to engage in water activities like kayaking or a simple swim in the carefully designated area. The gentle slope of the sand leading into the ocean makes it an ideal spot to splash with younger children. If the pool is more your preference, there’s a large free-form option or a covered spot for kids, both offer the ideal choice for a chilled afternoon dip under the ever-watchful eye of the nearby lifeguards.
Sporting facilities at the hotel are expansive, with a state-of-the-art 24- hour fitness centre on the lower ground floor, equipped with the latest Technogym equipment, including a wide range of cardiovascular and strength machines, free weights and more. Alternatively, you can easily reserve the highly sought-after padel and tennis courts for your enjoyment. Or why not engage in an invigorating beach volleyball match with your friends as the sun sets, providing a dual benefit of staying active and soaking up vitamin D? As the sun gradually descended behind the property, casting a pleasant shade, the delightful cheers of scoring points mingled with the distant sound of chilled house music emanating from the neighbouring La Mar Beach, the hotel’s exquisite new luxury beachside venue.
Dining options at InterContinental encompass the clientele’s varied culinary tastes and currently include 14 establishments to peruse. As a Club InterContinental guest, you have the added benefit of enjoying breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapes. Moreover, the outdoor terrace provides an additional bonus, allowing you to savour freshly brewed coffee whilst admiring the views from a different perspective.
The Coral restaurant stood out as the favoured breakfast destination, bustling with lively family activity. Guests can opt for either indoor or outdoor seating, immersed in the cool, coastal atmosphere amidst creatively arranged driftwood and sunlit tables. Displayed on wave-like counters, reflective of the nearby ocean, the extensive buffet spread featured an array of options ranging from continental cold cuts, cheese and salads to flavourful Asian curries and the beloved British classic, cooked breakfast. At the live egg station, skilled chefs prepared delightful combinations of eggs cooked to preference, including omelettes, eggs Benedict and my personal favourite, perfectly poached eggs.
Step into the chic and relaxing atmosphere of Novecento, where you’ll discover an alternative location for enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nestled just across from the main entrance, the prime position makes it an ideal meeting spot, whether for a casual coffee rendezvous or a more formal gathering. The recent addition of the outdoor terrace provides space to indulge in the most exquisite pastries and cakes, all whilst soaking in the amazing views of the pool and beach beyond. I sat in a comfortable seat shaded by the large parasols and chose the classic Chicken Caesar salad as it is a great light lunch option. The crisp, fresh and crunchy lettuce formed a great contrast to the quaint, soft quail eggs, offering a twist on this classic dish. For those with a sweet tooth and an eye for detail, Novecento has an extra indulgent treat in store – a Chocolate Afternoon Tea, available daily. The handcrafted chocolates and desserts from Chef Dimitris Chronopoulos are a sight to behold, topped with gold leaf and moulded into intricately detailed masterpieces, which taste even better than they look! After the sun begins to set, the ambience of the evening is enhanced by the sound of the grand piano entertaining diners.
With great care and attention, Chef Alex crafted a delightful dinner experience at Mykonos restaurant, ensuring that dishes were tailored to meet my specific dietary requirements. The soft, flickering candlelight enhanced the intimate ambience of this Greek eatery. Together, Chef Alex and I agreed on a mezze-style starter, presenting a medley of beloved Greek favourites such as olives and capers, Dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves), Melitzanosalata (smoked eggplant dip), Lefki Taramosalata (cod fish roe) and warm pita bread. Accompanying these delectable bites was the classic Greek salad, described by the chef as the perfect complement to seafood dishes. The Htapodokeftedes (octopus patties) were expertly paired with a parsnip and fennel puree, creating a harmonious balance of textures and flavours. The main dish was a show-stopping, Mixed Grill Thalassinon, including jumbo prawns cooked on the charcoals, sheri fish, cuttlefish, seabass and steamed vegetables, with a zesty olive oil and lemon dressing. Each dish showcased the rich culinary heritage of Greek cuisine, passed down through generations and prepared with heartfelt dedication. As I savoured each bite, I felt as if I had momentarily transported myself to a cosy Greek taverna, immersed in the authentic flavours and warmth of the experience.
The Spa InterContinental facilities offered an ideal setting to conclude the weekend with a serene and peaceful experience. Before indulging in a blissful one-hour Swedish massage, the indoor pool, sauna and steam room, exclusively for women, provided a refreshing environment for moments of mindful contemplation. The individual treatment room was decorated in calm greys with the option of a heated treatment bed. Kadek, my therapist, warmly welcomed me and graciously allowed me to select my preferred scent. Opting for a rejuvenating blend of verbena oil, infused with the refreshing essence of lemon grass and Argan, I sipped on hibiscus juice, renowned for its healing properties.
All too soon, this wonderful escape came to an end and it was time to head back to reality but I left with a feeling of total relaxation and a promise to return. I’d highly recommend you try a mini vacation of your own and prepare to enjoy a peaceful oasis close to the heart of the city.