Mandarin Oriental is a brand that has been established as a luxury Asian brand that brings forward a rich and proud history. With its big bang opening in March last year, our local editor Anushay Khan thought it was time to visit this beauty once and for all.
“Welcome to Mandarin Oriental, Doha, Mrs. Khan”, the receptionist welcomed me with the biggest smile of the day. Even before I reached the desk, the bell boy had already introduced himself, took my full name and informed the front desk to greet me with arms wide open. A sense of familiarity set in as I was received by the team in the glamourous Msheireb Downtown Doha setting that this property is set in.
With the hotel overlooking the sensational town square, Barahat Msheireb, there is not one window at this place that will not bring you sheer joy. With the skyline peeking from behind, the glorious newly made Msheireb streets that mimic a very urban chic culture of the ‘new’ Doha we are waiting to see and the dynamics of this hotel property itself; I found this hotel to be a breath of fresh air. I am not unaware of the luxury that comes with a name as big as Mandarin Oriental but I still wanted to see what they were offering to the hospitality that I know and love in Doha. From the entrance where the wood painted artwork inspired by Al Thakira Mangroves, the largest and oldest mangrove area in Qatar, is hung, I knew it was going to be a treat to move around here. I love how the key design element here that included the wall, marble floor, carpet, pillars and ceiling relief incorporate a geometric interpretation of sand dunes throughout the hotel.
As I took a tour of the hotel, I realized what an epitome of luxury it has become in a short span of time. With the Studio Suite that I was staying in and the Royal Suite that I had the pleasure of visiting, I was in awe of the structural setting of the place. Every carving and even the paintings in this hotel spoke of a unique twist that was given to them. The handmade panels with their shape inspired by the inner courtyards of traditional Qatari homes at the reception give you a taste of what the rest of the hotel holds. My suite presented the top-notch amenities that one can only expect from Mandarin Oriental. A comfortable room that was split between the living room and bedroom had a separate walk-in closet and a bathroom opulent enough to host a small hot tub party in, I fitted right into the cosy room and unpacked for the weekend.
“The detailing in the interior was notably worthy as I picked up on a few designs that were inspired by the local heritage blended with the Asian culture that Mandarin Oriental hosts.
As I had requested a late check-in, I headed straight for the afternoon tea at the Mandarin Lounge. The ornate centrepieces of the hotel had me taking breaks for some Instagram shots and that was just one of the key points of the hotel. The detailing in the interior was notably worthy as I picked up on a few designs that were inspired by the local heritage blended with the Asian culture that Mandarin Oriental . I chose to sit in the open-air terrace of the courtyard, wanting to enjoy and fully immerse myself in the marvellous weather. With the light wind that complemented the sun going down, I was lucky enough to devour the chefs’ skills with an array of delightful savouries and pastries. A wide variety of tea blends had me confused over my options but Chef Celeste won me over with her recommendations and I think I have finally given in to true love as the extravagant tea selection was served. The weather and my company had me lose track of time as I simply sat at the comfortably posh venue, taking in the entire vibe of the hotel. I headed to the spa for a massage and it took me a few seconds to appreciate the simple yet sumptuous interior of the place.
A simple chandelier that shone light from the crystals that were embedded on a golden brass circle lit up the entire place as a wall of products served as a background to the entrance. Dragon turtles were decorated at the entrance, which are believed to omit bad omens and keep negative energies out of the room, adding to the Asian myths this hotel’s heritage respects. Well, I certainly needed this type of vibe and couldn’t wait to see the rituals that I would be experiencing. I chose to be spoiled with the Signature Singing Sand Dunes Treatment which promised to be something like I had never experienced before. And I was right on the target. My massage, for the first time, was on a quartz bed, which was surprisingly comfortable, with the treatment starting with Himalayan singing bowls being placed on my spine. A soothing start to the treatment, the singing bowls are known to promote relaxation and offer powerful healing properties. The three hours in this nirvana put me in a daze for the remaining night as I proceeded to my room, not wanting this sensational feeling to go away. In-room dining was my best friend for the night as I snacked on a club sandwich, my forever go-to snack.
To say that Mandarin Oriental is in a league of its own when it comes to dining is an understatement. I have already been privy to the spectacular Mosaic numerous times and every time, the chefs make sure I leave even more enchanted than before. Taking in different flavours from the menu and indulging in the uber-luxurious feast that consists of lobsters and paneer amongst other delectable dishes, the cuisine ranges from destinations around the world throughout the nine open-air kitchens that they have. You’re lucky enough to view the Barahat Msheireb which is such a sensational view, and if you choose your table right, you’ll be overlooking the Corniche and the Doha skyline too! You can find the local design elements here as well as the cushions at the hotel are inspired by the cushions found in Al Wakra Souq that showcase the country’s pearling heritage with the sea blue colour and lines inspired by pearling nets.
IZU, on the other hand, is a deal of its own. A restaurant that takes inspiration from the deck of a show boat, I could see the impact that local surroundings also had with the design, its French Mediterranean cuisine will lure you in with the most scrumptious delights. It gets pretty crowded for dinner time as locals make an advanced booking and don’t blame them at all – the seating right next to the town square and even the indoor interior that reflects Chef Izu’s personal liking of nature and authentic food; this restaurant is an experience one must have. Inspired by the chef ’s journey across Spain, France, England, and the Middle East, you’re going to experience a fusion of delight with the menu of this restaurant. You cannot leave the restaurant without trying the whole roasted chicken, foie gras and truffle sauce! I hear the burrata with cherry tomatoes and basil is also one of the most loved starters here. As for me, I would highly recommend trying their breakfast as well because french toasts have truly never been more true of the whole melt-in-your-mouth mantra.
If you think the desserts at the restaurants are something you’d be interested in coming back to, you haven’t even peeked into Gelato then. Even though I hold the restaurant desserts in high value, Gelato’s homemade delicacies are something that certainly won me over. A sucker for cute little cafes, I was welcomed to an adorable little venue to show off the colourful side of desserts, and you absolutely MUST order the nitrogen ice-creamology for a bit of theatre that just adds to the ongoing treat this place is.
No hotel is complete with some fun with the bartenders at their lounge. The al-fresco area of Aqua and the completely opposite Ambar with its chill vibes, I couldn’t decide which one I was more attracted to. Both the places have their own thrill and as I enjoyed one of the best drinks of my life at Aqua, Ambar came through as fierce competition, getting an edge over Aqua at this point. Hotel guests casually lounged here as you see the mixologist engaging unobtrusively with everyone. They make drinks according to your taste and I do not believe a girl could ask for more. My weekend at Mandarin Oriental can only be described in one word: exceptional. The staff were super friendly, everyone knew my name by the end of the day, I was greeted by the same team – whether it was their shift or not – and I was made to feel like I truly belonged. Making friends, having some time to enjoy on my own and simply sitting next to the windows that let in the bright Doha sun, my weekend was a complete journey on its own.
For reservations and more information, please call 4008 8888 @mo_doha
“A soothing start to the treatment, the singing bowls are known to promote relaxation and offer powerful healing properties.”