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In Qatar, lavishness is a given. And the Middle Eastern country’s deep pockets — mostly attributed to its lucrative positioning in the natural gas and oil industries — have transformed Doha, its capital, into something of a massive construction site, with numerous infrastructure improvements underway. As a result, Doha has attracted many expat workers, a steady stream of business travelers and a rising number of individuals traveling for leisure.
Set on the city’s serene Arabian Gulf waterfront, Four Seasons Hotel Doha blends seamlessly into this local culture of business mixed with pleasure. The 232-room hotel could easily be mistaken for a royal fortress, which is no wonder, considering Spain’s Alhambra Palace inspired its architecture. The splendor continues indoors as well, with high ceilings and columns, plush rugs and a mixture of neoclassical and Middle Eastern design elements.
Upon entering my Ambassador Suite, I couldn’t help but feel a bit like royalty, too. Decked out with two waterfront balconies, a full bathroom with a soaking tub, a guest powder room, a living room with a sofa bed, a bedroom with a king-size bed and a 24-karat gold-plated chandelier, my accommodations would have comfortably fit a family of four.
But with a private beach, a three-story spa and wellness center, tennis and squash courts, grotto-style pools and eight halal restaurants and lounges in the vicinity, I tore myself away from my well-appointed haven in order to properly acquaint myself with the hotel. Nobu Doha, which opened in April and already bustles with both locals and tourists, quickly became the star of this familiarization process.
Perched on the hotel’s private marina, the oyster shell-shaped restaurant is the largest Nobu in the world at 26,000 square feet. Fans of executive chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa will be pleased to see hamachi sashimi with jalapeno, black cod steeped in yuzu miso and wagyu beef on the dinner-only menu. These Japanese-Peruvian fusion dishes pair well with lychee martinis and Hokusetsu sake, imported from Sado Island in Japan and recommended by resident sake sommelier Layne Nguyen. Be forewarned: Drinks will run about $10 more than usual at this location due to Qatar’s strict alcohol laws. Reservations should be made at least three days in advance.
Four Seasons Hotel Doha faces the Arabian Gulf, and its newly opened Nobu Doha is located on the hotel’s private marina. // © 2015 Valerie Chen
The hotel’s architecture is inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain. // © 2015 Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotel Doha
The spacious Ambassador Suite // © 2015 Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotel Doha
One of two bathrooms in the Ambassador Suite, which includes a soaking tub and a separate shower // © 2015 Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotel Doha
There are five outdoor pools to choose from, including grotto-style pools and a children’s pool with water slides. // © 2015 Valerie Chen
Swim under the bridge to a secluded pool. // © 2015 Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotel Doha
Eat pancakes at the Pool Grill for breakfast; the beachfront restaurant is open all day. // © 2015 Valerie Chen
The beautiful Nobu Doha is the largest Nobu in the world. // © 2015 Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotel Doha
Shisha Terrace does not serve alcoholic drinks, but has delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, mocktails and shisha (hookah). // © 2015 Christian Horan/Four Seasons Hotel Doha
If another round of indulgence is desired, head to the hotel’s Shisha Terrace lounge, which offers a modern take on traditional Arabian cuisine and design. I puffed on watermelon shisha (hookah) between delicious bites of lamb shawarma and saj flatbread with halloumi cheese.
Throughout my stay — and true to the level of service that one expects from a Four Seasons property — thoughtful touches materialized before I could consider dialing the front desk to request them. Next to my laptop, a mouse pad replaced my makeshift magazine version, for example. And every time I relaxed poolside, an employee would hand me towels and a minicooler stocked with ice-cold water bottles — a gesture genuinely appreciated in the 100-plus degree temperatures of Qatar.