Whilst I was in Doha two weeks ago, I stayed at the new St Regis. This is arguably the most luxurious hotel in Qatar – or at least the one that promotes itself as the most luxurious. This is my review of the St Regis in Doha along with a selection of my photos.
I was going to use Starwood Preferred Guest points for my stay at 20,000 points per night. After SPG launched this ‘3 for 2’ offer with MasterCard, I decided to rebook for cash as I was able to secure a ‘better’ room and would have received under 1p per SPG point. This may have been a mistake. I should have booked a basic room for points and saved the money.
It is always good to be positive in a review so here are four things I really liked about the St Regis Doha:
The rooms are very well appointed
Here are a couple of shots of my entry level room. The look is calm and modern with just the right amount of Arabic touches.
The bathroom was of equally high quality.
There is no coffee machine in the standard rooms but they were happy to bring me a tea tray and some milk. More expensive rooms have their own coffee machine, although oddly you have to ask for milk.
The business centre is excellent
I may be the last person in the world who still uses hotel business centres. I find it substantially easier to work on HFP on a desktop compared to a tablet and I didn’t want to carry a laptop with me. The St Regis Doha business centre was big, fully equipped and always open. It made it very easy to keep the site on track.
There is a fantastic range of restaurants in the hotel
If you are looking for high-end eating, the St Regis Doha is the hotel for you. There are TWO Gordon Ramsey run restaurants, a branch of Hakkasan, the Astor Grill steak house and six other options. You will not go hungry.
The outdoor swimming pool is OK – but no more than that
As the photo below shows, the St Regis Doha pool is big:
There is also a childrens pool off to the side:
Shade, as you can see, is minimal. This is not ideal. So, you think to yourself, lets stay out of the burning noon sun and then head down to the pool around 3.30. Except, at 3.30, the entire pool is in shade because the hotel casts a huge shadow over it:
The pool also lacks decent pool service – it was light years behind the Four Seasons Las Vegas. No-one comes around offering you free ice cream or sun cream. You can order food (and it comes quickly and was more than acceptable) but there are no tables. You need to sit on your sun lounger and eat. There was also no real rush to tidy up after guests had gone.
OK, that’s the good news about St Regis Doha (and the last point about the pool was not wholly good!). Here is the bad part of the review.
Don’t book an Astor Room
I booked this room because it promised a balcony and a fully facing view of the sea. Er, no.
I arrived at 2.30am in total darkness. When it became light the next day and I saw the non-view from my room, I decided to move. The hotel was very busy because of the Eid holiday (lots of locals move in) and I ended up accepting a downgrade to a standard room along with a credit to cover the difference in rate. This took far longer than should have been necessary. Whilst the standard room was 30% smaller, it did not feel smaller – the extra space in the Astor Room is used mainly to have a dressing area and to put the loo in a separate room.
The rooms are arranged the wrong way round
As you can see from the photograph of the hotel at the top of the page, it is V shaped. For some reason my bed was on the wrong side of the room. This meant that instead of seeing the sea when I sat on the bed, all I saw was the opposite wing. I don’t see the logic here at all.
There is a general lack of ‘love’ for the hotel by management
Take a look at this sign. I could have photographed literally 25 in the same state.
It has the worst gift shop I have ever seen in a luxury hotel
For such a huge property, there is amazingly little retail. The shop in the lobby is a very high end jeweller. The hotel gift shop – I kid you not – is set up in a windowless part of the business centre which was probably designed as a cupboard or meeting room. It sells, effectively, nothing. To get there, you must go down to the basement (ballroom) level where most of the lights were generally turned off during the day.
To get to the pool and beach, you have to go through a fire door and down two steep flights of steps
It is just odd. What luxury hotel makes you go down a small corridor and through a door like this to reach the beach and pool:
The St Regis ‘butler’ concept is a joke
The St Regis USP is that you have a butler who looks after you. This is nonsense. As far as I can see, what the St Regis Doha calls its butler team is just the same group of people who deliver room service, carry your bags etc in any other hotel.
And yet, on each floor, they put a desk, chair and phone, untouched by human hands. This has probably never ever seen anyone sitting at it. You are meant to pretend that your butler is always there, waiting for your call.
The beach is tiny
If you look at the picture above of the pool in shade, you can see the entire length of the beach. It is not much wider than the swimming pool is long. In reality it is even smaller because there is a bar on the edge of the beach and a lot of seating on the sand.
If you were imagining going for long walks down the beach as the sun sets over the skyscrapers of Doha (below), think again. A quick 90 second stroll is all you will manage.
You can have a good time at the St Regis Doha. The rooms are well appointed and if you work you way around the many restaurants then you can pass a few days very nicely.
On the other hand, it really will not work for a lot of people. I didn’t see the kids playroom but I understood it to be unmanned rather than a proper kids club. The beach is small and the walk to it via ‘the fire exit’ is not fun. You are fairly isolated – you cannot even walk along the beach to the InterContinental next door because it is blocked off.
Effectively, I paid a premium for this hotel because I thought it was a ‘resort’. In reality, I would probably have been just as happy in a city centre hotel with a good outdoor pool.