FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Fairmont Doha Review

by Richard Newton

Jun 5, 2024

© Fairmont Doha

eFlyer Reviews

In a city of landmark buildings, the Katara Towers are designed to stand out. Imposingly situated on the Arabian Gulf seafront at the entrance to Lusail Marina, they render in architecture emblematic of Qatar: two crossed scimitars. The twin towers curve symmetrically, rising 36 floors to a height of nearly 700 feet, gleaming like polished blades against the ever-rising skyline of Doha.

Raffles Doha occupies the northern tower, but our limo pulls up in front of the southern tower, and we enter the breathtaking lobby of Fairmont Doha. Looking up, we gaze at the world’s tallest chandelier, 183 feet high, consisting of nearly 5,000 round bulbs. The bulbs resemble pearls — a recurring motif in the hotel — but also in the constant patter of light up and down the chandelier’s length, offering the illusion of rainfall. In this desert land, nothing is more precious than fresh water. Not even the squares of 18-karat gold texturing many of the hotel’s walls.

The marble floor of the lobby is inland swathes of earthy color echoing the desert dunes of inland Qatar, while the walls either side of the elevators have been sculpturally peeled pack like tent flaps. The elevators themselves have leather benches so we can sit while riding up to our room. The interior of the elevators and the curved headboard of our bed are designed to resemble oyster shells. We, the guests, symbolize pearls.

Fairmont Doha

© Fairmont Doha

Our junior suite is vast, with no expense spared on fixtures and fittings, sumptuous without being ostentatious. The large balcony provides views of the sea to one side and of Lusail on the other. While the suites at Raffles are inspired by Islamic architecture, those in Fairmont are unashamedly contemporary.

Our visit coincided with Ramadan. Most of the hotel’s restaurants are closed for the month, though ordinarily guests are spoiled for choice. Highlights include Masala Library, a gourmet Indian restaurant; and the top-floor Provok Asian Project, offering a fusion of Korean, Japanese and Chinese cuisines.

Fairmont Doha

© Richard Newton

We take lunch at Gold Pool, a poolside restaurant usually exclusive to members of Fairmont Gold — the hotel-within-a-hotel concept that includes access to a private lounge and V.I.P concierge services. This is one of the few venues in the area in which you can eat and drink in daytime during Ramadan. When I stroll from the hotel along the waterfront in the heat of the afternoon, all cafés are closed, and I’m conscious that even taking a sip of water in public would break the law.

The fast ends at sunset. Throughout Doha, families flock to Ramadan tents and other venues to share iftar, the first meal of the night. We are invited to Katara Hall Ramadan Tent, situated in the enormous ballroom between Fairmont and Raffles. The atmosphere is celebratory. A band plays and children run happily between the many tables.

Diners load their plates from the many buffets. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much food in one place. Each buffet station offers dishes from the hotel’s individual restaurants. At 8:30 p.m. everything winds down as diners head off to answer the call to prayer. The buffets are then replenished with yet more incredible food for the suhoor feast, which will run until just before dawn when fasting begins again.

We’re literally on a flying visit. At 5 a.m. — just as suhoor is ending — we’re back in the lobby, heading to the airport for our onward connection. Light patters down the chandelier above us.

Fairmont Doha

© Fairmont Doha

The lights are reflected in a 12-foot-high glass cloche, the centerpiece of the lobby’s Dôme Lounge. Our luggage is whisked out to our waiting Mercedes limousine and we follow, settling into the back seat like a pair of pearls.

Fairmont Doha

Marina District Lusail City, 6th Street, Lusail
Doha, Qatar
tel 974 4030 7200

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