40 things we love in Doha: restaurants, hotels and culture for 2019

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new year and these are 40 reasons we’re feeelin’ good

40 things we love in Doha: restaurants, hotels and culture for 2019

It’s time to ditch the resolutions you’re never going to keep and invest in a diary/calendar where you can mark off every single awesome new thing in Doha we’ve listed below. It’s going to be an incredibly exciting year, get ready for take-off.

Food

Al Matbakh

Al Matbakh at Arumaila Boutique Hotel, part of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli, has just launched a brand-new menu, coinciding with the completion of its interior design renovation. The specially curated menu is full-on desi and includes an assortment of rare but delicious Indian fare from different regions. The duck curry is a winner. Try the traditional tandoor oven specialities and appetising sweets. There’s plenty for vegetarians and vegans. The roof fully retracts and the views are some of the best in town.
Arumaila Boutique Hotel, Souq Waqif (4433 6712).

El Cedro, the Tasting Room

El Cedro, the Tasting Room is an exciting upcoming destination at the Sharq Village & Spa where guests can soak in a relaxed, yet indulgent ambience and experience handcrafted bites, with expertly mixed beverages. It’s upscale and luxurious, much like everything else in Qatar, and yet our excitement levels never dip. Look forward to the sensory experience here from the aroma of cedar from smoky beverages to wood-fired finger foods. Sounds super cosy to us.
Sharq Village & Spa, Ras Abu Aboud (4425 6666).

Elements
Elements has a brand-new, bold menu with some seriously authentic flavours. This new menu takes you on an epicurean journey through Asia with flavours from countries such as Japan, China, Thailand and India, all presented by chefs from those respective countries. The chefs create each dish with meticulous attention to detail and authenticity while showing their culinary skills and passion at the same time. Elements has also introduced a charcoal grill station. And if there’s one dish we absolutely recommend, it’s the Sichuan eggplant. Thank us later.
Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay (4494 8600).

Fauchon Café

Fauchon Café has just introduced a new menu and we love all the new fusion flavours. The café has expanded its healthy options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The new items have drawn inspiration from the best of French cuisine and if there’s anything you should commit to trying this month, it’s this menu.
Salwa Road (4432 48888).

Indego by Vineet
Set over three stunning levels, Indego by celebrity chef Vineet Bhatia has a wow factor that will impress even the most grizzled Doha veterans. The 41st level features multi-coloured silk cushions that adorn velvet chairs in a fine-dining setting. The 42nd floor is far more vibrant and cultural with an Alice in Wonderland meets Mumbai theme. Chequered floors are offset by mesmerising blue and white porcelain countertops. Embroidered peacocks adorn the seating areas. With 360-degree views, it’s a feast for the senses. The 40th floor is for private dining. Also, this is the only restaurant in the Abraj Towers (twin towers), so there’s that novelty. Dine at the 41st level and stay back for dessert at the 42nd.
Abraj Tower 1, The Pearl-Qatar (4417 7022).

JW’s Steakhouse Terrace
Everyone in Doha knows and loves JW’s Steakhouse and what could possibly make its loyal patrons happier than they already are? An al fresco experience to go along with the mouthwatering steaks that’s what. JW’s Steakhouse Terrace is now open to guests and we are calling the hotel to book a table for this weekend right now.
Doha Marriott, Ras Abu Aboud (4429 8499).

Maya Mexican Kitchen
Chef Richard Sandoval’s new Mexican restaurant blends earthy flavours of native Mexican cuisine with worldly ingredients and creative cooking techniques. For a taste of warm Latin hospitality, signature specialties, rediscovered Mexican classics and loads and loads of guacamole, don’t miss out on checking this newbie at the Kempinski.
Kempinski Residences, West Bay (4405 3325).

Novikov Doha
Novikov, a Japanese-Chinese fusion eatery originating in London’s Mayfair, has finally made its way to Doha. This is the second Middle East outpost of the brand and it’s located in Doha’s most exciting cultural hub, Katara. While this means that the restaurant won’t serve mixed beverages, we’re still excited for potentially the best food in Katara. The interiors are very similar to Novikov London, from the restaurant entrance right up to the seafood and vegetable display.
www.novikov-restaurants.com.

Pearl Social

Jason Atherton’s very first venture in the country, Pearl Social, named after its location on the manmade Pearl-Qatar, has recently opened its doors to guests. Besides the fact that we’re excited about another celebrity chef name being added to Qatar’s vibrant culinary scene, the food here is pretty excitable, too. The menu features a variety of contemporary and innovative fare that Atherton is renowned for with a specific focus on seafood. The décor has a Mediterranean flair featuring glorious floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing some truly spectacular views. The contemporary art deco look is accentuated with gold details and the bespoke leather seating along with a series of 1960s French Riviera-inspired pictures adorning the central wall makes the space very luxurious.
Marsa Malaz Kempinski (4035 5555).

Prime
One of our favourite steakhouses in town is launching a new menu this month (January 20) and we are ecstatic. Prime’s new menu will feature a selection of premium cuts and fresh produce. Enjoy the new dishes prepared by chefs Remi and Rianne with a distinct focus on taste, flavour and quality.
InterContinental Doha – The City (7021 8803).

Sel & Miel
This contemporary new space has been conceived for modern clientele embracing the “la joie de vivre” philosophy. Reminiscent of a chic, Parisian lifestyle, this brasserie will deliver delicious French-inspired fare in an intimate environment where art brings joy to the space. Stay put for its opening this quarter.
The Ritz-Carlton Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 8000).

STK Doha

STK Doha, located on the top floor (level 23) of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and featuring exceptional city views, opens its doors to the public this month. STK’s classic menu along with the brand’s signature décor will be the highlights of this new venue. STK offers a modern and upscale twist on the American steakhouse concept, with culinary excellence, a contemporary setting and chic décor all blended into one. Expect lots of entertainment, live acts and guest DJs in an industrial-chic warehouse sort of ambience.
The Ritz-Carlton Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 8000).

Nightlife

B-Lounge by Buddha Bar
Biggest news for nightlife enthusiasts – B-Lounge by Buddha Bar is set to open soon in Doha (as soon as this month). The new venue offers theatrical, international-Asian fusion cuisine and the legendary musical soundtracks. With breathtaking marina views as the main backdrop, culinary and mixology events, celebrity guests DJs, a shisha lounge and nightly entertainment, B-Lounge by Buddha Bar promises to be the hottest new nightlife venue in town.
The Ritz-Carlton Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 8000).

Iris Doha
A new bar, restaurant and lounge will open its doors in Sharq Village & Spa this quarter. Iris Doha will offer an elegant and upscale experience in a lively and fun atmosphere. With its open-air seating and incredible views, we’re pretty sure this will be a top spot for sundowners. And maybe late-nighters, too.
Sharq Village & Spa, Ras Abu Aboud (4425 6666).

La Mar

Peruvian celebrity chef Gastón Acurio’s world famous La Mar, an upscale casual dining spot, is now in Doha. The restaurant offers an eclectic menu of Peruvian gastronomy for the first time ever in Doha. Offering a mix of indoor and outdoor seating, La Mar has classic Peruvian dishes including the signature ceviches (seafood cooked in citrus and spices) and tiraditos, a Peruvian classic where raw fish, cut in the shape of sashimi or carpaccio, is served in a spicy sauce. There are grills and plenty of meat-based dishes. The whole space is incredible and if you’re dining on the beachfront, we guarantee you’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of Doha for a few hours. The bar area is quite cosy, too.
InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4444).

La Vista 55
Picture a vibrant fusion of the lively atmosphere and exciting flavours of vintage Havana and you pretty much have La Vista 55, another super addition to Doha’s nightlife scene. This bar-lounge brings a piece of Cuba to Doha and for a twist, you can admire Doha’s panoramic views from the 55th floor while feeling like you’re chilling on the streets of Havana. Lots of picture ops here.
InterContinental Doha The City, West Bay (4015 8888).

Manko Doha

Fittingly in the InterContinental Doha, Manko is interconnected to the new La Mar restaurant, occupying the top floor of a cavernous new space. Climb the solid stone steps passing a softly lit bar and make your way to the outdoor area. Manko is sophisticated, with a Parisian flair, amazing views and interesting cuisine. We think it’s the best new addition to Doha’s nightlife.
InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4444).

Tahitian Village
A brand-new entertainment and Polynesian island-inspired restaurant set on the West Bay shores opened recently and we absolutely adore this extension of Trader Vic’s. More than 200 party-people can be accommodated and the new venue has live entertainment, indoor and outdoor seating and a new menu, too. The menu focuses on sharing-style dishes with some unique sushi choices like Menehune tempura roll and Luau prawns. Another exclusive feature is the meat selection of beef prime ribs and Chateaubriand prepared in a traditional Chinese oven. We’ve been regulars for the past couple of weeks and we can tell you that Tahitian is the place to be on weekends, especially in this weather. And just in case you miss the good ol’ Trader Vic’s, it’s only a glass door away.
Trader Vic’s, Hilton Doha, West Bay (4423 3118).

Culture & outdoors

Al Thuraya Planetarium
One of the region’s most high-tech planetariums just opened in Qatar, offering a rare and unique experience to visitors of all ages, blending entertainment with education. Students, families and astronomy enthusiasts will have a field trip at Qatar’s first planetarium with a seating capacity of 200 and a 22-metre screen equipped with state-of-the-art digital projectors featuring 2D and 3D shows. We don’t know about you, but we’re a little too excited about finally getting our own planetarium.
Katara Cultural Village (no number).

Education City Golf Club
This landmark project offers a revolutionary approach to golfing in the city with a range of short game formats, state-of-the-art learning and practice facilities, a TrackMan range, an 18-hole championship golf course, a six-hole championship course with seven teeing ground options per hole and a floodlit nine-hole par-3 course. Scheduled to open this year, the Education City Golf Club has been designed by two-time major winner Jose Maria Olazabal. A clubhouse services the golf courses and academy building that will both offer all-day dining options. Other lawn sports will be available, too, and the EC Golf Club will welcome pro golfers as well as non-golfers.
www.ecgolf.com.

Katara Hills
Soon to open is yet another marvellous outdoor space covering 361,500 sq m within Katara Cultural Village. Katara Hills is a lush new area featuring gardens, over 3,000 trees from different continents and large green meadows divided into northern and southern areas. The unique space promises be a top tourism spot with lots of recreational spaces, walking tracks and car parkings. While we’re still unaware of the exact opening date, we’re happy that it’s just around the corner.
www.katara.net.

National Museum of Qatar

It’s not every day that a country just randomly builds a spectacular brand-new museum. But nobody does it like we do in Qatar. We’ve just got a stunning national museum that’s opening in March 2018 and expectedly, it’s going to be nothing like anything you’ve ever seen before. The museum is modelled after a desert rose with circular disks enclosing a massive space. Centred on Qatar’s restored historic palace, this architectural masterpiece by Jean Nouvel is integrated with commissioned artworks and films, rare objects and expansive gardens. It’s opening on Thursday March 28 and it’s absolutely worth the wait.
www.qm.org.qa.

Night Market
it’s been a while since we’ve seen an outdoor space this beautifully done. The Night Market in Duhail is Doha’s answer to every outdoor fantasy we’ve had for the winters. True, there may be far too many coffee shops and burger joints, and most of them aren’t even reasonably priced, but for the sheer joy of walking around and under string lights in the chilly winters, the Night Market is completely worth several visits. We love the molten coffee from Degree and the mint coffee from Shots Café. Bel5ams has a good selection of burgers and right opposite that is a little fries kiosk that has toppings like spicy cheddar. Okay, we’re out of here.
www.facebook.com/nightmarketqatar.

Qatar India Year of Culture 2019
This year (2019) has been officially declared as the Qatar India Year of Culture, as part of the NTC Years of Culture initiative. And exactly why are we so excited, you ask? Because Bollywood, bhangra and butter chicken are all from India. Obviously.
www.qm.org.qa/en/years-culture.

Qetaifan Islands

Qetaifan Islands, located off Lusail City, comprise of Qetaifan Island North, which will be developed by Qetaifan Projects Company, and Qetaifan Island South, developed by Lusail Real Estate Development Company. Both islands are connected to the Lusail mainland through two iconic hanging bridges. And we’ve heard that amazing things are going to feature here. There will be an exceptional, state-of-the-art aqua park, a four-star hotel comprising of 400 rooms and modern infrastructure on an estimated area of 350,000 sq m. Phase two will include a linear park, a mixed-use residential complex, a retail plaza, a souk and accommodation.
www.lusail.com.

QF Skate Park
Finally, all the aspiring skateboarders have a new address. Qatar Foundation recently opened a brand-new skate park in Education City and it is pretty impressive. The park, in collaboration with QSports, features an exciting range of ramps, rails and bowls, and is tailored for skateboarders, BMX riders and roller-bladers. In case you don’t own your own pair of blades, you can rent equipment at the park itself or take classes from on-site trainers. The park is located at the West Green Spine and visitors can use the Academy Parking after you enter Gate 1.
Open daily 6am-9.45pm, Education City.

Retail & hospitality

Al Najada Hotel by Tivoli
This brand-new hotel opposite Souq Waqif is such a stunner. From the arabesque architecture to an incredibly beautiful open courtyard, there’s lots to admire. Currently, only an all-day dining restaurant is open but watch this space for a few new outlets that will open soon including an Asian restaurant and a chocolate-themed café.
Banks Street (4470 4444).

Galeries Lafayette
This massively popular Parisian department store is finally opening its doors in Doha and we are absolutely ecstatic. If you’re a true shopaholic (like us), you’ll be happy to know the new venue will occupy three levels, swathed in luxury. For a little piece of history and some contemporary shopping for cosmetics, perfumes, fashion and a host of other things, Galeries Lafayette will offer an exquisite space to do just that. We’re simply predicting a revolution in Doha’s fashion industry come this magnificent façade and we’re sticking around to watch that happen.
www.kataraplaza.com.

Katara Plaza
Katara Plaza is yet another exciting new development in Katara Cultural Village. It will be an outdoor, air-conditioned space featuring Qatar’s first Galeries Lafayette, the popular French retailer. Beyond that, the space will feature a large candy store for kids and salon and an edutainment robotics lab. If you’ve ever driven past Katara wondering what that massive structure shaped like a gift is, it’s a mini mall for children.
www.kataraplaza.com.

Mandarin Oriental
This luxury five-star property is set to open its doors to the public in early 2019. Located in the iconic Msheireb Downtown area, the hotel blends chic, contemporary design with touches of Qatari heritage, bringing new levels of luxury to the city. It also promises some wonderful dining options including celebrity chef Izu Ani’s very first Doha venture and a few bars and lounges. It’s only a short while before Msheireb Downtown becomes the new cultural heart of the city. Just remember, you heard it here first.
Barahat, Msheireb Downtown (4008 8888).

Strato Hotel by Warwick
This brand-new hotel has just opened in the Old Airport area near the Toyota Signal. It’s perfect for modern business travellers. The four-star property has everything from standard rooms to executive suites and for entertainment, there’s a rock bar (one of the first in Doha) and a rooftop shisha bar. If you live anywhere in Mattar Qadeem or Al Hilal and have a strong urge to slip into comfy slippers and fluffy bathrobes without going too far, head over to Strato.
Old Airport Road (4041 4444).

Three new brunches

Astor Grill

Try this brand-new Friday feast at Astor Grill from 12.30pm. You can enjoy a New York-style steak brunch, East on the 55th. There’s a live band, too. Packages start QR400 for soft drinks and go up to QR555 for premium beverages. Did we mention the brunch is on until 5pm?
The St. Regis Doha, West Bay Lagoon (3387 0925).

Blue Restaurant
Why not take advantage of the fantastic weather and enjoy a meal in the spacious back terrace of Blue Restaurant? It’s directly linked to Aspire Park, so you know we’re talking green. Blue has just launched a new picnic brunch with chequered tablecloths, bean bags and lots of picnic-style foods. The little ones can enjoy, too, with inflatables, colourful games and crafts. Priced at QR185 per person, the brunch is available every Friday from 12.30pm to 4pm.
Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel, Al Waab (4445 5555).

Trader Vic’s
Trader Vic’s is launching a new Mai & Tai brunch. The Mai part features signature dishes from the menu and live entertainment from the Colombian band at Trader Vic’s and the Tai brunch has unlimited beverages in the new Tahitian Village extension with live entertainment from a reggae band. Don’t forget your grass skirts and flower garlands.
Trader Vic’s, Hilton Doha,  West Bay (4423 3118).

Three new malls

Marina Mall
Located in Lusail, Marina Mall is a waterfront property that looks really promising. It overlooks the new marina and the soon-to-come yacht club. The entire construction looks quite futuristic and this mall will house everything from cinemas and food courts to family entertainment centres and waterfront restaurants and terraces. The design of the mall is focused on five interconnected retail islands. The space in between will be landscaped and the water streams will guide visitors through the mall.
Lusail (5325 6325).

North Gate Mall
Located on Shamaal Road, not really a destination you’d expect to find a mall at, North Gate is due to open in the first quarter of this year. It’s a three-storey mall that will feature luxury brands, community spaces, food and beverage options and lots of retail offerings. Although we’re still not sure why we’d drive up north if it wasn’t for a beach, we’re waiting to see what’s distinctively different about yet another mall in the city.
Ar-Rayyan (4466 6961).

Place Vendôme

Inspired by iconic Parisian architecture, Place Vendôme is one of the largest developments in the Lusail area, also home to one of the massive stadiums for the FIFA World Cup 2022. This iconic mall promises to be the new home of fashion and luxury and if there’s one thing we’ve learnt living in Doha, it’s to never underestimate how luxurious a mall can really be. Over 500 retail outlets spanning one million sq m are something to take quite seriously. You’ll find restaurants, cafés, hypermarkets, entertainment zones and every other imaginable addition to this incredible project.
www.placevendomeqatar.com.

Three new resorts

Al Messila
This incredible urban oasis is set across 33 acres of mature forest in central Doha. Al Messila, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Doha is designed to become Qatar’s premier health and wellness resort. And when we say premier, we mean a three-storey 14,000 sq m spa offering traditional and alternative treatments in more than 22 rooms. You might want to start saving up to book all your staycations here this year.
www.katarahospitality.com.

Salwa Beach Resort
Have you ever looked at exotic island resorts and wished they were not so far away? Your wish is Katara Hospitality’s command with the iconic new premier destination beach resort, opening this year, located on three million square meters of coastline in the Southwest corner of Qatar. So basically, less than 100km away from Doha, you will have access to a remarkable beach front resort (three kilometres of beach) with a luxury marina and yacht club, a diving centre, a themed waterpark (finally), cinemas, a shopping mall, an Arabian village and so much more. It’s going to redefine vacationing in Qatar.
www.katarahospitality.com

Zulal Wellness Resort
Msheireb’s iconic wellness destination, Zulal, is set to open this year and it’s going to be a game changer. Expected to be a major tourism driver, Zulal is located towards the northern tip of Qatar, approximately 120km away from Doha. This luxury property will be the country’s largest wellness offering and will combine several Arabic and traditional practices with contemporary technology. It’s set over 28 hectares of land and when Qatar says luxury, you know they mean it.
www.msheireb.com.

Three more hotels to open in 2019

JW Marriott
This uniquely designed hotel soars up to 210 m with a one-of-a-kind cantilevered swimming pool on the 33rd floor.

Pullman Doha West Bay
The group’s first hotel in Doha occupies 48 floors of the Twin Towers and it’s going to be modern and sophisticated.

Ibis
Doha is finally getting its very first Ibis under the Ibis & Adagio cluster. The hotel on C Ring Road will have 150 rooms.

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