When travelling around ‘leisure’ luxury hotels and resorts, you tend to forget about culture, so it is all the more appreciated when you encounter something like the outstanding piano music in the lobby of Sharq Village & Spa (see above). She plays divinely, and, while waiting for someone, the gal whiled away the time, listening to Mozart and reading an old Economist. But then this, anyway, is a most extraordinary hotel, built in the style of a traditional Qatari village, with crennelated white blocks that all look alike, making it somewhat difficult to find your way. Fortunately that day a spinning-marathon-for-charity was taking place outside Six Senses Spa, which gave a point of reference.
The entire wellness complex, with ladies’ and gents’ facilities and LifeFitness gyms, is run by Six Senses’ spa division. The company’s Sharq manager, from Ireland’s Co Derry, was there to greet me, even though it was a weekend, and she described how she oversees 23 treatment rooms – later, my superb Indonesian therapy, doing a recuperative and much-needed facial, said the spa is really busy at weekends, when, for local ladies, massages and foot-hand care and doing something with the face fits very nicely, thank you, into trawling the many shopping malls in Doha. Sharq, by the say, means ‘East’, and the hotel’s Lebanese GM Wael Maatouk, told me that this was where many top Qataris came as kids, long before the area was built up.
We had dinner in Qatar’s only Persian restaurant, Parisa, upstairs in a two-floor block. What a memorable ‘last supper’ for this trip. We sat outside, surrounded by neon lighting and the dark of the offshore waters. Chef Maghadam Najar, from Iran originally, looked mortified when I insisted on choosing from the menu, but before the superb beetroot salad and help-ourselves from a copious table-set charcoal grill, he did manage to send out amuse tasters, say yoghurt mounds blended with spinach. We started with mezze, beetroot salad, and went on to a charcoal grill put on table top to help ourselves – although Najar obviously wanted to help us to each different taste, be it local fish or lamb kebab. Naturally, throughout the meal a glass of the excellent Casa Silva Reserva Cuvée Colchagua Merlot 2014 – and the outdoor view – helped make it a very special evening.
I then had a very short night but a good one. iPhone alarm went off, I trudged back across the luxury hotel’s courtyard. It was obviously still dark at that hour, 5 o’clock, but a lovely guy from Co. Antrim was there to greet me and show the way. Back in room 512 – a 4,100 sq ft beauty, see the video – breakfast arrived, piled systematically one dish top of the another. This is, I repeated to myself, a hive of intuition (yesterday Mohammed and Simona had patiently worked until my restored connectivity reminded me how many emails I still had to answer: the hotel is upgrading its entire network and I caught the tail end of that, but those two laboured until I was online). And then my taxi-buggy arrived, I checked out the really attractive all-day restaurant with big pizza oven, food to feed a couple of thousand but as yet not a soul in sight, and I got into the Audi, already waiting with my wheelie, for that long drive to the airport. I jest. What a joy to be a mere 11 minutes away, as here. What a plus. NOW SEE MORE OF ROOM 512, BELOW