W Doha: superb rooms but shortcomings

After having regretfully left theLe Meridien Dubai, my steps led me to Qatar, more precisely to Doha, to the W. The W might not have been my first choice but I had heard so many good things about it in the previous months that I let myself be tempted. Not without some apprehension. The concept of the W-chain is broad enough that each property has a lot of room for interpretation. The idea of a “boutique hotel” makes it obvious, even if, honestly, I find it hard to see the boutique spirit in the excess and ostentatious strass of some of the chain’s hotels. So imagine in Qatar…

A check-in that is close to a disaster

And everything could have started very badly. You should know that at Starwood, upgrades are processed during the night, so you know in the morning by looking at the status of your reservation if you have been upgraded. Proud of my recent platinum status, I could have seen myself, as in Dubai, enjoying an upgrade in a hotel of this category.

Unfortunately in the morning nothing had changed. Is the hotel full? Restrictive upgrade policy? Too bad. A little disappointed to miss out on something though, especially since I could see when testing the online booking that the hotel still had plenty of availability.

I arrive at the check-in. I am taken care of, the agent proceeds with the usual protocol. “Thank you for your loyalty as a g……”. There she stops and murmurs a kind of swear word. “We’re sorry we didn’t see you were platinum, we’re doing what’s necessary”. Finally after a few phone calls she announced that she had found me a “W suite”. My standard room, a “Fabulous”, had just gotten a good boost. Finally I’m lucky because they assigned the “Cool corner suites” to the upgraded guests and didn’t have anything left in this range and had to assign me a room that they only exceptionally assign as an upgrade.

There the machine starts to work with professionalism. My room won’t be ready until one hour from now, so I’m asked to go wait at the bar at the expense of the hotel. 3 different managers come to me and apologize. At SPG they don’t mess around with the treatment of loyal customers. In short, after a bug that could have left a bitter impression, all is well in the best of worlds. In the end I’m better off than if they had done the job normally.

W Suite - W Doha

Which reminds me of this sentence from a friend who is an expert in customer relations: “the most satisfied customers are not those with whom there is no problem but those with whom there was a problem but who saw you solve it for them”.

Anyway, now that these digressions are over – but they show the sensitivity of the enforcement of a loyalty program – we can move on to the serious stuff.

The W Suite at the W Doha.

The bedroom door opens onto a long hallway that leads to the living room. As the building is rounded on the corner, the corridor is lined with a long glass surface that prevents the tunnel effect.

W Suite - W Doha

The living room itself is separated between living room and dining room.

W Suite - W Doha

Two comments at this point. First of all the idea of an almost transparent and retractable curtain is well seen to cut the spaces without giving the impression to reduce the volumes. Then, in terms of style, I think they avoided bad taste. Of course it is far from the warm and muffled luxury of the Meridien Dubai, but it is far from the absolute bling-bling. Of course it is in the oriental / Arabic style with all the codes that go with it but when one has the means it is very easy to do too much and fall into the absolute bad taste. This is not the case here.

The same curtain system was used for the bedroom to create a sort of cocoon around the bed.

W Suite - W Doha

The bathroom has a large bathtub and a very large shower. In addition, a second toilet is available in the entrance hall.

The fully glazed walls create a very bright interior during the day.

W Suite - W Doha
W Suite - W Doha

And to finish the video tour. One by day, one by night, it’s up to you to choose the environment that suits you best.

Apart from the style that can be discussed even if, as I said, the worst has been avoided, there is one thing that I do not understand in a hotel of this standing and so recent. There are TVs everywhere, a state of the art hifi system and…no way to plug your computer in to play your music or watch a movie. The only solution the hotel offered me was…a 3m long cable. In the age of Apple TV and connected TV there is room for improvement.

A hotel with a strong personality but without a lack of taste

To come back on the general style of the hotel it is finally very sober and successful. Finally, the room is where they went the furthest. For the rest it is rather pretty and sober (for a W of course).

Lounge areas in the lobby :

Lobby W Doha
Lobby W Doha

Lobby and reception counters:

Lobby W Doha
Lobby W Doha

The lobby seen from the gallery overlooking it:

Lobby W Doha

A set of hanging light bulbs gives a great personality to the place:

Lobby W Doha
Lobby W Doha
Lobby W Doha

As for the corridors….but don’t worry, it’s only like that on the ground floor, not on the upper floors.

Lobby W Doha

Catering: good but overrated

The hotel has various dining options. I tested a few of them.

– The lounge

Suite guests and platinum members have access to a lounge where breakfasts and aperitif nibbles are offered.

My first remark is that as cosy as it is the place is too small and it’s often a struggle to find a seat at the aperitif time.

The breakfast buffet was correct for this category. Not more. The bare minimum to eat something in the morning.

Petit dej - Lounge - W Doha
Petit dej - Lounge - W Doha
Petit dej - Lounge - W Doha
Petit dej - Lounge - W Doha

In the evening the offer of hot snacks was also very standard, but the high waiting times and the limited size of the venue did not contribute to the customer experience.

– The Spice Market

Oriental / Asian restaurant. I tested it at lunch and dinner. The atmosphere is nice although a bit noisy in the evening. The food is good and the prices reasonably high for the standing of the property. In Doha, the W is one of the “trendy” places, with all that this implies in terms of attracting a wealthy and trendy clientele that has no shortage of opportunities elsewhere in the city.

Here is a picture of the room, some dishes and the menu.

Spice Market - W Doha
Diner  Spice Market W Doha
Diner  Spice Market W Doha
Spice Market - W Doha
SPice Market - W Doha
SPice Market - W Doha

– The Market by Jean-Georges

A hotel like the W Doha must have a “name” to show its standing. Here it is the French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten who gives his name to the “signature” restaurant of the property. I say “give” because you can imagine that you will never see him working in the kitchen.

How to say… The menu is expensive. Very expensive. And above all much too expensive for what it is.

Market Jean-Georges - W Doha
Market Jean-Georges - W Doha

50 euro for a Milanese cutlet? 25 grilled chicken breast with parmesan ? It’s not the price that shocks me, I’ve already paid more for Savoy, Ducasse or Robuchon. But there is nothing exceptional about this menu that shows creative talent and even less that requires exceptional cooking skills. In short, it may impress a certain clientele who like to come and strut their stuff and say they’ve eaten at a “chef’s” restaurant, but once you’ve removed the artifice, it’s a fairly standard menu from a good Italian restaurant that would do the same for half price in Paris.

Market Jean-Georges - W Doha
Market Jean-Georges - W Doha

It’s good, it’s well presented but no culinary prowess. Totally overrated.

On the other hand, the setting is very nice

Market Jean-Georges - W Doha
Market Jean-Georges - W Doha

In the morning, however, the Market is the place where the breakfast buffet is set up. It is not by Jean-Georges, but on the other hand, it is of a good level and it is more or less what we expect from a property of this standing.

Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha
Petit Dejeuner - Market - W Doha

Spa, pool, fitness: mixed feelings

The W Doha has of course a fitness room. It is of correct dimensions without equaling the W Barcelona or the Sheraton Oman, to speak only of recently visited hotels. The equipment is comprehensive.

Fitness - W Doha
Fitness - W Doha
Fitness - W Doha

As for the Spa, it really disappointed me. Especially when you know the W Barcelona and, moreover, because I had a really successful experience in this area at the Sheraton in Oman.

I didn’t get a treatment and just wanted to relax a bit. Well, it’s not complicated: a sauna, a steam room, a shower and that’s it. No particular personality, offer reduced to the strict minimum, it is the same level as what we had at the Westin Honoluluwhich had placed the bar relatively low.

– The Pool

I didn’t try it because of the temperature (yes, in Qatar it gets cold in winter too). Located in the lower floors, it is in the shade of the building, which is rather a good thing when the Qatari climate is back. On the other hand, it is rather basic and clearly lacks ambition for a property that plays a lot on appearances and the “Wow” effect. No view, not even an infinity pool…you’d think they botched the job to finish faster.

Piscine W Doha

On the other hand, on the same level, the hotel is surrounded by tables and deckchairs to settle down and enjoy the sun. The place must be very pleasant when the weather is good (fall and spring).

Piscine W Doha
Piscine W Doha

In conclusion: the form is good, the content needs to be revised.

At the end I am left with a rather mixed feeling. The staff is very good, the room and the hotel are generally up to standard. On the other hand, there is something to be said about the form.

The catering is heavily relying on hype, but in the end it remains “normal”. A nice setting and a fancy name do not always manage to hide the lack of real creativity and culinary challenge. You can pay double for Guy Savoy or Ducasse but the menu of Mr. Jean-Georges is still far from being at that level. Overrated.

On the other hand I liked the Spice Market but if you remove the “trendy” setting it becomes an oriental/asian restaurant like there are so many.

As for the fitness / spa / pool trio on which such a property should make the difference and create the “Wow” effect, it really lacks ambition.

In the end I say yes for the room and the staff. The rest is good but really a level below what one can expect. And unfortunately the gap between the purely hotel experience and the rest is too conspicuous to go unnoticed.

If I return to Doha I won’t rule out going back to the W but I wasn’t so bluffed that I couldn’t go elsewhere.

The grades

– Room: impossible not to put 10.

– Restaurants/bar: really mixed, I expected a bit better. 6,5

– Check-in / Check-out : finally the “bug” of the check-in was superbly repaired commercially and the check-out went well. On the other hand I can’t put 10 because if no room had been available, the fact of having “missed” the processing of the upgrade during the night could have been very prejudicial with regard to the loyalty promise which is “upgrade to the best room available”. So it’s a 8.

– Respect of the loyalty program. Once the mistake is acknowledged….10 of course with a triple upgrade.

– Facilities: insufficient Spa facilities, fitness ok, pool area hastily conceived and without ambition. 6.

•Experience for money If everything had been up to par with the service and the room it would have been 10. But it will be 7.5

– Service and care. Great staff. 10.

– Hotel: good location, pleasant setting, successful design and bad taste avoided. But some bling bling accents that are still noticeable. 9

The photo gallery is available here.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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