Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Doha Ricky May 20, 2020

Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Doha

Despite having to cut short my stay in Beijing due to a pesky pandemic in the making, I wasn’t able to find any earlier flights on my originally scheduled Doha–Montreal return segment, which left me with a longer than expected eight-night stay in Qatar.

Moreover, even though I had planned a side-trip to the fellow Gulf nation of Kuwait, those plans were scuppered on short notice by Kuwait’s border controls against anyone who had been in China or Hong Kong for the past 14 days. 

Facing an itinerary for this trip that was far less ideal than I had hoped, I decided to make the best of the situation by taking advantage of the wide range of Marriott Bonvoy properties in Doha and indulging in a little bit of hotel-hopping while I explored the city. 

Having completed a similar hotel-hopping circuit in Dubai last year, I knew that there was plenty of luxury to be sampled here in the Middle East, and I figured that an abundance of hotel reviews may be helpful for anyone who’s planning a stopover or a cheap layover hotel in Doha when flying with Qatar Airways

I divided the eight nights across three hotels as follows:

  • One night at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha, located in the artificial island of The Pearl

  • One night at the JW Marriott Doha City Centre in West Bay

  • Six nights at the W Doha in West Bay, booked with a seven-night Category 1–4 certificate from the Travel Packages in the legacy Marriott Rewards program

The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, and W would check off three of my favourite hotel brands in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. The St. Regis Doha had also caught my eye, but I’ll have to save that for some other time, as it struck me as relatively less appealing than the other three options.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha is a Category 5 property within Marriott Bonvoy, meaning that a free night would cost 35,000 Bonvoy points. Using all the tools at my disposal for hunting down cheap cash rates, however, I found a Club Lounge Access rate for only 550 QAR ($209), which felt like much a better deal than redeeming points. 

Not only was the cash rate lower than my 0.9cpp valuation for Marriott Bonvoy points, but I’d also have access to the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, which I wouldn’t otherwise receive even with elite status. I secured the booking only a few days in advance, just prior to boarding my Qsuites flight to Doha, and upon landing in Qatar, I indulged for an hour in the Qatar Airways Arrivals Lounge before calling an Uber for the 20-minute ride over to the Ritz.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Exterior

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Exterior

In This Post

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Location & Arrival

The hotel is housed in a huge 23-storey building near The Pearl, the manmade island (some might call it an imitation of Dubai’s The Palm) on the northern edge of Doha.

As it’s situated relatively farther away from Doha’s airport and main attractions, the Ritz-Carlton is more suited to a role as a luxurious retreat of its own rather than a base from which to explore the city, and that was exactly what I hoped to get out of this stay.

Having opened in 2000, the building exterior is starting to show its age somewhat, especially after being exposed to the relentless Middle East sunshine year after year. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Exterior

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Exterior

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Entrance

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Entrance

I was greeted by a bellhop upon arrival, who helped to collect my baggage and direct me through the metal detector at the front entrance – a pretty common security setup at hotels throughout the Middle East.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Lobby

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Lobby

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Check-in desks

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Check-in desks

With one bellhop grabbing a hold of my bags, another one motioned me towards the check-in counters, where a front desk associate was on hand to take my passport and look up my reservation. Once he saw that I had booked a club rate, he invited me to complete my check-in upstairs in the 23rd-floor Club Lounge instead, and motioned for the bellhop to escort me upstairs. 

The Ritz-Carlton brand is synonymous with a very strong service culture, and that was already on full display just a few minutes into my stay at the Doha location. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Elevators

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Elevators

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Check-in

Upon arriving at the hotel’s premium space on the top floor, I was greeted by two Club Lounge hosts, dressed in navy blazers and khaki trousers.

They mentioned that “they were serving breakfast” and invited me to help myself to the buffet while I completed my check-in procedures and waited for my room, and it was a pleasant surprise to be treated to the breakfast service even though technically my stay hadn’t begun yet.

I must say, I’ve visited a handful of Ritz-Carlton lounges around the world, but this has to be the poshest one I’ve patronized so far, and I felt severely underdressed when I showed up in the morning in my Qsuites pajamas and a dishevelled mop of hair. 

We’ll talk about the Club Lounge offerings later in the review. For now, I did have to wait here for several hours before my Executive Suite would be ready, and I helped myself to breakfast, coffee, and then lunch over the course of the morning. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge coffee

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge coffee

The Club Lounge associates – and one man, Nicholas, in particular – were almost overly polite and attentive, clearly taking great pride in their jobs as they asked if I needed anything from my luggage while I waited (I asked for my backpack so I could use my laptop, which was promptly brought over), continually checked if I needed any more top-ups to my coffee, and stopped by every now and then to reassure me that it wouldn’t be long until my room was ready.

After about four hours, which I spent mostly catching up on work in my very posh surroundings, I was finally given the keys to my Executive Suite on the 17th floor – one that had been proactively granted in advance of my stay as a Titanium Elite member, without me even having to ask over the chat app.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Hallway

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Hallway

Nicholas escorted me down to the room and ensured that I settled in comfortably, which was yet another example of the excellent service in the Club Lounge and at this hotel in general.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Hallway

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Hallway

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Room 1707

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Room 1707

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite

The Executive Suite is the second-highest suite type at this hotel, boasting an impressive 1,205 square feet of space. Perhaps its greatest asset is the large combined living and dining space, decorated in an elegant, modern, and stately fashion that was typical of the hotel overall. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite living room

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite living room

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite living room

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite living room

The sitting area consisted of an extended grey couch and two royal blue upholstered chairs, which I thought was a beautiful accent colour against a backdrop of white and brown. A tray of Arabic sweets and dates had been left on the table here as a welcome gift, which I snacked on throughout my stay.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Welcome gift

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Welcome gift

The furniture faced against a sleek black wall-mounted cabinet, which housed the television, pantry, and minibar.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite living room

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite living room

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite pantry

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite pantry

A single round table is to be used for both dining and working; while my preference is always to have separate surfaces for these purposes, this one functioned just fine as a work desk as well, which is what I primarily used it for.

Importantly, there was an abundance of USB and universal charging outlets available on the nearby counter, which was very useful for getting all my devices charged in one place.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite dining and working area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite dining and working area

A set of French doors lead to the bedroom, which featured a king bed, a television opposite it, and a daybed in the corner. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite bedroom

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite bedroom

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite king bed

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite king bed

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite king bed

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite king bed

The piece of art adjacent to the daybed, leaning so casually against the wall, was typical of the decor of the Executive Suite and made the place feel like a stately private residence. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite daybed

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite daybed

The bedroom also provided access to a small balcony, which was much less exciting than it first seemed. The space was very limited, with a small chair available if you wanted to sit out here and take in the views of all the construction going on in The Pearl, an artificial island that is supposed to serve as a residential estate upon its completion. I never returned to the balcony after checking it out once.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite balcony

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite balcony

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite balcony views

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite balcony views

Instead, a much more satisfying place to spend time was the indulgent walk-in closet and bathroom. The former had a full set of vanity mirrors, drawers, cabinets, and a wardrobe if you wanted to unpack the contents of your suitcase during your stay. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite walk-in closet

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite walk-in closet

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite walk-in closet

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite walk-in closet

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite walk-in closet

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite walk-in closet

I’m a real sucker for a marble bathroom, and I was overjoyed to see that the hotel didn’t hold back with the Tuscan marble decorations.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite master bathroom

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite master bathroom

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite master bathroom

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite master bathroom

While it wasn’t the largest bathroom, it had all of the essentials – double sinks, separate chambers for the shower and toilet, and a bathtub. I made sure to squeeze in a nice and relaxing bath before departing the hotel the following day.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite shower

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite shower

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite bathtub

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite bathtub

Finally, there was also a half-bathroom by the entrance, this one also decked out in marble on all sides and featuring an even more lavish sink design than the master bathroom.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite half-bath

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite half-bath

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite half-bath

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite half-bath

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite half-bath

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Executive Suite half-bath

The Executive Suite certainly ranked as one of the nicer suite upgrades I’ve received, and I did my best to maximize my enjoyment of it over the course of my short one-night stay.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge

After seeing how posh the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge was, both in terms of its ambience and the demeanour of most of its occupants, I made sure to dress up a little bit when I headed upstairs so that I wouldn’t feel too out of place when Nicholas was speaking to me in his equally posh South African accent. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge check-in

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge check-in

The Club Lounge is designed in the image of a luxurious reading room, drawing upon many of the same elements that I found in my Executive Suite below, and I found the abundance of mid-century modern furniture to be exactly to my tastes. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge hallway

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge hallway

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge seating area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge seating area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge seating area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge seating area

It has enough seating space for roughly 50 of the Ritz-Carlton’s most valued guests: those who are staying on Club rates or who otherwise purchased Club Lounge access. (Recall that Marriott Bonvoy elite members do not ordinarily receive Club Lounge benefits at Ritz-Carlton hotels.)

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge seating area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge seating area

Ritz-Carlton lounges are known for their daily meal presentations, allowing guests to enjoy all their meals in the lounge if they wished. Since I had plenty of time to kill in Doha, I didn’t feel bad about staying in the hotel for the duration of my stay and making use of the breakfast and lunch services (twice) and the evening hors d’oeuvres (once).

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge meal presentations

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge meal presentations

Each meal tended to include a light spread from the buffet, as well as one or two dishes that the chef could prepare for you at the live cooking station. If the chef didn’t happen to be there when you were getting your food, then a Club Lounge host like Nicholas would readily pop over and say, “Let me get the chef for you.” 

The buffet spread wasn’t large by any means, instead consisting of small portions that would be quickly replenished. Some of the highlights included shakshouka at breakfast…

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Shakshouka

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Shakshouka

…made-to-order carbonara at lunch…

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Carbonara

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Carbonara

…and a variety of Asian dishes, like dim sum, sushi, sashimi, and curry rice, for dinner.

And of course, one of my favourite features the Club Lounge was the self-serve wine cooler, where I helped myself to quite a few pours on the second day before leaving the hotel. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge wine cooler

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Club Lounge wine cooler

Overall, I had no regrets about booking the club rate for my stay, as I found that the Club Lounge made for a delightful set of surroundings in which to work, dine, and unwind, and really added to the experience of staying at this hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Pool & Gym

After spending most of my first day at the hotel catching up on sleep and work, I decided to check out the pool and gym facilities on the second morning, after breakfast. 

The facilities are spread out over a large area on the lower floors of the hotel, and are accessible via the lobby lounge. As you head to the gym, you’ll come across the full-sized indoor pool, which is quite impressive in size for a hotel swimming pool, even if it didn’t “look” like it belonged in a Ritz-Carlton if you know what I mean. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Indoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Indoor pool

(I did get the sense that I had caught the hotel in the middle of a sustained period of transformation, as the guest rooms and Club Lounge seemed to be decorated in a very modern style, while other public areas seemed like they belonged in a bygone decade. I’d be excited to see what the hotel looks like once the entire transformation is complete.)

Equally impressive was the hotel’s gym. This was hands-down the best gym I’ve come across at any hotel in quite a few years, as it offered a wealth of equipment for resistance training, cardio, aerobics, and more. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre

At some hotel gyms, you’d be lucky to find a single exercise bench with a set of free weights, but The Ritz-Carlton, Doha presents guests with a complete set of benches, racks, barbells, and plates, and I was delighted to get a full workout under my belt.

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre

I loved that the treadmills faced directly against the marina here at the Pearl – how’s that for a motivational view?

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre views

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Fitness centre views

After the workout, it was time to chill by the pool for a little bit. Compared to the full-sized indoor pool, the outdoor pools seemed much more in line with what you’d expect from a hotel pool – a space for hanging out and going for a dip, rather than actual swimming. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool area

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

To that end, there were a series of different pools available, all surrounding a central rock-and-waterfall formation. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Outdoor pool

Poolside service was limited, and it seemed like the only way to order food or drinks was to approach the lightly-staffed outdoor bar nearby. I wasn’t sure if that was the standard practice, or if there would be more service by the pool if there were more guests using it during warmer weather. (It’s my understanding that the Ritz-Carlton even has a private beach available during the summer as well.)

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Poolside chairs

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha – Poolside chairs

Indeed, the weather was still rather chilly at this time in late January (at least by Middle East standards, which meant that one could feel a light breeze pass by every now and then), so I didn’t hang around the pool for too long. 

Instead, I retreated to my room to freshen up, hit up the Club Lounge for some lunch and day-drinking, and bid goodbye to the Ritz-Carlton in the afternoon as I headed for my next humble abode: the JW Marriott Doha City Centre.

Conclusion 

The Ritz-Carlton, Doha lives up to the brand’s reputation as an upscale and luxurious place to stay if you find yourself in the Qatari capital.

As it’s nearing a 20-year lifespan now, the hotel seemed to be undergoing a gradual makeover, resulting in varying levels of quality across different parts of my stay. Both my Executive Suite and the Club Lounge excelled in terms of looks and functionality, with Nicholas’s service in the lounge standing out as one particular highlight; meanwhile, the hotel’s public areas were a little bit older and less polished, but still a strong product on the whole (as exemplified by the impressive hotel gym).

If you’re interested in a bit of hotel-hopping among Doha’s many luxury hotels, then this would be a great item on your list, even if its location makes it less ideally suited to be used as a single base for your time in Doha. The same abundance of luxury hotels also means that I’d be more likely to try out a different spot in Doha than return to the Ritz-Carlton in the future, although I could certainly be tempted once the hotel’s transformation is complete.

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7 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Bernard

    Once again Ricky great article. Fantastic suite and lounge.
    I stayed at the St. Regis several years ago and its worth for you to try it.
    The base room is spacious with a similar bathroom layout as the RC.
    Not sure if they had a lounge. They had 2 Gordon Ramsey restaurants. Large lap pool with excellent pool service. Small beach with a nice view of downtown skyscrapers in the distance. The continuem of the beach is the intercontinental hotel beach.
    Impeccable service throughout like your RC experience.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Thanks for the comment Bernard, glad you enjoy these reviews. I’m definitely checking out the St. Regis next time, hopefully this November!

  2. Avatar
    BG

    Thanks Jane. It’s like Easter egg hunt with Ricky’s articles. ????

  3. Avatar
    Jane

    Hi BG
    Club lounge access rooms for January are 52k points compared to 35k for a standard room. Considering how good the lounge looks I would splurge for that room. As for getting good cash rates it might be worth reading Ricky’s article from earlier this month.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Jane knows!

  4. Avatar
    BG

    "Using all the tools at my disposal for hunting down cheap cash rates"
    Which ones do you use Ricky? Without status, it makes little sense to stay even in a five star base room. Those club are great but usually cost 200-300 each night.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      I agree that Ritz-Carlton Club Lounges can often vary in quality and sometimes might not be worth the cost. This was one of the best ones I’ve visited though, and I did value the access highly especially since there isn’t exactly a wealth of dining options around.

Ricky

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