FACT’s Lindsey Steenkamp enjoyed a midweek break at a truly iconic hotel, The Sheraton Grand Doha.

I arrive at The Sheraton Grand Doha with a sense of anticipation. While I’ve visited here many times over my years in Qatar, this will the first instance where I’ve been a stayover guest. Normally I make the most of the fantastic recreational facilities and the renowned hospitality touchpoints, but this is going to be something special; two nights and two days at Qatar’s first landmark five-star resort and convention centre. Built in 1982, the iconic ‘Pyramid of the Gulf’, as the hotel has been affectionately dubbed due to its outstanding architectural design, stood alone for many years as the key feature of Doha’s cityscape. The project took pride of place while the rest of the city rose around it. Now, almost 40 years later, the Sheraton Grand Doha remains a firm favourite among locals and tourists alike. I can’t wait to get better acquainted with it.

I’ll be staying in a Club Room for my two-night sojourn and I have an agenda filled with great meals and experiences to soothe and rejuvenate body and mind. I arrive with a laptop and a longing for some rest and recreation after a hard week. My mind is torn between the call of duty for this article and a very real need for some down time. Turns out I can achieve both. I really do love my job.

From arrival the experience is amazing. The concierge is friendly, helpful and switched on, immediately going out of the way to bring me my laptop from my car. Fatigue is clearly setting in for me. I head up to my room as the lush red carpet and the luxurious wood finishes in the passageway imbue me with a regal sense. This is old-school luxury.

My Club Room is a superb suite, very spacious and stylishly finished with a beautiful view of the bay and a lovely private balcony from which to sip coffee and soak up the scenery. The natural lighting, courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling windows, permeates the bedroom and lounge area. In a touching gesture by the staff, I’m greeted by a personalised welcome platter of fruits and healthy snacks.

My bathroom epitomises five-star sensibility with its beautiful bath. After a refreshing walk-in shower, where the hotel soaps are lovingly gentle on my skin, I prepare for my first night’s dinner. I will be eating at Jamavar, the hotel’s renowned Indian restaurant. Considered by local food connoisseurs to be a landmark for quality Asian cuisine, Chef Debdash Balaga has prepared a comprehensive menu that covers both North Indian dishes and South Indian coastal delights.

I enjoy a gastronomic feast, sampling an array of some the finest options. I try some delightful Punjabi samosas, a vegetarian serving comprised of potato, green peas and a Punjabi tempering, followed by sautéed Malabar prawns with white turmeric.

Next in my banquet bouquet is a succulent Kid Goat Shami Keba with bone-marrow sauce and black cardamom. I dabble in some Dakshini Jheenga Southern Spiced Prawns as my definite weakness for seafood reveals itself. The prawns are very good. It’s time to savour some main course dishes. I’m tempted by the classic tandoor roasted chicken called Murgh Makhani, which is easy on the palate. My hosts also want me to experience Murgh Malligai, the tender buttermilk chicken. I’m glad I do as it melts in my mouth. Rounding out things is a touch of Sindi Methti Gosht, some tender kid goat meat with spinach and cinnamon. After a feast of this magnitude an early night beckons in my suite. The comfortable linen and pillows make their case persuasively, and before I know it, I’m in a deep relaxing slumber.

I awake fully refreshed and ready to soak up the sunshine of a bright new morning at the Sheraton Grand Doha. My day is structured to include some yoga after lunch, but first it’s breakfast at Al Hubara restaurant, a respectful homage to Qatari heritage with an authentic ambience.

After my tasty rise-and-shine experience it’s time for some sunsoaking recreation. I spend an hour or so midmorning on the hotel’s scenic and tranquil beach, reclining in decadent delight on my lounger as the occasional hum of a jet ski approaching shoreline earshot reassures me that I’m not quite dreaming.

Together with my delightful host Fatma, I take lunch at La Veranda with its Italian cuisine. Chef Marouane’s philosophy is to create food with strictly authentic recipes and indigenous fresh produce. After a chat with him, I try the beautifully presented Lamb Loin, marinated in coffee, with sweet korma and a lamb jus. Chef Marouane elaborates on how they try to satisfy lovers of authentic Italian food as well as those with local cultural tastes. He then presents me his signature Tiramisu with its de-constructed composition providing a rollercoaster of flavours as the different elements and textures combine in culinary craftsmanship. After a light but unforgettable lunch, I’m ready to stretch my limits in another direction.

I really am partial to a yoga session. In this case I was satisfied in a big way. Vishnu Prasad, founder of Swasthi Yoga and resident instructor at Sheraton Grand Doha, is rather famous in Qatar. My session, some Swathi Transformation Yoga, is highly rewarding as he helps me master the technique, guiding me to hone my mind and push my body to do the poses. His approach is refreshingly down to earth and the whole class is unpretentious. The girls in my class even clap hands when we master a pose. The sea view from the yoga studio is absolutely stunning as we strike our poses overlooking the beautiful beachfront.

A good yoga session is always the perfect precursor to dinner. Tonight, I’m experiencing some fishy fare at Al Hubara. As I mentioned, I’m a sucker for seafood so I’m duly excited that the popular seafood night is back at this venue. The live buffet station offers an extensive variety of options and, on this special occasion, I decide to indulge a little, having a generous portion of fresh oysters filled with flavour, transporting my taste buds to the deep blue. Next up is the delicious Rock Lobster Thermidor with gratinated creamy tails, shallots, button mushrooms, fresh tarragon and cheese. The is a hands-down winner to end the evening.

After a second night of blissful sleep I once again enjoy breakfast at Al Hubara before spending time exploring the natural charms of the hotel. After a morning working a little on this review and, quite frankly, a lot of stylish laziness, I take my farewell meal at the Pool Café. It’s a relaxed lunch, surrounded as I am by the stunning views of the lush, landscaped garden and crystal-blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. All good things must, however, end and post-lunch I very reluctantly wind-up my magnificent staycation at Sheraton Grand Doha. It’s been a blissful couple of days, and I leave vowing to return whenever I want to reward myself after a hard week of work. ✤

‘Adventurous Summer’ is classified as an ultimate adventure staycation including a one-night stay in a Deluxe Room, and a 20% discount on water sports activities as well as QR200 to spend in any food and beverage outlet. The ‘2021 Summer Suites Getaway’ includes a luxury VIP suite and a complimentary room for kids, full pool and beach access, as well as breakfast and lunch for the entire family when you book a suite.’