When Qatar’s leading name in the makeup industry invites you to her very own beauty salon, you bring your fresh-face game and you go with the flow. Welcome to Afra Beauty Centre…

Walking into Afra Beauty Centre is like finding your own little secret – it’s hidden enough to be enjoyed with a feeling of exclusivity, yet it’s such a great find that you want to boast about everything it offers in the hopes of gaining some real bragging rights amongst your nearest and dearest girlfriends.

The whole vibe of the hair and beauty salon-cum-spa is a very earthy one. Varied tones and textures of wood are used to make the venue homely and inviting. From the tables to the shelves, comfy cushioned couches and even the cabinets, all are hand-chosen by Afra herself, adding a very outdoorsy drift between the different rooms. We particularly like the plant pots, the oversized candleholders, mismatched shelving and quirky signage around the interiors. Chandeliers are adorned in thick beige rope, giving a maritime illusion where simplicity takes centre stage. There are books to choose and sink into as you get your hair done or how about the best playlist we’ve heard in a long time, where chart hits and contemporary song covers bring acoustic serenity to the surroundings. First and foremost, the staff at Afra Beauty Centre are really of a special class. They’re friendly and very accommodating – offering up warm smiles, hellos and numerous hot and cold drinks’ choices throughout our afternoon spent there. Now, Afra Beauty Centre would be best described as a one-stop shop for ALL your beauty and relaxation needs. We’re not exaggerating; this place has the most gorgeous nail therapies, innovative hair treatments, and all the expected spa wonders that you would easily pay through the roof for, at a 5-star hotel. If there’s one thing that Afra has really nailed, it’s the concept of bringing women together for a purely blissful time where grooming is at the forefront. In fact, we were so pleased to see the centre this full, especially with local ladies ready to indulge and treat themselves.

Imagine our excitement when we’re told to get comfy (and ready) for a Thai Massage. Our therapist Beebo is a warm soul. We get a professional yet attentive attitude from her. So much so that even though a Thai massage is traditionally vigorous, we’re able to completely unwind and fall into a light slumber. Beebo’s technique was nothing short of magic. She kneaded all the right muscles like dough and stretched every part of the body that needed an energy boost. If you workout frequently, this is just the right massage for you. Especially when she casually performed the famous back twist, we felt every bone fall into place – there was no pain, only a sigh of relief as our body felt lighter and more aligned than ever before. We’d go so far as saying that this is, hands down, the best massage we’ve had in Doha. Highly recommended for anyone feeling adventurous and in need of a spirited lift – both mentally and physically.

Next up, we were treated to one of the most unexpected and down-right brilliant hair treatments. Real, pure aloe vera is cut into pieces and used as a cooling rub all over the scalp and deep into the hair follicles. The lovely Halima explains that this treatment is excellent for strengthening your hair at the root and leaving it super smooth. The aloe is then topped up with a mixture of cold Papaya – it feels like an enjoyable brain freeze and we can literally sense the concoction working its magic as Halima really gets stuck in and massages it into our hair and scalp. She adds on a mini head, neck and shoulder massage which is a real bonus. You have to sit with the mixture in your hair for 45 minutes (time to choose one of those books we mentioned earlier and brush up on some knowledge). Once washed off, and a beautiful blow dry later, our locks are the most luscious they have been in a very long time. These are the kind of tresses we’d give an arm for – proof that the team at Afra knows exactly how to execute a treatment well and deliver the desired results. Perfection.

We returned the following day to try the Hammam (yes, there’s a full-on hammam on the second floor – and it’s spectacular). What we loved most about all the treatments and interaction with the staff was that there were no moments of pressure – you either reveal or keep covered to suit your own standards and comfort. Our Moroccan therapist Hanan was an absolute joy. Never has a petite woman been so strong!

After sitting in a room where steam rolls in, we’re gently slathered in the famous olive soap followed by the most robust loofah scrub that tackles every inch of dead skin on our bodies. Next up is the most elegantly-scented rose oud clay mask which is used to coat the entire body and left to dry. During application, Hanan also massages the upper back and shoulders; we’re convinced that she could detect the muscle tension which needed easing, and she performs a mini massage to rectify this. All the while, we’re comfortably lying down in anticipation of how smooth our skin is going to feel after this! A coffee scrub for the face is applied and another soapy blend of products is used to wash all of this off. We also LOVE the hair wash part of the hammam – it’s sweet smelling, incredibly nourishing and leaves the hair feeling like silk. Indeed, when we’re dried off and apply the after-treatment cream, we can genuinely say that this is the cleanest and freshest our skin has been, possibly ever. And that’s all down to Hanan’s meticulous method!

We finish off with a natural makeup look done by the queen of beauty herself, Afra. Donning a lush summer dress, she carries herself with a sophisticated stride and is ever the approachable lady. It takes her 20 minutes tops to make us party-ready with a fabulous, natural base which is blended so well that you can’t even tell there’s foundation and contour on the neckline. Everything from the eyeshadow to the lipstick, the blush and the lashes is exactly the look we wish we could wake up with every single day. It’s no wonder that Afra carries the crown for being a makeup Goddess, it comes to her effortlessly.

What makes Afra Beauty Centre stand out? It’s the fact that there’s no gimmicks. What you see is what you get: a place to go for your nails, hair, body treatments, a catch-up with your girlies and, most importantly, impeccable service. It’s not a 5-star hotel – but it isn’t trying to be. It has a unique and believable charm with a genuine sense of luxury, where therapists and staff are evidently hired based on their skills and manners – something that many big wellness venues should take note of. After all, there’s nothing better than finding your very own neighbourhood beauty spot that REALLY does it all, and does it so, so well. ✤