Lindsey Steenkamp takes a journey into the architectural joys of Mondrian Doha.

In our previous edition, I gave you a glimpse through the looking glass and into the surreal world of Mondrian Doha. That glimpse was just the beginning, a survey of the map to a wonderland of eccentricity and luxury. As Lewis Carroll expressed so eloquently in the novel Alice in Wonderland, “Curiouser and curiouser!” This month we slip down the rabbit hole and discover the architectural nuances and signature design approach to this unique hotel.

Mondrian Doha doesn’t hold back on ambition. It’s vivid and confident. The building punctuates every step of the visitor journey with big, bold design headlines and quirky conceptual footnotes. From an architectural and design standpoint, it means business, in the big business of hotel show. Theatricality is part of its DNA. The fantasy and whimsy of the space is articulated to guests in every corner and across each visitor touchpoint, without ever comprising on its five-star opulence.

“The whole hotel is a place of fantasy and surprise,” is how renowned architect Marcel Wanders proudly describes his creation. He calls it “a space that is made for theatre.”

Externally the hotel stamps it’s authority at first sight. It’s an iconic 24-storey skyscraper. The excitement however is not generated from the scale or height of the tower, but from the unique detail and symbolism inherent in its design. Located in West Bay Lagoon right across from The Pearl, it is as visually unforgettable as it is unmissable backdropped against the Doha sky.

The porcelain ventilated façade, embracing the outside of the entire height of the tower, is comprised of 15,000sq/m of slabs wrapping around the building to form two huge falcon wings. The hotel founded its design ethos on Qatar’s national bird of prey as well as deliberately integrating other key elements of Arabic culture into its architectural language. The entrance is modelled to resemble the beak of the falcon while the podium is covered with a bird’s-nest-patterned texture consisting of white polished titanium slabs. It tells a detailed tale. By day, the exterior stands proud in the sun with its earth-toned cladding and lattice work contrasted against the crystal-blue glass veneers beneath. By night, it’s a breathtaking spectacle of shimmering porcelain and glass refracting light onto the surrounding lagoon waters and into the still city sky.

Taking the step into the hotel is like that slip down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll’s fantastical adventure. The beginning of your fantasy starts in the lobby and atrium. The impressively expansive space is filled with giant white lamps, slightly surreal in their excessive scale and look, with smaller light features suspended to create the perfect illumination for first encounters. The pure white and black ornate floor creates a mesmerising effect with detailed floral patterns that have been crafted with a water jet cutting process to amplify the illusion of depth. A gigantic golden flower vase with a crystal chandelier stands guard as you enter the Mondrian Doha fantasy.

Almost hypnotic in its scale, structure and deep black colour, a majestic spiral staircase rises four floors up from the atrium to a panoramic platform. The helical structure has a balustrade with an ornate cut-out pattern. Affectionately known as the ‘staircase to nowhere’, it might sound like something the Mad Hatter would reference with his absurd sense of irony in that it serves no practical purpose. In actuality, the beautiful spiral has become a signature feature of the hotel, and a sought-after photoopportunity element, more iconic than ironic.

A stained-glass dome invites tinted swathes of sunlight to pour through. The spectacular fitting has a majestic and slightly ethereal quality to it, as it surveys all below. It covers a striking indoor swimming pool with a character all its own.

Wanders’ vision for each space was for it to possess its own unique identity, with a story unfolding as guests travel from room to room. The magic journey down the literary rabbit hole continues past the lobby and atrium through the lounges and into an epic event venue.

The elegant tearoom adjacent to the lobby features a dream-like white forest of giant illuminated trees, called ‘Trees Of Life’, while exotic chandeliers hang from the ceiling.

A stylish shisha lounge is rendered almost entirely in clean black and white lines but, in a deliberately vivid and playful dichotomy, features hundreds of colourful glass lanterns suspended from the ceiling. “Normally you see these lights in shisha places, but we have so many it’s crazy,” says Wanders.

In the multipurpose hall, a trilogy of colours adapts into intriguing atmospheres and tones.

If the Queen of Hearts wanted a truly regal reception space, then she would have to secure the Mondrian Doha Ballroom; a 2,000sq/m ode to opulence with Arabic-patterned plush carpeting, an 18-metre high ceiling and the capacity to host up to 1,500 guests. The ballroom is completed by a 24-karat gold elevator. For bride and groom or VIP guests, the private elevator takes a direct route to the 600sq/m panoramic bridal suite.

As amazing as this sounds, I have yet to take you into the more personal and intriguing spaces of Mondrian Doha. In next month’s edition we will complete our journey through the looking glass as I explore the elegant accommodation, dining delights and entertainment spaces of Mondrian Doha, including eight innovative bars and fine restaurants, featuring both regional and international cuisine, an indoor/outdoor rooftop pool bar and a world-class spa. It will get curiouser and curiouser. Follow me there. ✤