Modeled after a Sheik’s palace and highlighting the rustic authenticity of true Islamic architecture, the Sharq Village and Spa by Ritz-Carlton epitomizes the perfect marriage between old-world style and modern-day amenities.
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Sharq Village is just a quick 10-minute ride from the airport and another 10 minutes from the heart of downtown. Unlike most of the high-end hotels in Doha, this luxury property is located on the other side of the bay, which means you get some great views of the city’s skyline from the beach on the premises.
Style & Character
The other advantage, of course, is the sense of seclusion from the rest of the world – the “village” is a sprawling complex of over a dozen “villas,” each containing several guest rooms/suites. And while it can feel slightly overwhelming, it’s all very well-marked. However, getting lost between a spa, a gorgeous pool, lounge chairs on a beach, and several amazing restaurants isn’t such a bad problem to have!
We were booked into two standard, connecting rooms – one with a king bed and one with two doubles. As you’d expect from any Ritz-Carlton property, our “standard” room was far from ordinary. To our enjoyment, the interior design and overall feel of the rooms mimicked the decor and architectural principles of the property at large.
No detail was too small, be it the intricately carved woodwork, the beautiful rugs, or the ironwork on the bed posts. While all the finishes were clearly of the highest quality (including all of the appliances in the bathroom, rainfall showerhead included!), it didn’t feel ostentatious at all. This is quite the juxtaposition from what you might find in nearby Dubai, where gold is the default for almost all surfaces.
Rather, each room’s design and color palate left us with a warm, welcoming feeling. In the center of each villa lies a courtyard, a common space of sorts between the rooms/suites within each villa. Some are open-aired, and some are covered. Some have small ponds and shrubbery, and others have large trees. Ours was simple yet elegant, with several outdoor lounge chairs and two or three coffee tables with magazines available in multiple languages. We didn’t find the need or desire to spend any time in that space, though I saw the appeal it could have for other guests.
Service & Facilities
The spa at Sharq Village has towering ceilings at least 20 feet high. In the entrance was a long pool (not for swimming – for design only), with thick, rusted-looking chains hanging from the ceiling on either end. Along the sides in that same entryway were bench seats with textured pillows of various styles.
Beyond the spa’s reception desk are separated changing areas (for men and women), which include showers, steam rooms, and saunas. At the very back, past the treatment rooms, was the mixed-gender relaxation/waiting area. Here, guests can wait for their “other half” after treatments while enjoying a cold beverage and relaxing in their recliner chairs. This particular room was beautifully decorated and had that same rich Islamic architecture and design I had become acquainted with throughout the rest of the property.
Food & Drink
You’ll need at least two or three days to truly taste and experience the food and beverage scene at Sharq Village. Each restaurant’s menus are varied, allowing you to sample a few bites from “around the world” and never get bored of the food. Each restaurant and bar also has its own unique ambiance and design style to be in line with the ethnic feel of the menu.
The main dining options are, in no particular order: Al Liwan for Lebanese and Oriental cuisine – this is also where the full buffet breakfast is served; Parisa is their Persian restaurant; and just below Parisa, in the same building, is their out-of-this-world seafood restaurant, Al Dana. Beyond these main restaurants are a series of bars and lounges available for a quick bite or drink around the property. From the Al Sneef snack bar by the pool, to the Al Wanis Shisha Terrace by the main building, from the cigar lounge to the lobby lounge, Sharq Village is ripe with all-day and late-night options for any palate. A real highlight for us, however was personally choosing our fish from Al Dana’s on-ice “market selection.” Made to look like a world-class fish market, they lay out the day’s freshest catches and imports for guests to select, along with a plethora of vegetables and other accouterments. Head Chef, Evangelist Liakouris, made sure to note that the key to a quality meal is fresh ingredients. “That, and sharing it with good friends,” he added.
To take full advantage of what Sharq Village, Doha, and Qatar (as a whole) offers, you’ll want to spend at least three days in the area. The beauty of this Ritz-Carlton property is that absolutely everything can be done in-house. Whether it’s fine dining with menus from around the world or setting up a dune-bashing excursion in the heart of Qatar’s desert, Sharq Village is the perfect place to stay during any Doha visit; and the staff are there to take care of your every need, sometimes, even before you realize the need is there! Keeping yourself out of the downtown core also allows for a bit more peace – the overall tranquility and beach-front setting certainly make the property’s serenity apparent.
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