Welcome to Checking In, a review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue-in-cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.
Ned Doha, Qatar
Describe the hotel in 3 words Retro. Luxurious. Oasis.
What’s the deal? The Ned Doha, a luxury hotel and members club, officially opened doors in January as the London-originated company’s third location and first property in the Middle East. Set in the former Qatar Ministry of Interior, it houses 90 bedrooms and suites that play off the original 1960s building design by Lebanese architect William Sednaoui. The property was redesigned by David Chipperfield Architects Berlin. Inside, you’ll find cozy mid-century interiors and décor by Soho House Design. While a fourth floor has been added to the original building, a number of key design features in the hotel remain true to Senaoui’s original brutalist vision.
What’s coming? Qatar Airway chief commercial officer Thierry Antinori revealed to Robb Report on location that the club will become one of the airline’s stopovers in Doha. Gareth Banner, the Ned group managing director, added that a new off-site property will become part of the Ned Doha, dubbed the Doha Club, “in eight months time.”
The best room: Spanning between 936 and 1,119 square feet, the Corniche line of suites are the grandest rooms available and include an emperor-sized bed, walk-in closet and two balconies that provide you with gorgeous views of the Arabian Gulf and Doha’s City Center. Like all of the rooms available at the Ned Doha, they house a stunning coffered stone ceiling from Sednaoui’s original design. One rung down, the Palace View suites are a nice alternative, ranging between 840 and 1,023 square feet with a dining area, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and views of the Doha Palace next door.
Did they greet you by name at check-in? Yes. After being politely greeted by three attendees outside the hotel who took care of my bags, two others greeted me in the entry foyer with smiles welcoming me by name to the hotel and Qatar. I made my way to the check-in desk surrounded by unique 70’s-inspired furniture and was handed two key cards, then escorted to the nearest elevator by the concierge.
Was a welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived? (Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice.) No—this is the Middle East after all. In traditional fashion, I was offered a bowl of Medjool dates from Morocco.
Is there a private butler for every room? As much as I would have loved to cosplay as Princess Jasmine, I did not have a private butler. Luckily, the hotel’s concierge for everything from room service to turn down service was on point down to the tiny details like restocking my room with bottled water, neatly arranging my skincare in the bathroom and even making subtle suggestions to add to my evening meal orders from Cecconi’s and Kaia.
Is the sheet thread count higher than 300? The sheets were 300-thread count, exactly, but I didn’t spend too much time in bed. My balcony overlooked the Arabian Gulf and my suite included a swanky bar cabinet, fully-stocked with snacks and a variety of drinks. This was also the first suite I’ve stayed in with a dedicated vanity area (complete with a Marshall speaker box) for getting ready. You’ll also find the television cleverly hidden behind a veil of art.
Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet? Heated floors would have been nice, as I often stepped out of the shower onto cold tiles. But as the former Ministry of Interior, the hotel is limited in the number of changes that can be made. “There’s lots of restrictions when you take on any building that’s protected,” Banner said. But in general, the bathroom didn’t particularly thrill me. Its marble countertop and vanity mirror were nice, there was even a bidet, but I like options. In my medium-size accommodations, not having a bathtub was a letdown after days out in the desert and the Souq, and there was also a lot of unused space there.
Are the toiletries full sized? Yes and no, but for reasons that make sense. An assortment of luxury travel-sized skincare by Soho Skin awaited me on the bathroom countertop with everything you’d need—if forgotten— on a trip such as a cleanser, serum, face cream, and lip balm. The green marble-clad shower was, alternatively, stocked with a holistic range of full-size Cowshed bathing products including invigorating and calming shower gels, an exfoliant, shampoo, and conditioner.
Is there a private pool for the room’s exclusive use? How are the spa and gym? No, but the 98-foot-long Club Pool makes up for that with an excess of private cabanas and spaced-out lounge seating for members. As the club primarily caters to adults, kids are not permitted at the pool past 10 am. Some may have an issue with this but lone visitors on site, including myself, seemed more relaxed and in tune with the oasis-like surroundings as a result. If you’re not up for laps around the pool as a means of working out, the club gym on the fourth floor offers the latest Technogym equipped for movement, alongside stunning scenic views.
Is there caviar on the room service menu? If so, what kind? Three of The Ned Doha’s restaurants offer the savory “black gold.” Millie’s offers Oscietra and Beluga variations on their own, as well as part of a seafood entrée. Kaia serves up salmon fish eggs in one of its delicious poke bowls. Cecconi’s is the final dining option to offer caviar, specifically Oscietra in a pasta dish with lemon ricotta. Not all of these are available via the room service menu, but can be ordered daily when dining in restaurant. Also, be sure to order Malibu Kitchen’s delicious “brick” chicken and Hadika’s grilled stuffed sea bass during your stay— both were standouts for me amid conversations and pool-side lounging.
Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar? Totally. There are several bar options to choose from, each found in the upscale restaurants on site, but Cecconi’s reminded me most of New York. The Italian restaurant on ground level is quite popular from Hollywood to Istanbul, and its sexy design language including plush seating, marble accents, and retro-style lighting at the Doha space are sure to attract a sophisticated crowd. The Nickel Lounge, set between Millie’s and Cecconi’s, is a great alternative for cocktails and watching live performances by local and regional artists. Mood lighting throughout the lobby and towering atriums on ground floor also helped set the tone after dusk.
Would you buy the hotel if you could? Yes, from the influx of foot traffic (both local and tourist) to feedback I received from trusted staff, such as my Kenyan driver Dennis who mentioned that the Ned Doha is truly a one-of-a-kind in Qatar’s capital, I’d say it makes for a solid investment. From beginning to end, customer service was highly-prioritized and I left looking and feeling a touch lighter in spirit.
What’s it cost? Prices start at $385 a night and rise to $2,061 a night for Corniche View suites with two bedrooms.
Total out of 10: 7.5/10
What Our Score Means:
1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
4-6: Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.
7-8: Very good. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.
9-10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?
Click here for more images of the members club and hotel.