If you’re looking for an experience that goes a step further than just eating and drinking, and if the idea of huddling around an open fire, logs blazing away, wrapped up in your winter togs with a hot drink in hand appeals to you, then get down to the the Westin Doha Hotel & Spa’s Winter Wonderland (WWW) before the mercury starts to rise.

And so it was, dear reader, that on your behalf, yours truly, wrapped up in a leather jacket, thick sweater, trousers and boots no less, took the lift to the second floor of the Westin and headed out into the closest thing Doha has to the Arctic. I passed through reception (sorry, but no under 21’s are allowed) and out onto a huge terrace that’s been artfully converted to, yes, you’ve guessed it, a winter wonderland.

Was that a snowflake I spied…? No, it was a couple of penguins, flanked by a polar bear!

Marhaba Review Winter Wonderland Westin Penguin Polar BearIt was just too chilly to park up out there, on the tundra, at one of the long tables, although they would make for a great atmosphere if you’ve got a group together, so I went for an igloo.

Marhaba Review Winter Wonderland Westin Cheese

Marhaba Review Winter Wonderland Westin MezzeAnd no sooner had I secured my spot, than my server was on the case, recommending the Charcuertie and Cheeseboard and the Arctic Mezze from the cold starters. Sitting there, nibbling the cheeses, pickles, mustard, bread, dips and chips with a small bowl of silver onions to add a little edge to the palate, reminded me of time past invested in tucking into the après-ski snacks after a long, hard day on the planks.

Marhaba Review Winter Wonderland Westin IglooTo call my residence for the evening an igloo is not doing justice to the high-tech structure. Although there’s not much heat coming off the LED bulb, the igloo’s clear plastic sides mean you can stay snug but still feel part of the action. You can literally be in the outside.

Time now for something warmer. The Trio of Sliders no less – you know, those mini-burgers. Cheese, beef bacon and chipotle and they hit the spot nicely. Add the heady scent from the log fire and I’m starting to believe that I’m actually in a French ski resort. Or in a giant snow dome.

Time to take a tour, get up and bend ze knees! Polar bears, flying reindeer, fir trees wrapped in twinkling lights, the log fire, penguins and plenty of places to sit…you have to hand it to the staff there, they’ve really made the effort. Whereas the other outdoor venues in town are just that – the same venues, come rain or shine – at least here you feel the wintery vibe. And the menu reflects that with names like Ski Lodge French Fries and Fire Roasted Tomato Flatbread. I leave you, dear reader, to ponder what they might be.

Marhaba Review Winter Wonderland Westin bonfireChatting to a group gathered around the log fire, one of them mentioned that he found the flames so entrancing that he had abandoned his table and just sat by the fire, hypnotised by the dancing flames and, presumably, waiting for any sign of snow.

On most nights there is a live band on too but alas, dear reader, on this night it was their night off, and so it was left to the DJ to generate some heat.

Those familiar with the infamous Friday brunch will already know that the Westin has lost no time in building a reputation for being a little different and their WWW shows that they just go on being innovative. This is not a venue for a formal dinner but a place to come to unwind, hang out, have some fun and do something a little different.

Now where did I leave my skis?

Call 3359 8514 or visit westindoha.com for enquiries and reservations.

Review by: David Moore
International man of mystery, beachcomber extraordinaire, raconteur and bon vivant.

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