This resplendent weather in Doha at the moment makes one yearn to go out at the weekend and have some lazy days in the fresh air.

There are, of course, any number of things you could do, but have you wished you could relax by the pool, enjoy a barbecue and a cold drink, and listen to some live music – all at the same time?

If you have, the new Swimsuit Social at the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha ticks all those boxes. Welcome to the Aqua Lounge, which on Fridays becomes the newest hot spot in town. And we were reassured to learn that while the hotel welcomes patrons to the lounge in their swimwear and flip-flops, this was not mandatory. That was a relief, given the extra pounds we had put on over the festive period.

In fact, we were greeted at the terrace by the hotel staff wearing quite splendid ‘fake swimsuit body’ t-shirts, which really set the mood for just how much fun this brunch is. No stuffy starched white linens or the need to wear your best bib and tucker, the ambience is casual and offers a welcome respite to all the travails of the working week.

A peppy Filipino band put us in the mood to kick off our heels and bask in the winter sunshine. Al Dafna may not be the first place that springs to mind for a relaxing poolside brunch, but somehow you really do feel as though you’ve been transported somewhere else – no noisy traffic, just blue skies, palm trees and birds singing away merrily.

A quick hop and jump away are the food stations, which we were pleased to see revealed all the requisites for a good barbecue. Promising to be good to our waistlines, we dived in to fresh salads, with a gorgeous mixed tomato salad (how on earth did the hotel get all of those varieties?!) and crisp, peppery rocket. However, the wheels soon fell off the cart when one of the servers brought over a tray of pita bread stuffed full of succulent meat. A few of these were consumed for quality control purposes…

There really is something about the aroma of a barbecue that gets the salivary glands working overtime. And so it was that our plates were soon filled up with all manner of meat cuts, vegetable skewers, corn on the cob and baked potatoes. Thankfully there is a fresh juice stall to wash it all down with. Should you have the room, there are other delectable items including sushi, as well as a selection of desserts. We opted for the grilled pineapple – delicious, and it finished off the meal fittingly.

The Swimsuit Social is available from noon to 6 pm, so offers tremendous value for money, with different packages to take advantage of. Day can easily turn into night here while listening to the live band and DJ, good food and great staff.

So forget all your troubles, enjoy the good weather while it lasts, and head to one of the best poolside brunches in town.

When : Every Friday | 12:30 pm—6 pm
Price: QAR195 including soft drinks (with special beverages a la carte), QAR495 All-inclusive Package

Review by: Sarah Palmer

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