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- Introduction: Oceania Cruises’ Vista Inaugural Sailings
- Tips For Maximizing Your Oceania Cruises Booking
- Flying to Ljubljana, the New Gateway for “Venice” Cruises!?!
- Flight/Lounge Review – United Polaris Experience
- Flight Connection at Brussels International Airport (BRU)
- Intercontinental Ljubljana Review – Booked Using CC Free Night Certificate
- Getting From Ljubljana to Trieste, Our Experience Using Daytrip
- Our Experience on a (Nearly) Inaugural Sailing
- Ship Review – Oceania Cruises New Vista
- Oceania Cruises New Vista Dining Review
- Oceania Cruises Bars, Lounges, and the New Mixology Program
- Oceania Cruises Vista Cabin and Suite Overview Including Penthouse (PH-2 with extended balcony) Review
- Athens to Atlanta via Doha, Our First Experience in QSuites
- Katara Hills Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts Review – Booked Using CC Free Night Certificate
This is the final post in our extended review series of our nearly inaugural cruise on Oceania Cruises’ new Vista and the travel that bookended this wonderful trip. If you’ve made it through this entire series, my first on Frequent Floaters, thank you. If you’ve found this post because you’re looking for a review of the Katara Hills Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts you will not be disappointed, we certainly weren’t.
How do you cap off an amazing trip on a glitzy new ship? I knew we couldn’t stay at just any hotel, it had to be memorable. It also had to convince my loving wife that a 12-hour stopover in Doha, Qatar was a good idea. The good news is Doha is absolutely packed with amazing hotels at lower prices than you would find for comparable hotels in other parts of the world both in cash and in points. I was looking to get maximum value out of one of the hotel free night certificates that we each earn annually for holding the credit cards and paying the annual fees. There’s amazing value to be had from cards associated with Marriott Bonvoy, IHG, and Hyatt. But in this case I was focused on Hilton Honors because their program, in my opinion, allows for the most generous redemptions of any of the major programs using annual free night certificates.
Katara Hills Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts immediately grabbed me as each room is located in a free-standing villa on the highest point in Doha. Katara Hills is also an LXR Hotel and Resort making it part of an exclusive (there are only 14 hotels at time of publication) luxury hotel brand under the expansive Hilton program. Hilton describes the brand as “A Collection of Independent and Spirited Luxury Properties Found in the World’s Most Alluring Destinations.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t tell me a lot. I would define LXR as a more contemporary take on ultra luxury with a focus on modern design and local culture. Think the level of luxury and service you would expect at another Hilton ultra luxury brand – Waldorf Astoria, but for a younger, more worldly and adventurous crowd.
The cash price for just a single night in an “entry level” villa was over $1,900 US based on conversion rates at the time we booked. We hold both the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and made use of the annual free night certificates at amazing properties where the nightly rate easily exceeds the annual fee, most recently for a quick stay at the Hotel del Coronado. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card provides a number of benefits including, with a recent refresh of the card, a $50 quarterly Hilton Statement Credit as well as the ability to earn a free night reward after spending $15,000 in a calendar year. The Aspire Card provides an annual free night certificate each year after you pay the annual fee and also offers $200 bi-annual resort credits (previously this card offered a single annual $250 resort credit). Chris recently had a post covering the benefits of these two Hilton Honors American Express cards and more.
I’ll start with a negative here – for a quick overnight in Doha this hotel isn’t the most conveniently located as we could have stayed much closer to the airport. It took us about 40 minutes to get from airport to hotel in the evening and a bit over 30 minutes to return in the morning.
Now for the positives. The hotel is a real knock-out from the moment you arrive. The buildings are located on a single “street” at the top of the hill in a line. They are surrounded by native plantings and had beautiful accent lighting that really accentuated the architecture by night. Check-in was in a dedicated building and was friendly and fast. We were then shown to a golf cart for a short ride to our villa with our luggage. The friendly porter helped us unload everything into the villa and then gave us a tour. Typically these aren’t necessary (and can be awkward and feel like it’s all being done to extract a tip) but in this case it was helpful, friendly, and done with great hospitality. With two floors, two full baths, a kitchen, living room, private pool, upstairs bedroom, and more.
Upon walking in we were greeted by an over-the-top display of welcome goodies on the dining table featuring regional treats like dates, nuts, pastries, and chocolates as well as a month’s worth of fruit. (How they thought we could make a dent in this in a single night is beyond me.)
The kitchen had a Nespresso maker, small refrigerator, microwave, and an ice maker. There were additional complimentary goodies in the cabinets including bags of pistachios.
To the right of the kitchen area is a massive living room.
The living room had lots of comfortable seating, books and magazines, as well as a large wall mounted TV. The draperies were electrically controlled to reveal a generously sized personal pool with views of the Doha skyline in the distance.
The pool was so tempting that I might have taken a swim around midnight after dinner and just 4 or so hours before our alarm went off to head back to the airport.
Beside the pool were two plush lounge chairs that included complimentary sun-hats and fluffy towels.
Heading back inside, past the full first-floor guest bathroom, we headed upstairs.
The loft bedroom was perhaps the least interesting part of the villa as it was fairly compact and taken up by a king sized bed and a dressing area behind the headboard. Through the dressing area was the primary bathroom that was large, luxurious, and had a desert aesthetic with plaster finishes, rusticated stone, and hand woven textiles (as opposed to the sea of polished marble you find in most luxury hotels).
The villa was amazing, but we were hungry and headed out to dinner at the on-property restaurant – Gymkhana, which serves modern and traditional Indian cuisine. This is a second location with the original “flagship” in London.
We were greeted by a friendly hostess and immediately shown to a cozy table.
A waiter immediately appeared and began walking us through the menu.
We explained our gluten free diets as well as our preferences and he began to help us prepare for what turned out to be a feast which began with delicious pappadam bread and three sauces.
TIP: Katara Hills is dry, with no alcohol served on property due to the location being considered part of the cultural heritage of the area. For our short stay this was fine by us, but might discourage us from staying here for a multi-day visit.
The lamb and rice dishes that followed were excellent.
After way too much food we waked the short distance back to the hotel to check out our pool and the views.
As tempting as it was to stay up all night and sleep on the flight the next day we were similarly excited about our first Qatar QSuites experience so we forced ourselves to go to bed for a few hours. Soon the sun began to light the sky and we were headed back to the airport, but not before soaking up the beauty of our villa one last time.
Check-out was slightly complicated as we were told that in Qatar you had to be present when your credit card is used so we had to return to reception to swipe and pay the final bill (which was only our dinner charges).
Overall this was an AMAZING use of a free night certificate and completely worth the loss of sleep involved in making this happen. In a trip filled with highlights, this was high on the list.
And with this post we end this series on our Oceania Vista cruise. I welcome your feedback on what we can cover better in future series as we’re soon to head out on our Galapagos cruise with Celebrity Cruises. Best – Michael
Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FrequentFloaters and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities
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