Sirk TV Travel Feature: A Midnight Run To Doha: The Undeniable Efficiency Of A 36 Hour Qatar Journey
Leaving on a jet plane upon a Midnight Run always makes for some interesting logistics. The reality is that the increasing routing that Qatar Airways is implementing to and from the U.S. makes it more and more tempting, both from a logical and enjoyable point of view. Instead of having to go through Europe to get to an African or Far East destination, the hub of undeniable poise is Doha just to the northwest of Abu Dhabi and just south of Bahrain on the Persian Gulf. The interesting thing is that you can leave most eastern U.S. ports that the airline services as well as others like Houston, get there around dinnertime in Doha and then leave on your next leg at 1am when the hub is bustling. Which brings us to the structure of this exercise. Qatar and back to the U.S. with an 8 hour layover of good food and relaxation in 36 hours. It sounds like a lot but it is also another adventure. And using business class you can enjoy it without every leaving the airport. First the highlights of structure…then the food.
Once you land in Doha, there is the option of proceeding directly through security to the lounge with a punctual and attentive Qatar Airways concierge greets you at the plan. Everything is sleek and well oiled. An early (or late espresso) seals the progression before heading over to The Airport Hotel. Despite its basic name, the transient traveler hub is a place that let you get a room anywhere between 4 and 24 hours without leaving security. The rooms themselves are spacious and remind me of a roomier version of the L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills.
The Vitality Spa (at The Airport Hotel) offers a great diversity from actual massages to hydrotherapy to squash courts. As a guest of the hotel, you get access to these amenities. The massage requires additional but their experts understand the notion of being on a plane for 14 hours and how to venerate the muscles. There is even a Olympic Swimming Pool that literally hangs over the main thoroughfare within the hotel.
The Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Premium Business Lounge with Hamad International Airport understands its patrons from multiple food elements to simple snacks to business acumen to essential luxury. Mostly virgin drinks are encouraged along with wine which perfectly suits the fare, especially those in A La Carte.
The tangy Palak Paneer encompassing creamy spinach, Indian spices and cottage cheese with fragrant rice gives you a taste of the East that really can’t truly be replicated in the West. There is a certain texture that is elusive to us on the other side of the oceans. Another dish is a blend of Arabic Fusion called DaWood Basha mixing Lebanese meatballs with a vibrant tomato base and vermicelli rice. These are great tastes in a setting that keeps you relaxed while also getting your work done if so desired. The business center and loads of espresso, lattes and cappuccinos are close if possible as needed There are even meditation and prayer rooms, separate by sexes of course as is tradition in the region.
Business class accomplishes this on board the aircraft. And, for long haul, it is always worth it as possible.
This brings us to the flights themselves. Each route has its own unique flavor which really tends to give its crew and texture personality.
The first 14 hour route was a direct from Miami that left at 8pm and arrived at 5:30pm the next day Qatar time, 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Like many journeys akin to this (which are not many), they usually start off with champagne; in this case, a Tattinger Rose which cleansed the palate and lead the way for further excursions.
A wild mushroom soup initiated the proceedings with a creme fraiche that tantalized without overwhelming while the butternut squash salad was decidedly heavenly with toasted pine nuts, red onions, apple dressing and goat cheese curds. What is very clear compared to other long hauls is a very specific idea of freshness in the ingredients which is undeniable. They also compliment each other so you never feel overfilled.
The main course on the inbound was grilled prawns over linguini in a creme and lemon sauce with Parmesan shavings. It listened to its texture just enough to lull one towards sleep while a lemon tart with the right amount of sugar and a cappuccino lined the night.
The flat down beds of business class allow you to sleep in the way you want to feel whether you fall asleep watching TV or curl next to someone. The windows are all closed so the notion of time seeps away. You can always request some late snack but the balance of the early evening gives way to some coffee or perhaps a cheese plate which gives the right balance.
While breakfast is served, everything is available but there is something about smoked salmon with dill cream cheese and bagel nugget cubes. It is an unusual way to serve this breakfast staple but is utterly welcome and creative simply because it takes a new notion to a form while the turkey sausage and cheddar cheese omelet satisfied the structure of dependency in the best possible way.
Landing and returning to the former country with 7 hours allowed for a fluidity of motion but a different menu of note which definitely appealed to the foodie tendency in seeing how many perceptions could be interrelated while maintaining a sense of continuity.
After a tease of Brut Champagne and a take off over the dark skies of Doha and heading over the desert, the Dream Royale gave a farewell as the after take off cocktail blending Martini Rosso with its torquet mixed with blackcurrant and Belvedere while not overwhelming in its sippy comtrails.
The roasted bell pepper and tomato soup with a mint yogurt gave the right amount of pep while summer green vegetable and mozzarella salad again knew the balance without question; not overwhelming the palate but not depriving it either. It’s greenness completely envelops you.
Dinner provided an interesting dichotomy with two roads tempted; one vegetarian…one protein with a distinct balance of taste highlighted by a good selection of wine whose obvious partners were clear. The first was a sesame seed and herb tikkis (think a rice blend) with tadka makhani (which has a slight curry tinge). Again an Indian/Far East Touch (though the business lounge in Doha found that perfect balance). Add a recommended side of Martin Pouret Saveur Bernaise at the suggestion of our attendant which significantly enhanced the meal as well. The inclusion of a white wine in the form of a 2013 Fritz Haag Riesling out of Germany was a welcome selection.
ON the counter front a lamb loin with rosemary jus encrusted with the right amount of hospitality. GOing over was a Polish lady who both was extremely attentive but also wonderfully conversational never hesitating once when I stayed up late to edit because of the wonderful power inclusions on the plane. THe flight to PHill was similar with our possibly Lebanese attendant extremely courteous and extremely knowledgeable. tHe inclusion with the lamb of an AUstrailian Shiraz (Karangilla Road, 2012) gave it the right amount of bite.
After dinner saw a plaisir sucre with its layered chocolaty fervor that was wonderful mingled with 1974 KOpke COhlieta POrt from the Doro VAlley in POrtugal. A simmering cappachino lit the night and the work continued with sleep sometime in the hours ahead.
A mid voyage yearning after a bit of sleep jarred the memory somewhere over the NOrth Atlantic with a frsh texture of asparagus ravioli with a feta cheese briskness that gave way to a peaceful sleep as the tiniest bit of sun crept from the beneath the window.
Within the final hours into Philadelphia, the breakfast structure interweighed with a tonal element befitting of the vibrant Gulf country of Qatar. THe traditional Arabaic breakfast offered a mix of fresh cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, feta cheese and za’atar with a mixture of Arabic breads and olives while a mushroom para that like a crepe filled with morels balanced with an auberginge gut eg with e right amount of spice and an eggs burning which mixed herbs in swirl of yolk and taste.
All angles move together to make a cohesive voyage. All the elements working together we’re on display vectoring in a midnight run to DOha. the efficiency of the flight and connections, the relax and ease of the airport hotel, the diversity of the terminal, the unlimited amenities of the Express PRemium BUsiness LOunge and of course the excellent meal service and hospitality in Qatar Airways business class speak to taking a voyage but not letting ethe time rule you..instead treating the voyGe as an adventure and a relaxing journey all in itself.
Posted on September 9, 2015, in Arts Travel & Culture Features and tagged Culinary, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways, Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Premium Business Lounge, Sirk TV, The Airport Hotel Doha, tim wassberg, Vitality Spa. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.