Had your fill of vast, empty lobbies, hushed corridors and muted, minimalist guest rooms? Time to throw your hand in with the magnificence of the vintage fever dream that is The Ned Doha
Anything but just another McMansion-style five-star hotel, The Ned has burst on to Doha’s city scene in a flurry of 1970s majesty and retro cool. Breathing life into a Mad Men- meets-‘oil boom time in the Gulf’ fantasy, this audacious project has transformed Doha’s old Ministry of the Interior building into a wonderland of trendy nostalgia.
This is a third opening for the Ned team, whose first property involved repurposing London’s Midland Bank Headquarters, before getting stuck into The Ned NoMad in New York City. Taking the stark, space-agey structure of Doha’s Ministry of the Interior — originally designed by Lebanese architect William Sednaoui and typical of Middle Eastern government buildings of the era — and converting it to a period triumph was achieved in partnership with David Chipperfield Architects, the minds behind the rebuild of Berlin’s Neues Museum and Shanghai’s landmark Rockbund project. No strangers to sympathetic renovation and restoration, the firm was an inspired choice to bring this concrete icon of modernism on the Corniche back to its former glory and beyond.
But this is no mere exercise in architectural preservation — The Ned Doha promises luxury, and it delivers. The Soho House Design-created interiors spread over five floors, including 90 guest rooms, seven restaurants and a private members’ club, as well as a spa, gym and outdoor pool. Period- accurate coffered concrete ceilings and terrazzo floors are softened by silk drapery and charmingly analogue touches such as circular-dial telephones, all feeding in to that particularly 1970s glamour.
Commissioned especially for display within the hotel, The Ned Art Collection is a surprising discovery and a delightful celebration of local and regional creativity in more than 350 pieces of curated textile, painting and sculpture. The work of 95 artists —61 of them based in Doha—many of the commissioned pieces were inspired by the architecture of the unique building that now houses them, while some commemorate other famed Qatari landmarks and the rest reflect the region’s family values and honour its ancestral figures.
One of the hotel’s most spectacular spots is Ned’s Pool Club, its 30-metre pool overlooked by private cabanas and mint green-striped daybeds, with the whole scene exuding an especially retro charm that just begs to be accompanied by a Farrah Fawcett-style bouncy blowout, chunky gold jewellery and barely-there swimwear.
Rooms range from the aptly-named Cosy category, small yet perfectly formed, before jumping up to Medium, with balcony views over the Arabian Gulf, nearby Al Bidda Park or the neighbouring Doha Palace. Large category rooms are generously-proportioned enough for those planning a longer stay, while the 12 suites have a real wow factor. Every room features that gorgeously retro upholstered sunburst headboard, cosy tufted rugs and a 1970s-style Murano glass chandelier as well as a whole host of individually-sourced vintage touches that bring real personality to every space — a maximalist’s dream.
When you tire of your hip hideaway, it’s time to check out one of The Ned’s dining spaces — and what a selection of places to be seen. Attracting a particularly cool crowd, begin any evening at the ultra- chic Nickel Lounge, with its central stage a focal point for live music and its organically- curved seating areas the perfect viewing position for people watching. Time travel to yet another era via Electric’s Diner, its all- American menu catering to the pickiest of eaters. Malibu Kitchen is an outdoor venue that brings the spirit of the Californian coast to its air conditioned terrace, while Levantine garden Hadika is the home of mezze-inspired cuisine served in dreamy surroundings. With steakhouse Millie’s Grill, Asia-Pacific specialist Kaia and Northern Italian bistro Cecconi’s also on the menu, it’s a feast for the senses — and the stomach.
The property’s glam spa and wellness space is home to a hammam and vanity area in keeping with the rest of The Ned’s theme, while relaxing body scrubs, massages and facials are all on the menu — along with a special list just for expectant mothers. The signature massage incorporates luxurious Cowshed aromatherapy oils: no bells and whistles, just pure, tried-and-true relaxation.
In a region where so much has changed in such a short time, it’s a real thrill to get the chance to slow, stop, and turn back time to a moment in Doha’s history — whether it’s real or just an imagined version — when things were simpler, slower and undoubtedly more authentically and unselfconsciously glamorous than they have been since. Was it the decade that style forgot? When looking back at your grandma’s upholstery, it may seem that way. But a trip to The Ned Doha uncovers the way that the 1970s should be remembered — louche, luxe and leaving you longing for more. Book now