Qatar: La Cigale Hotel
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In its rush to compete with Dubai, Qatar has scored a twofer with this sleek 20-story tower, at once architectural eye candy and the embodiment of a new hospitality concept: the gourmet business hotel. The ground-floor lobby's bespoke Baccarat crystal tables, Swarovksi chandeliers, kinetic paintings by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, and decorative wall of Rolex watches speak to the property's luxurious excess, while the adjoining Le Cigalon restaurant and pastry shop serve beautifully presented Middle Eastern delicacies such as bahsaliye, a star-shaped pistachio cake, and viscous ice cream made with salep, a ground orchid powder. The 214 rooms and 26 suites have a masculine dark-wood Art Deco theme and interactive 40-inch LCD TVs. The spa and the sweet shop are popular with abaya-clad ladies who lunch, and the second-floor piano bar is the see-and-be-seen venue for Qataris and expats who drink. (Le Cigalon does not serve alcohol.) The location, equidistant from the airport, the new financial district, and Doha's sports stadiums and university campuses, makes the hotel convenient for business tycoons; the third-floor pool, on a glassed-in terrace, is nirvana for lap swimmers.
Address: 60 Suhaim Bin Hamad Street, Doha, Qatar
When to go: Business clientele come year-round.
Which room to book: The so-called Panoramic rooms have views of Doha Bay and the financial district's skyline, but the large windows in the rooms that face the desert and the futuristic Sports City complex make them feel bigger and airier.