*Due to popular demand this post was updated in May 2017. Hic
My love of Happy Hours extends back to my university days (sometime in the 1900s) when the Wentworth Bar at Sydney University offered $1 cocktails. They were brown and sticky and frankly lethal, but a great deal. From what I remember.
In a city where a good meal can cost upwards of QR500 for two, Happy Hours are the way to have a great night out and still have some change for the car ride home. I must applaud some of the big ticket hotels in this city for embracing this idea – based on the theory that customers will come back for more.
A new favorite for me is Boston’s at City Centre Rotana – smoke free until 11pm, inventive and tasty food and switched on staff make this great for couples and big groups alike. Open from 5pm, it also has a happy hour until 8pm and a variety of theme nights including discounts for teachers on Tuesdays. I really don’t know what took me so long to find this place, I mean they sell sausage by the meter!
Another newcomer making some serious waves is the Shangri-La Doha witha range of options for those looking for a happy hour or two. Their excellent restaurant and bar, the Shanghai Club has free sparkling wine ALL NIGHT for ladies every Wednesday and their smoke-free bar The Den has one of the longest happy hours in town from 5pm.
W Doha is the original and the best when it comes to Happy Hour. Their Sip n Savor in Spice Market is legendary – reduced priced cocktails and drinks with a free snack off their menu. It runs Sunday to Thursday 530pm to 730pm and the crowds waiting for it to open are legendary yet patient. I have also been known to eat all of the spicy shrimp. The bar area can get lively but it’s always a great vibe with cheerful service. Plus you get free popcorn and other crispy snacks. Free popcorn!
Their Italian restaurant, La Spiga has a similar offer from 5pm to 7pm Sunday to Thursday. A smaller bar area means it can be cosy, but the drinks (including Negronis and Italian wines) and the never-ending plates of crispy garlic flatbread make up for the close proximity. Check out the crispy calamari and zucchini on the bar menu – a great foil to the drinks.
In their signature restaurant, Market, a new concept has been introduced – Gin O’Clock. They had me at gin. Really. Saturday to Thursday between 5pm and 7pm for just QR120 you can act all sophisticated with a variety of gin cocktails soaked up by some fabulous canapes. Book the taxi. The atmosphere in Market is buzzy and the cocktails creative (one of mine had rosemary).
The Big Daddy of Happy Hours in Doha at the moment is Nobu Doha. Frankly it’s astounding value – a world class restaurant, interesting drinks, well priced snacks and that view.
Between 6pm and 8pm every night their Kanpai Happy Hour has become the place to be. People swarm the two bars and outdoor terrace for prices from QR35 glasses of wine and cocktails, QR30 for beers, QR45 for sake QR35 for spirits. Then there are the QR30 snacks on the extensive menu. Standouts are the tiny salmon tacos, wagyu beef dumplings and the black miso cod. All are versions of items from the Nobu menu.So you get a taste of Nobu at Happy Hour prices.
Every Saturday they also have a great offer – S3 -which is Saturday Sip and Sushi. Expect a range of well priced cocktails and sushi selection to accompany. A great way to ease into the working week!
Be warned, get there on the dot of 6pm for a seat and Mondays is ladies night – with happy hour prices for ladies all night. Also, if you plan to drive on busy nights (Mondays and Thursdays) ditch the car and get a club car from the entrance of the hotel, the line for drop-off can be long. In all, in spite of the growing crowds, a very good night – delicious food, cool vibes and friendly service.
Back on the mainland, Elements at Four Seasons Doha is fast becoming a go-to venue. Their relaxed bar area with braces-wearing mixologists and comfy couches is winning fans, as is their creative cocktail menu. Their Four by Four Happy Hour menu has cocktails inspired by the elements – earth, fire, water and air and runs from 4pm to 7pm Sunday to Thursday. Wednesday is Ladies Night from 4pm and they even have a Saturday Happy Hour from 4pm. My favorite part (apart from the White Lady gin cocktail, is the Tapas Trolley offering well priced snacks from the menu.
An erstwhile favorite is the Belgian Cafe Doha which has one of the earliest Happy Hours in town – from 12.30pm. The new outdoor terrace has removed the “smokey and blokey” feeling it had before. Try to cal ahead to reserve a table if you have a big group.
The excellent Nozomi at the Marsa Malasz Kempinksi at The Pearl has an excellent and sophisticated happy hour every Tuesday, with some Japanese inspired cocktails starting from QR35. It starts at 4pm for those of us who get off work before the crush.
It’s not all about the West Bay crowd, back towards the Airport are a couple of great value nights out. Misturado at the Crowne Plaza Doha is a well kept secret I am loathe to expose. Happy Hour is 5pm to 7pm with discounts on drinks and a good selection of bar snacks.
Meanwhile over Sharq Village and Spa the always lovely terrace at the Al Dana restaurant hosts Happy Hours. The once understated cigar Bar now runs a popular happy hour nightly from 5pm with half price drinks. Ladies night is every Tuesday with drink for QR10 (seriously!). another hidden gem is C-Lounge over the other side of the resort, which has stunning views, a laid back vibe and a selection of delicious bar snacks from the chef. Open from 2pm – bookings advised!
This is by no means an exhaustive list – just the places and deals I go back to again and again (and again….). I will update this post as new ones emerge.
What is your favorite Happy Hour?
*I was a guest of W Doha for their Gin O’Clock launch but opinions are my own and you know, I really, really love gin. And snacks. I also love snacks.