You can put it down to a long and slow summer break, the timing of Ramadan this year or maybe just fatigue, but people in Doha aren’t spending what they used to on going out.
I’ve been hearing stories of near empty dining rooms for brunch at some of the best restaurants in town. And, being actually able to get a seat at happy hour. Despite what they tell you, times are tough.
We all know that the lack of enthusiasm for spending money on the niceties of life is more deeply rooted in the Great Reckoning of 2016 – when oil prices plunged and some hard business decisions were made.
Many people left and those who stayed tightened their belts.Where a couple might go out for dinner one night and then attend a brunch, it’s now one or the other. Having a family ups the financial stakes further. Mix in increased fuel charges and the mugging we all get at the cash register at the supermarket, it all adds up.
I’ve noticed I am eating at home more and when it comes to nights out with friends, we have been opting for dinner parties over an expensive night out.
What does this mean for some the average foodie in Qatar who loves to dine out but still needs to keep a watch on the finances?
It means great value for money as hotels and restaurants work hard to entice you to spend your reduced entertainment budgets in their establishment – from small neighborhood eateries up to the slickest five star places in town.
How can you benefit from this?
- Keep a look out for bargains. For example the Four Seasons Doha has a back to school menu that is four courses for QR150 including a glass of wine. Meanwhile at its gorgeous outlet Nobu Doha you can try a four course menu for QR300 which gives you a taste of this iconic venue for a very decent price.
- Leverage your loyalty. Both Advantage Club and The Entertainer Qatar have a huge range of 2 4 1 and other deals on main courses at some of the best places in town.Worth the outlay and a smart foodie will work out that the cost of the book or membership is very, very quickly redeemed. Starwood/Marriott Rewards offer some discounts at their properties for dining.
- Follow hotels and restaurants on social media. Many are now using their channels to reach out to their fan base as well as a wider audience with offers. Facebook now has an offers button, which is being used to great effect. Intercontinental Doha The City recently ran an offer for their excellent Hwang brunch on their Facebook page and Westin Doha does the same. Some, like W Doha run promotions exclusively on Snapchat or Instagram. Following can be rewarding!
- Think outside your box. By this I mean travel beyond your little cocoon and you will see that dining doesn’t have to be expensive. Places like Kababs&Kurries, Mainland China, Copacabana are serving up some of the best food and aren’t located in a mall or on The Pearl.
- Frequent Happy Hours. These not only get you great prices on expensive drinks, but also a sample of the menu. Favorites of mine are the Kanpai at Nobu and Hakkatini Nights at Hakkasan where you get to try items from their menu at a greatly reduced price. City Centre Rotana and their sister property Oryx Rotana also has some great options for happy hour. and this isn’t just about drinks – The French Olive has a happy on on its baked goods every day as does Meesh Cafe.
- Saturday Night Fever. More restaurants are offering special deals for one of the quietest nights of the week – Saturday. The Irish Harp has their Big Fat Irish Brunch every Saturday and is excellent value. Meanwhile the every innovative Marriott Doha has just started an all you can eat noodle and dumpling dinner each Saturday for QR100 or QR160 with drinks.
This is just a taste of some of the great offers out there. Please share below or on the Life on the Wedge Facebook page any great offers or tips you have for living the champagne life on a budget here in Qatar.
Happy and cost effective eating!