Sometimes it is nice to take a break from the daily routine and eat out, but when there are little people to feed it can be a bit complicated. Will they like the food? Will they stay in their seats? How do you keep them entertained? In the summer months, heat is another factor to consider as a picnic at the local park or the beach is no longer an option. Luckily, there are a number of restaurants in Doha with indoor play areas to suit different tastes and budgets and that aren’t fast food.
Top five picks
Chef’s Garden is proving to be very popular with families. Whether it is for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner, there are options here to suit everyone. The restaurant embraces a “farm-to-table” concept and prides itself on preparing dishes using vegetables and herbs grown in its own garden and organic produce from local farms. The main dining area overlooks a luscious lawn and there is a beautiful terrace to enjoy dining al fresco in the cooler months. Situated in the Marwan Club, part of the Al Shaqab Hotel in Education City, the restaurant offers a dedicated children’s play area, Kid Zone. Although babies and infants will need a guardian to stay with them, the hotel staff will care for older children (aged three and up) while parents enjoy a relaxing meal. The Kid Zone has a soft play area and offers various activities. Reservations are required for parties of eight or more.
Parents will love: The fresh food and dedicated staff looking after children in the Kid Zone.
Children will love: Exciting kids’ menu options like the Lightning McQueen Soup, home-made tomato soup made from fresh organic tomatoes with homemade grilled pita; the Pirate’s Treasure, battered hamour with tartar sauce and French fries; or the Monkey Muffin, a mini banana, yoghurt and chocolate muffin served with a glass of warm milk.
Where: Marwan Club, Gate 7 off Al Shaqab Street, Education City
Contact: +974 4409-5041
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 07:00-22:00, Friday and Saturday 07:00-11:00 and 12:30-22:00
Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl–Doha
Marsa Malaz Kempinski is located on its own private five-star island within the Pearl. There is a dedicated children’s playroom with staff on hand to supervise children doing arts and crafts, playing Wii and PlayStation or watching movies. Although children under four need to be accompanied by an adult, the playroom is near the Sawa restaurant making it easy to dine together and play together if your little ones are younger.
Parents will love: The five-star dining and staff to help care for the children.
Children will love: Wii, PlayStation and all the other activities available in the fabulous playroom.
Where: Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl–Doha
Contact: +974 4035-5011
Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-18:00, Thursday 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-22:00, Friday and Saturday 08:00-20:00
Coral All Day Dining
If you are looking for a family-friendly hotel restaurant, Coral All Day Dining at the InterContinental Doha has a separate children’s area that is open daily. Colouring books and crayons are provided as well as cartoons on the television. If you visit for weekend brunch, hotel staff will mind your children, and activities such as face painting are on offer. At all other times, children are welcome to play in the children’s area, but will need to be supervised by their parents or nanny.
Parents will love: The range and quality of food at the sumptuous buffet and the water views from the restaurant.
Children will love: Watching cartoons on TV and the face painting (weekend brunches only).
Where: The InterContinental Doha, West Bay
Contact: +974 4484-4444
Hours: Daily 07:00-11:00, 12:30-15:30 and 19:00-23:30. Staff and extra activities are available in the play area on Fridays and Saturdays between 12:30-15:30.
In the Al Saad branch, California Tortilla has a “Piñata Playhouse” playroom with a glass wall so parents can easily watch their children play while they dine in peace. Best for children under five years, the playroom is a mini indoor playground with small slides, soft foam tiles and a picnic table; however, food and drink are not allowed inside. If you are looking for a fast-food option with a difference, California Tortilla may be the place for you. The menu has plenty of options including fresh burritos, tacos, fajitas and quesadillas, or you can design your own dish selecting sides and flavourings. There is a special “Kid’s Stuff” menu for younger diners, and there are vegan-friendly options including the veggie burrito with rice, black beans, leaf spinach and salsa.
Parents will love: A quick food option for families on-the-go.
Children will love: The chocolate brownies, tortilla chips and juice included with all dishes from the “Kids Stuff” menu.
Where: Near Radisson Blu signal
Contact: +974 4434-4144
Hours: Saturday to Wednesday 11:00-midnight, Thursday 11:00-01:00, Friday 13:00-01:00
With two dining and two play area options, it’s no wonder that people can spend half a day at IKEA. Next to the store entrance on the first floor, you will see Småland, the free, supervised indoor play area. Although there are no official age limits, children must be taller than 95 cm and smaller than 130 cm, so Småland is best suited for three- to eight-year-olds. After parents complete a simple form with their contact details, children are given a numbered bib and can then be left, supervised by IKEA staff, for one hour. Activities on offer include colouring, crafts, a TV corner with comfy cushions and, for the more energetically inclined, a large ball pit. There are also a number of wooden toys and a play kitchen area. After filling their shopping cards, parents can relax at the Bistro near the checkout aisles where the offerings are simple: hot dogs, shawarma, ice cream and a selection of hot and cold drinks.
Meanwhile, the restaurant on the second floor provides plenty of highchairs, plastic plates and cutlery and even a bottle warmer and microwave for preparing baby food. There are two mini play pods in the dining area where toddlers can play with interactive toys fixed to the walls or lie down and watch the ceiling TV. Parents can sit nearby and watch their little ones whilst enjoying items from a menu including fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches and pastries as well as daily specials such as lamb chops or salmon steaks. For children, IKEA favourites such as the Swedish meatballs and chicken nuggets are always on offer. You can also order shawarma and fresh Arabic bread and a range of Indian dishes. There are plenty of treats for children including fresh juices, chocolate milk, cakes and ice creams.
Parents will love: The freedom to dine (or shop) in peace while children play in Småland.
Children will love: Running around Småland and enjoying treats in the bistro or restaurant.
Where: Al Shamal Road, Al Daayen Municipality
Contact: +974 4406-2555
Restaurant Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 09:00-22:00, Thursday 09:00-23:00, Friday 08:00-11:30 and 13:00-23:00, Saturday 08:00-midnight
Cool de Sac
Cool de Sac is the new kid on the block on the Pearl. “Eat well. Play Smart” is the idea behind this new restaurant and play area union perfect for families with kids under 10 years. Check out our full review on page XX.
Parents will love: The open layout so you can watch the kids from nearly any angle.
Children will love: Everything on offer here. Cool de Sac is much more than a regular indoor play area.
Where: Andalucia Way, Medina Centrale, The Pearl-Qatar
Contact: +974 3333-4112/4118
Hours: Saturday to Wednesday 10:00 – 23:00, Thursday 10:00 – 01:00, Friday 13:00 – 01:00
More of an amusement arcade than a restaurant, Megapolis, as the name suggests, has lots to offer older children, but children as young as six will still find plenty to enjoy. The entertainment centre has golfing and car racing simulators, bowling, billiards and even karaoke alongside all sorts of arcade games. Dining options include the Diner Station (offering American fusion food), Camille’s Ice Cream, Earl of Sandwich, Karaki and the Sushi Bar.
Where: Andalucia Way, Medina Centrale, The Pearl-Qatar
Contact: +974 4437-8444/8484
Hours: Saturday to Thursday 10:00-01:00, Friday 13:00-01:00
Katherine Latto is a lawyer turned freelance writer from England. She is enjoying discovering Doha with her husband and three young children.