Do kids belong at an expat brunch?

Do kids belong at an expat brunch?

We must have looked like kids in a sweet shop when we went to our first brunch. Having secured a babysitter to relieve us for the first time since moving to the region, we were excited. I didn’t know what to expect but my word how it turned out to be fun! Looking around throughout the afternoon, I couldn’t help but find it difficult to imagine bringing my kids to brunch.

What is brunch?

For those of you who don’t know, brunch is a bit of an expat tradition in the Middle East. Originally something that you would go to in Dubai, some hotels in other GCC countries also do it, including Doha. I was initially confides: brunch for me was something happening between breakfast and lunch and always involved eggs. Since having kids it was more like a late breakfast than anything. Here, it doesn’t start until 12 or 12.30 and there’s not an egg in sight.

kids at expat brunch - a plate of sushi

Nom nom nom!

Our first few brunches were pretty epic. Starting at Nobu at the Four Seasons (still one of my favourite ever brunches), we proceeded to eat our way around the city on Friday afternoons. We tried not to do it too often – it’s not a cheap affair (although I would say it’s one of the best ways to enjoy the more expensive restaurants) and over-indulging every weekend would take it’s toll on my waistline quite apart from anything else.

kids at expat brunch - Rock Shrimp Salad

Rock shrimp salad – my favourite dish at Nobu!

 

Favourites included the Elements at the Four Seasons and Nozomi at the Kempinkski as well as, of course, Nobu. I’m painfully aware that there are MANY that we have not yet tried. Maybe I’ll make it my mission to get round them all!

Why do brunch?

It sounds so lame, but lots of times I find going out in the evening quite stressful and tiring. We try to do bedtime before we leave and then end up rushing around to get out on time. After a long week, a takeaway in front of the TV is often more appealing than going out! I love being out when I get there but sometimes it’s just more than we can handle.

kids at expat brunch - me with some of my expat friends

Brunch is a friendly affair but is it a family affair?

So to go out with friends during the day is a great way to getup without missing bedtime (theirs or ours haha). For us, brunch is an entirely social affair – the bigger the group the better really – but I also have friends who do brunch instead of date night and love it.

Missing out

Honestly? After a while I began to get a bit tired of brunches. Not that they weren’t enjoyable, but the fact is that you end up missing most of the weekend with your Things. You can definitely overdo the brunch scene even when you’re careful, as we have been, to space them out as much as you can.

Before

If you’re the sort of person who needs a while to get ready (luckily I’m not), then you miss half the morning getting ready.

During

You’ll spend the whole afternoon out. You may even go on somewhere else and end up missing bedtime altogether (either intentionally or not).

After

Inevitably the next day is a quiet affair with you recovering and needing naps while the Things bounce around and take advantage of your weakness to demand extra screen time.

It’s not ideal

When the Things were smaller and I saw more of them during the week, a Friday brunch was quite a nice escape but these days I’m finding they are so busy with school, extra curricular activities and homework that I resent missing out on time with them at the weekend. I’m all too conscious that as time goes on they’re going to get busier and busier and spending time with mummy and daddy is going to be less and less appealing to them!

So should we just give up brunch?

Absolutely not!

The good news is that hotels in Doha are really recognising the family nature of the city and catering accordingly.

kids at expat brunch - kids set up at the golf club

We live in the Middle East – it’s the perfect place to brunch outside

Having done a couple of kid friendly brunches at the Ritz-Carlton and the Golf Club with the Intercontinental, we were really excited to be invited to the Four Seasons to try their newly launched family friendly brunch. I was impressed that they had thought to invite Gymboree to manage the Kids Club.

The food

I’m not alone in thinking that The Four Seasons knows how to put on a good event. I’ve always loved the hotel (check out my InstaStories for proof – I’m there about once a week for meetings!).

kids at expat brunch - roses at the Four Seasons

All class

At brunch they take it to a new level:

from artistic and imaginative presentation….

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to just truly delicious food…

 

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You have to see it (and eat it) to believe it.

kids at expat brunch - Chocolate sculpture

Chocolate sculpture

 

Firm favourites for us included the sushi in Elements (I’m a sucker for sushi!), the grilled seafood and meat in the Elements Terrace area and the huge seafood station located in Il Teatro.

The kids

Unbeknownst to me, the Four Seasons has always had it’s Kids Club open to brunching Things. They’ve only really come onto my radar since I saw that Gymboree had been invited to complement the Kids Club offering.

kids at expat brunch - the Things at Kids Club by Gymboree

Happy kids happy life

I was super impressed when we arrived. The set up was lovely – games and activities on the lawn and in the shade. We had been thoughtfully seated at a table really close by so tat we should see the Things and they could hop backwards and forwards between the 2 areas easily enough. They enjoyed some crafts and drawing with the very friendly staff on hand. There was a whole kids station with loads of Thing friendly food. My Things made a bee-line for the sweet stuff but I eventually convinced them to eat some “proper food” too!

kids at expat brunch - Thing 2 with candy floss

She did eat some food without sugar eventually

I know there have been changes made to the set up even since we got there like the introduction of a bouncy castle which my Things would have LOVED. It was a shame that on the day we were there the general age group was quite young as I think my Things would have enjoyed it even more if there had been more Things their own age there. A friend who was there just the week before us mentioned that her son brought a football and that an epic match had ensued between a large group of children!

The price

At the time of writing, sparkling brunch (alcoholic beverages included) rings in at QAR 450. I know this doesn’t sound cheap but when you think that most other Friday brunches are just under QAR 400, it’s actually a great deal. ESPECIALLY considering that the other brunches are, in my opinion, far inferior. If you’re not drinking, regular brunch is QAR 340 (includes juices and soft drinks). Things under 12 eat for QAR 170 and Things under 5 are free.

Do kids belong at brunch?

Given the people we usually brunch with, our previous MO has been to leave the Things on a play date with our friends’ Things. We order them pizza, they get to play with their mates and we have one less thing to worry about.

kids at expat brunch - me and my friend Laura from Life With Baby Kicks

You can’t beat brunch at Four Seasons Doha with friends!

Now? We could easily do the same and have them all in Kids Club together! I wouldn’t miss seeing them for nearly an entire day but they would have more fun than if they were at brunch with us on their own.

Everyone’s a winner!

 

Disclaimer: we were delighted to be guests at the The Four Seasons Brunch on this occasion. All opinions are honest and are my own. Want to know more? Check out the small print

Emma Morrell

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