Best Doha hotels include Arabian style lodgings in an atmospheric souk, whimsical hotels by iconic brands, Mondrian and the the W, luxury hotels and resorts by St Regis, Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons, and local budget hotel, K108.
Doha’s brand spanking new and seriously whimsical Mondrian Doha hotel, designed by Marcel Wanders, with glam restaurants by Wolfgang Puck and Masaharu Morimoto, is enough to get boutique hotel lovers booked on a plane to Qatar.
For everyone else, there’s the weather. It’s winter in Doha and it’s heavenly right now – a cool 23 degrees Celsius or 74 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the dizzy heights of Doha’s sizzling summer see temperatures soar to twice that. Beads of perspiration are forming on my forehead just thinking about it.
Winter in Qatar’s capital, like everywhere on the Arabian Peninsula, means you can enjoy the delights of outdoor dining, picnicking in the city’s shaded parks, and taking long leisurely walks along the waterfront, without worrying about the possibility of dropping dead from heat exhaustion and sunstroke. And you can still laze by a pool with a good book to work on that tan.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have long been winter sun destinations for Europeans escaping seeking a sunny escape, as well as popular stopovers for Australians and New Zealanders heading to Europe for Christmas, but Doha is also brilliant for layover – especially if you prefer your Arabian Gulf cities low-key and laidback, and also fancy a little luxury for less than you’d normally have to pay.
Because while it’s high season in Dubai right now and hotel room prices have increased as a result, Doha remains an absolute bargain, partly due to lower tourist numbers. While Dubai had had over 8 million tourists arrive by August 2018, Doha had received only 1.75 million visitors in 2018 by the same period, which means less traffic gridlock, less crowded shopping malls, and more welcoming locals.
Doha is a cool city, too. I’m not talking about the weather now. It’s home to the outstanding Museum of Islamic Art (that’s enough to get me on a Qatar Airways flight), one of the Arabian Peninsula’s loveliest markets in Souq Waqif (only Muscat’s Muttrah Souq matches it), a engaging art scene, fine restaurants, including outposts of some of the world’s best chefs, and some fabulous hotels.
The first time I went to Doha back in the late Nineties to take a group of students to screen their films at a short film festival (where I met Ahdaf Soueif!), we were hosted by the organisers at the pyramid-shaped Sheraton. Doha’s first five-star hotel, built in 1982, it was one of the finest resorts in Qatar at the time. How things have changed.
Now, the best Doha hotels include everything from chic boutique hotel icons like the Mondrian and W Doha and opulent Arabian style accommodation in atmospheric Souk Waqif to grand luxury hotels operated by Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and St Regis and budget to mid-range sleeps such as the K108.
Here are my picks of the best Doha hotels.
Best Doha Hotels from Atmospheric Souk Lodgings to Whimsical Boutique Hotels
Note: Doha is conservative, which not only means you need to dress modestly in public and won’t be able to rock up just anywhere expecting a cold beer or chilled glass of white, it also means that while most 5-star hotels have bars and dance clubs and mini-bars in rooms filled with beer and bottles of wine, even some of the best Doha hotels are dry and do not serve alcohol. During some religious holidays, all hotels are restricted from selling liquor. You will also be required to show your passport to enter clubs.
The just-opened Mondrian Doha boutique hotel, pictured above, has quickly become one of the best Doha hotels, boasting whimsical décor by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, who was responsible for the quirky interiors of some of the Morgans Hotel Group’s most iconic boutique hotels. Think Alice in Wonderland meets Arabian Nights: a dramatic black spiral staircase, enormous art installations, shimmering mosaic walls, and Swarovski chandeliers. Rooms, which feature desert dune-sculptured carpet and marble-tiled bathrooms, are so luxurious that even the Standard Room stretches to a massive 48sqm and offers sweeping water views from Lusail City to West Bay. There’s a striking indoor swimming pool and an ESPA spa with traditional Turkish hammam, and the eight eateries and bars include restaurants by Masaharu Morimoto and Wolfgang Puck. Psst… there’s a fantastic deal for the Mondrian Doha over on Luxury Escapes including a welcome drink and meal at Puck’s CUT restaurant among other perks.
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Overlooking the aquamarine waters of West Bay, between City Centre Mall and the embassy area, the W Doha was Qatar’s first boutique hotel when it opened a dozen years ago and remains one of the best Doha hotels. The clubby décor and mood lighting made this Doha’s hippest hotel. Rooms include 445 stylish ‘Spectacular’ and ‘Fabulous’ rooms, luxury residences ‘W’ and ‘Wow’ suites (with BOSE sound systems and espresso machines), and a bachelor pad-esque ‘E Wow’ suite with pool table, aquariums and massage room, which served as Robert de Niro’s home away from home when he stayed during the launch of the (now defunct) Doha Tribeca Film Festival. There’s a Bliss Spa, a lap pool with poolside lounge, two bars, Milanese diner La Spiga, and two restaurants by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Spice Market and Market by Jean-Georges.
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Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel
Located at the tip of the causeway leading to The Pearl manmade island, the Grand Hyatt Doha Hotel is easily one of the best Doha hotels. Arabian grandeur at its grandest, the 5-star luxury resort has a colossal glittering lobby lounge, stately rooms and huge swimming pools. The 249 plush, spacious rooms and suites, decorated in olives, beiges and browns, feature polished wooden floors, subtle Arabian touches and big balconies with views. There are six restaurants, including the authentic Isaan Thai restaurant (helmed by a Thai chef) and The Majlis, specializing in contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine. Expect extensive facilities, including a Jaula Spa and a 400-metre private beach that make this a destination for spa-lovers and sun-worshippers.
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Ritz Carlton Sharq Village & Spa
On a sandy beach at Sharq (which means ‘Orient’), 5 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the city centre, the white washed Ritz Carlton Sharq Village and Spa is considered one of the best Doha hotels. The style is Arabesque opulence on the sea with Arabian-inspired buildings boasting courtyards, arches and alcoves with cushioned benches and brass tray tables. The medina-like spa is especially exotic with steamy hammams and tranquil pools. The 174 rooms, suites and villas are inspired by old Arabian forts and merchant residences and feature four-poster beds, Persian carpets, carved wooden furniture, and Oriental lanterns. Of the five restaurants and lounges, opulent Parisa, overlooking the sea, serves contemporary Persian cuisine, while Al Liwan offers Arabic cuisine from Qatar, the Levant and beyond.
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Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels
When we first checked in to the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, there was only one atmospheric boutique hotel in Souq Waqif, Doha’s restored traditional bazaar – the others were still being remodelled or built. Now there are a handful of intimate properties under the same management, each very different to the next, and they’re arguably some of the best Doha hotels. Expect decorative elements such as studded wooden doors, brass tray tables, gilt-edged mirrors, and elaborate chandeliers. The smallest of these intimate hotels has just 13 standard, deluxe and royal rooms and suites, each individually decorated – in stark contrast to the luxury hotels with hundreds of rooms. Plus they offer great value for the Arabian Gulf and the location in and around the souk is unbeatable. The only downsides are they are dry (no liquor) and they don’t have pools.
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Have you been to Doha or do you live there? We’d love to know what you think are the best Doha hotels. Feel free to leave your comments below.