Last updated on September 17th, 2018 at 09:33 pm
I did my first trip through Qatar a few years ago and I decided to stop just for a couple of days. Since then it’s my regular stop-over on most of my trips.
I get quite often asked what are the best hotels in Doha, if the accommodation should be close to the Souq Waqif (main central market) or a top resort with a beach.
In this post, I try to reorganise my experiences and ideas, including a useful reference map. Hopefully, I will be able to help you to spend a great time in Doha and Qatar
Moreover, I have added a section at the end with 22 things to do, some of them almost unique in the world I believe.
I may add also another reason to fly to Doha: experience Qatar Airways and their unique service.
They won so many rewards and for a good reason. It is genuinely one of the best companies I have ever flown with. It’s a relatively new airline and they are most definitely raising the quality bar.
Before spending your time in Doha, I suggest checking also the Visit Qatar website. I love the video section and it’s a good starting point to see what’s happening in the city. Doha is massively investing in art, trying to become one of the leaders in the Middle East and the world.
If you have just two minutes and you want to see the best hotels in Doha organised by genre then simply scroll this list below.
If you have another 3 spare minutes, I suggest to read on for a useful map, more details, suggestions, information and options, some of them really unique to Doha and Qatar.
- Best time to travel to Qatar: November/December to February/March
- Hotel in the airport: Oryx Rotana, it is a good choice for 10 hours or so; if your transit is shorter, or longer, I suggest below a few alternatives
- Hotel near the airport: the Sharq Village & Spa a Ritz-Carlton Hotel is my choice for the beautiful architecture and the amazing view to the city. So close to the airport
- Hotel 5 star: the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel is in my opinion the most beautiful accommodation in Doha….till the first 7 star hotel in Doha will be completed, in 2020, right in the new zoo.
- Hotel in West Bay: the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort is the place to be if you are after an iconic place, next to the office area and still with some great facilities.
- Hotel with a beach: the Banana Island Resort by Anantara if you are after privacy and a unique experience. Alternatively the InterContinental is also a good choice, at a great price too
- Cheap Hotel: the Mövenpick Hotel is my choice in this price category. There are cheaper options, you may still save $20-$30, but for that difference the Mövenpick is a bargain
- near Souq Waqif (main central market): no questions asked, the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels is the place to be with nine original buildings scattered through the market
- Best restaurants: if you are close to the Souq Waqif (main central market) then I would suggest the Parisa restaurant. If spending the night at the Katara Cultural Village then I would not hesitate to suggest Le Vesuvio, great for a real Italian pizza and pasta.
- Best things to do in Qatar: I wrote a full post about the top 22 things to do in Doha and Qatar, including some unusual visits as the one at the camel race track.
This map gives you a quick idea of which area to look for your hotel in Doha
This was my first experience in Qatar, a transit hotel in Doha airport, the Hamad International.
Let me first say that the airport itself must be one of the cleanest in the world, there is most definitely an attention to the details. A good choice for shopping, which I reckon is going to increase in the next few years.
Best of all, if you are with kids, there is a small playground with chairs, mobile chargers and internet connectivity. All you ask for your children to have some action and at the same time for you to check your email, messages and spend some time on the net.
It comes to no surprise that the Hamad Airport is ranked number 2 in the world, just after Singapore.
At the moment, there is only one hotel if you want to stay at the airport, the Oryx Rotana. It is a bit pricey if you stay for only 5-6 hours however you have full access to the SPA and swimming pool area.
My personal advice here is to book this hotel if you have an 8-15 hours transit.
If on a short stop-over and you just want to relax, then go to Airport Fitness Center and you will have access to the SPA and swimming pool only, which is fine for 4-5 hours (there is a shower area as well)
Alternatively, if you have some energies, why not trying a free city tour. It’s a great way to experience, although for a limited time, the main attractions. I am sure you will be impressed and next time you will book a 2 days stop-over.
The tour is sponsored by Qatar Airways and absolutely free. Check on this page for the available timeslots.
Hotels in Doha near the airport can be really gorgeous. It is my personal choice, even for 12-15 hours.
You need obviously to budget in 3-4 hours for the airport stuff (1 hour on arrival, 2 hours on departure and the taxi ride) but the feeling is so more genuine. It’s already being on vacation, not on a long flight stop-over.
One tip I can give you here is to change some money in the local currency (Qatari Rial) before taking the taxi. The driver may not accept credit card and you are stuck with a very unfavourable exchange rate.
I have here 2 great options:
Let me start by saying that if you are into luxury then you will not be disappointed, there are a plethora of five star hotels in Doha.
The Sharq Village & Spa a Ritz-Carlton Hotel I just mentioned in the previous paragraph is my choice if you want to stay close to the airport and avoid any traffic in and out of the airport.
However, if you plan to stay a bit longer I may suggest one of these hotels:
West Bay is the Central Business District of Doha, with highrise buildings which actually make a beautiful cityscape area
Only a few hotels actually offer a nice beach. Most of the accommodations have a good pool, however, they are positioned far from the water. Because of the hot temperature, I really suggest having at least the pool.
Here below, two great options with a lovely beach. My favourite is the Banana resort. It is expensive, however so exclusive, even with your own private pool, if you want.
Yes, there are cheap hotels in Doha. The first thing you need to give up, however, is the pool which, honestly, you do not want to. Days and nights can be really hot and having a pool can make up your day.
You can still find hotels with a swimming pool below $50. They are however not in a great location and you would need to uber or take a taxi on a regular basis, which adds up in the cost of staying in Qatar. Walking can be hard when the temperature goes above 40 and close to 50 degrees.
La Villa Hotel is an option if you are after a room with air-conditioning close to Souq Waqif and most of the attractions. But no swimming pool.
Add $20 for a room in the Kingsgate Hotel Doha with an indoor swimming pool.
My favourite between all of the cheap hotels in Doha still is the Mövenpick Hotel Doha. Nice rooms and a reasonable swimming pool in the heart of the city, next to major attractions with bargains that sometimes go down to $70 per night. Really a great value.
The alternative is the Radisson Blu Hotel which, in my opinion, is a better alternative for a younger crowd. True, the price is into the $100 mark, however, Radisson has really all you need, included one of the most popular pubs in Doha.
The Souq Waqif is absolutely a must visit attraction once in Doha.
What is it?
It’s the central market with a maze of traditional small lanes and alleys. It’s easy to get lost and super fun to find the way out.
It’s safe too. It’s honestly quite small if compared with others like in Egypt or Marocco, and although looking very traditional, it is actually quite new. It has been completely rebuilt based on the old antique design trying to keep all the character of the traditional one. In my opinion, they did a great job.
It can be quite hot during the day. I definitely suggest a visit at sunset time or later, surely not in the middle of the day.
Here I stayed in the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels. Although the pool is on the small side, the rooms are so full of charm. The interior design is Arabesque and full of character. This accommodation is actually scattered around the Souq Waqif market and you will not know which building you will stay till you check in. I personally had a great experience with the provided service which was so accommodating to us and our 3 years old kid.
There is a plan to build the first 7 star hotel in Doha in the new Zoo. The design will be unique to the world, with boardwalks through tall trees and a view to the animals that you will not be able to experience otherwise.
Unfortunately, it is still in the construction phase and it is planned to be open by 2020. More information here. It is already on my bucket list 🙂
If you are looking for the most luxurious hotel I suggest without any doubt the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel. Picture a sultan palace in a private island reachable from a small bridge (very convenient, no boats). Everything, from the service to the breakfast, the pool, the private beach and so much more is just amazing.
I still remember when I opened the window of my room. I thought I was in a James Bond film set. So beautiful.
I have never been in a 7 star hotel, however, I feel this experience in Doha was the closest I had.
I wrote a popular post about 22 things to do in Doha and Qatar.
Instead of replicating the information here I would suggest reading the article. It includes some unexpected surprises, the best markets to visit and places to eat close to the attractions, where possible.
By now you should have all you need to take a decision, however, please do not hesitate to leave a comment with any question you may have. Be sure I will reply in no time, no worries.
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.