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 reorganize my experiences and ideas, including a useful reference map and a short list of cheap hotels in Doha.
And the best is that it’s all updated to 2020 (no old stuff)
Table of Contents
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.
Best hotels in Doha: the quick list
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.
Where to stay in Doha
This map gives you a quick idea of which area to look for your hotel in Doha
- Airport Area: there is only one choice, the Oryx Rotana Hotel. There are however other alternatives to keep you relaxed, or busy, during your transit
- Near the Airport: I love the coastline just before entering the city, only a 10 minutes drive from the airport.
- Souq Waqif and the city center: the place to be for quick access to most of the attractions. However no beach and usually small pool
- Around Souq Waqif: a cheaper alternative. You will need however a taxi to go around which is going to increase the total cost of your stay (I would personally not stay in this area)
- West Bay: this is the business district with a beautiful skyline. If you are in Doha for work you may also decide to stay at West Bay beach, just 5 minutes from the office area and you will feel on a holiday trip.
- Beach/holiday: if you are after a beach stay then look for a hotel in West Bay Beach or book at Banana Island, the most beautiful resort in Doha
- The Pearl: a very exclusive part of Doha, with a beautiful man-made peninsula and a few islands around. Here you can find probably the most exclusive hotel, the closest to a 7 star hotel you can have in Qatar. It’s the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel on a private island with, of course, a private beach.
Hotels in Doha Airport
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 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
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 unfavorable exchange rate.
I have here 2 great options:
- the Doha Marriott Hotel: this is probably the closest hotel to the airport (there are other small ones which I would not recommend). It has a good pool, essential in the hot weather, and located in a perfect location, just before the city center and avoiding, therefore, the city traffic.
- the Sharq Village & Spa a Ritz-Carlton Hotel: a bit more upscale, with a distinctive middle east architecture that will transport you instantly on vacation. Great beach and pool too, beside the big rooms. Don’t miss the view of the city centre at night.
Hotels in Doha 5 star
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:
- Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel: probably the most beautiful 5 star hotel I have ever been. Access to the private island is through a bridge. Once in the lobby, you will surely be open mouth. Amazing Arabesque architecture everywhere and my best breakfast ever. The rooms are massive, to say the least 🙂
- The St. Regis Doha: beautiful as well as a fantastic value for a 5 star hotel, and with a beach too. Located in West Bay, the St.Regis is also in a perfect position to visit the Katara Cultural Village, an area built to host the most significant exhibitions as well as concerts (in a small arena with an intriguing design). There is also a great choice of restaurants, of which Le Vesuvio, is still my favorite.
- Warwick Doha Hotel: this is probably the best value 5 star hotel in Doha. The pool on the rooftop is a fantastic viewpoint, for both day and night, great also for a drink and some food. Location is not the best in my opinion as you would always need a taxi and there is no beach, but that is probably why the price is so good.
Hotels in Doha West Bay
West Bay is the Central Business District of Doha, with highrise buildings which actually make a beautiful cityscape area
- InterContinental Doha: located on the beach side of the business district, and just 5 minutes by taxi to West Bay. It has a great holiday and vacation feeling, a great base if you are in Doha for business or just for holiday. There is a fabulous beach available for the guests and two very handy kids area, indoor and outdoor. The restaurant is well known even to external guests.
- Sheraton Grand Doha Resort: this hotel surely stands out at the end of the Corniche walk, in the heart of West Bay. The building design recalls a pyramid, a big white one. Inside you will find beautiful rooms, just refurbished, a pool and a pub, with daily live bands, called “The Irish Harp”. This hotel has hosted some of the most important political names of the last 30 years.
Hotels in Doha with beach
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.
- Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara: this is one of the most beautiful resorts in Doha and Qatar. It is an island 20-25 minutes by boat from the airport or from the city centre. It has a banana shape with a beautiful beach on one side and rooms scattered around the island. Villas with private pools are also available for an intimate gateway. This hotel would fit in most of the categories (best 5 star, close to the airport too)
- Hilton Doha: one of the best beaches in Doha with a grand swimming pool behind. All you need for a few days of absolute relax with an unobstructed view of the Persian Gulf. Usual amazing service that you would expect from a 5 star hotel.
Cheap hotels in Doha
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.
Hotels in Doha near Souq Waqif
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.
7 star hotels in Doha, Qatar
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.
A short list of cheap hotels in Doha
There are a few cheap hotels in Doha which work great if you just want to have a shower on your arrival, explore the city, have a nap and go back to the airport. They do not have a swimming pool, which is a great bonus in summer.
Keep in mind that temperature between April and October are usually over 40 degrees and there is no beach facing the city.
- La Castle Hotel: probably one of the best in this price range. Good location and brand new building and interior, which is a great bonus.
- Plaza Inn Hotel: close to the Souq Waqif market, has a great location and it is a decent hotel. Do not expect anything luxurious but ok for a short stay
- The Town Hotel: not too far from the centre
Things to do in Doha
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.