Doha: Luxury And Relaxation In Qatar
It’s just six years to go until Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup. While many roads, stadiums and other bits of infrastructure are under construction, its hotels are one step ahead — and there are more to come. Up to $6bn (£4.6bn) is set to be invested in a number of properties before the football comes to town. This means the Ritz-Carlton, Kempinskis and Anantaras will be joined by a Park Hyatt, a Planet Hollywood and a Wyndham, among others.
There are more affordable options but it’d be a stretch to call Qatar a budget-friendly destination. That’s not to say it can’t be fun, though be warned: alcohol can only be consumed in a clutch of hotels with bars and clubs. And there is fine-dining galore with Michelin-star chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Vineet Bhatia among the international names with outlets there. From private islands to youth hostels, if you look hard enough, you can find every variety of bed in Doha.
For royalty – Marsa Malaz: Kempinski’s flagship hotel in Doha is surely one of its grandest, anywhere. Located on its own island, off the north coast of the city, only the absence of a drawbridge stops it looking like something from Game of Thrones. That there are 281 rooms — including 69 suites, two ‘presidential’ and two ‘royal’ — only begins to tell the story of just how palatial the Marsa Malaz is. Of its dining opt ions, Al Sufra is perhaps t he top pick, with a menu that dances through the best of regional cuisine.
For beach bums – Intercontinental Doha: There are two InterContinental hotels in Doha, one a giant tower close to the W, the other this beach-front offering further north. Much of Doha hugs the coastline, but few properties can claim to have better beach access; here, little palm-thatched cabanas lead out from a Caribbean-ish bar. If you don’t fancy getting the salt of the sea on your skin, nearby there’s also the largest free form pool in Doha. Eight different restaurants offer everything from Greek to Belgian cuisine. The rooms are neat and perhaps a bit bland but there’s little need to spend much time there when the hotel has so many reasons to have you outside.
Best all-in-one – Grand Hyatt Doha: It’s perhaps a sign of how unlike the rest of the world Qataris—the Grand Hyatt is but a mid-range hotel in Doha. Located a cab-ride from most major sites (it won’t disturb guests, but much oft he surrounding area is currently under construction), it offers plenty of reasons not to explore the wider city. In Isaan, its brilliant Thai restaurant, it has one of Doha’s outstanding eateries. Other perfectly scrumptious options are dotted around its grounds, too. At weekends, brunches spill over into club nights — if you’ve got a sore head the next morning, there’s a private beach and great spa, too.
For island living – Banana Island: Sounds like it might be the sort of place to stop during a booze cruise, but Banana could scarcely be further from a Mediterranean party island. This sprawling private island resort by luxury specialist Anantara is reached by a 25-minute catamaran transfer from the mainland. On arrival, it becomes clear the resort is dry — mocktails yes, cocktails, no. The Anantara seal of quality, on the other hand, ensures that the food is sensational and the spa utterly decadent. A combination of rooms, suites, villas and Maldives-style stilted cottages offer hoards of opt ions, none of which are cheap.