Destination Doha

Boasting spectacular modern buildings and rich cultural heritage, get away to the Middle East’s hidden gem….

Destination Doha

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Why go?

Not only has the city of Doha been named as one of the seven new Urban Wonders of the World, but Qatar has also been ranked as the safest country in the world and is set to be the home of the FIFA World Cup this coming November. Doha is a developing city, and for the most part, even the oldest parts of it – including the souq – have been entirely reconstructed. This makes for an entirely unique experience, with technology and sustainability at the heart of everything. If that’s not quite enough to convince you, there’s a whole plethora of quality restaurants and things to see and do, including a huge range of art installations across the city.

What to do?

Destination Doha
Souq Waqif

The National Museum of Qatar is a must-do. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, inspired by the shape of a desert rose, and it’s the best place to learn all about the rich history of Doha, rooted in pearl diving. If you’re looking to embrace your inner art critic, you’ll find countless options in Doha. Jeff Koons’ Lost in America exhibition runs at the Al Riwaq Gallery at the Qatar Museum until March 2022 – but if you miss that, there’s no need to worry, art can be found all over the city in a wide range of murals, statues, and galleries. The Katara Cultural Village houses a theatre, gardens, art galleries, and two mosques – one of which is covered entirely in shimmering golden chips. Once you’ve soaked in as much culture as you can fit, head to the Souq Waqif for some souvenir shopping. Souq Waqif is a huge market, where you’ll be able to pick up everything from traditional Arabic coffee to the perfect gifts to take home – and of course, it’s the ideal place to practise your haggling skills! For an extra dose of shopping and dining with a more luxurious feel, head over to The Pearl, a man-made island that has become the epitome of luxury in Qatar. From the marina at The Pearl, you can try your hand at parasailing or canoeing – if you’re feeling brave – which both offer stunning views of the Doha skyline and beaches. With the World Cup approaching, we suggest checking out the stadiums. The most interesting of them all is Stadium 974, which has been sustainably built from shipping containers. After the tournament ends, the place will be dismantled and the containers reused. For breath-taking scenery and the chance to visit the inland sea that divides Qatar from Saudi Arabia, jump into a 4x4 for a desert “dune bashing” experience just outside of the city. Time it for late afternoon to see spectacular sunset views.

Doah

Delicious dining

If you’re planning on visiting the National Museum of Qatar, Jiwan Restaurant located on the fourth floor of the building won’t disappoint for lunch. Jiwan showcases local flavours, giving a fresh take on Qatari cuisine, while its cool, calming design and impressive terrace views over Doha’s Corniche make this a memorable dining experience. Another great restaurant is Il Galante, which can be found at the Banyan Tree Hotel. If you’re craving pizza, pasta, and other mouth-watering Italian delights, this is the right place for you. Its beautiful views and reasonable prices make this one a real winner. Fans of sushi and fine Japanese cuisine should book a table at Sora, Park Hyatt, where the plates of food are almost as spectacular as the terrace setting.

Where to stay?

Destination Doha

The award-winning Mondrian Hotel is an unbeatable choice for a luxury experience, and has amazing interiors. From the striking four-level high spiral staircase in the hotel’s lobby to the unbelievable swimming pool covered by a stained-glass dome, staying at the Mondrian is a totally unique experience. The rooms have a modern, elegant feel to them, with each standard room featuring an amazing view of Doha’s skyline from the window, a marble-tiled bathroom, and an impressive Swarovski chandelier that hangs above a huge artificial stone bathtub.

Make sure to book a table at Morimoto – not only does the eatery boast stunning scenery and an elegant atmosphere, it’s also the first restaurant by renowned chef Masaharu Morimoto to open in the Middle East. There are other restaurants to try, plenty of nightlife in the evenings, and a lovely spa with unrivalled levels of service – all guaranteed to make your stay in Doha truly unforgettable.

Need to know

• It’s important to take Qatar’s code of dress into account when packing. For women, make sure to take lots of options that keep your knees and shoulders covered, and for men, avoid wearing shorts that expose your knees. These rules are mostly enforced in public places, such as the parks, malls, souq areas or public buildings. However, they are less strict within the hotel restaurants and bars.

• Qatar has come under scrutiny over its human rights record and some of its laws – for example, homosexuality is illegal. For information, go to Gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/qatar/local-laws-and-customs.

• A standard double room at the Mondrian starts at £168 per night. Book online at mondriandoha.com.

• Return flights from London to Doha with Qatar Airways start from £686 for an economy ticket. Qatar Airways is currently operating five daily flights from London Heathrow to Doha. To book, visit Qatarairways.com.

• For more information on Qatar, please visit Visitqatar.qa

Please check Gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus for travelling advice following the outbreak of the coronavirus

Words: Phoebe Denman.

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