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Where to Stay in Doha?
Doha is a major business hub in the Middle East and consequently has its fair share of high-end hotels. There are upscale hotels around the Al Sadd business district of the city, set back from the seafront, and at The Corniche, the prettier of the two areas. Whether you have the budget to stay on the Corniche or not, everyone loves to pop into the seafront Bal Hambar restaurant where clients sit cross legged on floor cushions to enjoy an Arabic feast as the waves pound the sand yards away.
Further along the seafront is the Runeila Park where locals go to escape the pace of the city, surrounded by exotic birds and water gardens. Doha’s Heritage Village is also in this part of Doha, showing exhibits from traditional Qatari life. If you want to know more about how the locals used to live before big business arrived, take a look at the dhows moored in the harbour, with their traditional fishing traps. If they inspire you, you can hire a rod and go fishing yourself in this section of the Corniche. Over the water on its own island sits the Museum of Islamic Arts, housed in a building created by iconic architect IM Pei and full of artefacts from Muslim dynasties hailing from Europe, Africa and Asia.
Doha Accommodation Options
At the far end of the Corniche is The Sheraton Hotel, a stand-out building that had the whole city talking about its iconic modern design when it was built back in the eighties. At that time its pyramidal shape stood by itself on the sweeping Corniche, now buildings are shooting up all around it but it retains its granddaddy of the hotels feel and has just about the best location for a visitor in the city, close to the giant city centre shopping mall yet so near to the shore. Just next door is the Sheraton Park with palm trees and expansive green lawns. The Grand Hyatt sits on the Sports Roundabout in the Al Sadd area and is a good location if you are doing business in the city, being close to the offices, banks and shops around Jawaan Street. Another Al Sadd popular hangout is La Cigale, 20 storeys of modernism with always-busy Lebanese, American, French and Italian restaurants.
Doha Hotel Recommendations?
The W Doha in West Bay continues the luxury theme that the Starwood brand offers up in all its hotels worldwide and somehow always manages to make its bar the place to go in town. The Crystal Lounge is no exception and Doha’s well-heeled tourists and locals flock there for evening socialising. The Somerset West Bay offers good accommodation at less pricey rates and has the added benefit of being an apartment hotel so you get your own living room and kitchen. It’s a minute from the W so you can hobnob with the big spenders and then retreat to your own apartment. The Swiss Belhotel Doha offers clean, large rooms with good business facilities and an excellent location right near the Corniche.
Transport in Doha
The best bet for travel from Doha International Airport into the city centre and the Corniche is by taxi of hire car, both of which are plentiful outside the terminal. The overwhelming majority of visitors to Doha travel around the city by car. You drive in the right in Doha and it’s easy to organise a hire car but the somewhat chaotic approach to driving in the city can take some getting used to. A bus service has now been introduced, although it is mainly used by the locals as it can be hot work waiting in the sunshine for the bus to arrive. You’ll see people walking around The Corniche but apart from that this is not a walking city, again thanks to the extreme heat. Taxis are now available and are pretty cheap – just hail one down or ask your hotel to call one.