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For a destination that adds glitz and luxury to your city break, the small Gulf state of Qatar and its capital Doha have it all. It takes the best aspects of middle eastern travel and packages them together with no expenses spared, for a sumptuous experience around every corner.

Qatar effortlessly blends traditional culture with modern opulence and is perfectly placed to be enjoyed in utter comfort and luxury. From the best names in hotels and restaurants with world-class chefs at their helm to private excursions and shopping malls offering top labels, and spa treatments that put the lux in relaxation, Doha is the pearl in the jewelry box of luxurious travel.

Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara features South Pacific-style overwater villas, superb restaurants and a floating lunch served in the pool © Courtesy of Qatar Tourism

Stay overnight in a five-star resort

When it comes to choosing luxurious accommodations, Doha nearly has too much choice. The skyline and coastline of Doha are dotted with top hotels, many with private beaches and all with lovely pools, spas and good restaurants – and with a heady mix of comfort and bling.

You can stay on a private island in the bay at the Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara with its South Pacific-style overwater villas, superb restaurants and a floating lunch served in the pool. Or be pampered in the Pearl-Qatar – an artificial peninsula district full of hotels, residences, cafes and restaurants – at the palatial Marsa Malaz Kempinski, which offers a private beach, an opulent spa and exclusive tours of Doha in its fleet of luxury rides, including Rolls Royces, Range Rovers and BMWs.

At the other end of the 4.5-mile bayside promenade called the Corniche, Sharq Village & Spa, a Ritz Carlton property, makes you feel like you are staying in a local village by the sea, full of cultural and traditional touches all in utter privacy and opulence. Among the many top luxury chains, the Four Seasons Hotel Doha is hard to beat. Located in West Bay, between the city center and the Pearl-Qatar, this property is home to several superb restaurants.

Plan a perfect romantic getaway in Qatar

Doha has a dazzling number of top restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe and the best of local dishes © Courtesy of COYA Doha

Sample the best of Doha’s fine dining scene

Doha has a dazzling number of top restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe and the best of local dishes. Nobu excels at great food and a superb Friday brunch, but it also wins when it comes to location, sitting on a small island connected by a causeway to the Four Seasons hotel. A local favorite is the Peruvian restaurant COYA at the W Hotel – its ceviche is to die for, especially when followed by the decadent churros de naranja.

The first restaurant in the Middle East by “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, simply called Morimoto in the quirky Mondrian Hotel, serves divine Japanese food, including butter-soft tuna nigiri. At the not-to-be-missed Hakkasan restaurant at the St Regis Hotel, the dim sum platter raises steamed dumplings to an utterly delicious art form.

Also in the swanky St Regis, three-Michelin-starred Chef Andy Garcia is the influence behind BIBO Doha, an Andalusian-styled brasserie that serves European and Mediterranean cuisine adapted for Qatari locals and inspired by the Spanish chef’s travels. Savor the ‘culinary travel guide’ where Spanish flavors are served with a ‘personalized international twist,’ quickly winning the title of Best European Restaurant in Doha.

While the country’s international cuisine is superb, when in Qatar you should try the best of Middle Eastern food in a luxurious setting. For that, look no further than Al Sufra at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, where Levant-inspired dishes based on traditional recipes and flavors are served with rich coffee and over-the-top service in a cozy atmosphere that feels destined to stand the test of time.

Yasmine Palace is in the uptown area of The Pearl-Qatar, which is one of Qatar’s most luxurious addresses. It is Doha’s only multi-themed restaurant, and its extravagant décor is matched only by the food. There are three unique gastronomical journeys, which will take you through Levant, Andalusia, and Qatar for a ‘complete luxurious sensory experience.’

8 of the finest dining experiences in Qatar

You can take a private desert safari to the Inland Sea in Qatar © Courtesy of Qatar Tourism

Go on a private excursion around Qatar

The geography of Doha can be confusing when you first arrive because it stretches around a nearly circular bay, so to get your bearings, booking a private helicopter flight over the capital is not just fun but useful. Flying over the city, the bay with its islands, and across to The Pearl-Qatar, is a perfect introduction to this desert country.

From the air to the water – make sure you take time to have a look around the magnificent Doha Bay. There’s no better way than on a luxury yacht, which offers perfect views across the bay and Doha’s skyline, a stop off on the uninhabited Safliya Island for a swim, and optional lunch.

Next up is the desert itself. Qatar’s desert is mostly rocky and flat, but in the south, toward the border with Saudi Arabia, perfect sand dunes beckon to be explored. Speeding up and down the sand dunes in a 4WD with an experienced driver at the wheel is a thrill. Looking for something a little more laid-back? Take a private Desert Safari tour across the dunes to Khor Al Adaid, the Inland Sea. With its turquoise waters and wintertime pink flamingos, it offers a magical backdrop for a picnic lunch before you head off for more desert activities such as sandboarding.

From sea to dune, adventure abounds in Qatar

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Doha offers VIP or couples suites © Courtesy of Qatar Tourism

Get the ultimate pampering with a spa session

What’s more indulgent than gold and pearls? How about a gold- or pearl-based spa treatment?

Let the sumptuous Al Messila Spa at its namesake resort indulge you in all things golden: 24-karat gold hot stone massage, 24-karat gold body oil, a gold facial and more. Their Golden Opulence Ritual pampers you for 180 minutes.

If you are more into pearls than gold, indulge in the luxury of a massage using pearl-infused oil at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Doha. The spa also offers VIP or couples suites.

Or get pampered with the gorgeous Middle Eastern smell of oud – a woody, earthy olfactory sensation – with the Arabian Oud Renewal Therapy at the Four Seasons. The pampering choices in Qatar are not only luxuriously indulgent, but also seemingly endless.

Shopping malls reflect the need for shelter from the heat, but also the desire to indulge in some serious spending © Courtesy of Qatar Tourism

Designer shopping

Shopping in Qatar is a wildly popular pastime. Its malls reflect the need for shelter from the heat, but also the desire to indulge in some serious spending.

Start off at the traditional Souq Waqif with its many cafes and restaurants and bazaar-like stalls selling everything from traditional incense to plush camels. After the cultural immersion, check out Villaggio Mall for its Venetian canals and lux labels; Al Hazm, which looks like the (modern) twin of the fabulous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan; or the impressive Mall of Qatar with its Singapore-esque interior garden. Alternatively, hire a local stylist to take you around the shopping highlights of Doha, complete with lunch and fashion styling advice.  

The latest example of high-end shopping is the groundbreaking Place Vendôme shopping complex, which opened in April 2022. The Parisian-inspired development features up to 600 different retail outlets with an entire wing dedicated to luxury labels, as well as an entertainment complex and two five-star luxury hotels.

Sailboats In Sea By Buildings Against Sky During Sunset
Many dhows offer 20-minute tours from the Corniche for a fraction of the cost of a full private excursion © Getty Images

Sparkling experiences without the price tag

Though it may be full of spare-no-expense luxury, Qatar also has a wealth of top-class inexpensive and free attractions for savvy travelers to enjoy, be they walks, cruises, beaches, or art pieces. Here's some of our favorite inexpensive options that don’t skimp on the impact.

  • Stroll the Corniche at dusk: When the lights on Doha’s skyline start to twinkle and a soft breeze wafts across the Gulf, there’s no better place to be than this beautiful walk along the water’s edge. In an hour you can cover its entire 4.5-mile span or pick a spot and enjoy the view.
  • Take a short dhow tour: Speaking of a view, many dhows offer 20-minute tours from the Corniche for a fraction of the cost of a full private excursion. On a night cruise on these traditional wooden boats, you will see the city sparkle all around you, with the light reflected on the dark, calm water of the Gulf, making it look iridescent.
  • Outdoor art installations: With a wealth of public art on display, there’s always something new to see for free. Perhaps none is as striking as The Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst at the Sidra Medical Center – 14 gargantuan bronzes depicting a growing fetus in the womb. Elsewhere, the gilded thumb in the Souq Waqif and the soaring sculpture known as ‘7’ in the Museum of Islamic Art Park will leave you amazed at how these sparkling installations make you feel.
  • Relax on a public beach: With golden sand, beautiful clear water, and the friendly laughter of children, it’s hard to top a perfect lounge on the beach in Qatar. Pick your favorite, whether it’s on the Gulf or the Inland Sea, and watch the world go by. What’s more luxurious than that?

Sponsored by Qatar Tourism

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