With the news that Qatar has scrapped tourist visas for 80 countries, including Australia, and Qatar Airways offering some competitive fares, now seems like a better time than ever to visit Qatar.
But you don’t know much about Doha, and you’re going to need a hotel? For its location, comfort, service and value, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Doha - Old Town is for you.
Let’s start with its location… Doha may be smaller than nearby Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and thus more manageable, but it’s still important for visitors to get their location right.
With this in mind, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Doha is perfectly positioned, just a few blocks from Doha’s main attractions including the waterfront Corniche, the Museum of Islamic Art and the city’s biggest highlight, the Old Town. What’s more, the DoubleTree is just ten minutes from Hamad International Airport, which means we only pay $25 for a private car transfer to the high-rise hotel.
This hotel, like most new properties in the Gulf, has gone for the contemporary look – and it’s got it right. The lobby is elegant, but not over-the-top, and offers a comfy space to relax pre- or post-excursion. And the wall-to-ceiling water feature is a hit with my water-obsessed two-year-old.
Up some 11 floors, and our King Studio room immediately impresses with its super cosy king bed, window-side chaise, large TV and free wifi, modern workspace, stylish fittings and décor, and just by its sheer size (a whopping 70sqm). There’s even a kitchenette with full fridge (and washing machine) and breakfast bar.
However, the highlight of the hotel (and possibly our entire Doha stay) for us is the bathroom. Finished in white marble, the huge bathroom screams luxury, with Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries, his and her hand basins, rainfall/handheld shower, and hydro spa-jet tub, which would easily be big enough for two (or more) people.
This is a bathroom you could almost spend hours in – and indeed my daughter spends ages just walking up and down the steps to the elevated tub.
Elsewhere, there are King/Twin Guest Rooms with and without sea views, King Panoramic Studios and a top floor dedicated to suites.
In a simple layout, the hotel facilities are all easy to find, with the Aqua Spa, fitness centre, kids room and prayer room all located in the same spot on different levels – though why the gym and steam room/sauna are separated by a few floors (and elevator ride) is a little perplexing.
As the kids’ room is light on entertainment, the best place to keep the children amused is at the excellent rooftop pool, which features a shallow area and waterfall wall. However, given the days here are 40C+, it’s best to visit either earlier or later in the day.
Sharing the space on the rooftop is the PURE bar and shisha lounge (sample menu here), which at night comes alive with those looking for amazing views to enjoy with their cool drinks. And the views over the city, ocean and towards West Bay are definitely amazing.
Back downstairs, the hotel boasts two dining options: the casual L2 eatery (sample menu here), which hosts breakfast and all-day international buffet dining; and the aptly titled 24-hour OPEN restaurant, which showcases the best in Middle Eastern and Western cuisine. With its dynamic layout, which ranges from communal and cubicle tables to conventional and outdoor dining, it’s little wonder OPEN is popular with locals and guests alike. And my little one just loves the children’s menu.
Perfect for corporate travellers, the business centre is another strong point of the hotel, with large Mac desktops a good alternative to the guest rooms’ work facilities. There are also meeting rooms for events.
But the make or break element of a hotel stay is its service – and the service here is done with professionalism, and good cheer. From front-desk and poolside staff to housekeeping, it seems nobody is too busy to offer a helpful hand and smile. And it doesn’t go unnoticed by my family, especially when staff sneak out snacks for my toddler, whom they just adore.
We’re going to remember our first visit to Qatar, and probably most of all, the wonderful DoubleTree by Hilton Doha - Old Town.
Address: Al Meena Street, Doha, Qatar
Check in/out: 3pm/12pm