doha

Qatar: a luxurious getaway in the heart of the desert

Julie Delahaye

Want to explore the desert but not tempted by the idea of camping with bare essentials and trekking in the unrelenting heat? A trip could Qatar could be the answer. Located on the Persian Gulf, the country's capital Doha is a vibrant city in the heart of the desert, where shopping malls are juxtaposed with traditional Souks and its impressive skyline is nestled amongst the country's breathtaking sandy landscapes.

Just a few hours' flight from the UK with Qatar Airways, it's ideal for jetsetters wanting a sunny getaway for a few days – and with the World Cup set to take place in Doha in 2022, it's already caught the attention of sports enthusiasts.

Whether you're after adventure, want to discover local culture or simply want to relax by the pool, we've created the ultimate guide on visiting Qatar…

FOR ADVENTURE

Where to stay: Nestled in the heart of the city by the ocean, the stylish and modern InterContinental Doha has everything from an air rooftop pool to luxury suites and seven restaurants, sure to leave foodies spoiled for choice. Feeling sporty? Opt in for stand up paddleboard sessions and classes at The Bay Club, or walk down to the beach and rent a jet ski to really get the adrenaline pumping!

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The InterContinental Doha offers paddleboard sessions

What to do: Sand dune bashing is a must for any thrill-seeker - you'll feel like you're on a rollercoaster ride in the 4x4 as your driver takes on the impressively high (and steep) dunes. We recommend driving to the Khor Al Adaid, a stunning inland sea which is a UNESCO recognised nature reserve. Want to spend a night in the desert? Check out the Regency Sealine camp where you can stay in a luxury tent and even enjoy dinner under the stars at their stunning traditional Arabian lounge on the beach.

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Adventurers should try sand dune bashing

Where to eat: The Mykonos at the InterContinental offers up a feast of delicious Greek dishes and seafood, perfect if you're looking for a spot of lunch after water sports! In the evening head to the Melia Hotel where Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor serves up delectable Indian classics with a twist – and if you still have energy, then the hotel's bar Noir makes for a great night out.

FOR CULTURE

Where to stay: The Shangri-La is a luxury, five-star hotel located in the centre of Doha making it ideal if you want to explore the city without having to endure long car journeys. The suites boast spectacular views of the Doha's skyline as well as the Arabian gulf, so even when you're relaxing in your room you feel like you're soaking up the city's vibrant culture.

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The Shangri-La is located in the heart of Doha

What to do: No trip to Doha would be complete without a visit to the stunning Museum of Islamic Art. Once you've taken in the breathtaking architecture, head inside where you can discover artefacts taking you through the history of Islam, as well as special exhibitions including a look at the life of Muhammad Ali.

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Spend an afternoon wandering through the Museum of Islamic Art

For those willing to travel slightly further afield, the Zubarah Fort is a must-visit. Just a two-hour drive away, this fort has the remains of a 17th century trading and pearl fishing town – you'll feel like you've stepped back in time.

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The view from the Shanghai Club

Where to eat: The Shanghai Club at the Shangri-La not only offers up mouth-watering traditional Chinese dishes, but it boasts jaw-dropping panoramic views of the city. Make sure to head there for dinner to see the skyline when it's lit up for an unforgettable night out.

FOR LEISURE

Where to stay: If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa could be just what you're after. Enjoy a lazy afternoon soaking up the sun by the pool, or take a trip to their Heavenly Spa where you can choose from a wide range of treatments and indulge in well-deserved pampering!

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Relax at the Westin's Heavenly Spa

What to do: Spend a day wandering through the Souq Waqif where you can pick up everything from gorgeous mosaic lamps to intricate embroidered rugs. Looking to splurge? There's an entire souk dedicated to gold creations. Make sure to check out the Falcon quarter where locals trade a host of these impressive birds – there's even a falcon hospital to ensure they're looked after!

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Explore the markets in the Souq Waqif

Where to eat: If you're staying at the Westin you'll want to try one of the many delectable dishes on offer at Sabai Thai. Between indulging on wok-tossed favourites and taking in the incredible décor, you'll feel like you've stepped straight into Thailand.

For more information on Qatar head to visitqatar.qa.

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