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Qatar: perfect for a luxury romantic holiday

Qatar for couples

Qatar is a magical place for married couples to spend some quality time together. Luxurious waterfront hotels with impeccable service, world-class restaurants and shopping destinations, bewitching landscapes and atmospheric locations provide the ideal ingredients for a romantic holiday.

For ultimate rest and relaxation, you can choose a deluxe beach resort overlooking the glittering Arabian Gulf and bask in the lap of luxury, or for a more active holiday you can share an adventure together amid towering dunes, on board graceful dhow boats, or exploring the nooks and crannies of a labyrinthine souk.

Qatar provides a very appealing backdrop for romance, but this is a destination for those who have already tied the knot as unfortunately cohabitation laws mean unmarried couples are not permitted to share hotel rooms in the country. Conservative local customs also require that public displays of affection are kept to a minimum so you'll have to save those passionate kisses for your own private space, though holding hands and other affectionate gestures are fine.

Couples activities in Qatar

Spoil each other with gifts on a shopping spree in Qatar's bustling capital city of Doha where you can find chic shops as well as traditional markets. In the west of the city, Villaggio Mall is perhaps the most romantic shopping destination, styled around Venice and interlaced with canals and pools with gondola rides. Built in the Italian renaissance style it includes the exclusive Via Domo area with designer stores such as Christian Dior and Prada, as well as a cinema. The Lagoona Mall in the West Bay area is another good spot to shop for romantic gifts such as jewellery and perfume.

The atmospheric Souk Waqif at the heart of the old city is also a wonderful place to explore with your loved one. Venture into covered arcades that look like an Aladdin's Cave, stop for traditional snacks and refreshments at one of the many tea shops and eateries, and seek out curiosities such as the falconry souk, which sells birds and supplies for this national heritage sport. Couples interested in local culture should not miss a trip to Doha's terrific museums - the Museum of Islamic Art and the new National Museum of Qatar, across from Doha's corniche, are among the best.

Beyond Doha, you can go on an Arabian adventure together through glittering dunes and valleys on a desert tour in a four-by-four. Thrill-seeking couples can choose to conquer the desert on a dune-bashing trip or take a detour to see the strange Inland Sea stranded in the arid desert. The crescent dunes are close to the Sealine Beach Resort and there's the chance for a camel ride too. The trip culminates at a Bedouin-style camp in the dunes where you can eat a meal and stay the night, depending on which type of tour you book.

Silky sand meets opalescent water beside the luxury Sealine Beach Resort in a secluded spot outside of Doha. It's a good resort for couples who want to enjoy a beach holiday away from the city with activities close to hand such as horse rides on the beach, camel safaris in the desert, quad biking in the Singing Sand Dunes and a visit to see Arabian horses at the Mesaieed race track.

Spending a night camping beneath the stars in a traditional Bedouin camp or taking a dhow cruise to experience an unforgettable Arabian sunset are just two more romantic ways to experience Qatar. At night in Doha the brightly-lit dhows docked along the corniche offer short tours of the bay area with spectacular views of futuristic buildings such as the Tornado brightly-lit against the dark sky.

You and your partner can also enjoy the wonderful waterfront views by simply taking a romantic evening stroll along the corniche. Other good spots for a sundown walk include Katara in the West Bay area and the Pearl development. Katara has the cultural village, with a whole host of places to stop and high-end restaurants to refuel, while the Pearl is crisscrossed with walkways, smart cafes, eateries, shops, and a millionaire's marina.

Dining and unwinding

Doha has a thriving dining scene with top-name restaurants where couples can indulge in gourmet meals and spend time reconnecting in opulent venues. Alternatively, for supper with a more local feel you can team an early evening stroll around the atmospheric Souk Waqif, selling everything from perfumes and spices to carpets and birds, with a meal at one of the dozens of restaurants.

As testament to the wealth and refinement of Doha, exclusive restaurants include a recently opened branch of Nobu serving impossibly chic Japanese cuisine. World famous chef Gordon Ramsay also has a restaurant in Doha called Opal, part of the St Regis hotel in the West Bay area, which is a casual gourmet affair with a beautiful terrace, ocean views and every dish a celebration of fine food. Market by Jean-Georges, part of the W Hotel and Resort Doha, is a great option for couples who fancy a fairly relaxed experience with exquisite food. If you enjoy quirky interiors, make time to visit the Flying Carpet restaurant at the upmarket Torch hotel for an unforgettable Arabian night. Try rustic beach-side dining at Al Dana seafood restaurant, part of Sharq Village and Resort, in a surprisingly peaceful location just a stone's throw from the city.

Qatar's Pearl development - an artificial island of linked lagoons just offshore from Doha - is fast filling up with a whole host of high-end dining options and chic eateries. For an extensive choice of traditional Middle Eastern meze head to Al Mayass, try majestic Chinese at the imperial-style Crane or for authentic Japanese there's Junkos. If you are missing classic British fare, there's even a Harry Ramsdens where you can tuck into delicious fish and chips. This area is also great for sweet snacks with Alison Nelson's Chocolate Bar and Camille's Ice Cream bar, both of which have created unique indulgent treats. Camille's double-dipped ice cream bars come in refreshing flavours such as key lime pie and Sicilian lemon, ideal for a hot day.

Couples can take advantage of the excellent beach-side facilities and immaculately groomed sandy shores encompassed by Qatar's hotels and resorts and spend time winding down and enjoying each other's company without a care in the world. You can experience classic five-star decadence at the St Regis, for instance, or luxuriate in the huge spacious grounds of the first-class Intercontinental Qatar, which boasts a private beach and all the trimmings you would expect from a high-end hotel.

As befitting any glamorous destination, Qatar also has a wide range of luxurious spas where you can completely relax and rejuvenate. Just a short boat trip from Doha, Banana Island is the perfect place to unwind. Find inner peace together in the Balance Wellness Centre's Zen Garden, experience the soothing Reflexology River and try holistic therapies such as ancient ayurvedic massage. If you are looking for a classic luxury spa, the Ritz Carlton Doha Spa's Roman baths and steam rooms will not disappoint, while the Clarins Spa at the exclusive Kempinski Marsa Malaz promises optimum results. Finally, the Six Senses Spa, part of Sharq Village and Resort, offers a more local arabesque experience.

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