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Where to go and stay in Qatar

A bit about Qatar

Beneath Doha's shining futuristic skyline, traditional dhow boats bob about on the cobalt-blue bay, perfectly encapsulating the striking contrast of old and new that defines today's Qatar. Once a major pearl trading hotspot, oil and gas have made this tiny enclave of the Arabian Peninsula one of the richest countries in the world and it shows. Perfectly manicured streets and ultra modern malls are a hallmark of the capital Doha, but it also boasts the oldest souk in the Gulf and the city is patrolled by police on Arabian horses dressed in traditional costume.

In the surrounding desertscape, the clash between old and new continues, with dune-bashing in four-wheel-drive vehicles as popular as camel rides to traditional Bedouin camps. The seemingly limitless desert hemmed in by dune-backed beaches has become a visitor's playground. Ocean-front resorts provide the setting for idyllic sun, sea and sand holidays with all manner of watersports on offer at the immaculate beaches.

Beach escapes

It may be only half the size of Wales, but Qatar juts out from the Arabian Peninsula giving it a long seaboard on three sides, including many sandy beaches washed by the languid Persian Gulf. Doha has the greatest concentration of hotels in Qatar but several other resorts have sprung up in scenic beach spots around the country. Whether public or backed by hotels, Doha's beaches are pristine with shallow waters particularly safe for children and special areas dedicated to kids. To find more remote stretches of sand, you need only hire a jeep and head off the beaten track to find empty glittering shores backed by rolling dunes.

Banana Island

Families and couples looking for a completely relaxing wellness retreat can head to the beautiful Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, accessed via a 20-minute boat ride from Doha. This exclusive island resort tucked behind a long curving beach has all the bells and whistles including an indulgent spa, a watersports and diving centre, no less than nine dining options and fantastic family-orientated facilities that include kids and teens clubs, a wave surf pool and another with water slides, a bowling alley and even a cinema.

Mesaieed

On the country's south-east coast around 40 minutes' drive from Doha, the town of Mesaieed has a prime location close to miles of unspoilt shoreline. The luxury Sealine Beach Resort is the best place to stay in the area, with villas and chalets opening right on the palm-lined beach. The shallow, crystalline water is perfect for splashing about and trying a range of watersports such as jetskiing, while activities in the surrounding desert include horseback riding and dune-bashing. You can visit also visit the race course next to Mesaieed to see legendary Arabian horses in action. The hotel's dining venues include the usual buffet restaurant and beach bar, but there's also a quality Italian eatery, a pool-side grill and a sheesha cafe on the sand. The large beach-side villas and interconnecting chalets are perfect for families, and for large broods there's a three-bedroom villa.

Al Khor

For travellers looking for a peaceful escape away from the bustle of Doha, the former pearl trading hub of Al Khor in the north of Qatar is an excellent option with splendid beaches, a pleasant waterfront corniche and a museum and several old watch towers for those interested in local culture. To live like Arabian royalty on your holiday, the five-star Al Sultan Beach Resort in Al Khor is ideal. Housed in a former palace, its opulent interiors have a distinctly regal feel that extends to the guest rooms too. The hotel faces onto a sandy beach and has an ambient shisha bar and cafe serving tasty snacks.

Sea, sights and shopping

Doha

Not only is Doha a very attractive and wealthy city with green tree-studded parks, interesting sights and plenty of places to stroll, it's also on a waterfront flanked by beaches. For these reasons a number of renowned international hotel chains have set up shop and Doha has some of the most glamorous hotels in Qatar. Hidden behind the glittering high-rises of Doha's waterfront, there are some original features of the city well worth discovering. Wandering around Souk Waqif, which is the oldest souk in the entire Gulf region, is an absolute must. Its huge indoor-outdoor network of squares and lanes contain shops and stalls selling a kaleidoscopic range of goods including traditional food, rugs, cushions, camels and even fluorescent birds. It's a great place to bargain for souvenirs and soak up the culture of Doha as it once was.

To stay in the old town and by the atmospheric souk there are some great hotel options. Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Doha Old Town is close to the action on the southern edge of Doha Bay, while the renowned Anantara brand's Musheireb boutique hotel situated beside Souk Waqif offers opulent Arabian ambience in the old heart of the city.

The West Bay area of the city has a clutch of high-end hotels overlooking the ocean, each a stunning architectural masterpiece with deluxe facilities. The Sheraton Doha Resort sits at the northern tip of the Doha Bay, opposite the port, and is not only close to the corniche and amusements of central Doha, but also has its own stretch of sand. The equally luxurious Four Seasons Hotel with its magnificent dome-topped sandstone buildings and the neighbouring plush Hilton Doha also tower over pristine palm-studded beaches with shallow clear waters perfect for paddling.

Splendidly positioned between West Bay Beach and Katara Beach, the InterContinental Doha and the St Regis Doha are two more luxury hotel options that have the added advantage of being close to the premium Lagoona Mall for designer shopping and the Katara Cultural Village for an insight into Arabian life. Close to the offshore Pearl development, the West Bay Lagoon area has a few more premium accommodation options. The five-star Ritz-Carlton Doha and the Grand Hyatt both sit behind sandy indentations at the fringe of the Pearl.

The Pearl

An artificial island opposite Doha's West Bay Lagoon area, the Pearl is set to become the country's most exclusive destination with ultra deluxe five-star hotels, private residences, shops and marinas. The area is linked to Doha via Pearl Boulevard and is arranged around several large lagoons. The fabulous Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel occupies the central islet of one lagoon offering guests the last word in luxury including private butlers, gourmet dining and a Clarins spa. Families are well catered for too, with a staffed kids club and cute play room.

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Places of interest in Qatar

Depending on the type of location you want, the kind of facilities you'd like to find and the proximity to certain attractions, we have a good number of areas for you to choose from and stay at during your holiday.

Whether you want a pumping and energetic beachside retreat, a tranquil setting in a secluded cove, a hillside resort perched in the midst of nature, or a strategic central location close to civilisation and buzzing city life, nightclubs, theme parks and other kinds of leisure attractions, we can advise you on the best places for you.

Choose from our selection of handpicked places and be based right at the place that's most ideal for you and your travelling party

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