Skyline of West Bay and Doha City Center, Qatar
neighbourhood guide

Where to stay in Doha

Doha is fast becoming a popular destination in the Middle East, with its perfect mix of arty vibe and modern luxuries sitting side by side with Arabian tradition and culture. From a wealth of public art and world-class museums to a stunning skyscraper skyline, all set along a horseshoe-shaped turquoise bay lined by a 7-km long Corniche, Doha has much to offer visitors, whether they are coming for a brief stopover or a longer stay.

Home to some 142+ nations living and working side by side, the small state of Qatar sticks out into the Arabian Gulf, teeming with dugongs and whale sharks. Its capital is open, cosmopolitan, and welcoming.

The city is the gateway to the desert and the sea, and there are adventures to be had on Doha’s doorstep within the city itself. Activities range from lazing on a beach to superb shopping, from water sports to art installation-hopping, from getting lost in the traditional bazaar to getting up and personal with a falcon, the country’s national bird.

Different neighbourhoods offer different aspects, but Doha is compact enough and connected by a modern metro system, to easily take it all in, wherever you choose to stay.

Looking for hotel recommendations? Here are our suggestions:

First-time visitors: Sheraton Grand Doha Resort

Couples: St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island

Families: Intercontinental Doha Beach & Spa

On a budget: Movenpick Hotel Doha

Foodies: Alwadi Hotel Doha – MGallery

For a local experience: Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli

Best place to stay in Doha for first-time visitors

West Bay

The view on skyscrapers of Al Dafna business district from the Sheraton Park in West Bay, Doha

It’s the Doha skyline which is the talking point of the town, day and night. Iconic towers are set against the bay, right at the end of the Corniche. The pyramidical Sheraton Hotel is the long-standing landmark of the city. dominating the Corniche since 1982, and still going strong.

While West Bay may be the more modern side of Doha, this is where most of the hotels come together, beach resorts as well as city hotels, offering options ranging from utter luxury, such as the Four Seasons with the world’s largest Nobu Restaurant out by its marina, to business hubs such as the Intercontinental The City, and family friendly places such as the Sheraton.

West Bay is, in the colder season, a place where you can walk between parks, malls, restaurants and hotels and beaches, with plenty of cafes lining the main roads, and, for business travellers, the Doha Exhibition & Convention Centre (DECC) right in the middle of it all.

But equally, you can set off down the Corniche, along the seaside, past art installations such as the Dugong by Jeff Koons, past the traditional dhow harbour, to Souq Waqif, and the museums. For fast connections to the new city of Lusail, just north of Doha, or all the way to the airport, the metro’s Red Line stops by the DECC, and is a fast and safe way to get around, perfect for when it gets too hot to walk.

Stay in the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel for its facilities, setting, and walkable proximity to most of Doha’s sights.  

Best place to stay in Doha for couples

The Pearl

An aerial photo of The Pearl, an artificial island in Doha, Qatar

The Pearl is Doha’s large mostly residential man-made island, just north of West Bay. This is a destination that feels a million miles away from the rest of the city, but not in a bad way.

Here you have various quarters, from the colourful, Italianesque Qanat Quarter, complete with Rialto Bridge and fabulous cafes to Porto Arabia with its marina, stocked with some enviable yachts, and crammed full with luxury shops and many international restaurants.

The Pearl is walkable, with plenty of green areas, beaches, and beach walks, and in addition, indoor walkways, just in case it gets a little too warm out there. This part of Doha is like a complete destination within the rest of the city offering a holiday within a holiday.

Luxury hotels sit on their own islands, there is turquoise water everywhere, and stunning views set off by tasteful high rises. For a romantic getaway, with the odd taxi ride to Doha’s sights, the Pearl is perfect, as you can enjoy the fancy hotels, the many restaurants, and walk for hours along the various marinas, stopping for coffee or snacks along the way.

Stay in the St. Regis Marsa Arabia Island, for decadent indulgence. Set on its own little island, but steps away from the marina walks and shops, the hotel offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and a great spa for extra pampering.

Best place to stay in Doha for families

Katara Village

Galleria Lafayette at the Katara Plaza in Katara Village

Katara Village is a cultural village, newly built, but so well done, you’d never know, right between West Bay and The Pearl. There the lovely architecture dotted with international urban art murals, and the many cafes and restaurants are interspersed with art galleries and regular outdoor exhibitions.

There is a great free public beach with plenty of activities for all ages, a planetarium, many small museums offering insights into local stamps, films or art, and a green hill, perfect for walking on the grass while looking out across the Arabian Gulf and the low-rise Katara Village architecture set off against the imposing skylines of both West Bay to the right and the Pearl to the left.

Sights such as the Golden Mosque, a tiny mosque all covered in gold tiles, an amphitheatre, traditional clay pigeon towers and more, will keep you busy looking around. Great, family friendly restaurants, such as the colourful Boho Central, with amazing views and great desserts, a very Parisian supermarket next door to Galleries Lafayette, add an extra dimension.

This is a lovely, traditional, low-key area, very arty and beautiful, perfect for strolling, and hitting the beach, without having to stay in a fancy beach resort. There is much for kids to discover, and plenty of activities for both young and old.

Stay at the unique Katara Hills Doha, a hotel offering individual rooms as well as villas, depending on the size of your family, surrounded by grass and forest. There even is a gurgling brook, something you don’t usually find in this desert country. For a more affordable alternative a little further from the village, try the Intercontinental Doha Beach & Spa

Best place to stay in Doha on a budget

The Corniche

The National Museum of Qatar with palm trees and grass

The one place every visitor needs to see, walk along, or at least drive along, be it on a little e-scooter, a bike, or the open top bus, is the Corniche. The beautiful seafront promenade starts near the Qatar National Museum, which looks like a desert rose, a naturally occurring salt-cum-gypsum formation found in the sand of the desert here, and is a mix of traditional and modern museum, telling Qatar’s history.

There are art installations along the route, and the amazing Flag Plaza, where some 142 flags flutter in the breeze, also access to the lovely Old Port area, the Mina District, and the Doha Cruise Terminal. The Corniche leads on past MIA Park, the Museum of Islamic Art, and Souq Waqif, all the way to West Bay.

This is the stretch where locals and visitors alike go for their exercise in the morning, watch the sunset in the afternoon, take a dhow out into the bay, and watch the skyline sparkle at night. The Corniche is where parades are held, fireworks take place, and everybody strolls on their Friday day off.

Funnily enough, one of the most iconic places in Doha is also a great location for budget stays. Right at the start of the Corniche, alongside the Qatar National Museum, are several museums, in a prime location, with views across the bay, or the old town, and steps away from all the main attractions.

But, as these properties don’t have beach access, and are usually 3- or 4-start hotels, used by business travellers for the convenient location.

Stay at the Movenpick Hotel Doha. A well-known international chain hotel, with all the mod-cons and conveniences, including an outdoor pool, steps away from the National Museum and its metro stop, it is convenient, nice, and affordable.

Best place to stay in Doha for foodies


People and cars in the Msheireb area of Downtown Doha, Qatar

Msheireb is one of the newest quarters within Doha, built on an old area that was falling into disrepair. Now the neighbourhood is the design hub of the city, filled with modern architecture, art galleries, including the fantastic M7, where regular fashion and design exhibitions take place, plus a small mall and a couple of old palaces turned into museums.

While design is at the forefront of thinking in Msheireb, there is also a great café or restaurant at every corner. From known names such as the Kitsune Café, with its great breakfast to the elegant Liang Cantonese restaurant, or the absolutely addictive Santa Nata selling the best Portuguese pastel de natas, modern, good food, and coffee is all around.

In addition, if modern, international cuisine is not what you came to Doha for, then Souq Waqif, with its local and regional speciality restaurants is literally a street crossing away. In Msheireb you are in the enviable position, or location, to bridge old and new, traditional and modern, local and global when it comes to food.

Stay either at the Mandarin Oriental, if the budget allows, for its style, and understated luxury in the heart of Msheireb, or at the Alwadi Hotel Doha – MGallery, for its great rooftop pool with stunning views.

Best place to stay in Doha for a local experience

Souq Waqif

People eating at restaurants at Souq Waqib at night

One of the top sights of Doha is Souq Waqif, a traditional souq, very much like a quintessential Arabian bazaar, full of tiny lanes where to get lost, a good choice of local cafes and restaurants, and plenty of atmosphere.

Here, you can meander, shop for spices and woven cloth, or, if you are in the market, for incredible pieces of shiny gold. Souq Waqif is where the residents shop for daily items, and hang out in the cafes for chats, over a freshly squeezed juice or the ever-popular karak, a sweet, spiced milky tea.

This is also where you can get up close and personal with falcons, some of which sell for thousands of dollars, and even have their own dedicated Falcon Hospital. Next door are the stables of Arabian thoroughbred horses, hauntingly beautiful, but never averse to a nose rub, while a few steps further on you’ll find the equally well-bred camels of the Emiri Guard.

Every morning, at varying times, but usually around 8am, the royal police guards form a caravan and ride out in front of the Emiri Palace and along the Corniche for quite the spectacular sight. When off duty, the camels roam in an enclosure and are always willing to say hello to visitors.

From Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art and its fabulous MIA Park are just across the Corniche, with the museum offering incredible artefacts of the Islamic world, while the park, if you walk all the way to the end, by Richard Serra’s art installation ‘7’, offers the best views of the city.

Stay in the heart of the quarter, in the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels by Tivoli, a string of small individual properties, of which the Al Mirqab Hotel is closest to the camels and falcons.

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 Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

Author - Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

A serial expat and avid traveller, Ulrike has lived in Oman, UAE, Qatar, France, Germany, Australia, and the UK, and travelled to 100+ countries. When she is not busy (un-)packing her suitcase, then she writes for international publications such as CNN Travel, BBC Travel, various Conde Nast Travel(l)ers, Lonely Planet, Wanderlust, The Independent, Nat Geo and many more.

Last Updated 20 February 2024

Doha at sunset


Like its neighbours in the UAE, Qatar's capital, Doha, has an impressive skyline and an abundance of malls, restaurants, hotels and other attractions. The Museum of Islamic Art takes the place of pride in the city centre. Further afield, you can learn more about the traditional Bedouin culture and try some of the adventure activities in the desert.