Where to Stay, Dine and Shop in Doha: A Guide for Design Lovers

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Doha rises from the sand, its bright lights twinkling like a desert mirage. Qatar’s capital city has seen staggering growth since the Middle Eastern country began exporting oil in the 1940s. And if you ask the city’s increasingly busy builders and designers, the words “evolving” and “Doha” are virtually synonymous.

“It is constantly evolving. Always fashionable, but also setting its own trends,” says Shaikha Al-Sulaiti, Senior Interior Design Manager at Properties of Msheireb. “Design in Doha has the highest standards of quality and construction, but it is also very special as it is always inspired by local landscapes, traditions and culture.”

With lofty development plans up to 2030, Qatar has just stepped into the spotlight. So whether you have an extended layover or are in town on business (or one of the nation’s capital’s many events), check out these must-see places in the city.


Where to stay

banyan tree lobby doha

Courtesy of Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Mushaireb

There is a lot of glitz and glamor in Doha, especially at the new Banyan Tree. Its towering oryxes (Qatar’s national animal) and metallic gray banyan trees in the lobby are just a sample of its bold design. “For me, the best thing about the Banyan Tree is the double-curved walnut frame walls on the 28th floor,” says Abdulrahman Al-Salem, an architect at Qatari Day. In the bedrooms, mirrored walls, cabinets and doors will have you looking twice, while the spacious bathroom features custom curved glass with a mix of black and Calacatta marble.

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The Four Seasons Hotel Doha

At the newly designed Four Seasons Doha, the hotel’s sea views seem a world away from the bustling West Bay area in which it is located. “The design of the Four Seasons is a perfect fusion of European and local inspiration,” says Al-Sulaiti. “As a designer, I really appreciate the Qatari accents in the room, like the sliding doors and hardware. The plaster carvings are a great example of the fusion of Parisian and Qatari design.”

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hotel lobby

Courtesy of The St. Regis Doha

The St Regis Doha

One of the city’s most iconic hotels boasts exceptional service, a bountiful breakfast buffet, and sweeping views of the Arabian Gulf. “The best thing about The St. Regis design is the view of the hotel from the beach, where you can see the symmetry of the exterior volume,” says Al-Salem. Its interiors feature Middle Eastern patterns on the rugs, mosaics in the bathroom, and tasseled textiles on the bed.

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Where to eat and drink

Nobu

The world’s largest Nobu has triple-spiral floors reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim Museum and an interior as impressive as its sashimi plates. Twisted abaca panels hang from the high ceiling, as do bubble glass chandeliers. Velvet and leather booths open onto an open sushi kitchen serving inventive fresh fish dishes. “What I like the most is the atmosphere of Nobu. It’s warm and inviting, but maintains the luxury dining experience,” says Al-Sulaiti. For Al-Salem, it’s the dishes. “The food at Nobu is amazing, my favorite thing on the menu is cod.”

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Rusk Artisan Bakery

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Located in the Msheireb hub of Doha, Rusk is one of the best places in the city for lunch and carbs. “It’s one of the most beautiful bakeries I’ve ever seen,” says Abdulrahman Al Muftah, a design specialist at Discover Qatar – Qatar Airlines. “The mix of minimal beige is a reflection of Qatar, the beige city.” Try the egg dishes with a Middle Eastern twist or the Parisian-style pastries.

Liang

the tangerine pastry in liang

Courtesy of Liang

“My favorite restaurant in the city is Liang because of the lavish design details, the curated artwork, and the stunning five-meter chandelier,” says Al-Sulaiti. Opened in 2019, this exquisite restaurant across from the Mandarin Oriental serves traditional Cantonese dishes with delicate hints of Chinese culture. Not to be missed is their Peking duck and traditional tea ceremony.

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Parisa Waqif Souk

Few dining rooms are more intriguing or mesmerizing than Parisa’s. Hand-painted Persian folklore, elaborate mosaics, and thousands of tiny mirrors cover every inch of this beloved Persian restaurant. “What I love about Parisa’s design is the exterior courtyard, which is also a traditional element of old Qatari houses designed around a central courtyard,” says Al-Salem. “Parisa is where I would go when I feel like Persian food.”


Where to buy

Galeries Lafayette

“It’s a great example of postmodernism in Qatar,” says Al-Salem. An outpost of Paris’ famous luxury department stores, it is located within the popular Katara Cultural Village. Go for a sunset stroll, an afternoon cup of coffee, or a shopping spree. It has everything from theory to Piaget.

almana maples

Coming soon to the Doha Design District (an emerging area dedicated to local and international designers), Almana Maples specializes in custom interiors and furniture for her clients in Doha. For Al-Sulaiti, his new showroom will feature many of his favorite furniture brands, including Minotti, Poliform and Rimadesio.

Study 7

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This new concept store allows emerging local and regional designers to showcase their work in downtown Doha. “It is a revolutionary design concept store where I exhibited several of my projects,” says Al Muftah. From furniture to clothing, every piece hangs from the ceiling in this minimalist warehouse-style space.

Souk Waqif

“Our history has clearly impacted the projects in Doha; an example of that would be Souq Waqif, which was an urban redevelopment project for a historic district in Doha,” Al-Salem says of Souq Waqif, one of the oldest sites in the city. Designed like a traditional souk, here you will find locals haggling for cloth and spices. Among the labyrinth of alleyways, you’ll also find falcons, Arabian horses, cardamom tea stalls, an art gallery, and fantastic local restaurants.

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where to explore

exterior of the national museum of qatar

Courtesy of the National Museum of Qatar

Qatar National Museum

It’s a bold statement, but the National Museum of Qatar may be the most beautifully designed museum in the world. Created by Jean Nouvel, it is an ode to the desert roses found in the dunes outside of Doha. “The National Museum is an iconic architectural project that is beautiful, sculptural and functional,” says Al-Sulaiti. Start or end your museum tour with Qatari food at jiwanon the fourth floor of the museum.

East-West/West-East

Standing out from the harsh desert landscape is a much-loved steel sculpture by Richard Serra. Both Al-Sulaiti and Al-Salem consider it a must-see in Qatar. “East-West/West-East is an iconic part of Qatar and one of the most popular tourist destinations. The simplicity of the shapes is what makes it so unique and beautiful,” says Al-Salem. The journey will take more than an hour from central Doha, but the beauty of Qatar is well worth it.

Islamic Art Museum

Reopening in July, it is known as IM Pei’s last major project before his death. Inside are 8,000 pieces of art from around the Islamic world. “The MIA is one of Doha’s architectural landscapes,” says Al-Sulaiti. “The grandeur of the exterior and interior accentuates the understated elegance that Qatar is all about.”

Souq Waqif art center

The historic Souq Waqif is possibly the most popular destination in the city. Among the winding alleys of shops and spices is an art center for aspiring local artists. “It houses a collection of artisans of palm weaving, pottery, traditional textile methods and more,” says Al Muftah. In addition, the center hosts various exhibitions and art workshops throughout the year.


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