This week, two international brands joined the ranks of hotels opening in Qatar. St. Regis opened its first Doha location, and Hilton premiered its first site in Qatar with Hilton Doha. They join brands like W, Four Seasons, Marriott, and Sheraton, along with boutique offerings in a state becoming increasingly present on the world stage.
The leviathan St. Regis Doha features 266 rooms and 70 suites, marble bathrooms, views of the Arabian Gulf, and 24-hour butler service (that's right, butler service). Tennis courts, massage treatments, and a spa will make you beach-ready—which is good, since you get private beach access. Ten restaurants, bars and lounges, including two by Chef Gordon Ramsay as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha, will serve to refresh you after a day in the sun. Rates from $604 per night.
The towering Hilton Doha features 309 rooms, a ballroom, "conference wing," and the eforea: spa. Guests will enjoy six restaurants, including a Trader Vic's, a pool, and a private beach. Located on Doha's Corniche, the hotel boasts views of the Gulf from every bedroom. Rates from $258 USD (940 QAR) for a King Hilton Guest Room.
The president of Hilton Worldwide Middle East and Africa, Rudi Jagersbacher, commented on the addition of the Hilton to Qatar's growing role in global tourism in a statement to the press, saying "We have worked hard to create a world class hotel to best reflect Qatar's growing ambitions to be a major global player. It's no secret that Doha is set to become an important sporting and cultural Middle East hub."
Indeed, this boom has resulted in much more than just new hotels. Qatar offers plenty to see and do—museum buffs can check out the Museum of Islamic Art along the Corniche in Doha, featuring ceramics, glass, ivory, woodwork and manuscripts from as far back as the seventh century. Take in views of the Gulf from any of the five floors of the museum's atrium. A variety of other museums and art galleries in the Doha area, including the Waqif Art Center and the Museum of Orientalists, should further satisfy the culture bug.
Shopping enthusiasts should head to The Souq Waqif, located off of Grand Hamad Street in Doha; it is purportedly the Gulf region's last traditional market. Purchase spices, honey, Bedouin woven goods, gypsum and art, or step into a falcon shop to meet and learn about training these great birds of prey.
Photo Credits: 1. A dhow returns to harbour in Doha via Shutterstock; 2. Courtesy Hilton Hotels; 3. Courtesy Starwood Hotels