Day 1. Doha stopover with Qatar Airways

I had travelled down to London the previous evening where I met my son at the Premier Inn, Gatwick Airport.  This hotel is conveniently located at the north terminal and can be easily accessed from Gatwick Railway Station at the south terminal by means of the inter-terminal shuttle service which takes only two minutes.  It was the third time that we had stayed at this hotel and although large and busy we have always enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

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Our Qatar Airways 787-8 Dreamliner bound for Doha

Our Qatar Airways flight to Doha was scheduled to depart at 11.10 a.m. so we didn’t need to get up too early and could have a leisurely breakfast.  Qatar Airways flights depart from the north terminal so all we had to do was to cross the road into the terminal building and look for the bag drop desk as passengers can check-in on-line up to 36 hours prior to departure.  Thankfully there were no queues and we swiftly made our way through to security which was also a speedy process – well done Gatwick!

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Arriving at the gate for our flight

All formalities taken care of, we browsed the duty free shops and I sampled some perfume before making our way to the Red Lion, an airside branch of the J.D.Wetherspoon chain of pubs.  The pub was crowded but luck was with us as we managed to grab a table just as some other people were leaving. Rather than queuing ages to be served at the bar, we made use of our phone app and a few minutes later our mugs arrived.  Hot drinks in Wetherspoon’s are refillable and we each enjoyed two cappuccinos.  As we were about to leave, a girl enquired if she could share our table and we had a little chat.  She told us that she was returning home to Toronto on Westjet, her flight departing at exactly the same time as our own!

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View of the front cabin of the Qatar Airways 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft

On the way to our gate we picked up some complimentary newspapers and it then seemed no time at all until we were boarding our Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to Doha with a flight time of 6 hours 55 minutes.  Our chosen seats (passengers on Qatar Airways are able to pre-select seats when booking at no extra charge) were in the front section of the economy cabin in seats 17A and 17B.  After the cabin doors closed it soon became apparent that our flight was only 60% full and although the configuration was 3-3-3, we were fortunate not to have a passenger sitting next to us.  The cabin interior was very modern and in good condition but it was a little disappointing to find used headphones and menus from a previous flight in our seat pockets.

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Lunch on board our Qatar Airways flight from Gatwick to Doha

The flight departed promptly with lunch and drinks being served approximately 90 minutes later.  From the printed menu I selected Chicken Biryani whilst my son opted for the other meat option, Beef Thai Green Curry.  Drinks were served at the same time and our glasses of red wine which were served from full sized bottles were generous with a smooth taste.  The food trays were plentiful and our couscous starters tasty.  On peeling back the lids of our chosen main courses we decided to swap, preferring each other’s choice but both tasting good.  We then tucked into slices of blackcurrant cheesecake, followed by cheese and crackers, a bread roll and a Kit-Kat biscuit.  When the drinks trolley reappeared we requested a second glass of wine each but as the flight attendant had just emptied her last bottle, she made a note and said she would serve them shortly.  Our coffee was a little on the strong side for our liking but on requesting an extra milk sachet it was much improved.

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Seat back Oryx Entertainment System on the Qatar Airways Dreamliner 787-8 aircraft

Feeling relaxed after our lunch we settled down to watch a film but had difficulties using the touch screens as they were faulty.  We had to press at the screen dozens of times before anything happened and hoped that, in the process, we weren’t annoying the passengers sitting on the row in front with our constant jabbing. I finally got my Oryx entertainment service to work and was able to watch the delightful film ‘Christopher Robin’ starring Ewan Macgregor.  Sadly, my son was unable to get the headphones to work in either of the two remaining seats so he just read the newspapers until my film had finished and then we exchanged seats.  On my recommendation he also watched Christopher Robin and enjoyed it very much too.  Our second round of drinks never seemed to materialise so we ordered two more from another flight attendant who seemed much more attentive and friendly.  Needless to say, these drinks arrived quickly with the original ones finally making an appearance later.  It hadn’t been our intention to have three drinks but it would have been a shame to waste them!

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Snack boxes served before landing on our flight

About two hours before landing snack boxes were distributed with a choice of chicken and chickpea savoury pastries or a vegetarian alternative.  This was accompanied with a warm chocolate muffin with a delicious gooey chocolate sauce.  Although alcoholic drinks were offered we couldn’t face any more so opted for refreshing glasses of pineapple juice and cups of coffee before landing into Hamad International Airport, Doha at 9.00 p.m. local time (3 hours ahead of GMT).

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Feature bear lamp at Hamad International Airport, Doha

After disembarking from the aircraft via an airbridge we followed signs to immigration where we counted 43 desks, however only five were in use, two of which were allocated for foreign visitors.  The queue was exceedingly long and it took us at least an hour to reach the front.  At the desk we just needed to explain that we were participating in the Discover Qatar Stopover Programme and our passports were stamped and 48 hour visa permits affixed.

After such a lengthy wait at immigration it was hardly surprising that our luggage was waiting for us on the baggage carousel which had long since stopped operating.  After reclaiming our luggage we tried in vain to connect to the airport’s free wi-fi to order an Uber taxi to our hotel.  A new metro system is due to start operating shortly which will make travelling to and from the airport and around the city much easier.  There were regular taxis available but before taking one of these we went in search of the airport bus station from where we caught a 777 bus to Souq Waqif, where our hotel was located.

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The West Bay Skyline viewed from the Corniche, Doha

This service operates every 20 minutes and a single ticket costs 10 RYD (£2).  A coach was operating on the route and the driver kindly put our luggage into the hold and let us know when we had arrived at the nearest stop to the hotel which was along the Corniche (waterfront).  Before making our way over to the hotel we paused to take in the dramatic skyline views then used Google Maps on our phone to locate the five star Souk Waqif Hotel which was one of the options available on the Discover Qatar Stopover Programme.

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Opulent interiors at the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel, Doha

The Souq Waqif Hotel actually comprises nine small boutique hotels all of which are five star and within easy walking distance of each other around the Souk.  The stopover package includes a range of four and five star hotels and although I am sure they are all extremely good, we chose to stay in the Souq for a more authentic experience.  Reservations do not specify which of the nine Souq Waqif hotels guests have been allocated to so we just needed to call in the first one we came across and check-in there.  Our check-in experience was very efficient and within a few minutes we were being escorted to an electric club car and driven through the souk to the Musheireb Boutique Hotel where we would be spending the next two nights.

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Our deluxe room at the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel

The concierge showed us to our room, placed our luggage on racks and connected our electronic devices to the Wi-Fi for us.  Our deluxe room on the first floor was the epitome of luxury and after a refreshing cup of tea we set off for a late evening stroll around the Souq which was still buzzing with activity late on a Friday evening.

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Souq Waqif, Doha

We had never experienced anything like it before with people sitting out in the cool (16 degrees) evening air on the outside terraces of the many attractive restaurants.  We had a little walk through the narrow lanes of the souk where Persian rugs, baskets and many other items were hanging outside shop doorways to tempt people indoors.

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The Textile Souk, Souk Waqif, Doha

It was around midnight when we finally returned to our hotel and we were soon fast asleep in our extremely comfortable bed after enjoying the start of another of our adventures.

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also be interested in the following:

A Short Stopover in Dubai

 

52 thoughts on “Day 1. Doha stopover with Qatar Airways

  1. Pingback: Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel, Doha, Qatar – Love Travelling

  2. jasonlikestotravel

    Sounds like an interesting start to your trip. I’m looking forward to seeing what else you got up to in Doha.
    Shame Qatar airlines hadn’t cleared up the previous flight’s left-behinds though, that’s a little disappointing along with the other issues you had.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know what I love Marion; you use every second of your day…sometimes I get a bit lazy and if I arrive somewhere around dinner time I just stay in my room. You…out and about walking! Can’t wait to read your next post which is already in my emails.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed this tale about your journey, Marion. I think it’s interesting to read about getting from here to there. If you write about other journeys, if you’d like to link to my “on journey posts” I’ll be happy to feature yours on my blog. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have found both Emirates and Qatar Airways to be very good, having travelled on them both several times. It’s difficult to make comparisons but I would probably say that Qatar Airways has the edge over its Middle Eastern rival, but of course this is often dependent on the cabin crews on those journeys.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your quick response! I’ve only travelled on Emirates and I was very impressed but, as you say, there are so many factors – like cabin crew – that can shape the experience. Happy travelling!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Silver

    I’ve flown with Qatar Airways before and have always been impressed with their on-board catering. Once I had a 6 hour stopover in Doha (I think?) and because of that got a free meal voucher from the company. That’s good service ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to read that you have also been impressed with Qatar Airways. We have flown with them three times now and always enjoyed good service. If ever you an opportunity to take advantage of their stopover programme to experience the city itself I think you would enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Little Miss Traveler, I have been following your blog and I am glad that you stopped by in Doha. It a bit hot and sometime humid so don forget to bring some water. I am looking forward to read some more post from Doha. It should be on your Discover Qatar Programme but it is a must the you should visit several museums walking distance from Souq Wakif. Enjoy!

    Cheers
    Henrik

    PS Qatari currency is Qatari Riyals (QAR) not RYD

    Like

  7. Hi. Glad you got to enjoy the sights of Doha. The souq a great place to visit and get a feel of local culture and the doha skyline is mesmerizing 😍, they are both in my top 5 fav places in Doha.
    I’ve been out here nearly 2 years, loved every minute. In fact my blog was inspired by my move to Doha. I have written a number of posts on Doha if you are interested.

    https://busharabostan.wordpress.com

    https://busharabostan.wordpress.com/2019/03/21/my-top-5-favourite-attractions-in-doha/

    Liked by 1 person

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