We had taken advantage of the Discover Qatar Programme which is available to passengers who have booked flights with Qatar Airways and can be taken in either direction of travel. After booking flights it was very easy to add the Discover Qatar programme to our itinerary, with visa free entry being available for over 80 countries. Included are a range of 4 and 5 star hotels located in three distinctive districts. These are:
West Bay – Doha’s modern business district facing the corniche.
The Pearl Qatar – a chain of man-made islands located a few miles north of the city centre.
Souq Waqif – an authentic experience in the heart of the standing market in Old Doha where we chose to stay.
The Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel is located 15 minutes from Hamad International Airport and can be accessed by taxi or bus 777 from the airport. At the time of our visit the metro had not yet opened but once it is operational guests will be able to take the metro directly from the airport to the Souq Waqif district in old Doha. The souq has a lively atmosphere especially in the evenings when one can explore the maze of narrow alleyways.
Arrival and Check-in
The five star Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel comprises 9 individually styled small hotels located around the souq. Guests who have made reservations through the Discover Qatar Programme cannot pre-select a particular hotel in the souq but as each of them are individually styled and luxurious I don’t see this as a problem.
We called in at the first hotel we came across and received a warm welcome from the reception staff. Check-in was quick and efficient and we were soon being escorted out to an electric club car. It was fascinating driving through the souq and it only took a few minutes to reach the Musheireb Boutique Hotel where we would be staying.
We were shown to our beautifully appointed deluxe room on the first floor which was the epitome of luxury with its Arabian inspired decor. The concierge set up wi-fi connections on each of our electronic devices and explained that these would work in any of the other Souq Waqif hotels. On one side of the room we found an espresso machine, kettle and a fridge containing complimentary bottles of water. The bed had an extremely comfortable mattress and high thread count Egyptian bedlinen.
The room had a spacious bathroom with marble tiling and a large walk-in rain shower. Towels and bathrobes were luxuriously thick and fluffy and these were replaced twice daily. There was also a large work desk with British three pin sockets and a deep padded armchair. Views from the large windows overlooked the edge of the souq which was quiet at all times.
Breakfast can be taken in either the Al Bidda La Piazza restaurant or in the Al Mirqab Al Terrace restaurant where we dined both mornings. This hotel was located at the opposite end of the souq to the one we were staying in and so we enjoyed a complimentary ride in the club car which arrived shortly after we requested it. Breakfast was not included in the stopover room rate but at QR 50 (£10.50) each it was very good value with a large buffet selection and kept us going all day.
La Terrace has a large outdoor terrace and we found it pleasant to sit and eat breakfast there so we could watch the comings and goings of daily life in the souq whilst we dined. We started the day with fresh fruit and yoghurt and then ordered freshly prepared omelettes and waffles which tasted delicious.
Guests are able to make use of facilities in any of the 9 hotels and can access these either on foot or by requesting one of the club cars. We used the roof top swimming pool at the Al Mirqab hotel and the luxurious spa at the Al Jasra where I relaxed in the sumptuous sauna suite one evening before dinner. A fully equipped fitness centre is also available.
The hotel arranges a complimentary walking tour around the souq at 8.00 p.m. each evening and we decided to go along. The tour lasts one hour and takes guests to the camel, falcon, spice and textile souqs along narrow, winding passageways and into buildings that most visitors to Doha would be unlikely to come across. The tour even includes refreshments and I would highly recommend participating.
We absolutely loved our two night stay at the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel and it was a perfect start to our Asian holiday. Discover Qatar guests are able to keep their room as late in the day as they wish which was very helpful as we didn’t check-out until 10.30 p.m. giving us two full days to relax.
All of the staff who we came into contact with were extremely friendly and helpful going the extra mile to make our stay one to remember. The individual hotels are scattered through the souq each of them small, intimate and luxurious and I don’t think it matters which one you are allocated as they are all beautiful. We thought it was fun to ring for the club car to take us to breakfast and the swimming pool and although it wasn’t far to walk, we couldn’t resist riding through the streets in the hotel’s electric cars. We can’t wait to arrange another stopover package with Qatar Airways and enjoy staying at this luxurious hotel again.
To read in more detail about how we spent our time in Doha, you might enjoy the following: