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Where to Stay, Dine, and Shop in Doha – A Design Lover’s Guide

Doha rises out of the sand, its bright lights twinkling like a mirage in the desert. The capital city of Qatar has been 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 practically synonymous.

“It’s forever evolving. Always on-trend but also setting its own trends,” says Shaikha Al-Sulaiti, senior manager of interior design at Msheireb Properties. “Design in Doha is of the highest standards of quality and construction, but is also very special as it is always inspired by local landscapes, traditions, and culture.”

With lofty development plans through 2030, Qatar is just entering the spotlight. So, whether you’ve got an extended layover or are in town for business (or one of the country capital’s many events), check out these can’t-miss spots in the city.


where to stay

banyan tree doha lobby

Courtesy of Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Mushaireb

There’s a lot of glitz and glamor in Doha, especially at the brand new Banyan Tree. Its towering oryxes (the national animal of Qatar) and gunmetal gray banyan trees in the lobby are just a taste of its bold design. “The coolest thing for me about the Banyan Tree is the double-curved walnut structure walls on the 28th floor,” says Abdulrahman Al-Salem, architect at Qatari Day. In the rooms, mirrored walls, closets, and doors have you doing a double-take, while the spacious bathroom has custom-made 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 it’s located in. “The Four Seasons design is a perfect merging of European and local inspiration,” says Al-Sulaiti. “As a designer, I really appreciate the Qatari accents in the room, such as the sliding doors and hardware. The gypsum carvings are a great example of the melding 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 has exceptional service, a gluttonous breakfast buffet, and sweeping views of the Arabian Gulf. “The coolest thing about the design of The St. Regis is the view of the hotel from the beachside, where you can see the symmetry of the exterior volume,” says Al-Salem. Its interiors feature Middle Eastern patterns on the rugs, mosaic tiles in the bathroom, and tasseled textiles draped over the bed.

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Where To Eat and Drink

Nobu

The world’s largest Nobu has three-coiled floors reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim Museum and an interior as impressive as its sashimi platters. Twisted Abaca panels hang from the lofty ceiling, as do glass bubble chandeliers. Velvet and leather booths look onto an open sushi kitchen serving artful plates of fresh fish. “I love the ambiance at Nobu the most. It is 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 the cod.”

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Rusk Artisanal Bakery

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Located in Doha’s Msheireb Downtown, Rusk is one of the city’s best places for lunch and carbs. “It’s one of the most beautiful bakeries I have ever come upon,” says Abdulrahman Al Muftah, design specialist at Discover Qatar – Qatar Airways. “The blend of minimal beige is a reflection on Qatar, the beige city.” Try the egg dishes with Middle Eastern flare or the Parisian-style pastries.

Liang

the mandarin cake shop at liang

Courtesy of Liang

“My favorite restaurant in the city is Liang because of the luxurious design details, artwork curation, and impressive five-meter chandelier,” says Al-Sulaiti. Opened in 2019, this exquisite restaurant opposite the Mandarin Oriental serves traditional Cantonese dishes with delicate touches of Chinese culture. Its Peking duck and traditional tea ceremony are not to be missed.

Parisa Souq Waqif

Few dining rooms are more entrancing or mesmerizing than the ones at Parisa. Hand-painted Persian folklore, elaborate mosaic tiles, and thousands of tiny mirrors cover every inch of this beloved Persian restaurant. “What I love about the design of Parisa is the outdoor courtyard, which is also a traditional element of old Qatari homes designed around a central courtyard, ” says Al-Salem. “Parisa is where I would go when I’m in the mood for Persian food.”


where to shop

Galeries Lafayette

“It’s a great example of postmodernism in Qatar,” says Al-Salem. An outpost of the famous high-end Paris department store, it’s 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

Opening soon in the Doha Design District (an up-and-coming area dedicated to local and international designers), Almana Maples specializes in customized interiors and furniture for their clients around Doha. For Al-Sulaiti, their new ella showroom will have many of her ella go-to furniture brands, including Minotti, Poliform, and Rimadesio.

Studio 7

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

Souq Waqif

“Our history has clearly impacted the projects in Doha—an example of that would be Souq Waqif, which was an urban redevelopment project of a historical district in Doha,” Al-Salem says about Souq Waqif, one of the city’s oldest sites. Designed like a traditional souq, you’ll find locals bargaining for fabric and spices here. Amongst the labyrinth of alleys, you’ll also find falcons, Arabian horses, cardamom tea stalls, an art gallery, and fantastic local restaurants.


Where To Explore

exterior of the national museum of qatar

Courtesy of National Museum of Qatar

National Museum of Qatar

It’s a bold statement, but the National Museum of Qatar may just be the most beautifully designed museum in the world. Created by Jean Nouvel, it’s 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 museum’s fourth floor.

East-West/West-East

Jutting out of the harsh desert landscape is a much-loved steel sculpture by Richard Serra. Both Al-Sulaiti and Al-Salem consider it a must-do while in Qatar. “East-West/West-East is an iconic piece in Qatar and one of the most popular tourist destinations. The simplicity of the forms is what makes it so unique and beautiful,” says Al-Salem. The drive will take over an hour from the center of Doha, but it’s well worth it to marvel at Qatar’s stark beauty.

Museum Of Islamic Art

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

Souq Waqif Art Center

The historic Souq Waqif is arguably the city’s most popular destination. Amongst the winding alleys of shops and spices is an art center for aspiring local artists. “It hosts a collection of artisans from palm weaving, ceramics, traditional textile methods and more,” says Al Muftah. In addition, the center hosts various exhibits and art workshops throughout the year.


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