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

Doha rises from the sand, its lights twinkling like a mirage in the desert. Qatar’s capital has grown by leaps and bounds 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 “evolve ” and “Doha” are practically synonymous.

“It’s constantly evolving. Always in style, but also setting her own trends,” says Shaikha Al-Sulaiti, Senior Director of Interior Design at Properties of Msheireb. “The design in Doha meets the highest quality and construction standards, but is also very special as it always draws inspiration from local landscapes, traditions and culture.”

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


Where to stay

banyan tree doha hall

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 oryx (Qatar’s national animal) and metallic-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 curvature walnut structure walls on the 28th floor,” says Abdulrahman Al-Salem, architect at Qatari Diar. In the bedrooms, the mirrored walls, closets and doors make you do a double take, while the spacious bathroom has bespoke curved glass with a mix of black and Calacatta marble.

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Four Seasons Hotel in 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 sits. “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 the hardware. The gypsum sculptures are a great example of the fusion of Parisian and Qatari design.

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hotel lobby

Courtesy of St. Regis Doha

The St. Regis Doha

One of the city’s most iconic hotels offers exceptional service, a gourmet breakfast buffet and breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf. “The coolest thing about the design of the St. Regis 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, 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 high ceiling, as do glass bubble chandeliers. Velvet and leather cabins overlook an open sushi kitchen serving artful plates of fresh fish. “I like the atmosphere at Nobu the most. 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 on the menu is the cod.”

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Rusk Artisan Bakery

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Located in downtown Msheireb in Doha, Rusk is one of the best places in town for lunch and carbs. “It’s one of the most beautiful bakeries I’ve been to,” says Abdulrahman Al Muftah, design specialist at Discover Qatar – Qatar Airways. “The mix of minimal beige is a reflection on Qatar, the beige city.” Try Middle Eastern flavored egg dishes or Parisian pastries.

Liang

liang's mandarin pastry

Courtesy of Liang

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

Parisa Souq Waqif

Few dining rooms are more bewitching or fascinating than those 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 Parisa’s design is the outer 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 was in the mood for Persian food.”


Or buy

Galeries Lafayette

“It’s a great example of postmodernism in Qatar,” says Al-Salem. An outpost of the famous high-end Parisian department store, it is located in the famous cultural village of Katara. 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 (a booming district dedicated to local and international designers), Almana Maples specializes in custom interiors and furniture for their clients around Doha. For Al-Sulaiti, their new showroom will have several of his must-have furniture brands, including Minotti, Poliform and Rimadesio.

Workshop 7

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This new store concept allows emerging local and regional designers to showcase their work in downtown Doha. “It’s a concept store with a revolutionary design where I presented several of my projects”, explains 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 projects in Doha – an example of this would be Souq Waqif, which was an urban redevelopment project of a historic area of ​​Doha,” Al-Salem says of Souq Waqif, the one of the oldest sites in the city. Designed as a traditional souk, you’ll find locals trading in fabrics and spices. Among the maze of alleys you will 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 is perhaps 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 visit with Qatari food at Jiwanon the fourth floor of the museum.

East-West/West-East

A much-loved steel sculpture by Richard Serra rises out of the desert landscape. Al-Sulaiti and Al-Salem consider it a must in Qatar. “East-West/West-East is an iconic piece 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 drive will take over an hour from central Doha, but it’s worth it to marvel at Qatar’s stark beauty.

Islamic Art Museum

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

Souq Waqif Arts Center

The historic Souq Waqif is arguably the city’s most popular destination. Among the winding lanes of shops and spices is an art center for budding local artists. “It houses a collection of artisans in palm weaving, ceramics, traditional textile methods and more,” says Al Muftah. Additionally, the center hosts various exhibitions and art workshops throughout the year.


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