Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Luxury in 48 Hours: Doha, Qatar.


Just like Dubai I'd been wanting to visit Doha for years, ever since I almost had the chance to have a stopover in the capital city of Qatar years back when I flew to Australia with the national airline. My Dad wouldn't let me go by myself, so that trip got scrapped. I've learnt since then though just to ignore him, if I didn't ignore him I wouldn't have been to BudapestNew YorkPoland, Cuba, UAE, Qatar, or Oman! They're all too dangerous apparently. Tch. Rubbish. Anyway, Doha is a pretty quiet city, but we managed to find some awesome things to do!

A luxury guide to experiencing 48 hours in Doha Qatar

We   actually had much less than 48 hours to see Doha - we probably had closer to about 38 hours. Luckily Doha is quite small with not too much to do for your average visitor, but I think 2-3 full days is probably the perfect amount of time there, and I really wish we had another full day as we only had one. Anyway, we arrived early evening and checked into our stunning hotel, Shangri-La Doha

After checking in and getting sorted we changed and headed down to the concierge to organize a desert tour for the next day (our only full day). We only wanted a half day tour in the afternoon, as we wanted to catch golden hour and the sunset, and luckily the concierge managed to book us in for a private tour during the times we'd requested. After dinner in the hotel, we then got a taxi over to The Pearl, which is an artificial island a little like The Palm in Dubai. 

The reason for visiting The Pearl? To catch up with Polly of course!! I hadn't seen her for almost a year, so it was so lovely to see her again. We went to Secret Garden at Illusion bar in The Kempinski hotel, and although it was beauuuutiful, it was super quiet because it was a Monday night! It felt so weird being the only ones there, and I'd recommend visiting Doha on a weekend and going to the club part of Illusion, called 1933. 

Illusion Bar at Kempinski The Pearl Doha

On  our one actual full day, we woke up bright and early, had a delicious breakfast at Horizon club, and then went out to explore. We got a taxi over to the Islamic Museum of Art, but sadly it was closed on Tuesdays so we couldn't go inside. It was beautiful from the outside though, so we wandered around the palm-tree lined walkway to a lookout over the City of Doha.

Islamic Museum of Art in Doha Qatar
Doha Qatar Corniche
Islamic Museum of Art in Doha Qatar
Doha Qatar
Doha Qatar
City Skyline of Doha in Qatar

Trying to get a taxi from the museum proved rather difficult, in fact, trying to flag down a taxi anywhere but our hotel proved difficult! We eventually managed to get one over to the Souk, but as it was daytime everything was closed up. We basically did everything the wrong way, so learn from our mistakes!! 

Doha Qatar Souk
Doha Qatar Souk
Doha Qatar Souk
Doha Qatar Souk


We then got a taxi back to the hotel (after wandering all over the place and spending about half an hour trying to find one), and had some chill out time at the hotel, with pool time and massages. 

Shangri La Hotel Doha Swimming Pool


And then it was time for our adventure! Our driver picked us up and we made our way into the desert for dune bashing, with a quick stop to lower the pressure of the tyres and have a camel ride if we wanted (we didn't). Dune bashing was such a great experience, and the rush of adrenaline had us giggling and squealing the whole way.

Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Camels
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Camels
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion


I wore my fave maxi dress, and took a scarf with me to cover my shoulders and chest should I need it (I carried a large and light scarf with me for this purpose everywhere I went in the Middle East). 

Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion

We found a pristine untouched sand dune, and parked up to take photos and have a run through the sand. The sand in the desert wasn't as red or orange as I thought it would be, it was actually pretty pale. I went to Oman after Qatar and the sand there was bright orange! Anyway, sitting on a sand dune watching the sun go down was a pretty special experience.

Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Excursion


And then we had an even more special experience. On our way back to the camp we drove past two Qatari men training their falcons. Falcon hunting is huge in the Middle East, with some birds being worth thousands upon thousands of dollars. Our driver wound down the window and spoke to them in Arabic, and asked us if we'd like to watch. Obviously we said yes, so he then veered the car in their direction.

Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Falcon Training
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Falcon Training
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Falcon Training
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Falcon Training
Qatar Desert Sand Dunes Falcon Hunting


We jumped out and went to sit with them as they fed one of the falcons. We spent 15 minutes or so with them, conversing in broken English and hand gestures, and one of the men Snapchat video'd us telling his followers we were from London. Just goes to show everyone is exactly the same ;) 

They taught us about the falcons, falcon hunting, and how they travel around the world with their birds. And then when the sun had completely dipped below the horizon and it was time for the men to pray, they retrieved their prayer mats from the boot of their car and we left them to it and drove off back towards Doha.

Qatar Desert Sand Dunes


I will never forget that experience of sitting on the cooling desert sand with two Qatari men and their falcons, laughing together over our language barrier, all of us trying to converse using hand gestures, and our driver translating for us when hand gestures and broken English failed us all. It was magical. 

We got back to our hotel and after showering and changing, we got a taxi over to the W Hotel for a night at the famous Doha club, Crystal. You pay the equivalent of £20 to get in (every person has to pay this, the £20 gets you a membership card that's valid for 6 months, so then every time you go it's free), and the place itself was...strange. The DJ for some reason just couldn't get each track to flow into the next, it all felt very broken and disjointed. Also he'd start playing an AWESOME track, and then suddenly stop it too soon and change to a different one.

We met a few interesting and really nice guys in there though, the majority of the club was full of expats and tourists, and when Nigel went to the bathroom and a group of drunk guys approached me and made me feel uncomfortable, the group of guys we'd met earlier saw what was happening and came and rescued me until he returned. I was so grateful for those guys! There is nothing like being alone in a club in a foreign country and feeling uncomfortable with drunk men surrounding you trying to dance with you when you don't want to.

W Hotel Doha Crystal Nightclub


We  had such a brilliant couple of days in Doha, and despite it's sleepyness I think it's definitely a city worth visiting. Honestly though, even though you can do it in 48 hours, I think you really need 2-3 full days (not half days like us) to make the most of the city and really experience it. There are so many restaurants I wish we'd visited, but we just didn't have time (and we barely ate while we were there as we were rushing around so much). Make sure you follow Polly's blog for inspiration on what to see and do there, as she's an expat and has been living there for a couple of years now.

Doha is a funny city, it feels as though it's desperately trying to be Dubai, but it can't quite get there. Despite the huge number of skyscrapers it feels very quiet and small, and you really have to get taxis everywhere because there are no walkways or pavements - just major roads and motorways everywhere so it isn't safe to walk (and in some places it's literally impossible to cross the street). We found it to be a fairly cheap city compared to Dubai, and taxis were literally only a couple of pounds to get 20 minutes away.

Have you been to Doha? What did you think of it?

PIN FOR LATER:


*Pin For Later* The perfect guide to spending a luxurious 48 hours in Doha, Qatar! From seeing the city, the souk, and the nightlife, to heading out into the desert on a sand dune excursion!


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