Hotel Review: Radisson Blu, Doha in Qatar
Since winning the 2022 World Cup, Doha has put itself on the tourist map. As the fledgling city – one of the richest in the world – scrabbles to prepare for the crowds to descend, we headed to explore the skyscraper-lined streets before they’re draped in the flags of the world’s nations.
Doha is the capital city of the State of Qatar and the metropolis stands proud on the coast of the Persian Gulf. In a city that has risen from the desert sands, the golden glow of the Radisson Blu shines bright across the dusty streets and busy highways. The four-star hotel is the perfect spot for a business trip or a great base for tourists to explore the city.
The hotel is a big hit with the business clientele and the rooms are definitely geared up for travelling businessmen and women. Our room – a sprawling penthouse suite with views stretching out across the skyscrapers – had enough space for the whole board of a multinational conglomerate to meet, if necessary!
The room – or rooms – consist of a meeting and dining space moving into a sitting area and office, and then into the bedroom. The King-size bed was extremely comfortable and the bathroom was practical and well-designed. While it doesn’t have a luxurious extravagance, the Radisson Blu is welcoming, and functional.
Radisson Blu has something for everyone within the walls of the hotel. The 583-bedroom hotel boasts nine restaurants and four dining bistros, seven bars and a nightclub offering foods, flavours and cuisines from around the world!
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing spot for a quiet nightcap, a business lunch with colleagues or clients, a romantic meal for two, or a dancefloor to party the night away – there’s something within these four walls. By day, tourists can be found snoozing by the pool or enjoying cocktails at the swim-up bar.
The gym and sports centre provides the perfect opportunity for fun with the children or a wind-down after a busy day. Businessmen can be found in one of the hotel’s numerous conference spaces or meeting rooms. And a huge arena hosts events of all sorts – when we were in town the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships were about to kick off.
If you’re looking for a few days of blistering heat, poolside relaxation and cocktails then you could be excused for never venturing outside the Radisson. But that would be a shame. Doha is a fascinating city with lots of culture and leisure on offer.
By far the Radisson’s biggest selling point is its location. It sits in between all of the main Doha attractions – with everything a £5 taxi ride away. With great access to whatever attraction takes your fancy, the city really is your oyster (or should I say, pearl!?)
We had three days to pack in as much sightseeing as possible and the ease of Uber in Doha made this simple and stress-free. Taxis are very reasonably priced and it’s too hot outside to walk so grab Ubers as much as possible.
It costs as little as £5 to travel from one side of the city to the other and there’s always a driver nearby, we never had to wait more than a few minutes (although there were times when the city’s 5G network failed us and we were left searching for Wi-Fi in a coffee shop to order our car!).
Tip one: although attractions dotted around the city appear close by, always allow extra time as traffic can be awful and the traffic lights create long waits.
We ventured to the vast Villagio Mall on day one for a spot of shopping – and shopping in Qatar puts many malls to shame. There’s a whole world under one roof at the Villagio. I must admit, it’s the only mall I’ve ever been to with its own indoor theme park (complete with rollercoaster and Ferris wheel!) and canal system, including gondola rides!
The mall – which boasts more than 200 shops and restaurants – is home to intriguing local stores, well-known high street chains, upscale designer boutiques, and a plethora of eateries.
The mall is part of the city’s Aspire Zone, where much of the development – including the 40,000-seat Khalifa International Stadium – for the 2022 World Cup is taking place, as well as home of Aspire Park and the iconic The Torch hotel.
We visited The Torch for dinner at the hotel’s panoramic, revolving restaurant Three Sixty. The views of the city are unrivalled and the food delicious – but it’s a spot you pay for and, despite visiting on a Saturday night, the restaurant was quiet and the atmosphere a little flat.
Our second day in the city saw us embracing some history and culture, first at the city’s famous Souq Waqif. The market is a warren of alleys and passages of silk scarves, spices, traditional garments and crafts, and souvenirs. Heading for the harbour we took in sights such as The Pearl and the impressive skyline through the masts of the dhow boats in the harbour and the haze of the midday heat.
An amble along the Corniche soon turned into a hike when, our plan to stop and order a taxi, didn’t pan out. And, in the 36C heat, we faced a hot and sweaty 7km walk around to the civilization of the West Bay. Finally in an air-conditioned cab we sped across the man-made island of The Pearl-Qatar. The spotless harbour-side residence boasts high-end shops, showrooms and restaurants.
Just a short drive away is Katara Village, another development of chic restaurants and coffee houses arranged around the ampitheatre and lined by a sun-drenched promenade and sandy beach. The heat here is so intense that staff dart around the culture village in golf buggies offering lifts to visitors.
Tip two: dress respectfully. Qatar is a strict Islamic country and when you’re visiting the landmarks (or are anywhere outside of the hotel resorts) you should keep covered, despite the heat. Ladies, keep your shoulders and knees covered and wear loose, floaty clothing. Gents, it’s less strict for you but avoid wearing shirts without sleeves and try to wear long shorts.
Dresscodes for eating out and partying are similar unless you’re visiting one of the Western hotels. We chose The Orient Pearl – an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant with a unique twist – for our final Doha dinner. The Orient is three restaurants in one, with guests choosing where to sit and which menu to order from.
We opted for a traditional meal outside where we could soak up the last of the day’s heat and watch the vibrant fountain show before heading to one of West Bay’s swankiest bars for cocktails; Wahm at the W. Tip three: Qatar is a dry country so drinking here is generally difficult. There are bars in some hotels but if you want to go for a drink remember to take your passport or you won’t be getting in!
Much like Dubai and other modern, Middle Eastern cities that have emerged from the dry, arid desert in recent decades, Doha is a rapidly growing metropolis, ever expanding and quickly finding its place as a tourist destination. It’s a perfect stop-over en-route to the east. We decided to break up our return journey from The Maldives with a three-night stay in the city and it was just the right decision.
Doha is a city that has rapidly emerged and expanded out of the desert and many of the attractions are, for want of a better word, deserted! It’s like they’ve been built in preparation for huge crowds – that haven’t quite arrived yet! But, with the World Cup 2022 on the near horizon and the city recently recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities, it’s clear that Doha will have it’s day.
Rooms at Radisson Blu start from a special rate of QR7,500 for a standard room and QR10,500 for a superior room for a minimum stay of 30 days. These rates are room only basis, prepaid and non-refundable.
Address: Salwa Road Intersection of the C Ring Road Rawdat Al Khail Doha Qatar
Phone: +974 4428 1428