It is not AIRBNB, but feels like living with a local host… in a traditional Qatari home. Not your usual 5-star hotel, but the service is much more personalized. And this is definitely a must-try for all tourists who want to experience authentic Qatari hospitality – an overnight stay in any of the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels.
Boutique hotels are characterized by their intimate atmosphere and idiosyncratic style. They distinguish themselves from larger chain hotels by offering personalized attention and styled accommodations which play on a motif. – History of Boutique Hotels/USA Today
This will be quite a long post so let’s start revealing the 9 Boutique Hotels available inside one of Qatar’s most popular tourist attractions – SOUQ WAQIF. Currently being managed by Tivoli Hotels, the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels offers a variety of local experiences tailored to different needs of the guests.
BUT FIRST, OUR SOUQ WAQIF TOUR
After some delays due to bad weather during the first week of May, our Souq Waqif tour has finally come. On board a golf cart, we toured around the Souq on the very first day of Ramadan 2018.
And while it is true that this is one of the most familiar places for most expats in Qatar, i discovered that there are new features that was added to the Souq that you might want to know.
On top of the existing NOVO cinemas in 01 MALL, the Pearl Qatar, and Mall of Qatar, there has been earlier reports on new NOVO cinemas in the future MSHEIREB DOWNTOWN (details here), and in SOUQ WAQIF (details here). While the former might take longer time to open, the latter is almost ready to open in the coming months.
The Souq Waqif Tour offers an alternative way to discovering the famous landmark via a guided tour on a golf cart. This facility is FREE and exclusive to guests of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels but hopping on and off each souq may take some time. So it is advised to allot enough time in order to cover the entire place.
THE NINE BOUTIQUE HOTELS
Did you know that there are 9 boutique hotels scattered around Souq Waqif? Yes, the regeneration works in the area was so amazing that many of us may not know that inside those old walls are beautifully designed sanctuaries… literally giving everyone an opportunity to do a “sleepover” at The Souq. Best of all, the fun doesn’t only stop within the confines of the hotel room, but to experience a lively and colorful tradition just few steps away from your hotel room.
This guided tour of the 9 boutique hotels will start right at the entrance of Souq Waqif where popular strip of souvenir houses, cafes and restaurants are.
You may not have probably noticed it, but a familiar building right in the middle of the Souq’s square (infront of the Village Restaurant) – is actually historic. Do you know the site where the popular seller of Indian souvenir usually sits in? That same building is called Bismillah Hotel – the oldest and the first hotel in Qatar which was built in the 1950’s.
This is the most exclusive among the boutique hotel collections with only two suites available allowing the guests to enjoy ultimate exclusivity, from private butler service to 24-hour in-room dining, in a truly one-of-a-kind setting.
Towards the right side of Bismillah Hotel, right after the popular Damasca One Restaurant is another property – the Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel. The biggest among the boutique hotels in Souq Waqif with a total of 37 rooms. It also houses the only swimming pool in the whole of Souq area and a modern theater that can sit up to 980 people. It has an all-day dining restaurant – Al Terrace, which offers flavourful and aromatic Lebanese cuisines.
Just across the Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel is another beautiful hideaway inspired by the dessert caravan and the activities of the Arabic merchants in the earlier times. The beautiful jar collections as well as the traditional Bedouin tents are common theme of the hotel lobby and its lounges. It has 17 rooms and is also one of the newest boutique hotel to open from the former the site of Soy Restaurant.
Right at the other end of Souq Waqif, opposite the Msheireb Downtown Doha, is another hidden gem. It has 23 standard rooms and is also close to the Souq Waqif Arts Center. This beautiful property is formed by three family homes built in the 1930s making it a historic architectural gem.
Easily accessible right from the parking entrance opposite the Souq Waqif Park, is a Boutique Hotel with a popular Indian restaurant downstairs. The name Jomrok means “custom” being a former Customs Office due to its proximity to the Corniche area – which was serves as the main trading area in Doha during the earlier times.
Al Jomrok Boutique Hotel houses 13 rooms and suites and a shisha lounge (with retractable roof) at the second floor offering a commanding view of Doha Corniche and westbay area.
At the back of Al Jomrok is Al Bidda Boutique Hotel. One of the bigger hotels in the collection with 31 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant – La Piazza, offering delicious breakfast buffet and other local dishes. There’s also the Le Patisseri – an outdoor coffee shop serving oven-fresh French.
The property also houses several business establishments selling different kinds of souvenir items. As you step out of the hotel, an authentic Arabic restaurant serving fresh kuboos breads and grilled items is available. It is also close to the Pet Souq where a variety of pet animals are for sale.
Turning left from Al Bidda is another unique hotel – Arumaila Boutique Hotel with only 19 rooms and a roof top restaurant with a panoramic view of Westbay area. What’s really unique about the hotel is its exterior walls, traditional arabic with a palatial feel on it. It sits opposite to the mosque and the large square of Souq Waqif fronting the Msheireb Downtown Doha where some of the cultural events are being held and an underground parking is available.
The most modern among the collection is Al Jasra Boutique Hotel. It has 26 suites plus an array of facilities like a gym, a traditional Hamam spa, a very beautiful lounge cafe – the Drawing Room, and a multi-awarded Moroccan restaurant – Argan. Surely, this is one of the most popular among all the nine boutique hotels and is located near the Falcon Souq and the Falcon Hospital.
The last property in this tour order is the Musheireb Boutique Hotel. It has 14 private rooms which is an epitome of laid back luxury. It is located right across the Camel Area and the Horse Stables at the back side.
NO TWO ROOMS ARE ALIKE
An actual visit to each and every boutique hotel revealed this truth that no two rooms are the same. In size and in designs, everyone seems to be unique from each other. There are even some room layouts that seem like a maze… very typical of the old Arabic houses.
In the next part of this series, we will present our top 3 choices among the boutique hotels – in terms of price, room designs and location. Also, we will feature the different areas of the Souq that any tourist shouldn’t miss. Please watch out for it next TOURSDAY (Thursday).
For inquiries and reservations, call +974 4433 6666 or visit their website: https://www.tivolihotels.com/en/qatar
I'm a Christian, a husband and a father, a Filipino expat in Qatar, entrepreneur, aspiring blogger, freelance real estate consultant, lover of anything KOREAN, an adventurer.