Two vacations in one! Indeed, yes! This exciting promotion of SOUQ WAQIF BOUTIQUE HOTELS BY TIVOLI in partnership with BANANA ISLAND RESORT offers a one-of-a-kind experience to their guests. Imagine, one can spend the night at the souq… discover Qatar’s colorful heritage as you stroll around the labyrinth bazaar… and enjoy the beach the next day and frolic into the find sand beach of Banana Island.
We were given the privilege to try and experience this for ourselves and coincidentally, it was Jasmine’s 5th Birthday (oooops, we’ll have a separate blog for that after this one). It was one very exciting and very memorable staycation for us.
I will keep this short and as informative as possible, so i will list down some of the tips that i can give you if you consider taking the same kind of adventure.
TIPS: OVERNIGHT AT THE SOUQ
- CHECK-IN: Since you will only be staying overnight, try to check-in early, as early as 3pm if possible. But if you have work til 5:30pm, better go straight to Souq Waqif to catch an early diner and the 8pm Souq Waqif Tour.
- PARKING: Parking is not a problem at Souq Waqif, you know they have a huge underground parking. But as guest of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel, overnight parking is free. Better yet, you can ask them for a valet parking. Example, if you’re staying in Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel, you can park at the side road near the MOI Office and a valet attendant will take your car to the parking area. I arranged this over the phone prior to our arrival to avoid inconvenience.
- HOTEL CHOICE: We stayed at Mirqab Boutique Hotel. It was a perfect place if you want a lively atmosphere when you go out of the hotel. Get that authentic Arabic feel and the central Souq area is just few steps away. But if you are considering a more quiet place, you probably should opt to stay at Al Jasra Boutique Hotel, Al Bidda Boutique Hotel or at Al Jamrouk Boutique Hotel which are closer to corniche area and perfect when you transfer to Banana Island the following day (note that this is however subject to availability).
- SWIMMING POOL: It is located at the second floor of Mirqab Boutique Hotel open until 7pm only. So better have a quick dip in order to maximize your stay.
- DINNER: For those who want to experience authentic Arabic food, Al Terrace at Mirqab Hotel offers Lebanese cuisine with live outdoor entertainment. But for those who are looking out for more budget friendly food, head over to the Souq and look for those grilled kebabs (skewers) and freshly cooked kubos (round breads).
- SOUQ WAQIF TOUR: If you are up for an informative tour around the Souq (especially for visiting tourists), make sure to be at Arumaila Hotel lobby by 8pm to catch the 1-hour guided tour. You can request for a cart to transport you to the meeting place.
- DISCOVERING SOUQ WAQIF: Know ahead that there are zones inside the Souq. The Falcon Souq (accessories and sale of falcons), Horses and Camels Stables, Spices Souq, Pet Market, Textiles and Clothes, Swords and artifacts, Gold Souq and more.
- COFFEE? An evening walk around the Souq or even a karak shot just before you head back to the hotel is also a nice idea. There are also a lot of cafes along the stretch of Souq Waqif.
- SOUVENIRS: While its a bit expensive to have some items for souvenirs here at the Souq, it’s relatively better in variety and price compared to the malls.
- HOUSEKEEPING STAFF. They’re one of the nicest team we’ve seen. They’re always smiling and genuinely concerned about our welfare.
TIPS: DAY PASS TO BANANA ISLAND
- Take heavy breakfast. The hotel restaurantss are usually open for breakfast as early as 7am.
- Before leaving the hotel, make sure to claim your DAY PASS vouchers at the hotel reception (beach and pool pass with 20% discount for F&B). Make sure to request it a bit earlier (maybe while having your breakfast), so you it wont delay you going to Banana Island.
- Make sure to travel light going to Banana Island. You’ll have more walking and transfers to do so big luggage bags are not advisable. If you have a car, leave the other belongings inside the car and ask for a valet at the Al Shyoukh Terminal in corniche). Otherwise, you may use uber or grab or simply walk towards the corniche area going to the Banana Island terminal. The Ferry ride takes abound 45 minutes and leaves the corniche port every hour.
- Upon arrival to the island, staffs will lead you towards the beach area, and those who need special assistance may proceed to the lobby to request for a cart to bring you close to the beach (carts are however subject to availability and interval may take about 10-15 minutes, so please be patient).
- ISLAND TOUR: Carts can also tour you around Banana Island for free. The driver will brief you on the facilities available for DAY PASS holders and those that may be used for a fee (restaurants, water and sports facilities, etc).
- KIDS POOL: This is basically the family area and is also close to the beach. Kids can enjoy the kiddie pools while the adults can also access the beach area. What’s wonderful about this area is that there are cabanas where you can stay.
- FOOD: One of the more viable options would be Ted’s American Burger located near the Kids pool area. Price range is around QR55 per order. But for those with big appetite, you can also checkout brunch offers at Azraq or even at the Q-Lounge.
- ADULT POOL: Probably not known to many is this beautiful space located at the Q-Lounge. An adult pool that is best to lounge towards sunset. We had the best time in this area. Don’t forget the swing by the water for that Instagram shot or head over those over water villas for that nice sunset shot.
- WATER AND SPORTS FACILITIES: To compliment your stay, you can also try biking, surfing, banana boat ride, bowling, tennis and a host of other activities at an additional cost.
- DAY PASS TIME LIMIT. You are basically allowed to stay the entire day. Make sure to ask the timing of the ferry departure so you can be booked ahead. We headed back to the city right after sunset.
We were guests of Souq Waqif Tivoli Hotel but the raw photos and all the experiences shared in this blog are the writers own. If you want to experience TWO VACATIONS IN ONE, call @tivolisouqwaqif at 4433 6661.