What it’s like to stay at Raffles Doha, an opulent all-suite hotel in Qatar’s newest luxury tower
welcome to Checking in, a new series of reviews in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and renovated) luxury hotels based on a rigorous, and occasionally ironic, 10-point system: each question answered “yes” earns one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.
In three words: Middle Eastern Magic
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What is the deal? Raffles may have a reputation for old-school luxury hospitality, but the brand’s newest outpost in Doha is turning tradition on its head and settling into the middle of Qatar‘s newest iconic building, the crescent-shaped Katara Towers. (The other half is home to a new fairmont hotel.) The fact that the structure’s design is based on the crossed scimitars of Qatar’s national coat of arms will go unnoticed by most visitors, but the drama of the striking architecture dazzling in the desert sun will not. .
The best room This is an all-suite hotel, and even the smallest of the 132 accommodations is over 700 square feet. Marcel Wanders’ design gives the suites, and the rest of the property, a whimsical feel, remaining elegant without veering into kitsch. Vaulted ceilings are covered in swirling foliage reliefs; arched windows overlook balconies and the waters of Lusail Marina; and a gorgeous, geometrically carved “treasure box” in each suite houses a mirrored maxi-bar, effectively a room within a room, complete with a sink, high-tech kettle and proper coffee machine, as well as a Stocked fridge with a good mix of serious drinks and soft drinks.
Opt for the Parisian Suite, which spans the entire 30th floor, if you want your own mini-cinema and beauty salon or the Raffles Suite for a cigar room, complete with a humidor and barbershop corner. But the “best” is the two-bedroom Royal Suite, which stretches over two floors with its own internal elevator, indoor pool, games room, hammam, and hairdresser.
Greeted by name at check-in? Yes, and with big smiles, too. The only reason I didn’t head straight upstairs to check into the suite was that I was momentarily transfixed by the kaleidoscopic atrium. Constantly moving images of blue skies and clouds are projected onto the mirrored walls during the day, with starry scenes at night.
Welcome drink ready and waiting? (Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice) Yes and yes. Two of them, in fact. A beautiful non-alcoholic rosé blend of artisan rose liqueur, fresh pomegranate juice and hibiscus essence served in an elegant coupe upon arrival and an adult version, the Thirsty Traveler, with an additional helping of gin, awaits you in the suite at a pink glass bottle inlaid with petals.
Private butler in the room? Yeah, two of those, too. The lovely Paola Azúcar and Nerissa Settie greeted me with genuine enthusiasm and left thoughtful notes and touches in the room throughout my stay. Raffles butlers will unpack and repack your bags, set up the shoe shine by the John Lobb–Trained internal team and has the impressive ability to be there when you need them and not hang around when you don’t.
Blade thread count 300 or higher? Absolutely. The “regular” suites are double 600 thread count, the sheets feel both crisp and silky smooth. Once you get to the best suites (Parisian, Designer, Raffles, and Royal), it’s a whopping 1,000.
Underfloor heating in the bathroom or bidet? Or both? There is no underfloor heating here; in one of the hottest countries in the world, you’re unlikely to need one. But there’s a sleek, sculpted towel warmer next to the tub and a heated toilet seat—cozy on those days when you’ve turned the air conditioning up too high. The Japanese-style toilet also has a bidet function with an adjustable jet, temperature control and a hairdryer. This being the Gulf, you can find a wall-mounted spray hose, known as a shataf, next to the bathroom.
Are the toiletries big? Yes, the toiletries come in full size refillable ceramic containers and are scented with Indelible Cologne by Federico Malle. The shaving kit offered is a collaboration with Truefitt & Hill, the oldest barbershop in the world, and you can call your butler to run a bath with your choice of aromatherapy oils.
Private pool for exclusive use of the room? The Royal Suite has its own 13-foot indoor pool, which won’t be big enough for laps, but is perfect if you just want to take a dip. For more space to stretch out, as well as a bit of poolside glam, grab a cabana by the 180-foot infinity pool. Or wait until June when the Privée Island Club opens, a floating platform shaped like the building’s silhouette that invites lounging, swimming and water sports.
Is it worth it to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?
Absolutely. While it may be called Blue Cigar, this space is much more than just a place for smokers, and it’s large enough that those who don’t like cigars can avoid them entirely. The bar is also, perhaps unexpectedly, something of a bibliophile’s paradise, with a collection of 6,500 old books lining the walls, including many rare first editions. There is a copy of robinson crusoe dating from 1778 and a 1707 edition of Homer’s Odyssey, among others. And the best? They’re there to be read, with gloves and a magnifying glass, along with the literary-themed cocktails and their zero-proof counterparts.
Caviar on the room service menu? Of course. Kaviari’s Premium Beluga Caviar is available 24/7, accompanied by blinis and condiments. But why limit yourself to the room service menu when Raffles arranges dishes from any of its restaurants to be delivered to your room? If you fancy a sea urchin spaghetti from three Michelin star chef Enrico Crippa Sunrise or a full-blown afternoon tea from Greatcall your butler.
Would you buy the hotel if you could? Yes, along with all the staff uniforms as well. They’re practically couture and irrepressibly chic, with every piece tailored to the individual, from the fiery sequined jumpsuits at the rooftop music bar Acoustic to the dresses made from nearly 30 feet of pleated fabric at the ballroom. Malaki tea. Though considering the building that houses Raffles Doha is a shiny new symbol of the nation, it’s unlikely anyone will be selling it anytime soon.
What our score means:
1-3: shoot your to travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
4-6: Solid if you’re in a bind, but only if you’re in a bind.
7-8: Fine. We would stay here again and recommend it wholeheartedly.
9-10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?
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