The Mandarin Oriental Doha is a hotel that seemingly took forever to open. First announced in 2005, its construction began back in 2006, only for the global economic downturn of 2008 to put a spanner in the works, halting the project until a little after Qatar had been awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010. In retrospect, that wait was incredibly beneficial given how the entire area around the proposed Mandarin transformed as part of a masterplan known as the Msheireb Downtown Doha. Not only did the hotel become a cornerstone of that project (alongside the Park Hyatt Doha), but it was also now within a neighbourhood of Doha that was purposefully designed to be both reminiscent of old Doha and walkable too, with a low-rise approach, a high urban density and tightly knit narrow streets, providing a shaded environment and a charm that had been lacking elsewhere.
When it finally opened its doors in March 2019 (nine months before the neighbouring Park Hyatt Doha) it became the best place to stay in the city, and luckily little has changed since then. Taking pride of place in the central Al Baraha town square, opposite the M7 design and culture hub – which was also designed by the architecture firm John McAslan+Partners – it offers 117 rooms, 41 suites and 91 serviced apartments. We stayed at a 700 USD-per night Studio Suite, which was very generously sized and features a small divide between the sitting area and the sleeping space. The décor is a blend of contemporary design with Arabesque embellishments, which works, especially as the overall vibe is calming and tasteful. Beyond the suite, we found there are nine – yes, you read that right – dining outlets, the three most popular being Mosaic (with its wide array of live cooking stations), Izu (an LPM-esque concept by Dubai-based Chef Izu Ani) and Liang (serving Cantonese and provincial Chinese delicacies). There’s also a 25-metre temperature-controlled rooftop swimming pool, a smaller indoor pool and a 3,000 sqm spa with eight treatment suites. Clearly you won’t be left wanting here and that’s ultimately what you want from a five-star hotel.