Qatar might be a small nation, but it’s swiftly earning a big reputation when it comes to winter sun. With a reliable climate, one of the best-connected airports on the planet, long swathes of sandy coast and a futuristic city with a stellar skyline at its heart, it’s too often an overlooked option for late-year getaways.
Plus, the current glut of luxury hotel openings means there are superb deals to be had right now. Here are our top spots to soak up the ceaseless Arabian sun in one of the peninsula’s most underrated holiday destinations.
Qatar’s fascinating cultural village (just north of Doha) is also home to one of the country’s finest stretches of sand. Katara Beach is 1.5km long, with pretty much every watersport you can imagine on offer, from waterskiing to gondola rides. It’s also a strong option for ocean-front dining, with an impressive 14 restaurants to pick from.
2. Sealine Beach Resort
Located south of Doha, this surprisingly affordable luxury hotel boasts outstanding beach access and ocean views. It’s also an excellent jumping-off point for activities in the desert beyond – from dune bashing to sandboarding around Qatar’s awe-inspiring inland sea.
3. Banana Island
This insanely luxurious, 13-hectare private island off Qatar’s coast is reached by a luxury yacht transfer service. As you’d expect, the resort has plenty of secluded sandy beach to go around, not to mention eight restaurants, three pools, 141 bedrooms and marvelous overwater villas.
4. MIA Park
Adjacent to Doha’s monumental Museum of Islamic Arts is MIA Park, a tranquil green space on the city’s waterfront. Here you can enjoy everything from working classes to live concerts – or simply stroll around, lapping up the atmosphere and topping up your tan while gazing at Doha’s dazzling skyline from one of the city’s best vantage points.
5. St. Regis, Doha
Arguably still the most outstanding five-star hotel in a city full to bursting with them, the St. Regis, located in Doha’s West Bay, boasts an exclusive beach, one of the best spas in the entire region, and an Olympic-sized infinity pool.
6. Nobu Doha
Thrusting up from the ocean from its own promontory curving around a harbour, Nobu’s Qatari outpost looks more spaceship than restaurant – and the food is equally out of this world. Request a table out on the deck: the sunsets here, amid the ancient dhows and purring supercars, are just as delicious.
7. The Pearl
An artificial island spanning an impressive 4 million sq m, The Pearl contains a lavish mix of properties as well as restaurants, cafes and boutiques. Make a beeline for the picturesque Qanat Quartier, where the colourful townhouses, pretty roof gardens and meandering canals are inspired by Venice.
8. Al Thakira Mangroves
For winter sun-seekers of a more active persuasion, the Al Thakira Mangroves – just north of the seaside town of Al Khor in the north of Qatar – are a fascinating area to check out. A rich natural oasis in the desert, the best way to explore Al Thakira is on one of the many kayak tours offered by local eco-adventure operators.