Doha’s new Hamad International Airport is spectacularly better than the old facility, especially for economy class passengers who now have a selection of decent amenities and shops available rather than the old bus station environment. And the the Qatar Airways schedules are, for the most part, well banked to handle connecting passengers. But there are still some routes where longer layovers are the norm and odds are sitting in the terminal isn’t going to pass the time so well. There are two buy-in options inside the terminal worth considering for helping to spend that layover time, a hotel and a gym. During a recent trip through Doha I managed to arrange tours of both to get a look inside and see what the offerings were all about.
The Airport Hotel
For a longer layover or just to grab a quick nap – rooms are sold starting at 4 hour blocks of time – the Airport Hotel might meet your needs. It is, not surprisingly, just like most any other mid-range hotel I’ve ever seen the interior of. Head upstairs in the terminal to the check-in counter and eventually you’ll be given keys to a room. If you pay enough you’ve got a decent chance of ending up in one of the suites they showed off on my tour; sadly no access to a regular room for a more realistic view of the facilities.
If you’ve got an overnight anyways and don’t really want to deal with paying for a transit visa (~$30 USD) and the round trip taxi to/from town this isn’t a bad option at all, assuming you can get a room at a reasonable rate. A quick spot-check online suggested rooms run about $180-220/night. For two passengers you’re on the hook for ~$100 in fees just to leave the terminal and get to town so once that is backed out of the rates the number is quite reasonable. It is also worth noting that a stay in the Airport Hotel includes access to the Vitality Spa so if you want both check the rates and consider the hotel rather than just the spa.
Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre
Want a quick workout between flights? Or perhaps a dip in the pool or to soak in a hot tub? The Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre offers all of the above for the 120 QAR (~$33 USD) access fee. Massage and spa treatments or usage of the squash courts (racquets, balls & shoes included) are available for an up-charge.
For a quiet, relaxing couple hours I’m thinking that the pool or hot tub might just be the perfect option personally.
Or, if neither really suits your desires you can sit in the main section of the terminal and stare at the creepy teddy bear statue. Seriously, this thing freaks me out something special.
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