Family adventure holidays

Fairmont Doha brings fun and VIP treatment to year-round family getaways

Last updated 14th March 2024

Fairmont Doha looks astonishing, but is it the ideal base for a family holiday in Doha? Lisa McGarry and her son, Dylan, visited recently and put it to the test.


Katara Towers by night

‘It looks like Bladerunner…but better!’ This was my 14-year-old son’s reaction to the neon-lit skyscrapers of Doha’s West Bay, during our 35-minute transfer from Hammad International Airport. We were headed to the Fairmont Doha in the marina district of Lusail. It’s a luxury seafront hotel housed in the crescent shaped Katara Towers – an architectural marvel based on the emblem of Qatar.

The ‘better’ part is true. Doha is a well-planned city, where nothing feels too much. The glowing skyscrapers are beautiful, the skyline is not overbuilt. Statement buildings like the National Museum of Qatar, Lusail Stadium and the Museum of Islamic Art have space to breathe. Even the palm trees are elegant, wrapped in white lights and bending gracefully towards the smooth highway as we pass.

With a flash of crescent towers on our left we got our first proper look at the Fairmont Doha, a breathtaking 40 floors stretching up into the night. The approach to the hotel is like arriving at a red-carpet event – from the wall of fairy lights and fleet of shiny SUVs parked up as uniformed valets usher in luggage, to the actual red carpet leading to the entrance.


The breathtaking lobby at the Fairmont Hotel, Doha

A hotel with the luxe factor – that wants you to relax and enjoy

The Fairmont Doha is a spectacular hotel, and the lobby is where it starts. The world’s tallest chandelier undulates pearl balloons through the centre of the circular interior, with seating areas inside golden canopies. When we arrived, a glamorous pianist was playing soothing classics on a gold piano. The curving interior does indeed resemble a luxury yacht as described.

The overall effect is expensive, but not too flashy. For example, the art – a blend of old Qatari maps and traditional painting built into a modern aesthetic, lining the walls of every corridor. And the lifts? Cream leather with built-in seats, handy if you’re high up. Shiny classy disco is how I’d describe the aesthetic, though am no interior designer. My son described it as ‘Wow’.

A family break where everything was easy

We chose to spend February half term at the Fairmont Doha, lured by the idea of easy luxury, desert tours, beach clubs, amazing food, accessible culture, and clean, safe streets. We weren’t expecting to love the place as much as we did, but it was surprising on every level.


The Dôme Fairmont Lounge

Four restaurants and Raffles next door

Four onsite restaurants ensured plenty of variety for our stay. Vaya! Latin Mercado is where the breakfast buffet happens – with extras to order as part of the deal, so you can get your eggs Florentine alongside artisan pastries and fresh tropical juices. We had a wonderful dinner here including lobster ceviche, feather-light empanadas, tres leches cake, and a steak my son devoured like a last meal. This was the most family-friendly option, with less emphasis on fine dining, although it was still pretty fine.

You can eat like royalty at Fairmont Doha, but it’s always family-friendly

Dôme Fairmont Lounge is the all-day dining, poolside option, and it’s here you’ll find a proper afternoon tea. In fact, they are very committed to good tea at the Fairmont Doha, and the glass dome is super chic.


Provok Asian Project

We had a Friday brunch at L’Artisan at Raffles Doha with visiting Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Isnard. Raffles lives in the other half of Katara Towers, and our meal there, topped off by crescent shaped waffles and a perfect chocolate soufflé, will linger on in the memory. These culinary collaborations seem popular in Doha, and our brunch was extremely good value.

Provok Asian Project, on the 33/34 floors, is a fusion restaurant with stylish décor. We ate incredible sushi above the glittering backdrop of the Doha city skyline, with sides of Caesar salad, wagyu beef skewers, black cod, and the best cheesecake this pair of dessert lovers have ever tried. Though alcoholic beverages are readily available and wine lists are good throughout the hotel, I stuck to mocktails for the most part – they are other level here!


Masala Library main course

On our last night we went to Masala Library, an Indian fine dining experience which elevates curry to a level neither of us knew existed. The gold leaf-topped foamy dessert, explained so beautifully by our server, blew our minds. Every dish was incredible – the little ones might stick to naan and butter chicken, but if you’ve older foodies they will love it, as well as the futuristic city views.

Win a family holiday tp St. Pete / Clearwater. Take the Quiz Win a family holiday tp St. Pete / Clearwater. Take the Quiz

Fairmont Sea View Room

There’s no such thing as a bad room at Fairmont Doha

We stayed in a Junior Suite, with a king-sized bed and extra single for my teen. Our terrace, which could have hosted a party, had sweeping views of the Arabian Gulf and the residential island and marinas of the Pearl. On the other side, glowing city lights. It’s the best of both worlds.

The tech in the rooms is on point: with the touch of a button you can change the lighting from day to ‘relax’, and make the curtains and blinds swoosh open and closed (much fun for kids). We had a dressing room (hello, Carrie Bradshaw moment), bathroom with free standing bath and wet room, as well as a Japanese-style toilet, for the ultimate in comfort.


Suite bathroom, Fairmont Doha

From standard rooms to Presidential Suites, you’ll sleep the dream

Standard rooms, with city or sea views, sleep three, as do the premier rooms, which have more space and balconies. Suites sleep four, and there’s a two-bed suite which sleeps six. But if you’re really going for it, the Presidential Suite sleeps eight, spreads over two floors and has its own cinema, beauty salon, plunge pool, gym, and show kitchen.


That’s one way to use an inflatable sunbed… by the pool at Fairmont Doha

Great pools, the Arabian Gulf, and the Bagatelle Beach Club

During our stay the daytime temperatures ranged from the mid-to-high-20s, perfect sunbathing weather. The Fairmont Doha pool is great for kids and adults alike, with sunbeds in and out of the pool, and various inflatables. There’s no beach in front of the hotel, but guests can use the Bagatelle Beach Club, a five-minute transfer away at Al Maha Island. Just ask the concierge to book your spot, as we did, spending a morning on huge beach beds overlooking the Gulf – there’s an elegant pool too.


The treatment rooms at the Fairmont Doha are supremely relaxing

The first rule of Fairmont Doha kids club? Do talk about this one

If you’re in need of some adult time, the kids club here is as sleek and shiny in design as the rest of the hotel, with state-of-the-art VR consoles, yoga and cooking classes, active toys and an adorable nap corner. When we popped our heads in, an exercise class was happening, with very smiley kids.

Fairmont Spa, with its focus on the three pillars of health, has an indoor pool, sauna and steam rooms, hammam, and full gym overlooking the sea. I had a relaxation massage where the combination of Gulf views, soothing music and an hour of muscle work left me humming on a high frequency.


Making friends… riding camels in the Qatar Desert

The desert for dune-bashing, camels, and stunning sunsets

The highlight of our holiday was a sunset desert trip. We had a guide, Ibrahim, who drove us an hour to the Qatar desert, where we rode camels and Dylan held a falcon. Then further in for some dune-bashing, for which Ibrahim carefully let some air out of his tyres. He went easy on us, but the experience was exhilarating and hilarious, and we loved watching professional bashers roar around in their souped-up vehicles whilst groups of quad bikers cruised by like a desert-set Easy Rider.

We watched the sun set by the ‘inland sea’, a beautiful lake where we had some moments of contemplation whilst the wind whipped our face and sand went in our shoes (so worth it), as more jeeps charged up and down along the lake, the sun disappeared, and it was time to head back.


The National Museum of Qatar

National Museum of Qatar

Visiting the National Museum of Qatar again surpassed expectations. It’s here we learned about life pre-1960, when oil was first struck in Qatar, a story told partly through video installations, with footage of pearl divers. The museum has such space, and the rooms blend so seamlessly, that even the most rabble-rousing children will do well here. Exhibits are simply and clearly explained, and there are more installations depicting battles of old, in a room full of swords which Dylan was particularly taken with, as well as hypnotically beautiful marine installations. This is a really family-friendly way to spend a couple of hours, and the building itself is typically beautiful. Sadly, we didn’t have time for the Museum of Islamic Art, but it’s another must on a family holiday in Doha.

Winter Wonderland, but better behaved

The Winter Wonderland site at Al Maha Island, featuring 50-plus rides and attractions including a big wheel giving spectacular views of Katara Towers and the city, stays open until the end of March. One entrance fee gets access to all the rides, and there are no long queues, unusable toilets, or drunken revellers in this version. We had a fabulous time, though unfortunately, didn’t win a giant teddy.


Sunset at the ‘Inland Sea’, Qatar Desert

From the souq to Venetian canals

For shopping, Doha has big international names such as Galeries Lafayette, but if you want to shop alongside Venetian-style canals, then you have to go to Villaggio Mall. They have boats you can hop on and off to get around, and free golf buggies in the mall. Then make sure you soak up some authentic vibes with a souq visit to Al Wakrah or Souq Waqif, for local flavour and a feast for the senses.

Whether it’s shopping, desert tours, beach club, or anything else you’d like to do, just speak to the concierge who can arrange it for you. We left the Fairmont Doha feeling like royalty, and after all that friendly luxury, reality took a minute to come into focus. We’ll be back!

Plan your Doha getaway

How to get there

Direct UK flights to Doha, from 6 hours, 35 minutes

Where to stay

Fairmont Doha Junior Suite from £432 per night

Save up to 25% on Fairmont Doha now

Book before 29 March 2024 for travel until 30 April 2024

Find out more and book here