Hamad International officially opened in May this year. The airport’s airside hotel for transiting passengers started taking guests in September through a “soft” opening.
During this period, to book a room you had to email to make a reservation.
At the time of my visit in mid-September, the hotel’s website was operating but bookings were still not enabled through it.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Smart, functional, and with an intelligent focus on the customer.
The hotel was still feeling its way with regard to the services guests would want, but they know their audience already and so keep check-in formalities as swift as possible, and are good at explaining where the relevant gate for your flight is likely to be later in the day or the next morning.
The hotel offers hourly packages starting from three hours up to 24 hours, so check-in and check-out depends on flight arrivals/departures.
The design is understated compared to the airport, although there’s a waterfall/cascade facing you as you come out of the elevator.
Reception is to the right, and there’s a view down to the main concourse and the large teddy bear.
I checked in at around 2030, which seems to be a quiet time for the airport, between different banks of arriving and departing flights.
The corridor leading to my room crossed the concourse and had a shoe shine machine with various settings.
The hotel offers stays for three hours upwards. Check-in was quick, and all the rooms are on this one level.
WHERE IS IT?
On level three above the Al Maha and Oryx lounges.
The hotel is organised in a north and south wing, each with 100 rooms (and one Presidential Suite), which are some 300 metres apart.
At the moment, only the south wing is organised around five areas — A, B, C, D and E. The south wing of the hotel serves A, B and C, and when D and E are fully open, the north wing will serve those two areas.
There are five room categories: Superior, Deluxe, Executive, Executive Suites and Presidential Suite.
I was in a Superior room, measuring 38 sqm. The room was clean and very new, almost smelling of fresh paint.
There was a work desk, free tea and coffee with a kettle, and an empty mini-bar for storing purchases.
Superior room desk
Superior room bathroom
The marble bathroom had both rain shower and handheld power shower, with L’Occitane soap and Rituals toiletries.
Outside the window, there was still scaffolding for work continuing on the airport. The window was dusty from this work, so I drew across the heavy wooden blinds which effectively blocked out all the light.
What it didn’t do was block out the noise of the airport, which during the course of the night grew with frequent flight announcements.
It’s ironic that you can’t hear — or feel — any aircraft noise in the hotel, but the tannoy is so penetrating. However, I spoke to a colleague the next morning who hadn’t found the noise too disturbing, so I recommend packing ear plugs if you are a light sleeper.
The rooms have very effective air conditioning. I turned mine off and found the temperature was fine. The bed was comfortable, and reception is happy to organise wake-up calls so you don’t miss your flight, although I always have a back-up measure handy, usually the alarm on my phone.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
There’s no restaurant or bar in the hotel itself, but with so many options open 24 hours in the airport, including the large Marche nearby, this isn’t a problem.
The hotel is still experimenting with room service to see if there is any demand. If you have lounge access, then, depending on who you are flying with, there are several options, including the Al Maha and Oryx lounges one level below.
One level up is the Vitality Swimming Pool and gym. Guests have complimentary access to this, otherwise there is a charge of $30 per person.
It’s a very impressive facility, particularly if you are there at a quiet time.
There are separate men and women’s changing rooms, each with their own hydrotherapy bath (like a Jacuzzi), as well as the main swimming pool, which is 25 metres long.
It was so impressive I took two photos, but they don’t do it justice.
At the far end is a well-equipped gym and then, astonishingly, two squash courts. These looked unused, but who knows, perhaps there are squash addicts who will pass their transit time in this way.
In the changing rooms the hydrotherapy pool was a pleasant way to spend some time.
It would be useful if they installed a machine for spinning out the water from your costume/swim shorts, however, and also provide plastic bags for transporting them home.
A very welcome addition to the airport — comfortable rooms, convenient for all the nearby restaurants and lounges, and the swimming pool and gym make this well worth a try.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 100 rooms: 49 Superior (38 sqm), 40 Deluxe (43 sqm), seven Executives (45 sqm), four Suites (123 sqm), one Presidential Suite (132 sqm).
- HIGHLIGHTS Great location, free wifi, helpful staff.
- PRICES At the moment, these are on application by email through the website, although a superior room costs 800 royals ($200) for 24 hours.
- CONTACT dohahamadairport.com