In Qatar, where there is a business class section on the subway and Friday brunch is a sport, opulence is just the norm.
A brand-new hotel’s designers would have to take extraordinary dramatic measures to make it stand out in this location, such as spending five years creating a new structure in the shape of the nation’s crest.
Two hotel chains, the Fairmont and the Raffles, are split up in this brand-new structure that has been added to the Doha skyline. The 300,000 square meter structure, which is shaped like two Qatari crossed scimitars, is divided equally between both, with each occupying half of the space.
These identical twin hotels are individually exquisite in their unique ways and are situated near the Persian Gulf’s azure waves.
Towards the left
The Raffles, an all-suite property on the building’s left wing, is inspired by the fine arts. A white grand piano in the lobby is illuminated by a swirling 60-meter (197-foot) kaleidoscope projected on the ceiling.
A private theater is available, replete with plush red velvet seats and personalized refreshments supplied by hotel chefs. Acoustic, the rooftop bar, has live music as well as a crystal-lined bar made to resemble a whiskey tumbler.
The Raffles Suite, which has a private swimming pool, internal elevator, hair salon, and even a hammam, is the hotel’s most opulent accommodation. It spans two stories and is suitably called.
The cocktail and cigar bar Blue Cigar, with its gloomy deep-blue décor and ceiling-high bookshelves, has a James Bond vibe.
Yet those ceiling-high bookcases aren’t just for show. A guest will be asked the name of his or her favorite author while a cigar sommelier selects a stogie or a server gives out sliders on blue-tinted buns.
Within an hour, a staff member will most likely return to the visitor with a copy of a rare book by that precise author. Rare book experts from all over the world were deployed to build the hotel’s remarkable library.
Among the highlights of the collection are a first edition “Moby Dick” and the first known version of Homer’s epic “The Odyssey” ever printed in English.
Visitors can browse the pages themselves with the aid of a magnifying glass and a pair of gloves, or they can ask a staff member to read a particular passage to them.
On a recent trip to the Katara Towers, Angela Moore, who handles worldwide PR and communications for Qatar’s tourism board, played the role of a traveler.
She remarked, “I see a lot of hotels in my work. Many hotels believe that all they need to do is provide a great room with a lovely view, but what Fairmont and Raffles are doing here goes beyond mere glamor. Each house is magnificent and specially designed for each visitor.
So how does a visitor decide which portion of the structure they would like to reserve a room in?
Each hotel has a distinct type of customer base, according to Christian Hirt, the managing director of both establishments.
When asked how they differ, he answers, “Raffles visitors are polished tourists looking for new, diverse, cultural experiences that they haven’t had before.” Fairmont visitors are seasoned travelers who want to experience the location and local culture in an authentic way, as well as couples and families who want to appreciate both the property and the vibrant destination.”
The Fairmont has a lively atmosphere from the moment you enter.
The walls are textured with squares of 18-karat gold, and the world’s largest chandelier, which stands 56 meters (183 feet) tall and twinkles in pearlescent and gold, is suspended above you.
Fairmont’s design idea is inspired by yachts, another pillar of luxury culture.
The Persian Gulf may be seen from rooms facing east, which are elegant and pleasant in tones of white and blue. Curved white velvet headboards that resemble one of the nation’s most recognizable symbols, the pearl, surround the beds.
Continued use of the nautical theme is subtle; consider seashell sculptures, bedroom lights modeled after hurricane lamps, and art books with images of the world’s waters.
A visit to Doha’s I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art is worthwhile to understand more about this history. There are also tables and other room furnishings inlaid with vibrant tiles, a characteristic Islamic style.
Blue and white glass give the opulent bar Provok on the 33rd floor a light, spacious feel while also maximizing the light from the intense desert heat.
The local souk has an entire wing (pun intended) devoted to the birds and their affluent lifestyles in some of Qatar’s most opulent homes. Falconry is a well-liked hobby in the Middle East.
So, it seems to sense that the Peregrine and Lanner, two of Fairmont’s most expensive suites, are named after different species of falcons.
Both properties offer courteous and discrete service. The fittingly called British fashion label No Uniform, which has also designed uniforms for upscale hotels including Claridge’s in London, outfits front desk personnel and concierges with custom-made suits and gowns.
Whereas Raffles bellhops and doormen are dressed in sharp three-piece suits with top hats, female Fairmont staff members wear long sleeves dresses with vibrant floral accents.
A potential destination
One of the main structures in Lusail, the second-largest municipality in Qatar, which was built on reclaimed land to follow a narrow stretch of the Persian Gulf, is Katara Towers.
It is located five kilometers (three miles) north of the Katara Cultural Village and about twenty kilometers (12.5 miles) north of Doha, the capital.
In this region, there is the Lusail Stadium, which served as a key World Cup venue in November and December of last year, most notably for the World Cup final between France and eventual champion Argentina. There is also the Formula One racetrack, which hosted the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.
In January 2023, the Fairmont and Raffles hotels had their public debuts.
Before that, it was utilized by FIFA officials and, rumor has it, members of the Qatari royal family during the World Cup.
The most prominent element of Qatar’s national crest is a pair of crossed scimitars. The government unveiled a new insignia last fall, which also occurred to be the same time the building’s construction was completed.
The Qatari double-sword pattern can be found on anything from coffee mugs to jewelry in the Middle Eastern country. But, this is the first time the shape has manifested itself in the form of a building.