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Review: The Ned Doha

At the cutting edge of creativity and hospitality in Qatar.
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Why book The Ned, Doha?

In a part of the world where newer is usually better, The Ned Doha is a rarity, an adaptive reuse of a brutalist government building dating back to the 1970s. There are no Arabian Nights clichés here, no shimmering mosaics, no dancing fountains. The Ned is much cooler than that, attracting an equally cool crowd that’s a lively mix of locals, residents, and visitors, all keen for a taste of something different.

Set the scene

Sitting squarely on the seafront Corniche, The Ned Doha is a stylish convergence of straight lines and smooth concrete. Handsome travertine stairs, sliced by angular shadows from the light filtering through the overhead pergola, lead to unassuming glass doors that are portals to a hotel unlike any other in the Gulf. 

Those familiar with The Ned’s properties in London and New York will recognize a number of features. Mainstay restaurant Cecconi’s is here, a circular stage is set for nightly live music in the central atrium, and rich green marble from Tinos encases the walls. Public areas sprawl over the expansive ground level, with rooms spread over three floors. The top floor, with a wraparound terrace, is home to the members-only Ned’s Club. In addition to the seriously chic interiors are sleek outdoor spaces made for long lunches and poolside lounging.

The backstory

A slew of new hotels opened across Qatar to capitalize on the 2022 FIFA World Cup, many becoming hosts to official delegations and teams. Now the action has died down, they’re finally opening their doors to “regular” guests. 

The Ned Doha’s arrival comes five years after the group’s first opening in London’s former Midland Bank headquarters, and just a few months after the second, The Ned NoMad in New York. The Doha iteration is housed in the former Ministry of Interior, designed in the 1970s by Lebanese architect William Sednaoui. David Chipperfield Architects, whose previous projects have included Berlin’s Neues Museum and Neue Nationalgalerie, were tasked with breathing new life into the edifice, creating a stage to entice locals and visitors alike. And it seems to be working. The Ned Doha is one of the city’s smartest locales to date and is one of those places where it feels as if everyone who enters is someone, from the Qataris in crisp white kanduras and floaty abayas, to the opera singer who popped in off the street at lunchtime to ask if he could audition and did so on the central stage—to the rapt attention of employees and guests alike.

The rooms

The 1970s design of The Ned Doha’s 90 bedrooms and suites strikes a sexy-utilitarian tone, part Mad Men, part Deutschland ’83. Soho House Design assembled 9,000 pieces of original and vintage furniture, custom-made Murano glass lighting, and other accessories to complement the building’s elegant modernist bones.

Textures are everywhere, from hardwood floors, terrazzo balconies, and coffered concrete ceilings, to a multitude of different tactile fabrics and custom patterns. Bedside Roberts radios and clunky rotator phones add satisfyingly analog touches, as do the manual flickable light switches, although I ended up flipping practically all of them to work out what controlled what.

The food and drink

Socializing is a key focus here, and the hotel has seven restaurants and bars open to the public, as well as the members-only Ned’s Club Upstairs. The five ground-floor restaurants include Pan-Asian, Northern Italian, and American diner cuisine, but it’s outdoors where things get really interesting. Next to the pool, Malibu Kitchen’s Californian menu is filled with color, fresh flavors, and plenty of vegan options. On the opposite side, set among frangipani trees with views over the Corniche, Hadika’s Levantine cuisine—think hot and cold mezze, punchy salads, and grills—is breathtakingly good. 

The spa

Connected to Ned’s Club, the Spa’s three treatment rooms are filled with cool marble and warm wood. Balinese therapist Fitri’s massages are powerful and soothing, smoothing out every single kink. There’s also steam and sauna, and a Moroccan hammam.

The 30-meter swimming pool is a highlight of the hotel, a cheerful spot with speckled terrazzo floors and daybeds patterned with green and white stripes, reflecting the lines of the overhead concrete pergola.

The Ned’s “Cosy” rooms feel decidedly cozy, but things get more spacious in the Medium and Large rooms, as well as the twelve much larger suites. Balconies on all rooms are a bonus, with views over the Corniche, Amiri Diwan Palace, or neighboring Al Bidda park. Bathrooms are on the dark side—you’ll be hard-pushed to do a successful make-up job in the crepuscular light—but are spacious and well-stocked with a wide selection of full-sized Cowshed shower gels, as well as shower scrub, a nice added amenity.

The service

Smart, savvy, friendly, and professional, delivered by a young multinational team who seem genuinely excited to be welcoming guests to their new hotel.

The neighborhood

The Ned Doha sits on the seven-kilometer seafront Corniche. In the cooler months, it’s a lovely 25-minute walk past wooden sailing dhows to the unmissable Museum of Islamic Art and Al Riwaq gallery, currently showing the Yayoi Kusama: My Soul Blooms Forever exhibition, running until March 1. As you walk past the Amiri Diwan, keep an eye out for the royal guard who patrols the area on camels.

The coffee shops, restaurants, and small museums of stylish Msheireb Downtown can also be reached on foot in 15 minutes, and from there it’s just a short walk to Souq Waqif, Doha’s central bazaar and heritage area, where you can pick up spices, fabrics, souvenirs, and visit the falcon hospital.

There’s also a station on the excellent Doha Metro nearby—ask the hotel team, and they’ll drop you off. 

For families 

The Ned Doha is a grown-up hotel, and while kids are catered to with children’s menus in the restaurants and in-room welcome amenities in the rooms, there’s not much else to entertain them, especially since “family time” at the pool is between 6 am and 10 am. 

Eco effort

The fact that the hotel is a rare example of adaptive reuse in a region that has a penchant for getting rid of the old to build the new should earn The Ned a few bonus points in this area, but most eco-efforts are still works in progress.

Accessibility for those with mobility impairments

There are two wheelchair-accessible rooms in the hotel. Lifts flank the main stairs to the front door providing ease of access into the lobby. The architecture of the hotel—with straight lines, open spaces, and all restaurants on the same level—helps with navigation for those who have mobility impairments.

Anything else to mention?

Keep an eye out for the hotel’s art collection of more than 350 works created and commissioned by Mathqaf, a platform focusing on art and culture from West Asia and North Africa from the minds of co-founders Wadha Al-Aqeedi and Elina Sairanen Mathqaf.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely. The Ned Doha is at the cutting edge of creativity and hospitality in Qatar, and staying here feels like you’re connecting with the city in a way that you wouldn’t at some of the other big-name hotels.

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