November 03, 2020

Qatar’s Quirky Hotels for the FIFA 2022 World Cup

In 2022, throughout November and December, it is estimated that over a million visitors will arrive through Doha’s international airport and will be looking for a place to stay. But, what will Qatar have to offer?

At the time of Qatar’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup, there were 40,000 plus rooms available to visitors across the country. From the outset of the bid, there was talk of over 100 new hotels and properties being built, creating approximately 55,000 additional rooms, in preparation for the tournament. Not a surprising figure considering the masses of people expected to descend on Doha in 2022.

The vast majority of the hotels and accommodation are and will be located centrally in and around Doha. Many more within a stone's throw of the new stadiums and other tournament venues, and all easily reached, either from Hamad International Airport or the stadiums and World Cup venues. A new, high-speed Metro, a light-rail system and a tram system, and a vastly upgraded road network provide easy access.

Football teams and their entourages, FIFA delegations, the media and fans can expect a dizzying array of accommodation to choose from. Luxury, boutique and first-class to standard and economy options; hotels, resorts, fan villages, apartments, guest houses and hostels; single rooms, doubles, triples and family-sized; will all be available to suit every taste and pocket.

Unusual Places to Stay

With so many properties to choose from, you might think that it would be difficult for individual hotels to stand out from the crowd. However, in oil-rich nations such as Qatar, luxury lifestyles and awe-inspiring architecture are often synonymous with their hotels and resorts. You don’t have to look far when you arrive in Doha to find any number of ‘stand-out’ examples. The luxury man-made island resort of Banana Island, with its over the water villas, golden sandy beaches, and tropical feel. The opulent Marsa Malaz Kempinski, located at The Pearl on its own isle and surrounded by a blend of European and Arab architecture. Souq Waqif’s Boutique Hotels amid a traditional Middle Eastern market with rooms hidden amongst the maze of alleys and lanes. When it comes to striking hotels, Doha has its fair share.

But, leading up to the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has plans for a few new unique and quirky places to stay up its sleeves. If you fancy floating hotels, luxury glamping, rooms on a boat or in a football stadium, then read on…

Floating Hotels

One of the latest ideas Qatar has ‘floated’ to enhance their accommodation options for the 2022 World Cup, is that of floating hotels.

Sixteen of these unique hotels have been commissioned by Qetaifan Project, a Katara Hospitality owned company, to house over 3,000 guests. These buoyant lodgings will be temporarily moored by the shores of the newly-built, man-made island, Qetaifan Island North. All 16 are designed to be fully suspended by the water.

Each four-storey hotel will boast 101 guest rooms, as well as a restaurant and bar. Qetaifan Island North itself will provide a host of other leisure and entertainment facilities such as beaches, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, and a water park.

Modular in design, with pre-assembly aspects, the hotels are relatively quick and easy to construct in comparison with traditional ‘fixed’ accommodation. So, fans shouldn’t have to wait too long before being able to book rooms.

If you are lucky enough to reserve a room, not only can you enjoy a room with a sea view, but you will be staying in the first temporary floating accommodation of this scale. And, to add to its uniqueness and appeal, you can rest assured in the lodgings environmental sustainability. The hotels are built to the strictest energy standards, solar power is standard, and sustainable solutions to ensure minimal environmental impact in construction and use are incorporated.

Desert Camping

In Qatar, camping in the desert is nothing new, after all, Qataris are descended from nomadic Bedouin tribes. However, plans to house 2022 World Cup fans in tents is relatively unique. It is the scale and type of camping that will make this accommodation option so novel.

A potential 10,000 to 15,000 visitors could be housed in canvas villages just outside the city limits. The temporary villages will, unlike most events we are used to camping at, be in situ for an entire month.

If you chose to spend your nights under the stars in Qatar, you could expect to be housed in a range of Bedouin-style tents - from luxury tents with king-sized beds, Persian carpets and soft-furnishing, electric lighting and plumbed-in bathroom facilities to more basic versions. Whichever type of tent, you could also expect on-site entertainment, cafes and restaurants, washing facilities and other mod-cons. Slightly more refined than the camping most of us have experienced!

Organisers of Glastonbury, the UK’s world-renown music festival, and Coachella, the annual music and arts festival held in the Colorado desert, have been consulted in Qatar’s planning and decision-making for their desert camps. The organisers have a wealth of experience when it comes to accommodating and entertaining guests in tents - Glastonbury has been in full swing since the 1970s. Combined with the Qatari’s love of luxury and comfort, camping in the desert in Qatar should be an entirely unique experience.

Luxury Cruise Cabins

Anyone who has been on a cruise liner will tell you that they are floating hotels. Not only do guests find themselves in well-appointed hotel rooms with an array of modern conveniences, but the ship is awash with cafes, bars and restaurants; equipped with pools, spas, sports and fitness facilities; and, offer a host of entertainment options, such as kids play areas, cinemas, and discos.

It is no wonder then that Qatar has agreed to host two luxury cruise liners for the World Cup in 2022. The ships combined will offer accommodation for approximately 10,000 guests - up to 40,000 across the tournament dates. Berthed at Doha Port, the cruise ships will offer guests stunning views of the city skyline across the bay. On top of the gourmet cuisine and world-class facilities, visitors will also be provided with shuttle bus transportation to specific points within the city - from where they can access stadiums, fan zones and other attractions.

This exclusive accommodation option is offered by MSC Cruises, the fourth largest cruise company in the world. The two ships that will house fans will be the MSC Poesia and the MSC Europa. The Poesia was built in 2008, and the Europa is currently being built in France. Both ships, as well as offering outstanding facilities, amenities and service, are fitted with innovative cutting edge environmental technologies, and operate under strict environmental guidelines. The Europa will also run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), making it one of the cleanest ships on the water. So, a stay on board these floating behemoths has added ‘green’ appeal.

Pitch-side Suites

Another novel accommodation option, though admittedly a supremely costly one, will be the hotel rooms built into the upper concourse of the new Al Bayt Stadium, in Qatar’s northern city, Al Khor.

Encircling the entire pitch, 96 luxury suites, with floor to ceiling windows, offer unparalleled views of match action. Each suite comes equipped with a king-sized bed that can be transformed into a sofa, allowing rooms to be converted into Sky Boxes on match days. A perfectly placed table, and seating, allows guests to relax and view the stadium from the indoors, and an access door to the stands, and reserved seating, enables guests to easily join the crowds outside.

VIPs will no doubt be assigned these suites during the World Cup to ensure they watch the games in style and comfort, no matter whether their team wins or not!

Dismissing the White Elephant

If you make it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, you will have the option of attending several matches in one day, plenty of quick and easy options for getting to and from those matches, and plenty of entertainment to fill your time in between. When it comes to resting your head at the end of a busy day, it seems that there will be a multitude of options too. But, in a small country with so much accommodation planned and under construction, it does make you wonder what all of these hotels will be doing when the World Cup is over.

Fortunately, Qatar has given this question a lot of thought too.

The phenomenon of the 'White Elephants' that mega sporting events leave behind is not new. Too many cities and nations, who have invested billions in developing sports structures for specific events, instead of seeing their economies grow, have been plagued by high running and maintenance costs for structures that don't generate enough revenue. In the worst-case scenarios, some money guzzling facilities have fallen into complete disrepair.

Qatar has planned ahead with the legacy of the games in mind. Each of the eight World Cup stadiums has a legacy plan. Some will be kept in use as stadiums for future events and local sporting requirements. Some, modular in design, will be reduced in size specific to the local community needs, with the spare modules donated to create sporting facilities elsewhere. Some will be transformed into community hubs for business, leisure and entertainment. The same philosophy has been applied to the accommodation built or provided for the 2022 tournament.

Qatar’s growing tourism industry will absorb much of the accommodation used during the World Cup, fan villages will be drawn into the burgeoning housing market and some, like the quirky floating hotels, cruise liners and desert camps, are only temporary anyway. When the final whistle blows, the two cruise liners will sail away. The desert camps will be dismantled. And, the floating hotels can be taken to almost any coastal location in the world.

With advanced planning, multiple options and some novel solutions to their World Cup accommodation, the only elephants in Qatar will be those at the zoo!

Discover Qatar’s 2022 World Cup legacy plans, read out Leaving a Legacy article.

Main Image: Sven Hansche/

Published: August 25, 2020
Last updated: November 03, 2020
Related Articles