Hilton’s Katara Hills Doha: Nice, Weird, And Random

Hilton’s Katara Hills Doha: Nice, Weird, And Random

43

Hello from Doha, as I’m currently on a quick surprise round the world trip with my dad. During our time in Doha, I decided to book us at Katara Hills, a property belonging to Hilton’s luxury LXR portfolio.

This is the single points hotel in the world that I’ve been most interested in staying at, because it just seemed so weird. Well, I can report back that it was actually exactly what I expected, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

Basics of Katara Hills Doha LXR

Qatar has seen a huge number of new hotel developments recently, with so many hotels opening right before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Among those is Katara Hills, which is a 15-villa property located on a manmade hill in one of Qatar’s “cultural villages.” Each villa is two stories, and even has a private pool. The hotel has villas, an Indian restaurant, a small spa, and… nothing else.

Rates here are wild — when the hotel first opened, they were trying to charge nearly $3,000 per night for a base villa, even in the peak of summer. Now rates are under $2,000 per night in the off season, which is obviously still very high. Thanks to this property belonging to Hilton Honors, it can also be booked for 120,000 points per night.

I used a free night award that I earned with the Hilton Aspire Card for the stay. You’ve gotta love getting that kind of value from a card with a $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees) (and there are lots more perks to the card!).

So, how was our stay at this intriguing property? While I’ll have a full review soon, I wanted to share my initial impressions.

The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Katara Hills Doha villa exterior

The Katara Hills Doha LXR villas are really nice

The villas at Katara Hills are genuinely very nice. Entry level rooms are 1,765 square feet (164 meters), so they’re huge. The ground floor of the villa had a living room, with a couch, chairs, a dining table, and a kitchen. The kitchen had some complimentary drinks and snacks, and on top of that there was a very nice welcome amenity.

Katara Hills Doha villa living room
Katara Hills Doha villa dining area
Katara Hills Doha villa welcome amenity

There was also a full bathroom on the first floor. We had a rollaway bed (the hotel doesn’t charge extra for these), so it’s almost like having two rooms.

Then there was the deck area, featuring some seating and a small pool.

Katara Hills Doha villa deck
Katara Hills Doha villa pool

The views from Katara Hills gave me slight Aegon Mykonos vibes. Who doesn’t love panoramic views of… what must be world’s biggest parking lot?

Katara Hills Doha villa view

There’s then a staircase leading up to the second level, which has a cool bedroom with a comfortable bed and a large bathroom, with BVLGARI amenities.

Katara Hills Doha villa bedroom
Katara Hills Doha villa bathroom

So yeah, the rooms here are awesome, and I have nothing bad to say about them… other than the views.

Service at Katara Hills Doha LXR is friendly

Everyone we interacted with at Katara Hills was genuinely friendly and wanted to ensure guests had a good stay, so I have absolutely no complaints there. Ultimately there was only so much they could do, since it’s not like the hotel has many amenities to enjoy.

Gymkhana had tasty Indian food

We ate dinner on property at Gymkhana, the hotel’s Indian restaurant. I’m a huge fan of Indian food, and living in South Florida, we don’t exactly have the biggest or highest quality selection of authentic Asian dining (it’s one of the things that I miss most about living in the Pacific Northwest).

Katara Hills Doha Gymkhana Restaurant
Katara Hills Doha Gymkhana dinner
Katara Hills Doha Gymkhana dinner
Katara Hills Doha Gymkhana dinner

We did the tasting menu, and the food was really good, and the service was well-intentioned. There wasn’t much of a vibe to the restaurant, though, as it seems the restaurant struggles to attract local guests. There were just two other diners there, so it all felt a bit dead.

Everything else about Katara Hills Doha LXR is strange

There’s absolutely no vibe to Katara Hills. I assume the hotel is more catering to clientele from the region who want privacy above all else, rather than a fun resort setup. Fair enough, since it’s not like the hotel claims to be party central.

But there was so much about the hotel that I found weird, especially given the rates they’re charging:

  • The lobby was under construction, so the hotel uses the spa reception for check-in, which is a small room with two chairs; when we arrived we were told our room wouldn’t be ready for 30 minutes, there was nowhere to sit other than there, and it’s not like you can just go on a brief stroll when the UV index is 11 and it’s 100+ degrees
  • The hotel is still heavily under construction, with several villas still being finished, and lots of workers and construction equipment on property
  • The hotel doesn’t have a gym, though there are some weights and a yoga mat in the room; that’s still tricky for cardio, since it’s not like jogging in Doha is practical this time of year, at least during the day
  • The hotel’s restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, since Katara Hills is considered part of a “cultural zone,” which seems… random; Qatar has strange alcohol laws at this point, as it’s no longer that all hotels can serve alcohol and all non-hotels can’t
  • The hotel just has some weird policies; for example, breakfast was included on account of being a Hilton Honors Diamond member, but when I asked for some water to drink with breakfast, I was brought a bill just for that… seriously?!
  • There were some basic things the staff couldn’t help with, through no fault of their own; for example, my dad likes to walk, so he asked for a plastic bottle of water he could take with him (or something), since it’s not practical to walk with a big glass bottle or water, and when we asked for that, the below is what showed up, as it’s the only plastic bottles they have
  • The hotel ultimately feels more like a luxury Airbnb complex than a hotel
The extent of Katara Hills Doha’s facilities
Katara Hills Doha “gym”
Enjoy your walk, dad!

Bottom line

Katara Hills Doha has fascinated me since it opened several months back, and I’m glad I had the chance to check it out. It’s most definitely a unique property.

Am I happy I stayed? Absolutely, since I was curious about the property. Would I stay again? No, for me, this is a “one and done” property. I’m happy to have experienced it, but I like hotels with amenities, a vibe, several dining and drink options, etc.

Would I recommend this hotel to others? I mean, there’s no denying that it’s a phenomenal use of points, but beyond that, I can’t imagine paying these rates. But if you’re like me and are curious about the concept, it’s a perfectly nice place to spend a night.

What do you make of Katara Hills Doha?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).

Conversations (43)
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  1. John Schumacher Guest

    I laughed out loud when I saw how much water they brought your Dad. They must've thought he was really thirsty!

  2. Steven Guest

    Well, you were concerned about the "no gym!" I think that plastic water...bottle, will make your walk a gym workout.
    Damn that got a good laugh from me.

  3. Timo Diamond

    The water bottle request is so typical of what happens these days at higher end hotels. I've decided that I think the staff thinks I'm asking for something more exotic or difficult than what I really want. A request for empty champagne glasses yields a bottle of champagne. A request for a large bucket of ice takes three hours for delivery and I end up with a small glass with six ice cubes. It's an...

    The water bottle request is so typical of what happens these days at higher end hotels. I've decided that I think the staff thinks I'm asking for something more exotic or difficult than what I really want. A request for empty champagne glasses yields a bottle of champagne. A request for a large bucket of ice takes three hours for delivery and I end up with a small glass with six ice cubes. It's an endless tragic comedy of errors. I'm going to start texting photos of wat I want, lol.

  4. Ken Guest

    If you lived in Qatar, nothing you wrote is strange. This city has no vibe, constructions are always delayed, never on time, people who work there came from developing countries without much experience in luxury industry, so they think in their own world because of no training, and finally, they solve things in their own way and don't really feel it is such a bad thing to use spa reception as check in desk etc

  5. Daniel Guest

    This type of accomodation would be nice on Maldives or Tahiti near a secluded beach , but in Doha with a view to a parking lot? - what a silly location

  6. Jocelyn Malesa Guest

    My family and I also used the free night certificate, which as you stated is an incredible value! It’s too bad they didn’t give you a villa that overlooks the sea (which was quite lovely). They graciously upgraded us to a two bedroom and we received the breakfast as in-room dining (due to Ramadan), so no weird water bill since it was already in the frig. We are also American, but we live in Qatar,...

    My family and I also used the free night certificate, which as you stated is an incredible value! It’s too bad they didn’t give you a villa that overlooks the sea (which was quite lovely). They graciously upgraded us to a two bedroom and we received the breakfast as in-room dining (due to Ramadan), so no weird water bill since it was already in the frig. We are also American, but we live in Qatar, so it was a quick staycation with the kids and we (personally) loved it. But then again, I specifically wanted to spend time with only my family. FYI, this hotel is definitely aimed at wealthy locals who rent the villas on the weekends to spend time with their families. So, I am not surprised by the lack of “vibe.” Same as everyone else, I laughed SO HARD at the giant water bottle your Dad received. I resorted to walking around Katara with one of their glasses that I packed with ice - also, not ideal - but I LOVED that they provided an ice machine in the villa. Miscommunication /misunderstandings are common out here, especially when you are speaking English to someone when it isn’t their first language.

    More funny posts, please!

  7. Anushay khan Guest

    I am not going to lie, just the title had me cracking up. Living in Doha and being someone who LOVES going on staycations locally, I am GLAD I read. I was already skeptical but def don't want to spend an amount that high on basics

    1. Ben W Member

      Same as you, its definitely not on my staycation list!

  8. Ben W Member

    I often drive past this hotel and see the villas overlooking the car park! As mentioned above, it'll be mainly used by Qatari families for staycations. The Katara area is a nice place for a walk with lots of restaurants. For a drink you would have to go over the road to the St Regis or Intercon!

  9. DCS Diamond

    Debunking Clinic

    Points redemption value compared to cash rate only makes sense when you would otherwise actually pay those cash rates. If you would actually pay only maximum $500 cash to stay there, that's the amount you should use to calculate points redemption value. Doesn't matter if the cash rate is $2,000 or $20,000 unless you would actually pay that amount if points redemption was not available.

    @echino

    Yet another bogus travel blogosphere dogma...

    Debunking Clinic

    Points redemption value compared to cash rate only makes sense when you would otherwise actually pay those cash rates. If you would actually pay only maximum $500 cash to stay there, that's the amount you should use to calculate points redemption value. Doesn't matter if the cash rate is $2,000 or $20,000 unless you would actually pay that amount if points redemption was not available.

    @echino

    Yet another bogus travel blogosphere dogma being uncritically parroted.

    So, let let me get this straight, @echino, is it your claim that if a person who could not afford a Lamborghini Urus with a price tag of $211,321, but could afford a $5,000 1977 Chevy Montecarlo, enters a lottery and wins the Lamborghini, the value of the Lamborghini drops to $5,000?

    The "value" of something is not limited by one's willingness to pay the price tag. Also, there is a subjective element of satisfaction tied to the concept of "value" in the case of miles and points, so that the "value" of my points actually goes up exponentially compared to cash rates precisely when I would NOT be willing to pay the cash rates.

    Case in point: though I have the money, I would never have paid $23K for a 5-night revenue stay WA Maldives. That I was able to easily pay 480K points for a 5-night award stay at the iconic property made those points even more "valuable" to me. The satisfaction element in that "value" is that it felt like a steal, like getting something for practically nothing. Isn't the whole rationale for the miles/points game to be able to afford dream vacations that one could not otherwise afford or be willing to pay hard cash for? If that is the case, and it definitely is my rationale for playing the game, then the parroted dogma that:

    Points redemption value compared to cash rate only makes sense when you would otherwise actually pay those cash rates.

    gets it exactly backwards. It flips the entire rationale for playing the miles/points game on its head. My most coveted redemption destinations are those where I would otherwise actually NOT pay the cash rates. The "value" of my points goes up the more expensive the cash value of a destination.

    G'day.

    1. DCS Diamond

      Gracious commenter, how utterly refreshing!

  10. Matt Guest

    Looks like you should have stayed at the Intercontinental instead...

  11. DJ Guest

    Next time you're there try Bayt El Talleh on the other side of Katara Hills for dinner. Beautiful view and atmosphere, excellent Lebanese food. Fortunate enough to be hosted by government officials so everything was good, sans alcohol. We were told the sidewalks at the Katara Cultural Village below are "cooled" because of course . . . doesn't everyone do that?

  12. TravelCat2 Gold

    Now that you have a giant plastic bottle of water, you won't need to buy water at breakfast again.

  13. adamw Guest

    Just missed you in Doha today. in other news, the LV lounge in the new Al Mourjan Garden is open as of today. I was the first guest at the coffee bar enjoying the latte art printer. You either went last night or are there now I imagine!

  14. Travelgeek380 New Member

    Sounds like a great idea but maybe Europe would be better

  15. Reyyan Diamond

    I’ve stayed at Katara Hills as well and I really enjoyed my stay, I even got upgraded to a two bedroom villa as a diamond member.

    It’s true about the water at breakfast, but the charge got removed when I mentioned something about it.

    I’ve travelled a lot and I have to say, Katara Hills is one of my favourite hotels in the world. My stay was excellent and everyone was so incredibly...

    I’ve stayed at Katara Hills as well and I really enjoyed my stay, I even got upgraded to a two bedroom villa as a diamond member.

    It’s true about the water at breakfast, but the charge got removed when I mentioned something about it.

    I’ve travelled a lot and I have to say, Katara Hills is one of my favourite hotels in the world. My stay was excellent and everyone was so incredibly nice and accommodating. You mentioned there was no vibe, but for me the stay was incredible and I actually found the whole place a vibe on itself to stay at. Maybe it is because I love Doha and consider it home, but Katara Hills is truly unique in my opinion.

  16. echino Diamond

    Points redemption value compared to cash rate only makes sense when you would otherwise actually pay those cash rates. If you would actually pay only maximum $500 cash to stay there, that's the amount you should use to calculate points redemption value. Doesn't matter if the cash rate is $2,000 or $20,000 unless you would actually pay that amount if points redemption was not available.

    1. JoePro Guest

      Please with the gatekeeping. Value your points how you want. But you're wasting your time and energy on this game if you feel you're only getting 1-2cpp.

  17. farnorthtrader Guest

    I think they just wanted your dad to get a good workout. Walking with that water bottle strapped to your back would definitely qualify as cardio

  18. Donna Diamond

    The exterior view looks strangely like cardboard prefab construction.

  19. Nate Guest

    $1800 USD or 1800 local currency? Hotels in Doha are not expensive.

  20. Clem Diamond

    I laughed out loud at the bottle, but also at the parking lot view... OMG, can you imagine paying $3000 a night to relax in your pool facing... this :D ? Like what the heck were they thinking :D???

  21. STEFFL Gold

    THIS, was the funniest post in ALL the OMAT years, i've ever seen.
    Thanks Ben dad, without you on that trip . . . it would have just been a weird, quick review, thanks to your US "walking" habit, that Water bottle story made my day. :-) ;-)
    BTW, Glass bottles are easier to carry and to reuse as this OASIS plastic "walk-around" water bottle. Glass is always better then any plastic!
    ...

    THIS, was the funniest post in ALL the OMAT years, i've ever seen.
    Thanks Ben dad, without you on that trip . . . it would have just been a weird, quick review, thanks to your US "walking" habit, that Water bottle story made my day. :-) ;-)
    BTW, Glass bottles are easier to carry and to reuse as this OASIS plastic "walk-around" water bottle. Glass is always better then any plastic!
    . . . it has just not yet reached the US to think different. . . . give them another 50 years!
    But glad the urge for plastic gave me a good laugh after seeing the photo.

  22. 305 Guest

    That water bottle….I’m dead haha

    If you want good Indian food back in Miami, I recommend Bombay Darbar in Coconut Grove.

    That whole neighborhood is low key the best restaurant area in Miami, what a renaissance from being a run down college bar spot just 10-15 years ago

  23. Archie Guest

    Does the Hilton Resort credit actually work here? It's not listed under Hilton Resorts site.

  24. JJ Guest

    Lucky, it makes sense that you'd be able to use the $250 resort credit here since its a "LXR Hotel & RESORT" but when looking at Hiltons resort maps this property doesn't come up (and therefore would probably miss my radar on potential places to stay). Do you think it's just because it's a new property or are there other properties where this similarly happens?

  25. Maryland Guest

    The whole photo vibe is so sterile I could only imagine it was not designed by a human, or anyone from planet earth. Landscape architecture was clearly overlooked, but maybe the vast empty parking lot is for landing the mother ship. The food did looked great.

  26. Jamal Guest

    I audibly laughed at loud upon seeing the “water bottle.”

    Thanks for the review because I was seriously considering this property for use of my Hilton Honors certificates. It still makes sense as a unique redemption and as a value proposition. However, i totally get your synopsis that this isn’t necessarily a luxurious hotel experience despite how amazing the room is. I guess if my wife and I stayed one night for the experience only...

    I audibly laughed at loud upon seeing the “water bottle.”

    Thanks for the review because I was seriously considering this property for use of my Hilton Honors certificates. It still makes sense as a unique redemption and as a value proposition. However, i totally get your synopsis that this isn’t necessarily a luxurious hotel experience despite how amazing the room is. I guess if my wife and I stayed one night for the experience only and stayed someplace else for the full hotel luxury experience, I could still envision staying there.

  27. Chris W Guest

    I assume the target market for this property is wealthy Qataris looking to do a staycation.

    They don't care about things like ambiance, gyms or common spaces. I'm guessing they would rarely leave their room and just have food delivered by Uber Eats etc.

    1. Chris W Guest

      And they wouldn't care about $2,000 a night room rates either.

    2. Lune Diamond

      But isn't the point of a staycation to be pampered, or have fun stuff to do? I mean, yes, you're staying in the same city, but the point is to still treat it like a vacation...

      Here, you don't get a great view. There is no fun vibe or activities. The restaurant, while nice, is probably not that special in Doha (lots of Indian places everywhere). In short, there's nothing here that would make it...

      But isn't the point of a staycation to be pampered, or have fun stuff to do? I mean, yes, you're staying in the same city, but the point is to still treat it like a vacation...

      Here, you don't get a great view. There is no fun vibe or activities. The restaurant, while nice, is probably not that special in Doha (lots of Indian places everywhere). In short, there's nothing here that would make it special compared to what you can do at home.

      Heck, if you're wealthy enough to afford a $2k/night room, you probably have a pretty nice house (and in Qatar, probably a servant or two to make the bed and mop the floors). Why not just stay home and order UberEats?

  28. JL Guest

    I stayed at this hotel in March this year and enjoyed my stay here.
    It has some peculiar features for sure, but overall I thought it was a great hotel.
    Lots of space, great heated private pool, friendly staff, free electric bike rental, and ton of welcome fruits/snacks in the room - what is not to like?
    I am sure the water charge was a mistake because I don't remember having to pay for water during breakfast.

  29. UA GS @ SFO Guest

    A bill for only water at breakfast?

    That's an indication that management has no clue what it's doing. Every aspect of the customer experience at a hotel like this should have been pored over, and every little detail like this considered. Bills beneath a certain value should be summarily waived due to the high profit margin from the room rates.

    No thanks to this hotel. But I'm sure DCS will come by to tell us...

    A bill for only water at breakfast?

    That's an indication that management has no clue what it's doing. Every aspect of the customer experience at a hotel like this should have been pored over, and every little detail like this considered. Bills beneath a certain value should be summarily waived due to the high profit margin from the room rates.

    No thanks to this hotel. But I'm sure DCS will come by to tell us how I'm wrong. He's a stupid moron and I wonder which number is smaller: the number of dollars this hotel charges for water, or the number of inches in his pants.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ UA GS @ SFO -- Well, I mean, the water cost $9.50, so...

    2. NickMia New Member

      Thanks for the review, looks like an interesting place to check out when we head to Doha next time, great running into you @ Al Safwa!

    3. DCS Diamond

      But I'm sure DCS will come by to tell us how I'm wrong.

      Frankly, I couldn't care less, and would you folks just keep DCS out of your lexicon? I have no idea what this place in Doha is like, why then would I address your stupid comment?
      I provide factual, ubiquitously verified, information on matters that I have fist-hand knowledge of and that seems to have rattled weaker minds.

      Just avoid trying...

      But I'm sure DCS will come by to tell us how I'm wrong.

      Frankly, I couldn't care less, and would you folks just keep DCS out of your lexicon? I have no idea what this place in Doha is like, why then would I address your stupid comment?
      I provide factual, ubiquitously verified, information on matters that I have fist-hand knowledge of and that seems to have rattled weaker minds.

      Just avoid trying to draw me into stupid "debates" simply because I happen to have the knowledge to challenge bogus dogma, promulgated by the high-priesthood of self-anointed "travel gurus", that permeates the travel blogosphere echo chamber. I know about Hilton Honors and my claims about the program have al held. It does not mean that I will give a damn about every post related to Hilton.

      One would think that a self-proclaimed UA GS @ SFO would have the self-respect to avoid mindless "debates".

      G'day.

  30. Izz Guest

    Laughing out loud at the water bottle oh my!

    1. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

      Think the hotel mistook their request as "is there a plastic bottle I can walk around"

    2. STEFFL Gold

      you might be RIGHT?
      .... THIS was a funny story to read, no doubt!
      BUT as you wrote @Alvin | YTHK, maybe the German/US accent was really misunderstood in Doha? It just makes sense somehow, seeing the DANONE Water jug. So funny. Love it.

    3. JJ Guest

      I actually LOL'd so hard....I can't believe it. That's great.

    4. Phillip Diamond

      Same here! Still laughing!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ UA GS @ SFO -- Well, I mean, the water cost $9.50, so...

5
Izz Guest

Laughing out loud at the water bottle oh my!

5
Alvin | YTHK Diamond

Think the hotel mistook their request as "is there a plastic bottle I can walk around"

3
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