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(CNN) Need help finding a hotel within Doha airport? Look for the 23-foot-tall teddy bear made of bronze and hanging right in the Hermes store.
Passing passengers Hamad International Airport in Qatar’s capital can choose to leave the airport and join a free tour of some of the capital’s most popular attractions, including Souq Waqif and the Golden Masjid.
But others may opt to book a room at the Oryx, a Qatar Airlines-owned hotel conveniently located near gates C,D, and E.
As a luxury hotel in a luxury airport that regularly tops the annual Skytrax list of the world’s bestit’s not hard to say that this might be one of the most luxurious transit hotels on the planet.
If you can find it.
Since the oryx — a type of antelope native to the Middle East — is the logo of Qatar Airways, the name is used throughout the airport, sometimes confusingly.
Example: The Oryx lounge is only one floor (second) below the Oryx hotel (third), which means that a staff member is employed to hang out in the hotel lobby to distract lost travelers.
To check in, passengers must present their passport and boarding pass. Doha is a “quiet airport,” meaning there are no verbal announcements about boarding gates and passengers are expected to use phone screens or apps to find out where to go. They’ll also have to fork out upwards of around US$450 per stay — which is more expensive than the average night’s accommodation in Doha.
The front desk staff at the hotel is efficient and helpful. Since only transit passengers stay there, reception will double and triple-check passengers’ itineraries and offer a wake-up call to ensure they are awake in time to make their next flight.
“Hamad International Airport operates as a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week facility and therefore all the various passenger touchpoints follow the same timeline,” said Badr Mohammed Al Meer, chief operating officer for at the airport.
“We are constantly striving to offer the best and customized experiences for travelers, including our airport hotel offering. We want to give them an unparalleled experience with a luxury appeal, synonymous with the airport as a whole. “
The Oryx is the only hotel within the airport itself, making it a logical choice for those with shorter layovers (by law, airport transit stays must be less than 24 hours). And there are also ways to experience the hotel without booking a room.
Travelers can access Oryx’s “vitality center” for 175 riyals ($48) per person for up to four hours.
This wellness-centric area, one floor above the rooms, has a squash court, golf simulator, spa and hydrotherapy pool and hot tubs in addition to the swimming pool.
The narrow 25-meter (82-feet) length of the pool feels like it’s enclosed in a glass jewel box.
Silver geometric designs are a key motif around the airport, and that continues in the pool, whose blue water shimmers against the light coming in from the lattice-shaped metal walls and ceiling.
While there are some dress codes around public beaches in Qatar, the hotel is privately owned — meaning guests can wear western swimwear. They can also order a poolside cocktail, as alcohol is also allowed here.
Unlike the hotel, which is open 24 hours a day, the vitality center closes from 2-6 a.m. Access to these areas is free for hotel guests, although you still have to pay for in spa treatments.
Treatments are specifically designed for travelers, such as a massage for tired feet and a facial that addresses dryness caused by recycled airplane air.
Thanks to Doha’s role as a major global transit hub, some guests return to the Oryx on repeat visits.
One of those is Jane Jones, a Canadian travel agent who recently spent a 12-hour layover sleeping and swimming on the Oryx. It was her second time there — the first time, she had a shorter layover and opted for a pool and gym pass.
Jones, who is headed on a vacation to Thailand this January, said the hotel’s amenities are “top notch.”
“One thing I especially value is convenience,” he says. “I was surprised by the quality of the room.”
His personal highlights were the fast free Wi-Fi, which allowed him to get some work done before his flight and the wide variety of options — such as weight training and cardio — at the gym.
“I would definitely do it again,” he added.
In the bedroom
There are 100 rooms in the hotel, all spread over one floor.
Considering that an average of 40 million people pass through Hamad International Airport each year, demand for rooms at Oryx is high.
Booking in advance is highly recommended. People with changed plans or dealing with last-minute cancellations can go to the reception area and stand in long lines to try to get a room, but those who have already pre-booked can skip and check in easily .
The rooms themselves at the Oryx are light and airy. The walls are simple and cream-colored with occasional splashes of red or gold, while the bed linens and towels are crisp and clean white. In general, the design scheme creates a sense of lightness.
There are four main room types — superior (with one king bed), deluxe (one king bed and one twin), family (three beds), and executive suite (one king bed, but more floor space), plus as well as a luxurious presidential suite complete with private lounge and powder room.
Amenities make the rooms comfortable for rest and recharge.
Each room has a kettle for making coffee and tea, two complimentary bottles of water, and a large rainforest shower — just the thing for rejuvenating between flights.
Other standard hotel amenities are also present: clothes hangers, irons, hair dryers, bathrobes, and slippers. In the bathroom, built-in shampoo dispensers and disposable toothbrushes mean you may not even need to take anything out of your own suitcase to freshen up.
The in-room power points are international, and there are also USB ports.
And despite the airy, open feel in the rooms and common spaces, there’s one critical area where it feels heavy: window coverings.
For those in dire need of shuteye, the Oryx’s bedrooms can be made super dark despite having the bright Doha sunshine outside. And a good night’s — or afternoon’s — sleep may be the ultimate luxury of all.