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Raffles and Fairmont Doha: The hotel shaped like gigantic swords

The two hotels inside Katara Towers are co-managed by Accor.

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In Qatar, a country where the subway has a business class compartment and Friday brunch is a competitive sport, opulence is a mere baseline.

For a new hotel to really stand out here, its designers have to do something incredibly dramatic – like spend five years erecting a brand new building in the shape of the country’s national crest.

This new addition to the Doha skyline is called Katara Towers and is divided between two hotel brands, the Fairmont and the Raffles. Each occupies one half of the 300,000 square meter building, which is designed to resemble a pair of Qatari crossed scimitars.

Set alongside the aquamarine waters of the Persian Gulf, these fraternal twin hotels are each luxurious in their own ways.

The Raffles, an all-suite property on the left half of the building, draws inspiration from the fine arts. In the lobby, there’s a white grand piano, with the light reflecting on it from a swirling 42-meter (137-foot) kaleidoscope projected on the ceiling.

There’s a private cinema, complete with cushy red velvet seats and custom snacks prepared by hotel chefs. The rooftop bar, Acoustic, hosts live performances alongside a crystal-lined bar designed to resemble a whiskey tumbler.

The highest-end suite is the appropriately named Raffles Suite, which sprawls over two floors of the hotel and has its own private swimming pool, internal elevator, hair salon and even a hammam.

Blue Cigar, a cocktail and cigar bar with moody deep-blue interiors and ceiling-high bookshelves, feels like a Bond hangout.

But those ceiling-high bookshelves aren’t just decorative. While a cigar sommelier selects a stogie or a server hands out sliders on blue-tinted buns, a visitor will be asked the name of his or her favorite author.

Within an hour, it’s likely that a staff member will return to the visitor with a copy of a rare book by that specific author. Rare-books experts were dispatched around the globe to build the hotel’s impressive…

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