How To Book A Free Doha Stopover Hotel When Flying Qatar Airways

Qatar has had a rough year, after several Gulf countries have cut ties with the nation. On the plus side, this has caused Qatar to introduce some improved policies for passengers transiting Qatar, presumably in an attempt to make it a more attractive destination. For one, Qatar has introduced visa-free entry for nationals of 80 countries, which is a positive development.

On top of that, Qatar Airways has introduced a stopover program, called +Qatar, that gives all Qatar Airways ticketed passengers transiting Doha for over 12 hours a complimentary hotel stay. Initially this was only supposed to be valid for a few months, though it ended up being extended through December 31, 2017 (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s extended beyond that).

My experience booking a free transit hotel in Qatar

In late July I booked a roundtrip business class ticket on Qatar Airways from Ho Chi Minh City to New York for $676 roundtrip. Not a bad deal, eh? In one direction I have a transit of about 18 hours in Doha, so I was curious to see if that was eligible for the free stopover hotel.

I wasn’t actually positive that my booking would be eligible. The page about the program suggests you need to make a multi-city booking, while I just booked a standard roundtrip. However, I had no problems booking, so I assume that’s just a recommendation in the event that you want to plan a longer stopover.

Anyway, to my surprise the process of booking a free Doha stopover hotel was really easy. Like, suspiciously so, to the point that I wonder whether I’m actually confirmed.

To start the process of booking a stopover hotel, go to this page, and on the top right enter the night you want to stay for free (you can add a second night for $50, if you have a longer stopover), as well as the number of guests (don’t worry, later on you can specify your check-in and check-out time).

I was a bit confused, since at this point I hadn’t entered any information about my class of service, itinerary, etc. It seems you can see what’s available before you even make your flight reservation.

The catch is that not all hotels are always available. According to the website, economy passengers are eligible for premium hotels (Holiday Inn, Radisson Blu, etc.), while business and first class passengers are eligible for luxury hotels (Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, etc.). On this page I didn’t see anywhere to specify whether I was a premium guest or not.

Nonetheless it did present me with the Westin, which is supposedly in the “luxury” category, so I went ahead and selected that. After all, I assumed not all hotels would be available on all dates.

On the next page I was given the option of adding on paid activities, though I skipped that.

On the next page the price was confirmed ($0 works for me), and I was asked to enter my arrival and departure time, as well as the names of both guests. As you can see, it seems they allow flexible check-in and check-out times based on your flights, which is convenient. I was also asked to enter my e-ticket number.

My expectation was that I’d then be brought to a page saying my request has been submitted, and that I’d hear back within a few days. Instead I was brought to a confirmation page saying that my reservation was confirmed. Wow!

I’m a bit surprised that the online form managed to verify my e-ticket information that quickly, including what class of service my booking is tied to. Actually, I’m skeptical as to whether or not it did.

This is in start contrast to Etihad’s program for booking a stopover hotel, where you have to submit a form, and then wait longer than you’d expect to get a response from them.

Well done, Qatar Airways… I think. I’m still a bit skeptical as to whether or not this is all actually confirmed, and what the verification process is like on their end.

Have you used Qatar Airways’ free stopover hotel program? What was your experience like?

Comments

  1. As a resident of Qatar I can’t really use this offer but it appears to have got a lot of positive feedback on the flyer talk forums.

  2. I have a 17 hour Doha layover coming up in November. I booked my flight via our company travel agency. I then contacted QR and asked whether I am eligible for a free hotel night. They said that they don’t think I am, claiming that there would have been an earlier connection (which I haven’t found), but that someone else will contact me. That was 3 weeks ago, and nobody has contacted me…

    Maybe I should just try the link and see what happens 🙂

  3. The program is crap. I have a stopover of a day in Doha (J Class MEL-DOH-Europe) Dec 23-Dec 24. They show no availability. So I gotta buy my own stay.

    “Sorry
    We have been unable to find any rooms to match your search.”

  4. I used it a few months ago as I transited ATL-DOH-KUL (in economy). I paid the extra $50 and stayed at the Westin. Worth every single penny!!

    I booked the same BIZ ticket as you (but go SGN-DOH-JNB). They changed my flight time by an hour so I am trying to see if I can utilize the stopover again since my layover has increased over the threshold. 🙂

  5. Free is all good but a Westin is a bit less than what EY offer to J/F guests. We’re talking St. Regis/Rosewood/Ethiad Towers level.

  6. I did it during the summer, stayed at the Ritz-Carlton which was meh.
    When you show up at the hotel for check in they’ll ask you for your boarding passes (both flights), the e-ticket, and the confirmation of the hotel reservation (last two printed preferably but you can also send it by email once you’re there). QR can also sponsor you for the visa, so you don’t have to pay for it.
    One last thing, be careful that on various pictures the names of the passengers are visible as well as the e-ticket number.

  7. I have a booked a J ticket on Qatar Airways CDG-DOH-KTM and return KTM-DOH-JFK, so hopefully I can stay for free during the layover on both legs.
    Thanks Lucky!

  8. Note: it seems that you can only use the Qatar ticket number for 1 free night, not for the second layover night on a round-trip.

    “This flight e-ticket number has already been used.”

  9. I booked a cheap biz originating from cairo to lax and had a stopover more than 12 hours, I asked for the airport hotel but no availability then they decided to book me in oryx rotana which is 15 min away from the airport and meal voucher for 250 QAR. but can’t do that any more since I am saudi hopefully things would be better between the two countries in coming days.

  10. are you sure that all 12hr+ connect itineraries are eligible for this? In 2015, when I flew DEL-DOH-ORD, I had a < 24 hr stopover, but wasn't eligible for the hotel since there was a later DEL-DOH departure in the day that would have allowed me plenty of time to connect to my ORD flight.

  11. Did same thing few days ago. Easy as heck but wasn’t impressed with Ritz Carlton Shawrq near airport. I select that coz it’s near airport. Bed is awesome but it’s very empty, old, and tired resort to the point I feel like I’m in zombieland

  12. Did this in May and had the same feeling as you (‘is it really even confirmed?’)

    Booked the Ritz Carlton Doha, 72 hours before arriving. Arrived and presented the printed paperwork, which (word of advice) just seemed to the safe thing to do given how ‘soft’ the booking process was – only then to realize at check-in that I’d screwed up and booked for one week later than our arrival date. The front desk said “eh, that’s fine” and gave us the key. I don’t exactly know how the billing arrangement works with Qatar, but no-one seemed bothered at all – likely because the hotel was pretty dead. Even the breakfast was included (so, free). We asked for an extended check out and they offered us the room until 4pm. Perfect.

    Doesn’t end there though – about a week after returning from the trip, it seems Qatar’s back office caught up, sending an email saying I’d booked a hotel outside of the category that we were eligible. So why did you let me book it then? Never heard anything more about it, but definitely doesn’t seem to be the tightest run operation. Bring the printed confirmation, just to be safe.

  13. I am a Gold member of Qatar’s Privilege Card Programme and usually receive good attention and service but not with this promotion. Although our complimentary hotel in Doha’s West Bay was good, there were all kinds of “not covered by the Airlines promotion” surcharges – not just extortionately high airport transfers but also “Day Member” rates to use the pool and fitness club facilities. As with everything else coming from the mouth of little Mr Ali Al-Bakr, one always needs to tread with caution. Aussie genius James Hogan managed to bankrupt Bahrain’s Gulf Air before then exporting his “Sky Chefs” and other ridiculous stuff to Etihad. James has now been prematurely retired back to Australia but Etihad are sadly now picking up the pieces. Qatar are also now desperately trying to salvage their future.

  14. @lucky: I got a ticket from sgn-jfk with the golden ticket deal and was told both flights don’t qualify for a free hotel. My first flight has a quicker connection to New York so thus I can’t get a free hotel. My return journey did qualify and I signed up however a few days later I was told that because the one way price of the ticket was less than $400 they couldn’t offer a hotel

  15. Keep us updated on if this gets extended. I’m flying CPH to Johannesburg during Easter, and will choose Qatar Airways if can take advantage of this offer.

    Are there any promotions for status if you sign up for Qatars mileage program? Perhaps status match if you have gold with Star Alliance?

  16. Hi Ben,

    Great article as always. I’ve booked several Qatar flights including one with 3 days stopover in Doha. So this free night offer is a great deal for me. However, you mentioned above about adding $50 for the second night, but when I tried to do that on Qatar’s website, it only showed $100 as a total price of 2 nights stay. I am not sure if I misunderstood about something, lol. But even if its $100, it’s still a steal at The Westin.

    Thanks

  17. Has anyone tried to book this with points? I’m considering using Chase points to book a multi-city routing (all on Qatar metal) with a stopover in Doha on the way back, but not sure about third party bookings. They seem to allow third party bookings, but don’t give specifics. Thoughts?

  18. Like you, I’m stunned!

    I kept this article and today catching up. I kept it because I have had issues with QR getting their free hotel. (Platinum and always Business or First when it’s an A380 )

    In the past year, I have transited for longer than 8 hours, 9x, and have only been granted a hotel on 3 occasions, even though all were 8 hours + transits. So I saw your story and read with interest.

    I have a booking coming up on October 18, I arrive early morning and depart at after 1800 the same day. So I followed the instructions, booked Intercontinental, entered my ticket number, bang. Confirmed.

    Like you, I found it was so simple, I can’t believe it’s real. I have a confirmation. It’s all looking good. I’ll check again in a week but as I said, I’m impressed. I think!

    So thanks for the heads-up.

    But as a tip, if anyone is transiting and cannot get this offer, Doubletree in Doha is incredible. I would have stayed there rather than Intercontinental but it wasn’t on the list

  19. @Thomas: Re transfers, Uber in Doha stupidly cheap, usually $5-6 each way. One time, surge pricing was in play and it cost me $11

    @Lucky: Did the reservation work? Were you checked-in OK on Sept 28?

  20. Hi i was wondering if this offer was only good for layovers over 12 hours as said in the article? …. i have a layover of 10+ hours and would love the opportunity of at least freshening up before carrying on with my journey

  21. @Faheem – QA will most likely cancel your hotel booking. We also have a layover of over 8 hours and we succesfully booked a hotel and received confirmation, however on the next day we received an e-mail from QA that they reviewed our booking and that it was cancelled due to the fact that we were not eligible for +Qatar offer.

  22. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this article. I have found it to be very informative, as i am looking to benefit from this offer myself! Can you please clarify whether your booking and free stay was a smooth process, without any difficulties?

    Your feedback would be highly appreciated!

    Many Thanks

  23. I called the QA to check if I’m allowed for free hotel. I’m flying to BKK via DOH. But I was told that there is shorter connection, so I won’t get it. I have stopover ~20h and there are shorter ones ofc.
    But as I’ve seen in comments, even if the page allows me to book the hotel, it propably might be cancelled after reviewing my request? Or is that possible that luckily, I’ll get the hotel for free? Have someone had that situation?

  24. @ Kim — I’m writing this from a free stopover hotel in Doha. Will have a review after. Haven’t written about it yet because this is only happening now. The process was as straightforward as I described. 🙂

  25. Do you need to have a trasit visa to avail this? as It appears that Indian passports are not eligible

  26. Lucky, have you actually stayed at the Westin hotel at your recent trip with QR ? I’m booked to the same hotel too so just wanna know what to expect. Thanks!

  27. Hi, I’m share my experience.. I bought ticket from Krabi to Prague with 15 hours stopover in Doha. When I bought the tickets, I wrote to QA and ask for free hotel. They were not too much communicative, told that I must contact QA office. Well, I booked hotel in Doha ¨via this page in March 2018, I got the confirmation and I’m pretty curios, if it will be everything in March ok 🙂

    Thank you Lucky for instructions…

    Have you anyone experience for booking hotel more than 72 hours before stopover?

  28. Yes I always booked by phone in any QR office and worked well. btw. welcome to my hometown Prague! 😉

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