A hard, painful, summer is approaching. We are victims of this sweat gland stimulating evil season. We want shisha, we want it bad, and open-air venues like Souq Waqif are not an option anymore. Also in this desert country, outdoor venues always mean lots and lots of dust and if you’re unlucky enough to be caught in even a mild sandstorm, you’re going to have a regrettable shisha experience. The city is dotted with tinier, shadier shisha joints, which are almost always ONLY for men.
Fear not shisha lovers. We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of economical, not-too-dingy, female friendly, AIR CONDITIONED shisha lounges/cafes around Doha. We are also working on getting images for all the below listed locations. If you have any recommendations or suggestions that fit the criteria of this post, please leave a comment and we will check it out!
Central Lounge has a nice American retro sports cafe kind of feel, with cosy seating and even private rooms/areas. Add to that a pretty groovy looking jukebox and you have a great after-work chill zone. The lighting is dim, which is always great for a shisha place and although the room does get rather smoke-filled, the awesome shisha makes up for that. Special mention to the Mustang on the wall!
They have a decent menu, not too many items and no food. Juices are priced at an average of QR 25 and shisha is averaged at QR 30. The Havana blend (an interesting mix of cherry, grape and lemon), which we highly recommend, is priced at QR 45. They have Paradise (Bahraini apple – QR 40) and Flower (Rose – QR 30) as well in the specials menu. Salloom is priced at QR 25. The VIP rooms with couches and LED TVs cost QR 100 per hour, plus orders. You might rejoice to learn that they use the cube-shaped coal, which was a major win for us.
They have a call-bell for the waiters, but we’re not particularly impressed with the service. The place is women friendly, especially if you’re on the mezzanine. A big plus is they have Wi-Fi and power points everywhere, so if you want to get some work done while relaxing with some shisha, this is a great option.
Plus points: Budget friendly, air-conditioned, female friendly, great shisha flavours, Wi-Fi
Shisha price: QR 30 – 45
Location: If you’re driving towards TV Roundabout from the Nissan Showroom at the petrol pump, take a U-turn at the TV roundabout and then the first service road on the right. It’s right next to Rendezvous.
LAYALI DOHA COFFEE SHOP
Layali is probably one of our oldest haunts in Doha. Right from its dingiest days to its current fancy-ish revamp, we’ve loyally been going here for the longest time. Don’t confuse this with the Lebanese restaurant Layali on Salwa road near midmac roundabout.
This place is perfect for several reasons. Its very conveniently located at the sword signal, it’s so easily accessible. Recently after they revamped it, they opened up a parking area in the front so it’s a lot more convenient now. And if you don’t get parking here, you can just drive to behind Layali, and you’ll find a small ground where you can pay for parking. Its slightly expensive, but in that maniacal crowded area, will ensure your car is safe.
They recently also completely refurbished the place and the new Layali is characterized by fancy, comfy couch type chairs, a variety of dim coloured lights adorning the brick tile type walls and ceiling, a range of random unrelated pieces of décor like a shiny horse and a water tap placed around the restaurant and TV screens.
They used to have a separate area for ladies where they could play games and stuff, but it seems like they’ve done away with that. However, the environment is very female friendly, and unlike regular shisha places, you will find a lot of women here, including the waitresses who serve shisha.
Food is not their biggest selling point, as most of their dishes are very average however, they serve the BEST French fries ever! They stopped serving food for the longest time but they’ve started again recently and it looks like they have the same old chefs. It’s definitely okay to get a bite to eat here as long as you don’t have very high expectations. Food is reasonably priced but if you ordered tea or a soft drink, you’d dish out QR 8!
You can play cards here – one of the very few shisha places that allow it (excluding the traditional places where only men go). They also provide you with Dominoes if you ask for it, and if you are a group of people it can be quite fun to play. Feel free to bring your own board games too.
Coming to the shisha part, for the longest time their shisha quality was very poor. However, after this refurbishing they’ve done, the shisha is really good, very reasonably priced at ONLY QR 20, they have lots of new flavours that they didn’t have earlier and lasts for a really long time (3 hours on average).
The service to be honest is different on different days. Most of the servers are usually in a grumpy mood, and don’t understand what exactly you’re saying without you explaining it a couple of times, but on some days, you’ll be surprised at the good service. Make sure you tip them if you’re a regular because we’ve noticed the difference in service based on that! Bad service might be a turn off for most people, but when you’re paying only 20 QR for shisha in such a comfortable environment, you can’t really complain. They have Wi-Fi as well.
We definitely recommend this place for all of the reasons mentioned above. Oh and its open 24 hours – need we say more?
Plus points: Budget friendly, air-conditioned, comfortable seating, female friendly, can play games, Wi-Fi
Shisha price: QR 20
Location: Right next to City Exchange on the A ring road, immediately after sword signal. They have also installed a big neon signboard, so the chances of missing it are less.
UMM AL HANAYA
It took us the longest time to realize this originally seafood restaurant is actually shaped like a small ship, outside and inside. The more we visited this place, the more the décor grew on us as we noticed a make shift upper deck inside the restaurant had a glass paneled floor where you could see fish swimming in the water. Pretty cool.
The restaurant barely gets too smoky during the daytime, evenings are a different matter of course. The shisha is great here, and very reasonably priced at QR 28. They also have a great variety of flavours including coconut, banana, gum and more, besides all the regular shisha flavours. We usually order orange, grape mint or watermelon and find that they never disappoint.
Not only is this place female friendly, but its also family friendly. The seating is very comfortable and very easily accommodates bigger groups of people.
The food here is great too and I pretty much love almost everything on the menu – maybe I should do a separate review on this? I cant really call the menu economical, some things are reasonable, some are more on the higher side, however, there is something to fit everyone’s pocket in this restaurant and I can go as far as saying you can definitely visit this place everyday.
If you work anywhere from the old airport area till the bank street, this is a great place for lunch and a quick shisha – if that’s your thing. Parking IS a hassle here though, but if you’re a regular, you can leave your car with the security and they park it for you for a small tip, but this is completely up to them, and in no way can you insist or demand they do it. You can drive down the road and park near the jewellery stores as the safest option.
The only two things that are negatives for us here are the service, which is rather slow most times, and the coal they use for their shishas which burn out quickly so if they’re not around to change it, its going to be a bother.
Plus points: Budget friendly, air-conditioned, comfortable seating, female friendly, Wi-Fi, great food
Shisha price: QR 28
Location: If you’re driving on the B ring road, take a left at the crazy signal, and the first service road on your right. Umm al Hanaya is right next to Bharath Restaurant and Les Roses des Sables apartment building.
This is another lesser-known place that serves good shisha reasonably priced at QR 25. The ground floor is mostly filled with men, but you can go up to access the family area, which is usually filled with females and if you’re a group of only men, you wont be allowed to sit here. But if you have even one woman in your group, this is a good option because the seating is great. They have nice comfy couches, where you can recline and enjoy a good shisha.
They have limited flavours, so we recommend going with the usual ones to be safe. They also don’t have any food on the menu, just drinks – teas, coffees, cold beverages etc. However, they do have a couple of menus from other nearby restaurants and you can call these restaurants and have them deliver to you here. Not the most convenient option – but still works.
The service isn’t that great, but you will almost always get a table here (upstairs) even if the rest of the shisha cafes in Doha are packed. Unfortunately they do not have WiFi, but for those who live nearby, its pretty much a walking distance so saves you the trouble of driving across the ring roads in heavy traffic.
They also give you those game machines for a small fee.
Plus points: Budget friendly, air-conditioned, comfortable seating, female friendly.
Shisha price: QR 25
Location: If you’re driving towards Qatar Bowling Centre from Jaidah flyover near Musherib, take a U-Turn at Mannai Roundabout and you’ll find Aroma Café on your right side about 200 metres after the roundabout. Parking is usually available right outside the café, or on the opposite side of the road.
AL ZAEEM COFFEE
This café is more local we would think, but females are allowed and although we usually don’t see them, we find the environment quite comfortable to be in. The café itself is very small, and mostly has beverages but you can order food from out. Being small, the service is really good and fast because the waiters are stationed right across your table and its easy to call them at any point.
They have regular chairs and tables, nothing fancy. The chairs are comfortable enough, and not the plastic types which you will find in cheaper, dingier shisha joints.
They have all the regular beverages, and shisha is priced at QR 25. The shisha is actually quite good here, but in the evenings, the place can be slightly smoke-filled. If you live in the area, it’s a good option to swing by, but we wouldn’t recommend driving from very far for this place exclusively.
In the summer heat, this place is a great, quick shisha escape, and they do have WiFi.
Plus points: Budget friendly, air-conditioned, female friendly, good service
Shisha price: QR 25
Location: Musherib, next to Baby Shop, on Palestine Street.
PS: This blog does not promote shisha smoking, only suggests the cafes that serve it because they have WiFi and cheap tea.
Lead image credit: www.absinthe-jp.comby