The Qatar Airways first class lounge Doha is one of the strangest, most stunning, and most exclusive lounges in the world. Someone on my Facebook feed said it ‘looked like a museum’. Indeed, it actually has hundreds of years old pieces on display from Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art (!). There are some real quirks to it, though.
- Flying All 3 Big Gulf Carrier Airbus A380s in First Class on a Single Trip
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- Air France and KLM Lounges
- Emirates First Class, Houston – Dubai
- Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai – B Concourse
- Emirates First Class A380, Dubai – Bangkok
- St. Regis Bangkok
- Street Food, Fine Dining, and Custom Suits in Bangkok
- Thai Airways E Concourse First Class Lounge
- Qatar Airways A380 First Class, Bangkok – Doha
- W Doha Hotel
When I first booked my tickets, I had a flight into Doha and I had a flight home from Abu Dhabi, but I had no connection between the two. There was no award space for Doha – Abu Dhabi, despite several flights a day on both Etihad and Qatar which can be redeemed for with American AAdvantage miles (and indeed combined in the same award, for no additional miles).
I decided I was fine with that. In a worst case I’d buy a ticket for the short flight. But I wouldn’t do so right away because as an Executive Platinum I receive free changes on award tickets. I’d just keep monitoring award space.
A few weeks after booking, and three months prior to travel, business class award space opened up on Etihad so I rang up American to add Etihad’s Doha – Abu Dhabi onto my Abu Dhabi – New York JFK Etihad Apartment first class award.
Then 6 weeks later, and 6 weeks prior to travel, Qatar Airways premium cabin award space opened. I decided to switch to Qatar. I didn’t actually care about the better inflight experience with lie flat seats on a Qatar Airways widebody for the 200 mile flight. I made the change because I’d get to experience Qatar’s new first class lounge prior to departure.
When you approach the terminal the first door is for first and business class check-in.
Porters are out front to assist with luggage, and take you through the dedicated doors.
You’re immediately struck by a gorgeous terminal, albeit a bit cold. It’s massive, and minimalist at the same time.
Business class to the left, first class to the right.
You walk down the corridor to a line of check-in desks, all of which were deserted of passengers.
In addition to the check-in desks there are lounging areas as well.
Check-in is seated where you’re presented with juice and a cold towel.
Once checked in you’ll clear premium immigration and then come upon an escalator up to the Al Safwa first class lounge.
The Al Sawfa first class lounge at the new Hamad International Airport in Doha opened in the fall, after many delays.
Qatar has very few long haul first class passengers. in their long haul fleet only the A380 has a first class cabin. Long haul first class passengers can use this lounge even on arrival in Doha when connecting to business class. Short haul first class passengers connecting to business class (or terminating their journey in Doha) cannot.
Many short haul flights have their premium cabins marketed as first class, like airlines do in the US, and so short haul first class passengers use the first class lounge.
The design of the lounge follows the overall modern feel of the terminal, although with higher end finishes and something of an “Asian Park Hyatt” feel.
Here’s the lounge check-in desk.
The check-in desk was deserted of passengers, just like the check-in area for the airline. Granted it was mid-afternoon, which isn’t peak time for Hamad International Airport.
Entering the lounge there’s a long, imposing corridor.
Most striking to me were the pieces on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art. The lounge is as much museum as waiting area for your flight.
The most focal spot in the lounge is probably the fountain in front of the sit down dining restaurant.
The lounge has various seating options, some in semi-private areas and others simply in the middle of the lounge itself.
I settled into the ‘outside’ or deck seating area, sort of akin to what British Airways offers at Heathrow. It’s outside the lounge but inside the terminal. This is where I had to begin to sort out my travel plans.
I had gotten an update on my Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to New York indicating that instead of a 5 hour layover in Abu Dhabi we were facing a delay. Instead of a 3am departure we would be leaving at 8am (ultimately the delay was a bit longer than that).
That meant two things. I would need a place to sleep in Abu Dhabi (I booked myself into the Premier Inn attached to the airport using Orbitz Orbucks credits) and I would need to change my flight from New York home since I was going to misconnect otherwise.
My New York – Austin itinerary was on a separate ticket since the award space I wanted never opened. American waived the change fee to put me on the 5pm non-stop, since even though I wasn’t on two oneworld itineraries I was on two American-issued tickets.
After awhile I decided to try out the lounge restaurant.
Here’s the menu: (Click to enlarge)
The food was fine, although not outstanding the way you’d find in the Qantas first class lounge or even Lufthansa’s first class terminal.
It’s worth noting that the restaurant menu isn’t the only place to get food. There’s a room with quite a few buffet-style options.
There’s also a desert room.
The lounge has nap rooms with bed, TV, desk and private bathroom with shower however those were all full while i was there. those are complimentary, but i never got access
On the other hand the spa is paid, even the showers inside the spa. so if you want to shower for free you need a nap room.
There’s a place dedicated for TV viewing, and also a ‘nanny room’.
Far less spartan than the ‘nanny room’ is the ‘parents room’ which is really a kids rooms:
You can play video games or play race car in the game room:
Naturally there’s a business center.
Ultimately because the lounge is so architecturally impressive it’s a top 10 lounge in the world. It doesn’t have the best food. It doesn’t have the best spa. It doesn’t have the most attentive service. But it is good in most respects, except if you need a shower and cannot get a room for that. Mostly it is simply a stunning place to be, the most architecturally interesting lounge I’ve been in (it comes in ahead of the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow in this regard, I believe).