The Qatar Airways Al Safwa first class lounge in Doha is arguably one of the most exclusive and luxurious lounges in the world. It’s an architectural marvel, and its resemblance is closer to an art gallery than an airport lounge.
Who Can Access Al Safwa First Class?
Similar to Singapore Airlines The Private Room, the Al Safwa lounge is only accessible to guests flying on Qatar Airways or other One World airlines in first class. This means that even those with status can’t get in and are instead directed to ‘shitty’ business class lounge which is not to be confused with the stunning Al Mourjan business class lounge (Al Mourjan is exclusive to those travelling in business class while the Business Class lounge is for those travelling in economy with frequent flyer status… confusing; I know).
The Al Safwa first class lounge can also be used when you’re flying on Qatar Airways regional first class (which in most cases is just business class). Guests connecting onto business class from a first class flight also have access provided that the first class flight was over 5h and your transit time is 8 hours or less. As a first class guest, you’re not entitled to bring guests with you into the lounge. In addition, business class passengers who use points to upgrade to first class do not get access to the first class lounge either.
I got the opportunity to visit the Al Safwa first class lounge on my layover from Nice (flying Qatar Airways B787 in business class) to Perth (check out my Qatar Airways A380 first class review here) via Doha. After spending the night at the Shangri La Doha, I decided to head to the lounge 4h before departure, allowing myself ample time to look around and enjoy the facilities.
First class passengers in Doha have access to their own private check-in area sectioned off from the rest of the terminal. Included with that is a separate security clearance area which leads you directly into the duty-free area.
The Al Safwa Lounge is accessible via an escalator leading up. It’s best described as the escalator to AVGEEK heaven. Once you arrive at the top, the grandest lounge entry awaits you.
The area feels as if you’re about to enter a luxury 5-star hotel or some exclusive art gallery. The ceilings are probably 10-15m high, and walls are clad with minimalist cream coloured tiles. The whole thing is offset by a beautiful gold polished desk which appear to be floating above the over-sized floor tiles.
I happened to be visiting the lounge during Ramadan, and as it turned out, I was the only passenger in the entire lounge. This was a somewhat surreal experience considering how large this lounge is.
After the reception area is a hallway which leads you to the centre of the lounge, on the side walls cascading water is juxtaposed by artworks on display.
In the middle of the lounge is a large copper structure full of water, with a single beam of water feeding into it.
It’s the centre point that connects you to the other spaces of the lounge such as duty-free area and business centre.
To the left is a movie theatre and to the right, you will find the spa and private hotel-style sleeping rooms.
The walls of the giant space are adorned by private seating booths which look super stylish.
Across the water feature is the bar and the expansive dining area. Of course during Ramadan, no alcohol is served in the lounge, but if you’re lucky enough to visit any other time, you’re in for a treat!
The restaurant area spans across different sections of the lounge, and while everything is a-la-carte and cooked to order, there’s also a buffer area further to the right. There’s even a separate dessert room!
The food on offer in the lounge is of outstanding quality, which is no surprise when you see the size of the kitchen and the amount of staff who are present in the lounge. At my time of visit, there was at least 15+ staff present…slightly awkward when you’re the only one in the lounge.
The Qatar Airways Al Safwa lounge has one of the most extensive and luxurious spas. Treatments aren’t free, but I have no doubt they are worth the price.
I requested a tour of the facilities for some pictures and to have a look at what was probably one of the best spa baths I’ve ever seen (exclusively for use if you have a treatment).
Private Sleeping Rooms
The Al Safwa first class lounge comes with complimentary hotel style rooms which are fully equipped with a double bed and en-suite shower and bathroom. The rooms are available for free with a 6h time limit, but you can only get access on a first come first served basis if your time until departure is more than 4h. If you need more than 6h, you can pay a fee of QAR 450 for an additional 6h. Some rooms also feature 2 beds. The rooms can be accessed with a key-card, so it’s an excellent base to leave your stuff and explore the lounge.
Al Safwa Lounge In Conclusion
The Qatar Airways first class lounge is one of the most impressive lounges out there, and although it was a tad awkward being the only guest, it only added to the surreal vibe of the place.