I flew Qatar’s business class product, Qsuites, from San Francisco to Doha on our way to Male, which gave me access to the highly rated and very popular Al Mourjan Business Lounge at Hammad International Airport in Doha. However, a little known travel hack is that business class passengers can often buy access to the more exclusive Al Safwa First lounge, which is exactly what we did for this flight.
I called Qatar before our flight to purchase access, which they took payment for over the phone and added the lounge access to our reservation. For 6 hours in the lounge, it cost about $150USD per person. That might seem like a ridiculous thing to pay for since we already had access to the business class lounge, but I think it was totally worth it. Here’s why:
A less crowded experience
Many travelers love the Al Mourjan business class lounge, but almost every reviewer comments on how crowded and busy it gets during peak travel times at Doha. Since Qatar doesn’t actually operate many routes with a First Class cabin, the Al Safwa First lounge naturally has less people.
In the Al Safwa First lounge, guests can reserve a private room for storing belongings and resting during a layover. There is also an en suite bathroom stocked with Diptyque amenities. A big plus in my book!
There are two restaurants in the First Class Lounge, the main restaurant and a sushi restaurant. As is typical with First Class, the food and beverage selection is a step above the offerings in a business class lounge. For example, the champagne was a $150USD bottle of 2006 Piper-Heidsieck.
We reserved our private room as soon as we arrived since there is a limited number, and they definitely filled up as the day went on. They are actually located in the spa area of the lounge where treatments are available for an additional charge. I didn’t end up getting a treatment, but I toured the facilities and it was very peaceful.
Since we had an 8 hour layover, we ate twice at the main restaurant. Once when we arrived and another time just before our next flight to Malé. The design of the main restaurant was stunning… I kept commenting on how easy it was to forget I was in an airport. The service was attentive and very friendly, but the food left something to be desired. Nothing I ate was bad but it wasn’t amazing either. I was really surprised at how disappointing the food quality was both on our flight and in the lounge.
The lounge offered a ridiculous amount of amenities… there were all the typical things you’d expect like various seating areas, workstations and a restaurant. But there were also incredible features like water installations, fine art, a spa, dedicated family area, duty free shopping area and of course, the private rooms.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any ground service offered to First Class passengers or those using the lounge. We did find the signage at this airport very easy to follow though.
I would absolutely recommend paying for access to Al Safwa if you’re traveling in business class and have a long layover in Doha. The lounge is stunning and there are a lot of amenities to make passengers comfortable. Improving the food quality and offering ground transportation could make it a more competitive lounge. It’s definitely one of the top first class lounges in the world, but I’m not convinced it’s the best. I would rank Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal above the Al Safwa First Lounge.