Is Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class Lounge in Doha’s new Hamad International Airport the best airline lounge in the world? It is certainly one of two, I also love the Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi which I have reviewed. The Al Safwa First Class lounge is only accessible to passengers that fly First Class on Qatar Airways metal or a Oneworld airline (so it is not open to Oneworld Emerald members who fly Economy or Business Class).
The lounge’s scale, architecture, and design is amazing. The lounge space is massive, with very high ceilings that make it seem even larger than it is. It features a beautiful minimalist design, with predominant light sandstone colours, creating a peaceful and exclusive ambience.
From the reception, a very long and impressive hallway leads to the lounge’s central area. The hallways features art work from – amongst others – Keith Haring, as well as a water wall, making you feel at a museum rather than an airport lounge. Several side corridors open into additional spaces, including a prayer room, a spa (where unfortunately you have to pay for treatments and showers), a mini-hotel with several sleep rooms (complimentary to passengers that have a layover of at least six hours), a duty-free shop and a business centre with several iMac workstations
At the end of the hallway, you enter the lounge’s central seating area, which is a triangular space with a spectacular, tube-enclosed water fountain. There are several types of seats present in this area, featuring a design that ranges from comfortable to artsy. There’s also a ‘terrace’ under the roof of airport’s terminal with some more seats. There is far too much space for the numbers of passengers that the lounge needs to accommodate, so it will never feel full.
The lounge’s restaurant and bar is located adjacent to the seating area, and features plenty of tables. The space is quite bright because of the very large windows that not only embrace the Arabian sunlight but also offer nice views across the airport. The restaurant has an open kitchen, and you can choose from several buffet station or dine a la carte. I was there during breakfast time (my Qatar Airways Airbus A380 flight to Paris left at 8 am) but I did not eat too much since I did not want to kill my appetite shortly before my First Class experience.
From the lounge, it was a 15-minute walk to the gate, where the Airbus A380 was ready for boarding. The waiting area at the gate was divided into a lower and upper space for Economy and First/Business Class passengers respectively.
Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert