Before I go into my review of the spectacular and exclusive Al Safwa First Class Lounge at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, I want to set the stage of how my body felt. It felt like it was 3:05 AM (because I flew in from Cambodia via Bangkok; it was 11:05 PM Doha time).
My crazy 48 hours prior to landing in Doha included waking up in a tent atop a mountain (Phnom Kulen National Park), spending a day boating on Tonle Sap Lake, a good-bye dinner in Siem Reap, and a way-to-late night out on Pub Street. The next mid-day I flew from Siem Reap to Bangkok on Bangkok Airways, then with plenty of time, I transferred to my first class flight on Qatar’s brilliant A380. You can read my Qatar Bangkok Airport experience here: Flying Qatar Upper Class Out of Bangkok
And what an experience it was flying Qatar’s International First Class on the double decker A380.
Now I had one more experience left which was the Al Safwa First Class Lounge.
Al Safwa First Class Lounge
“Al Safwa First Lounge is only available to Qatar Airways and OneWorld First Class ticked customers. Guests are not permitted.”
I was not sure if the ticket had to be an onward ticket or if an arrival ticket would have worked, but I was set because I had both.
Be aware: If you think you are special because you have One World Emerald status – well guess what, you won’t even get a ride up the escalator. Fancy credit cards – they won’t help either. This lounge is exclusive for those flying first class. Period.
An attendant will check at the bottom of the escalators going up to the lounge. You will also be checked-in at the lounge reception and given a brief orientation.
A Place to Sleep
In my case I was hitting a wall of tiredness hard, so my immediate desire was sleep. I was escorted to the spa area where there are private bedrooms. They asked if I might enjoy a spa treatment first, but I think they could tell by the way I was dragging that I needed a bed.
Keep in mind that these private rooms, like a hotel room, are all complimentary, and come with a bed, toilet and shower, desk and TV, plus a bottle of water. I think they would have pressed my clothing while I rested if needed.
The requested time limit is 6 hours and that is about how long I was in the room.
Dining in the Lounge
When I awoke I was hungry for breakfast. I strolled to the dining area which was fairly empty. As a matter of fact, for a lounge of this enormous size, there were very few people in it.
The Lounge Patio and Fountains
It was tough to get any sense of the expansiveness of this lounge through a photograph, but two fountains stood out.
The lounge had a “patio” that overlooked the concourse. The patio alone was as big as many airport lounges.
Doha’s Hamad International Airport
Regardless of what class of service you are in, Hamad International Airport is beautiful, modern, and well laid out.
Two iconic features in the airport caught my eye:
For daytime layovers, Qatar offers complimentary tours of Doha. Unfortunately mine was a night layover, but talking to some people who took the tour, it sounded fascinating, so again, another reason to fly this airline and try to spend additional time in Doha.
My final thoughts on the Al Safwa First Class Lounge:
- It is a beautiful lounge and well designed
- The private room to shower then sleep for 5 1/2 hours was wonderful and needed
- The food was delicious and the service eager
- With all of those wonderful features, the lounge had an emptiness because of a lack of people in it. After I awoke, I felt a bit too isolated staying in the lounge. Maybe that works well for some, but a little variety of life (in the form of a variety of people) would have been a good thing I think.
Don’t get me wrong. I am very glad I experienced it. I am thankful for the deep sleep I was offered. I enjoyed the elegance. I would definitely go back. I would just hope that a few more people would be there.
Thank you for reading.
I always avoid long layovers at night, but in this case I wouldn’t have minded.