Hype. Defined as to “promote or publicise (a product or idea) intensively, often exaggerating its benefits.” Having now been to the Qatar Airways Al Safwa first class lounge in Doha, I believe it is hugely overhyped. It is more an art gallery than an inviting relaxing place, but perhaps that is the point.

I was flying first class from Doha to Sydney and during the three or so hour stopover in Qatar, I was looking forward to trying this lounge. As it turns out, it is far from my favourite lounge in the world.

Access To The Al Safwa Lounge

Passengers have access if they are flying first class, or connecting to another flight having arrived in first class. Platinum level members of the Qatar Airways Privilege Club frequent flyer programme can also gain access when flying business class. Finally, any first class passengers from other oneworld alliance airlines are also welcome.

Restricting the access makes it very exclusive, similar to that of the British Airways Concorde Room in London. This also keeps out the majority of frequent flyers, meaning only very few people gain access when compared to other lounges. As Qatar Airways only offers first class on flights to London, Sydney, Paris and Bangkok, it is even more exclusive.

Plenty of History

I like inspecting historical items and artworks, and there is plenty of this here. Is it appropriate for an airline lounge? I’m not entirely sure about that. For me it seems like this has been included to showcase the region (very fair) but also to give people something to do.

Impressively, some of the items are well over 1,000 years old, so they have hardly selected common pieces made in Taiwan in the last 50 years. This is really great stuff and it was nice to check out while waiting for my jacuzzi to fill… but more on that later!

The Qspa In Al Safwa

Those with money to burn might want to spend some time in the spa. In Dublin, I can get a one hour massage for €65, whereas 50 minutes in this lounge is about twice the price at 450 QAR, which is around €114.00. I’m sure this is quite good value to their target market, but it is not for me.

Regardless, the spa offers a decent range of treatments, which are all on the price list here. Thoughtfully, they have some very short treatments, which would cater for those with tight connection times.

A Free Jacuzzi – If You Can Get It!

How about a swim before your flight? There is a jacuzzi available in the spa area and on my first visit it was available. On the return flight, someone had pre-booked it, so I was not able to avail of it.

This was utter bliss after a seven hour flight and I recommend it. You can read all about it in the article I wrote. I still feel bad for the complete waste of water it is… and in a desert country to boot!

Hide The Kids… And Their Nanny!

Children are sometimes annoying in lounges, especially when they have parents who believe in letting them roam free. This issue has been solved by having an entire space off the lounge dedicated to the little Tarquin’s of the world… and his Nanny!

While I was there, the entire area was completely unoccupied, so it had a post apocalyptic feel about it. Such a shame, because it’s really quite well thought out to enclose the kids away from the main lounge and yet provide for their entertainment. Having no offspring myself, I visited purely to get pictures for this review.

Off To The Bar

I ordered one drink at the bar and if I recall correctly it was some terrible Champagne. The whole bar area is not really inviting either, being overly bright and quite utilitarian in appearance.

While I am not someone who would happily rate bars, this was plonked in the middle of a room and had no redeeming features whatsoever. Not at all to my taste.

Parts I Missed

There is a restaurant there, which I did not visit. Being on a connecting flight meant I was either about to stuff my face in first class on a flight, or had just landed having stuffed my face on the flight.

From what I understand, there are also bedrooms where you can get a six hour spot if your connecting time is quite long. With mine being around 2-3 hours each time, I didn’t seek them out. I also hear they can be difficult to secure as they are popular, perhaps as they might just be the most comfortable areas of the lounge.

Overall Thoughts

The Qatar Airways Al Safwa first class lounge in Doha is certainly something. While it has some excellent facilities and a thoughtful design in certain areas, overall I found it to be underwhelming. I had exactly the same reaction when I first visited the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge in 2017, and whenever I’ve visited it since, it still doesn’t wow me, make me look forward to visiting, or in any way excited. It’s the same here. Is it the scale? The – to my eyes – pretty ugly chairs? I just can’t put my finger on it.

Clearly a lot of money has been spent on this lounge and it looks as fresh as it must have when it opened. It was fairly empty both times I was there, which made me miss a lounge that was buzzing with people around. While I have complained about overcrowded lounges before, I can also declare I would not want an empty lounge either.

I’m happy I have visited, but have absolutely no desire to do it again. That’s completely the opposite of my experience with the Cathay Pacific first class lounges, as regular readers will attest. I’m itching to get back to the Hong Kong one, and always enjoy a visit to the one in London.

What do you think of the Al Safwa lounge in Doha? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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