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Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge at Hamad International Airport in Doha [Review]

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Juan Ruiz
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Juan Ruiz

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Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...
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The author received complimentary access to Al Safwa First Lounge as an invited guest of Qatar Airways. All opinions are the author’s own, and Qatar Airways had no input in any part of this review.

On my recent trip to Oman from the U.S., I couldn’t wait to set off on a quest to experience first-hand the renowned business and first class products offered by Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

When scouring flights for my return trip home to Miami, I discovered I could book Qatar Airways’ award-winning Qsuite business class from Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) to Miami International Airport (MIA) using miles. This meant that before my flight home, I would have access to the Al Mourjan Business Lounge at DOH.

This also meant that I could potentially gain admission into Qatar’s most luxurious lounge, the Al Safwa First Lounge, which is regarded as one of the world’s most exclusive airport lounges.

The Al Safwa First Lounge by Qatar Airways truly stood out among the lounges I visited on this trip. It is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable airport lounges I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Continue reading to learn more about how you can gain entry to this exclusive lounge and what the experience is like once you are welcomed inside.

Location

After passing Hamad International Airport’s immigration and the security check, the Al Safwa First Lounge is above the shops in the departure area on level 3.

To the right of the massive yellow “Untitled Lamp Bear” sculpture, you’ll notice an escalator that will take you up toward the Al Safwa First Lounge.

DOH airport Untitled Lamp Bear
An escalator to the right of the big, yellow “Untitled Lamp Bear” will take you toward the Al Safwa First Lounge. Image Credit: Keri Stooksbury

There are 2 entrances to the lounge. An entrance specifically for passengers departing from Doha provides direct access to Qatar’s premium check-in. The other entrance is for passengers in transit through Doha, who can use either the elevator or escalator to access the transit security area.

Al Safwa Lounge Reception Desk
You’ll see this gorgeous reception desk once you enter the Al Safwa First Lounge.

At DOH, you’ll find an abundance of clear signage throughout the terminal. No matter where you are, you’ll easily spot signs directing you to the Al Safwa First Lounge.

Gaining Entry

To visit the Al Safwa First Lounge, you must either have a first class ticket when flying Qatar Airways or be a Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum elite status member flying business class, which grants you complimentary admission.

However, passengers flying with Qatar Airways in business class can enter the Al Safwa First Lounge by purchasing entry at one of the lounge desks. Entry costs 600 Qatari riyals (~$165), depending on availability.

Whether your access is paid or complimentary, you can visit the lounge for up to 6 hours.

If the lounge is full, access may be restricted to passengers flying first class with Qatar Airways or Privilege Club Platinum members flying business class with the airline.

Although I had complimentary access to the impressive Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge since I was traveling in Qsuite — arguably the best business class product in the world — I was instead eager to experience the Al Safwa First Lounge after hearing so much about it.

Hot Tip:

Due to the limited availability of Qatar Airways’ first class cabins on select routes, access to the Al Safwa First Lounge is restricted to a limited number of passengers. This is the reason behind the lounge’s exclusivity and contributes to its usually quiet and uncrowded atmosphere.

First Impressions

Al Safwa First Lounge guests are immediately awestruck by the grandeur of the space. No doubt, my initial impression was of sheer amazement at the lounge’s immense size.

Al Safwa Lounge Hallway
This lounge is massive.

The lounge boasts a chic and elegant design, incorporating marble, glass, and intricate patterns to create a sophisticated atmosphere.

Al Safwa Lounge Art
The lounge features a museum-like hallway filled with artwork.

The design and furnishings showcase dedication to providing a luxurious and comfortable experience with meticulous attention to detail. On the main floor, a stunning water feature gracefully cascades from the ceiling into the fountain’s center.

Al Safwa Lounge Waterfall Feature
You can’t miss the grand water fountain feature.

But once again, I was amazed by how big the lounge was. I kept thinking about what previous visitors had said about how it felt more like an upscale museum than a regular airport lounge.

Al Safwa Lounge Water cascade wall
A waterfall feature cascading down the wall adds to the lounge’s elegance.

The lounge provides a range of amenities and services, including private rooms, spa facilities, exquisite dining options, and numerous seating areas designed for exploration.

After ensuring my luggage and backpack were safely stowed in my reserved quiet room, I eagerly explored this captivating lounge.

Seating

The Al Safwa First Lounge offers an abundance of seating options to accommodate guests.

Al Safwa Lounge Main Seating Area
There’s no shortage of seating options for guests.

Lounge guests can choose from couches, chairs, and private cubby spaces in different sections of the lounge.

Al Safwa Lounge Additional Seating Area
All types of seating configurations are available.

The lounge is known for its ample seating options, allowing guests to easily find their preferred section and seating type.

Al Safwa Lounge More Seating
The lounge is rarely busy, given its exclusivity, so there’s always seating available.

The dining area has tables and chairs that can accommodate individuals or groups of any size.

Al Safwa Lounge Dining Seating
In addition to lounge seating, guests can also sit in the dining room and enjoy refreshments.

Aside from the main floor and dining areas, guests can choose to relax and sit or lie down in one of the private spa rooms and quiet spaces.

Food and Beverage

There are 2 dining areas to choose from. The casual dining room offers a variety of light bites like sushi and sandwiches, while the other provides a more comprehensive dining experience, including a full bar.

Main Dining Room

The 250-seat dining room offers an à la carte menu of food and drinks 24/7.

Al Safwa Lounge Dining Room Entrance
The dining room can accommodate 250 guests and feels like a large sit-down restaurant.

You can review the current menu, but guests dining here can simply scan the QR code on the table.

Al Safwa Lounge Dining Room Menu
Guests can scan the QR code for the menu or request a physical menu from the wait staff.

Through a glass window, lounge guests can see their food prepared in the restaurant-style kitchen run by skilled chefs.

Al Safwa Kitchen
Al Safwa’s chef kitchen lets visitors peep inside.

I arrived at dinnertime and could not wait for a proper restaurant-quality meal.

As I approached the main dining space, I noticed a massive oval-shaped bar in the center, flanked by tables and chairs.

Al Safwa Lounge Dining Room bar
A circular bar is in the middle of the main dining room towards the entrance.

The bar is well-equipped with a team of talented bartenders and features an attractive glass wine display positioned right in front, providing a captivating focal point for guests.

Al Safwa Lounge Wine Glass Case
The lounge features an impressive collection of vintage wines.

I chose a glass of red wine with my dinner and did not sit at the bar, but I saw the bar has an extensive menu with a selection of distilled spirits, wines, Champagnes, and non-alcoholic options such as hot tea and fresh juices.

Al Safwa Lounge Wine Glass
Cheers!

The dining room has an array of seating configurations, and I chose to sit close to the window so I could do a bit of planespotting.

Al Safwa Lounge Dining Tables
Main dining room guests can choose a table with a bench, standalone chairs, or both.

Unfortunately, the planespotting was minimal due to the night’s darkness. Still, I was happy with my table for 2 by the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Al Safwa Lounge Dining Table Space
I chose to sit by the window so I could get a glimpse of some aircraft.

I began scoping out the menu and ordered a glass of red wine (Château Cos Labory, 5th Grand Cru Classé, AOC Saint-Estèphe France, 2017, which retails for about $60 a bottle), and the waiter brought over bread with a few delicious spreads.

Al Safwa Spreads
The meal began with a mix of spreads along with bread.

I started with the Hong Kong beef soup as an appetizer, the comfort food I needed to begin my meal. The broth was just right, not too salty, and the meat was tender and savory.

Al Safwa Hong Kong beef soup
I absolutely loved the Hong Kong beef soup I had. The beef was incredibly tender, and the broth was just perfect.

For my main dish, I was torn between the ginger and sesame-poached lobster and the pappardelle pasta with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, so I ordered both.

I’m a huge fan of lobster, so the big chunks served with this dish were heaven to my taste buds.

Al Safwa Lounge Lobster Dish
The sesame-poached lobster had huge chunks of meat, which I greatly appreciated.

The pasta was equally delicious, with a heaping portion of fresh mozzarella and pappardelle pasta. My meal up to this point was outstanding.

Al Safwa Lounge Pasta Dish
I absolutely loved the pappardelle pasta! The addition of fresh mozzarella took this dish to another level.

I asked the waiter if there was anything more authentic to Qatar that he would recommend, and he suggested I try the mujadara, a signature Middle Eastern dish consisting of lentils, rice, and crispy caramelized onions.

Al Safwa Lounge mujadara Dish
The mujadara, a Middle Eastern dish of lentils, rice, and caramelized onions, complemented my other dishes well.

This dish had bold flavors and felt comforting and warm, which complimented the lobster and pasta dishes.

I skipped dessert, as I was already too full from the amount of food I had consumed. Still, some sweet options offered at the end of the meal were New York cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, Umm Ali (a baked Arabic dessert with puff pastry), and mandarin cake served with vanilla ice cream, to name a few.

Casual Dining Room

My next stop was a far smaller dining room than the main dining room. Here, guests can have some light snacks, including sushi, fruits, and cold cuts.

Al Safwa Small Dining Room Sushi
The smaller dining room is more like a quick-service cafe with sushi, a salad bar, and sandwiches available.

The small dining room, which includes a sushi bar, salad bar, and sandwich counter, is just outside the main dining area. The space is more suited to casual snacking, as it features significantly fewer tables and chairs than the larger dining room.

Al Safwa Lounge Small Dining Area
This dining space was quiet and away from the main dining room.

When I visited, this space was relatively empty. Most guests preferred to dine in the main dining room with a robust made-to-order food menu. However, this may be a good option if you’re pressed for time or just want to eat in a peaceful setting.

Amenities

Qspa

The Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge boasts an amazing spa, a truly remarkable amenity to discover within an airport lounge.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Entrance
Al Safwa First Lounge offers paid spa treatments at its dedicated spa.

This place appeared more like an opulent spa in a luxurious resort than an airline lounge. I had to keep reminding myself that I was inside an airport.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Lobby
Like the rest of the lounge, the spa has an elegant and posh design.

Just like a resort spa, spa treatments here are not complimentary. Guests can review the Qspa menu and book a massage or spa service through the spa reception desk.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Menu
Guests can scan a QR code to review the spa’s treatment menu.

The wide range of treatments offered includes massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, and spa services, with prices beginning at QAR 160 (~$44) for a quick 10-minute massage.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Treatment Room
Guests who book a spa treatment will be taken to 1 of the many treatment rooms for their service.

There are 2 different spa areas: 1 for men and 1 for women.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Men's Spa
The spa has men’s and women’s sections for privacy.

I walked into the men’s spa section and observed a neat, lit-up water feature separating the women’s spa from the men’s.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Men's Spa Water Feature
A beautiful water feature separates the men’s from the women’s spa.

There’s also a cozy relaxation room outside of the series of treatment rooms.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Relax Room
A cozy room designed for relaxing is located within the spa.

This space features comfortable bean bag-type chairs where spa guests can unwind and enjoy some downtime.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Relax Room Seating
Spa patrons can sit on 1 of the 3 bean bag-like seats and relax before or after a spa treatment.

The spa also has a private Jacuzzi that’s complimentary for guests. I was thrilled it was available during my visit so I could use it.

Jacuzzi

The Jacuzzi is on the men’s spa side and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Though it’s on the men’s side, women can access the private Jacuzzi room. You can reserve this room in 1-hour increments.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Jacuzzi
The Al Safwa First Lounge has 1 Jacuzzi available, which can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

As soon as I arrived at the lounge, I inquired about the private Jacuzzi room’s availability since only 1 available for a single guest. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was open, so I wasted no time requesting it.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Whirlpool
Since the Jacuzzi takes an hour to prepare, guests are advised to request it when they enter the lounge.

The spa attendant kindly informed me that the Jacuzzi would need 1 hour of preparation before it could be used. With an hour to spare before the Jacuzzi was ready, I decided to make the most of it by enjoying a delicious dinner in the main dining room.

Upon my return after dinner, the Jacuzzi was prepared and waiting for me.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Jacuzzi tub
I forgot I was in an airport lounge for a few minutes.

The Jacuzzi room offers 2 robes, 2 showers, and massage jets that provide gentle pressure to help you unwind and relax.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Jacuzzi tub robe
A robe is provided for your comfort.

I did not utilize the showers in the Jacuzzi room since I had scheduled my own quiet room with a private shower, but it’s comforting to know that I could have.

Al Safwa Lounge Spa Jacuzzi showers
The private Jacuzzi room features 2 showers.

Being in a Jacuzzi at an airport was surreal, and I would sometimes forget that I wasn’t in the spa of a 5-star resort.

Quiet Rooms

Passengers who have the privilege of accessing the Al Safwa First Lounge and find themselves with a long layover are in for a treat. One of the great advantages of spending a long layover at Al Safwa First Lounge is the availability of 12 private, quiet rooms.

Al Safwa 12 Quiet Room Sign
Al Safwa First Lounge offers 12 quiet hotel-like rooms for free for up to 6 hours.

These rooms are similar to hotel rooms, equipped with either a single bed or 2 twin beds and a private bathroom. The quiet rooms are conveniently situated within the spa section.

Al Safwa Quiet Room Space
All quiet rooms feature a single bed or 2 twin beds.

Since the 12 quiet rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, I also inquired about the availability of a private room when I asked about the Jacuzzi.

Once more, I was thrilled there was availability as I felt tired and needed a nap and a shower before my early morning (1:10 a.m. departure) flight.

Guests are granted a generous 6-hour window to relax in a quiet room, equivalent to the time allowed in the lounge for guests who pay for admission.

Many premium lounges around the world provide shower facilities, although only a limited number have private bathrooms that include showers.

Al Safwa Lounge Quiet Room Bathroom
You’ll have a private bathroom if a quiet room is available during your visit.

I enjoyed a refreshing shower, including the signature Diptyque bathroom amenities.

Al Safwa Lounge Quiet Room Bathroom Sink
The private bathroom in the quiet rooms features fancy Diptyque bathroom amenities.

A great aspect of the quiet rooms’ bathrooms is that they provide all the necessary toiletries, saving you the trouble of rummaging through your luggage.

Al Safwa Lounge Quiet Room Toiletries
Various toiletry items are complimentary.

The lounge has a complete bathroom, a full-size bed, and a large closet for storing bags and hanging clothing.

Al Safwa Lounge Quiet Room Closet
A robe hung in the closet, where I put my bags.

The room comes with a convenient touchscreen panel, allowing lounge guests to adjust the temperature and lighting effortlessly.

Al Safwa Quiet Room Touchscreen Panel
The touch panel in the room adjusts the lighting and temperature.

If you feel like watching TV or need to get some work done, you’ll find a wall-mounted TV above a glass desk and chair in the room.

Al Safwa Quiet Room Desk and TV
A good-sized glass desk and a chair are available should you need to finish some work.

It was time to take a nap. Given the time I spent exploring the lounge, I didn’t leave myself with a lot of time to indulge in a lengthy nap.

Al Safwa Lounge Quiet Room Bed
The bed was extremely comfortable.

Fortunately, I managed to close my eyes and get some rest for 45 minutes, and the bed was extremely comfortable.

Al Safwa Lounge Quiet Room Bed Side view
I was able to rest for 45 minutes.

The rooms are optimal for sleeping, designed to be quiet and soundproof, ensuring a peaceful environment for light sleepers like myself.

The luxury of a private bedroom and bathroom in an airport lounge is one of the most unforgettable airport experiences I’ve ever had.

Family Area

At Al Safwa First Lounge, families can enjoy a private and exclusive area, ensuring a warm and welcoming experience.

Family Area
The family area is designed with parents and kids in mind.

There were several cozy, dimly lit rooms with plush leather chairs and a TV with family-friendly programming.

Family Area Al Safwa Space
This space offers a dimly lit, quiet room with abundant seating and a TV.

I appreciated the lounge’s quiet relaxation space designed with families in mind.

Family Area Al Safwa Space Quite Space
I saw 1 gentleman and his toddler napping on the comfy-looking couch.

The dessert room was connected to the family space, offering desserts, drinks, and fruits.

Al Safwa Parents Room Snack Space
Inside the family area, there’s a dessert room to satisfy your sweet craving.

Game Room and Parent’s Room

The game room and parent’s room were located in the same space. The latter (not pictured) was a small room offering amenities like a diaper-changing station and bottle-warming facilities.

Al Safwa Lounge Game Room Entrance
The game room and parent’s room are in a quieter part of the lounge.

The game room had various video game consoles and TVs to entertain kids.

Al Safwa Lounge Game Room Video Games
Kids can enjoy video games in an array of seating options.

There’s also a foosball table and lots of colored seats for youngsters to relax on.

Al Safwa Lounge Game Room Foosball table
There’s a foosball table and a selection of colorful chairs for children to sit on.

Even a Formula One race car was on display for admiring.

Al Safwa Lounge Game Room Car
A Formula One race car model is in the Game Room.

Media Room

The media room was vacant when I visited. Since Al Safwa First Lounge has so many private TV viewing areas, I imagine this room is empty most of the time.

Al Safwa Media Room Entrance
The lounge has a dedicated media room that was unoccupied when I visited.

The media room has 2 rows of seats and could be used to watch a game or TV with family or friends.

Al Safwa Media Room
This would be a good space if you’re with a group at Al Safwa First Lounge and want to watch a big game or movie together.

Smoking Room

A designated smoking area is available for patrons who indulge in cigarettes or cigars.

Al Safwa Smoking Room
Smokers do not need to leave the airport to smoke; they may enter the smoking room.

Curiously, I inquired whether the lounge offered cigars. A cordial staff member informed me that it did not, despite the boxes of cigars located in the glass case.

Al Safwa Lounge Smoking Room Inside
The smoking room has plenty of seating options, but guests must purchase products from outside as the lounge doesn’t sell any.

Visitors could purchase cigarettes or cigars at Duty-Free to enjoy in the smoking room.

Duty-Free Store

A duty-free shop stocked with select luxury products, including clothing and fragrances, is located within the lounge.

Al Safwa Lounge Duty Free Entrance
The lounge features its own duty-free shop.

Although it is not a typical duty-free store, it is open should you require any items before your flight.

Al Safwa Lounge Duty Clothing
The shop sells expensive merchandise such as high-end clothing, jewelry, and fragrances.

I didn’t see anybody buying anything, although they sell fancy fragrances and colognes. You can’t get more convenient than a duty-free store inside the lounge.

Al Safwa Lounge Duty Shopping
If you forget to bring any presents from Doha, you can stop by the duty-free store to make an instant purchase.

Baggage Room

Guests who cannot acquire a quiet room may store their belongings in the designated baggage room free of charge.

Al Safwa Baggage Room Entrance
You can store your luggage inside one of the cubbies in the dedicated baggage room.

Guests may stow their carry-on or checked luggage inside one of the big cubbies using a secure PIN, eliminating the need to drag it around.

Al Safwa Baggage Room Inside
Just type in a secure PIN, and your luggage is stored safely during your visit.

However, if you can secure a quiet room, you can just keep your bags inside the room, as there is plenty of space.

Business Center

You’ll find a business center near the entrance fully equipped with iMac desktops and printers.

Al Safwa Business Center
This might be the most aesthetically pleasing business center I’ve ever encountered.

If you want to get some work done, this beautiful space has everything you need to be productive.

Al Safwa Business Center Inside
The space to use a computer or print is gorgeous and functional.

Service

The service at Al Safwa First Lounge was exceptional. From the moment I stepped into the reception area to my interactions with the spa associates and the dining team, I was met with a warm and welcoming attitude. It was evident that everyone I encountered genuinely cared about my experience at the lounge and ensured I had everything I needed to feel completely satisfied during my time there.

Final Thoughts

I have never seen such lavishness or beauty in an airport lounge as Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge delivers. With its stunning design, incredible facilities like hotel-style rooms and a Jacuzzi, and 5-star dining, it’s no surprise that this lounge is regarded as one of the best in the world.

Best of all, Qatar Airways first class passengers receive complimentary Al Safwa First Lounge access. If you’re flying the airline’s award-winning Qsuite business class, you may also be able to visit this lounge (space allowing) by purchasing entry for $165 to enjoy a luxurious lounge experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is paid entry into the Al Safwa First Lounge in Doha?

Only Qatar Airways first class passengers and Privilege Club Platinum elite members with business class tickets are eligible for complimentary access. Qatar Airways travelers with a business class ticket may purchase entry for around $165. However, admission is subject to capacity.

Can you sleep at the Al Safwa First Lounge?

Yes, quiet rooms with beds are available for guests’ convenience. The accommodations are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Are food and drinks complimentary in the Al Safwa First Lounge?

Yes, Al Safwa First Lounge visitors may enjoy a sit-down dining experience with restaurant-quality cuisine and various dining options throughout their stay free of charge.

Are spa services included when you visit Al Safwa First Lounge's Qspa?

Treatments are not complimentary. However, guests can reserve a spa treatment, including manicures, pedicures, massages, and more, starting at QAR 160 ($44).

Where is the Al Safwa First Lounge located within Hamad International Airport (DOH)?

The lounge is on the third level, with a dedicated entrance immediately after the immigration and security check area.

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About Juan Ruiz

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been featured in various prestigious publications, such as USA Today, CNN Underscored, Forbes and The Points Guy. Juan is the visionary behind JetBetter, a premier award booking concierge service.

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