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Airport lounges invariably promise free meals and a respite from crowds, however let’s be actual: As of late, plenty of lounges really feel each bit as busy because the terminal, and relying on if you go to, you might be jostling together with your fellow frequent flyers for cookie crumbs.
You’ll haven’t any such first-world issues at Qatar Airways’ monumental top notch lounge at its hub in Doha, which is greatest described as museum-like — each in its aesthetics and in its hush-hush noise issue. (In my complete six hours there, I noticed a grand whole of 1 different passenger.) As in a single day layovers within the Center East go, there are worse locations you would spend your time.
How I acquired in
As a enterprise class passenger transiting by Doha on an award ticket, I used to be capable of buy “upgraded” entry to the primary class lounge for roughly the equal of $170. (NerdWallet comped my cost for the needs of this overview.) I had flown in from the Maldives that night and was trying to benefit from one of many lounge’s personal bedrooms to get a couple of hours of relaxation earlier than my morning flight to Los Angeles.
All Qatar Airways enterprise class passengers are entitled to free entry to the equally large however far more crowded Al Mourjan enterprise class lounge, which gives among the identical perks as this lounge however has no devoted sleeping rooms.
» Lounge overview: Etihad Airways top notch lounge, Abu Dhabi
The Al Safwa lounge is on the highest stage of the terminal, accessed by way of a hovering escalator. Should you’re on a layover in Doha, when you exit transit safety observe indicators throughout the principle terminal entry corridor to entry the lounge (it’s a few five-minute stroll).
Should you’re originating in Doha, you’ll be able to enter the lounge straight from the separate top notch safety space.
I offered my enterprise class ticket and was instructed I may pay 600 Qatari riyals — roughly $170 — for six hours of entry to the primary class lounge. It was 9:15 p.m. after I entered; the attendant stated she’d come get me at three:30 a.m. My onward flight boarded at 7 a.m., so whereas I’d have preferred to remain a bit longer, I used to be grateful for even a bonus 15 minutes.
The “backbone” of the lounge is its cavernous major corridor, from which the varied sections branched out on both the left or the right-hand aspect.
Although the lounge takes up plenty of sq. footage, it’s extremely straightforward to navigate, with wayfinding indicators all alongside the principle corridor.
Scattered alongside the principle corridor are numerous artwork installations; in line with Qatar’s web site, these items are on mortgage from the Museum of Islamic Artwork.
Water is a prevalent theme right here, with a floor-to-ceiling waterfall constructed into the aspect of the principle corridor in addition to this central water set up:
Tucked off alongside the perimeters of the principle corridor are the seating areas. There are separate screens at every seat that can help you maintain tabs on when your flight is boarding, which is beneficial since there are not any bulletins within the lounge.
Seats usually come outfitted with energy retailers which might be able to dealing with U.S. plugs (no adapter wanted).
There’s an space of the lounge put aside particularly for households, with a number of playrooms and a handful of adjoining personal rooms the place adults can loosen up whereas the children are at play.
If not one of the lounge’s devoted sleep rooms can be found (onerous to think about!), the “grownup” rooms adjoining to the play areas wouldn’t be a foul place to come back doze for a bit. They’re a lot darkish sufficient for it.
As is typical with Center Japanese lounges, there’s a separate “smoking room” for individuals who want to partake …
… together with a prayer room.
A number of mini-newsstands are scattered all through the lounge, with English- and Arabic-language papers.
A big financial institution of his-and-hers restrooms are stocked with recent washcloths, together with absolutely enclosed stalls for max privateness.
You understand you’re in a elaborate lounge after they maintain the bathroom paper folded.
One of many bigger areas of the lounge by way of sq. footage is the spa space. (Notice that not like some top notch lounges, spa remedies should not included, even for a brief time period. Ask the spa attendant for pricing.)
The spa consists of a number of personal therapy rooms …
… and even a whirlpool spa, with room sufficient for 2.
Enterprise, buying and leisure
For extra productive pursuits, a small enterprise heart is offered, with a number of workstations all separated into small personal workplaces. A Mac or a PC is on the market at every station.
There’s a small media room off the principle corridor, with comfortable chairs and CNN taking part in on a big-screen TV.
The lounge even has its personal duty-free store, the primary time I’ve seen such an association inside a lounge.
There are two eating areas within the lounge. One was stocked with sushi and numerous snacks.
This space has a good quantity of seating, although not as a lot as in the principle eating room.
Behind the counter is a small station with tea, espresso and alcohol.
The second eating space, the principle restaurant, was the one place in the entire lounge the place I noticed one other passenger — and it was simply that. One different particular person. The restaurant has an infinite major bar as its heart showpiece …
… together with a number of “mini”-dining areas separated by partitions and an open kitchen, making a extra intimate feeling.
Though the clock was ticking on my six hours with entry to a mattress, I needed to give the restaurant a strive, as when you’re within the lounge, all meals is free. This was the menu on supply at roughly 10 p.m. (Given the shortage of consumers, I used to be shocked to get such a well-worn menu, although I additionally managed to take the world’s blurriest photograph.)
I ordered the seafood bisque to begin, which was delivered with a tasty amuse-bouche.
Following my traditional routine of ordering the factor I’m least educated about on a menu after I’m abroad, I ordered the meat sambusak as an appetizer, adopted by the rooster machboos as a major course. Neither was terribly photo-worthy, however each have been tasty.
For dessert, I attempted each of the Arabic choices.
I’d requested a comparatively quick pacing and was grateful to obtain it. The meals, whereas persistently good, was roughly on par with what I used to be served in enterprise class on the flights themselves — which maybe speaks extra to the standard of Qatar Airways’ onboard catering than the rest.
The sleep pods
About 30 minutes after I sat all the way down to eat, it was time to go to my sleep pod.
There not less than a dozen rooms, every with its personal personal door, en suite restroom and bathe.
The room got here stocked with water and a useful bedside panel from which you’ll management the lighting and room temperature.
The mattress itself was extremely snug, owing partly to the massive mattress pad included. I fell asleep kind of instantly.
Although I had been hoping the workers would “overlook” about my six-hour restrict, that was to not be: At three:30 a.m. on the dot, an attendant knocked softly on the door to wake me, and it was time to go. (I used to be capable of take an additional 10 minutes or so to clean up, so that they weren’t too draconian in regards to the time restrict, not less than.)
I used to be grateful to have even had a couple of hours with this stage of consolation. Different lounges have relaxation areas, however these hotel-style sleep pods are actually in a league of their very own.
From right here, I headed to the far more crowded Al Mourjan enterprise class lounge for the ultimate three hours or so earlier than my flight to Los Angeles boarded. (Talking of that flight: You can do lots worse with 70,000 American Airways miles than use them to fly 16 hours in Qatar’s revolutionary Qsuites enterprise class.)
» Study extra: American Airways AAdvantage program: The whole information
The underside line
Because of the recognition of bank cards that confer Precedence Cross entry, such because the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, loads of lounges supply solely a modest respite from airport crowds. This lounge, nevertheless, is true luxurious — and when you really feel like the one passenger in the entire lounge, it may be since you are.
Should you’re a first-class passenger on Qatar Airways, congratulations: You’re in at no cost. In any other case, you’ll should determine whether or not it’s value ponying up $170 for a meal and a mattress for a couple of hours. Provided that the airport resort may price fairly a bit extra with out free foods and drinks, this may be a discount compared.
Pictures by Brad Walters.
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