Al Safwa Lounge Doha Review feature image

Al Safwa Lounge Doha Review

Hamad International Airport has been ranked as the second-best airport in the world, nipping at the heels of Singapore’s Changi International Airport.

With world-class shopping and dining, and the new ‘Orchard’, a 100,000 square foot indoor tropical garden, you could spend hours just exploring the terminal. One alternative provided by Qatar Airways, if your layover is long enough, is to take a tour of Doha.

There is another option! If your ticket meets certain criteria, you can relax like royalty in Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge. This beautiful space is filled with amenities and provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the airport.

Read on to find out how to access this lounge, and why you absolutely should in my Al Safwa Lounge review.

Snapshot Verdict

Al Safwa First Lounge lives up to its name, which means ‘the best’ or ‘elite’. This is the best airport lounge I have ever visited, and I was left wishing for a longer layover. I highly recommend spending time here if you are eligible, and doing your best to find a flight that will get you in!

My husband and I recently traveled to Morocco and Egypt for a journey of epic proportions, during which we hiked the High Atlas Mountains for three days, surfed in Essaouira, toured many of the major historical sites in Egypt, and so much more.

This was a long trip, and an extremely long flight. Now, I love to fly – I took my first flight at age 25 and have been trying to play catch-up ever since. I am one of those weirdos who loves everything about flying, from airports to airplane food, even those pre-packaged meals you are served in coach.

I love traveling, and just the sounds and smells of airplanes and airports remind me that I am embarking on a new adventure! With that said, I love to travel in luxury… but I don’t like paying for it.

The Flights

I have been in the points game for a while, but had never flown Qatar Airways prior to this trip. I snagged two seats in the Business Class cabin for our return flight from Cairo to Dallas, with an 8-hour layover in Doha.

The flight from Egypt was coded as Business and was not in a QSuite. The flight back to the US was also coded business, but was in a QSuite.


Long Haul QSuites are considered Business Class and will not gain you access to Al Safwa First. QSuites to and from other Middle Eastern countries, however, are considered First Class!

If either leg of your trip is First Class, you can get into the lounge. The abovementioned ticket would NOT have gotten us into this lounge.

I paid 95K British Airways Avios and around $400 per person for each Business Class ticket, using the British Airways site to book. You can book directly on the Qatar Airways site, or find your flight via British Airways, like I did.

I hear that you can find flights on the American Airlines site (Qatar is part of the Oneworld Alliance), but I have not been able to!

Al Safwa Lounge foyer

Have you heard of people being “Qatared“? This is something the airline is notorious for…

People will book a QSuite and, a few weeks before their flight, they receive notice that there has been an aircraft change, and that the new equipment doesn’t have QSuites. This can result in significant disappointment and, sometimes, even anger.

A few weeks before our trip, we were “Reverse Qatared”! On our flight from Egypt, due to an aircraft change, our normal Business Class seats became QSuites!

Now, if you are flying QSuites to or from Doha on a long haul flight, this is considered Business Class and will not get you access to this lounge; however, flying QSuites from another country in the Middle East is considered First Class and will give you access to Al Safwa!

The first leg of our flight was about 3 hours, followed by about 8 hours in Doha, then a 15-hour flight to Dallas. This may sound like a nightmare to some, but to me, it was a dream!

The first leg of our flight was fantastic and, when we disembarked, there was a special bus waiting for passengers in the premium cabin. This shuttle bus had swiveling leather chairs and only seated about 15 people.

I thought we were fancy, but the sheik sitting in front of us was picked up in a black four-door Audi A7 sedan.

Finding and Accessing the Lounge

We walked into the atrium at Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, Qatar and were greeted by a giant yellow teddy bear, who keeps an eye on the atrium of the main terminal. That teddy bear is actually a 20-ton cast bronze sculpture worth millions, created by Urs Fischer, a visual artist based out of New York!

The airport is incredibly easy to navigate, and finding the lounges is a breeze. There is a ton of clearly marked signage.

If you are flying Qatar Airways Business Class, you can use the Al Mourjan Lounge, aka The Garden, which I am sure is perfectly lovely. However, if you meet one of the following criteria, you have access to Al Safwa First Lounge!

You may access this lounge if you are flying:

  • In the First Class cabin on Qatar Airways or any of its OneWorld Partners.
  • Business Class on Qatar Airways and are a platinum-level Privilege Club member.
  • Business class on Qatar Airways and pay a hefty fee. At the time of writing, that is about $165 (USD).

To the right of the yellow bear, we noticed a sign for Al Safwa First Lounge. A representative was waiting at the bottom of the escalator. She checked our boarding passes and granted us access. We proceeded up the escalator to the lounge lobby, where we were checked in.

We were transiting through Doha. If you are departing from Doha, you have a whole different experience waiting for you!

First and Business Class Check-in at Hamad International Airport

When you are flying Qatar Airways First or Business Class originating in Doha, or if you opt to leave the airport on your layover and see the city, you can enter the terminal at Hamad International Airport through the first set of doors, clearly marked “Qatar Airways First & Business Class”. This will lead you to the dedicated portion of the terminal for checking into their premium cabins.

The color scheme is similar to what you’ll find in the lounge, and check-in areas for Business and First Class are clearly marked. You will be led to a private desk, where you’ll be given a cool towel and a special luggage tag while you check in.

After you’ve checked in, you will be directed to a dedicated customs and immigrations line, which exits right next to the escalator to Al Safwa First Lounge. Say hi to the giant bear on your way up!

The Lounge

One of the very friendly, extremely respectful attendants (we will call her Aisha) gave us a tour of the lounge. She led us down a cavernous hallway which felt more like a museum than an airport lounge. We later learned that the decor of this lounge was actually patterned after the Museum of Islamic Artin Doha.

I want to take a moment here to share how stunning this space actually was. With soaring ceilings and a muted color palette reminiscent of the desert, the lounge felt opulent and serene. Hues of tan, ecru, browns, and ivory were punctuated by pops of color in the form of purple orchids and stunning abstract paintings adorning the walls.

See Interactive Tour Of The Lounge Here

The Qatar Airways website has a nice interactive tour of the lounge, which you can check out here.

The lighting was subtle, warm, and somewhat dim. The warmth of the lighting and colors balanced the coolness of the hard surfaces and made the massive space feel almost cozy.

I felt the stress of the long journey melt away as I looked around me and sighed. Aisha let us through the atrium, pointing out a few works of Islamic art in display cabinets on either wall. There was a large fountain, which reminded me of a desert oasis, dominating the central space. The sound of flowing water enhanced the peaceful ambiance.

Several seating areas were scattered throughout the main atrium, mostly in groupings of two or four. One area, which was our favorite, had individual pods with comfy chairs and ottomans.

Al Safwa Foyer

There was even a terrace that opened up to the main terminal and had lots of seating and a self-serve bar.

It was around midnight when we arrived, so most of the seating areas were empty, and the lounge was not crowded at all. It can get a little busy early in the morning and later in the evening, but I cannot imagine this space ever feeling crowded.

The lounge has lots of signage for all of the restaurants and amenities, and was very easy to navigate.


Several options were available for dining. The main dining room had a massive bar as its centerpiece, and numerous tables in different configurations, with seating for around 250 people.

The bistro is a self-service area with a buffet, which also has a few made-to-order items. When we visited, offerings included sushi, sandwiches, salads, desserts, and beverages.

The menu changes periodically. You can see the current version here:

The selection of alcoholic beverages was fantastic! Excellent wines, champagnes, and whiskeys, with your basic classic cocktails available to order.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), they had fed us so well on the flight that we were not hungry for dinner; however, we did enjoy a sumptuous breakfast in the main dining room (next to a table full of sheiks).

The coffee was beautiful – I had a flat white and my husband had a double espresso. Our meals were accompanied by croissants and fresh-squeezed juices.

I had the Balaleet, which consists of an omelet over vermicelli and topped with almonds, and my husband had the Eggs Royale, a slight variation on Eggs Benedict which had salmon and a bagel.

Private Rooms

Probably about 30 minutes after we had settled into our semi-private pods, one of the male staff members approached my husband to let him know that a private room was available if we wanted to rest.

We had not asked for a room and didn’t even realize they were an option! Now that is service!

Al Safwa Private Resting Room

He led us into what was essentially a small hotel room, equipped with everything you might possibly need for a quick overnight stay. There were two single beds and a luxurious bathroom furnished with Diptyque Paris amenities, a lovely shower, and fluffy robes. We showered and napped.

There are twelve private rooms, four with two beds and the rest with one. If you want to reserve a room, sign up at the reception desk in the spa as soon as you arrive – the rooms are first come, first served.

When your room is ready, they issue you a key, so you can come and go as you please. Rooms are available to guests staying at least four hours, and you can keep them for up to six hours.

Other Amenities

The lounge has a full spa, where you can have treatments at a cost. We did not partake, but we will next time! Check out the spa menu here:

If you don’t have enough time or cannot get a private room, showers are available in the spa’s locker rooms. Just ask at the desk! They provide toiletry kits in case you need them, and clean fluffy towels.

There is a large and well-equipped children’s play area, with toys for the little ones, and foosball and video games for the older ones.

We have passed that phase of life (aaaah, the empty nest), so we did not make use of those areas. However, this could be a game changer for travelers with small children!

The lounge even has a dedicated duty-free shopping area, so you can quickly browse and make your purchases without wasting a lot of time in line.

Other amenities include a very elegant, sophisticated cigar bar/smoking room, with plush leather couches and good ventilation, a business center, and semi-private living rooms you can reserve, which have couches and TVs.


While I like to maximize lounge time, I have got to recommend that you take some time to explore Doha Airport.

In late 2022, they opened up a 100,000 square foot area called The Orchard, which is a massive tropical garden under a glass dome and surrounded by multiple levels of high-end shops. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to visit! I think they are gunning for Changi!

In Summary

The Al Safwa First Lounge is the best airport lounge I have ever been to! Now, I have not been to La Premiere at Charles de Gualle yet, but I have been to many fantastic lounges.

The Singapore Suites Lounge at Changi Airport in Singapore is amazing, and Emirates Lounges never disappoint. But this lounge is on a different level.

The lounge was not crowded, which lent an air of exclusivity. The decor was understated and sophisticated, and the service was impeccable. Every detail came together to make us feel comfortable, relaxed, and special.

The overall vibe was unpretentious elegance and serenity. I only wish we had been hungrier, so we could have experienced more of the cuisine!

Luckily, by the time we boarded our flight to Dallas and settled into our QSuites, we had developed an appetite! Stay tuned to read about our experience!

If you’d like to read about our trip to Morocco and Egypt, check out my blog at


Al Safwa First Lounge is one of the best airport lounges in the world, located in one of the best airports in the world. If your travels take you to or through Qatar, book a long layover and live like a sheik!

Similar Posts