Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge Hamad International Airport - Doha, Qatar



An oasis of calm after the often rushed experience of boarding or getting off a plane. A wave of tranquillity that washes over me as I  sip on a fine glass of 2006 Taittinger Comtes Blanc de blanc Brut. A restoration of inner peace as I sit and stare. That is the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge at Hamad International Aiport in Doha. I experience all of these in my first 5 minutes after arriving at the lounge after an 8-hour flight from Johannesburg. It is also where I will be for the next few hours before my onward flight. 



The lounge is spacious, with pockets of open space littered around the lounge. If you have been to the iconic Islamic Museum of Modern Art in Doha, you will see the aesthetic inspiration and feel the spiritual connection between the two. Beautiful sandy earth tones are the cornerstone of the tranquil nature of the lounge. There is very little visual noise or discordance. To drive home that parallel between this and the Islamic Museum, there are some artefacts from the Museum on display. It is all very calming. 




On my last visit, they served Krug Champagne in the lounge. I must say that I felt ambivalent about it. It is a marvellous champagne and one of the best you could have, but the way guests drink it, putting away glass after glass because it is such a  great champagne, shows a lack of respect and appreciation. I was, therefore, happy to see them using something else this time - 2006 Taittinger Comtes Blanc de Blancs Brut. Make no mistake, this is a gorgeous blanc de blancs and indeed a sensible choice for the lounge. 


On the dining front, the 250 seat restaurant has a succinct menu with enough choices to cover you for however long you stay in the lounge. The selection of warm mezze is highly recommended, especially for non-Gulf residents transitting. It is a taste of Arabia nicely executed. 



For my main course, I have the Grilled chicken breast, which turns out to be very good. Its success lay in that juicy moisture that is trapped. Who says chicken is dull? Not around here.  


My daughter, meanwhile, notwithstanding the late hour, enjoys her tomato pasta dish immensely which is served al dente without prompting. There is a homeliness about the dish that we both appreciate. 



The highlight of the bar me is, of course, a choice of not 2 but 3 champagnes - surely without equal at an airline lounge anywhere in the world - Billecart-Salmon Brut NV, Philopponnat Brut Rosé and of course, 2006 Taittinger Comtes Blanc de blanc Brut. While it is said that there is more to life than bubbly, I just have not found it yet!


After my meal, I have a bit of time so I go for a walk around the lounge. A visit to the Vitality Spa has me lamenting my short transit, but make a mental note for my next visit. There are various treatment rooms available, with a range of massages and facials on offer. With a full spa menu, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a high-end luxury hotel. While the spa treatments are chargeable, they are priced in keeping with the context of it being an airport lounge. Finally,  I love the rooms available to passengers who want to take a nap and have some privacy. 



Next, and this appeals to me as a father, I see a game room. It is eye-catching but tasteful and should appeal to the young at heart. 




My walk around the lounge ends with what I will call a wall of tranquillity - a wall with water trickling down - it is made for contemplation.It is here where I am able to reflect a bit on the trip I just had. It is also here where that peacefulness alluded to in the opening of this piece reaches its zenith. In an age where lounges are all about gimmicks and gadgets, they have forgotten the simple things like creating a  space where people don't have to do anything. They can simply just indulge in serenity.

A very nice touch, as we get ready to leave, is that we can get transportation to our plane directly from the lounge. A perfect, efficient way to end a stay at the lounge. 


The Al Safwa First Lounge is simply an expression of what a lounge should be. I found the quiet and peace to be a fitting contrast to the hurly-burly that is air travel. Finely prepared dishes are met by attentive service and like the Mourjan Business Lounge, is an extension of the service ethic that greets one onboard Qatar Airways airplanes, regardless of class of travel. Ultimately, it is Arabian luxury in an airport that is unprecedented. 


The Al Safwa First Lounge is for Qatar Airways First class passengers. It is located on Level 3, with a dedicated entrance immediately after the Security Check/Immigration area

Brandon Stoltenkamp is a food writer and blogger based in Abu Dhabi, focusing on luxury hotels, restaurants and travel. 

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