The Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge is a restful oasis for first class passengers and represents one of my favorite lounges in the world. If you are flying in first class on Qatar Airways, this lounge is worth arriving early for.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Review
I visited this lounge ahead of my flight to Amman. Qatar Airways classifies business class within the Middle East as first class, thereby making the Al Safwa lounge a cornerstone of the premium cabin offering.
Hours + Access + Location
Qatar Airways closely guards access to its Al Safwa lounge, allowing entry only for Qatar Airways first class passengers or Privilege Club Platinum members traveling in business class with Qatar Airways. Other oneworld Emerald members are not granted access unless flying in first class on Qatar.
The lounge is open 24/7 and located on Level 3, with an entrance (via escalator or elevator) not far from the security checkpoint. As you enter, your boarding pass may be scanned at the bottom of the escalator or instead may be checked upstairs.
You can also enter from the other side. If you’re on the Level 2 (the main departures level) just follow signs to the Al Safwa Lounge.
Design + Seating
Modeled after the Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, the lounge has a very minimalist look. While opinions may be divided over architectural and design preference, there is no disputing this is a unique lounge. Personally, I love the look of this lounge. The fine art, water fountain, and natural light create an inviting environment.
As you enter the lounge, you will see seating between the reception and restaurant. Each seat has a power outlet. I love sitting down with the sound of water running nearby.
Peek out through a door near the restaurant and you will find another large sitting area with self-serve drinks.
In addition to the dining area, there is more seating by the window between the reception and spa.
A full range of spa services are available, though are not complimentary.
You can review the menu here:
My layover was too short for a treatment, but I plan to try one out next time.
Restrooms + Shower
In years past, there (strangely) no complimentary showers available unless you reserved a private bedroom (more on that below). Today, you can use one of the showers located in the locker room of the spa. Proceed to the spa and ask at the desk to use a shower. You will be escorted to the gender-segregated lockers.
Toiletries like dental kits or shaving kits were available.
There’s also separate restrooms in the lounge located close to the restaurant area.
The 250-seat dining room offers an a la carte menu of food and drinks 24/7. You can review the current menu here or by scanning the QR code below.
I arrived for breakfast and enjoyed a feast.
Breakfast began with a flat white (the lounge features a superb manual coffee machines, with delicious barista-made coffee) and a glass of water. I love the blue crystal glasses Qatar Airways uses in the Al Safwa Lounge and onboard in first class.
Next came a basket of fresh, hot croissants, a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, and a berry smoothie. Yes, enough liquid to satisfy most people for days…
Then came breakfast: Shakshuka and a fruit platter. It was delicious…and I was stuffed (though I made room for one more cup of coffee).
Alcohol is also available, except during Ramadan (unlike other Gulf carriers like Etihad and Emirates, which continue to serve alcohol in their lounge during the Muslim holy month). Check the menu above for the latest selection of Champagne and wine.
A smoking room is available inside the lounge.
The duty free shop near the lounge entrance, a dedicated shopping experience for Al Safwa guests, has reopened.
If you need a quiet place to work, there is a business center near the entrance with desks and ergonomic chairs. Printing facilities and desktop computers are also available.
Complimentary sleeping rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis (there are 12 in total). These are quite nice if you have a long layover and do not feel like venturing out into Doha. Each room features a single bed and ensuite facilities.
Not only was my layover brief, but there were no rooms available. Here are a few photos from my prior visit:
The Al Safwa first lounge remains one of my favorite first class airport lounges. It offers superior culinary options, a comfortable and tranquil place to wait for your flight, and even a full-service spa and sleeping accommodations for guests who have a longer layover. I look forward to returning to this lounge.
You can compare it to my review of the Al Mourjan Business Lounge for business class passengers.
Have you been to the Al Safwa Lounge? What is your favorite thing about it?
My original review, published on September 18, 2018, is below.
Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa first class lounge in Doha is an architectural masterpiece with superb amenities and a quiet ambiance.
My flight from Kuwait landed at 7:55 A.M. and my flight to Paris did not depart until the following morning at 7:25 A.M. Figuring that it would at least equal most hotels in Doha, I decided to pamper myself with 23 hours in the lounge.
You should have seen the look on the face of the lady when I checked into the lounge. She must have thought I was crazy…and maybe I am. But I was welcomed into the lounge.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Seating
Unless I slept through the busy period, this lounge never got crowded. Seating accommodates about 200 and is divided into an indoor area and terrace (still technically indoors). The soaring ceilings give the lounge an attractive, open look. I don’t know about you, but I love this sort of minimalism.
Self-serve drink stations were positioned throughout the lounge, though attendants also roamed, offering passengers drinks or food.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Sleeping Rooms
Hotel-like sleeping rooms are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. These rooms include a bed, desk, and private restroom with shower. I asked for a room immediately upon entering the lounge but ended up having to wait a few hours for a room to be ready. Once ready, though, I had access to it for the remainder of my stay.
You’re given a key card like a hotel room, which made it easy to go in and out.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Spa
Showers and restroom are also available.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Dining
Like the Al Mourjan business class lounge, there is a main dining room and a secondary cafe that serves freshly made sandwiches and salads. I had a pastrami sandwich with salad for lunch before retiring to my room and sleeping for the next 10 hours.
Around 1 A.M., I ventured out for a late dinner in the restaurant. Here’s a look at the a la carte menu:
I began dinner with a bowl of tomato soup, served with bread. A cold towel was offered prior to dining.
Next, farfalle with arrabbiata sauce.
Finally, I enjoyed pan-grilled sea bass as my main course.
For dessert, I had ice cream and a cappuccino.
The dining room is beautiful and like the rest of the lounge, minimalist:
I did not drink any alcohol during this visit, but a full bar was available around the clock:
Unlike the Emirates and Etihad first class lounges, I am not going to rave about this food. I loved having access to a nice a la carte menu in the middle of the night, but the pasta was unremarkable and the sea bass was tasty, but not extraordinary. Context matters, though. This was an airline lounge after all.
In the morning I had fruit plate with cappuccino and smoothie prior to boarding my flight to Paris: I was still stuffed from my late dinner.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Smoking
If you’re a smoker, Qatar Airways has designated a large room with separate ventilation for you:
Cigars are available for purchase.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Business Center
A business center includes computers and printers. Wireless printing is also available and the wi-fi network works well.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Kid’s Room + Video Game Room
A kid’s play room includes a shelf with classic children’s books, games, and a fußall table. In the room next door, video games for kids who are a bit older.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Nanny Room
If traveling as a family, nanny suites are available that make caring for the kids a bit more manageable. Just leave them with the help…
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Duty Free
You don’t even have to step outside of the lounge to go shopping: a private duty free shops is waiting for you.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge Service
Lastly, let me mention that service in this lounge is a bit like Qatar Airways in the air. The product itself is amazing: amazing design, amazing amenities, good food and drink. But the staff is hit or miss. When I arrived, a gentleman quickly approached me to offer me a beverage of choice.
Throughout the morning as I sat and worked, he would constantly ensure I had everything I needed.
But service was slow in the restaurant. I had to ask for a drink: none was proactively offered nor were dishes cleared away.
Flying Qatar Airways is the same way. You’ll always have a nice product, but how polished a FA is varies greatly.
You don’t spend almost an entire day in a lounge unless it is worthwhile. I love this lounge and appreciated using it as my transit hotel in Doha. While this is not the best first class lounge in the world, it is one of the most beautiful. I look forward to returning.
Thanks for reading my Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge review!
Your comments on the shower situation is inaccurate. The lounge does have dedicated showers that you can access for free. If you are on a short-connection (under 3 hours), then they either offer you access to a shower room with 2-3 showers just off the area where the sleeping rooms are. Sometimes, if the spa is not busy, they will also offer passengers with a short connection to shower in the en-suites of the spa rooms. Passengers on short connections do not get access to day rooms, as a matter of policy in the Al Safwa Lounge (as these are reserved for those with long connections).
This was not my experience, but in order to avoid ambiguity I will take the language out of my post.
Yes, it’s a nice lounge, but I personally would not want to spend that much time in it. Or any other lounge, come to think of it.
That’s nice, Other Aaron, but I think it’s a nice lounge.
One or two hours here and I want to get out. IMO neither the food not the ambience make it worthy of longer. So many people used to “ooh and ahh” about this joint, for reasons lost on me: it’s like a mausoleum, cold and unwelcoming and totally devoid of personality. Frankly, the J lounge is better: at least it has a bit of life.
I like Qatar in the air but Emirates lounges are so much better than this one.
Matthew, thanks for the post. Like you I am a fan of the minimalist architecture; but its not for everyone. I assume that due to the service and food issues, your opinion would be this is a notch or two below the LH first lounge in FA?
Hope to get to both LH and QR first lounges someday….in shallah…..
I think that since the current terminal opened at DOH the QR experience has diminshed. I find both lounges soulless spaces that offer little which is welcoming and the facilities aren’t great. After many visits I’m yet to have a shower with water at a temperature I like, it’s always way too hot and the aircon in the showers is poor considering the water temperature generates quite a lot of steam.
The food options have also both declined over the last 18 months though moreso in the Al-Mourjan lounge than the Al-Safwa. There is no comparison to the service in the old premium terminal.
However, thanks for posting Matthew and I’m glad someone likes them!
I spent 8 hours in the lounge last september. Its is absolutely beautiful. the food was just mediocre. and i actually found 75% of the menu items at the business class al majourn lounge when i went to check that out. but the nap room more than made up for that.
Hi Matthew. Last time I was in Al Safa the sleeping rooms were not free. Is that still the case? They are free in Al Mourjan.
This is obviously something solely based on personal taste, but to me, the architecture is the most disappointing aspect of this lounge. QR could have gone bold with its lounge design. In fact, I’d expect nothing less of His Excellency. Instead, they went with the same cold, characterless, cookie-cutter minimalism that’s taking over pretty much every public building and space these days. Count me disappointed.
Hi Matthew, i will have a 22hours transit , do u think they allow me to take a shower in al safwa before heading out to explore the city then come back again later?
That should not be a problem. Enjoy the lounge and your time in Doha!
i have a nine hour layover next month. lhr- doh mus. flying first. can i prebook a nap room?
thanks in advance.
You cannot prebook, but should not have to wait more than an hour or two. You can dine in the meantime.
Can first class be booked with points or just cash? Thanks
Points. My ticket was booked with points using AA miles.
Thanks. I assumed you booked on AA.com? Thanks again!
Thanks again. Is there a pattern you look for on availability for Qatar First Class? Was in close in booking? Thanks again and I appreciate it.
I booked this about two weeks prior to departure. I rarely see close-in space.
Thanks for the review! If I booked QSuites direct using Avios on the QR website, can I pay to get in upon arrival? If so, what is the cost and are there in and out privileges as well?
If not transiting in DOH, I don’t think you could re-clear security (maybe). Supposedly, you must have a business class pass that grants you access to Al Mourjan lounge in order to gain access. Cost is about $165 USD for six hours, though not strictly enforced.
Thank you! My wife and I will be headed to MLE later this year and have about a nine hour layover in DOH. We’re just trying to decide whether to chill in one of the lounges or take a city tour. We got to explore the J lounge last year, so we’d love to check out the Al Safwa lounge if possible. The last time we were there, we were told since we didn’t book direct with QR, we couldn’t pay to access it. Hoping this time will be different!
If not you should do a city tour. I did that last time and it was great. LMK if you need a recommendation of who I used, the guy was able to fit it into whatever number of hours we wanted and we still spent time in the Al Safwa Lounge
@Mike– thank you. Yes, if you have a recommendation, please pass it along here. My understanding though is that you can just sign up for a free city tour at the airport which lasts about 3-4 hours, no?
Samuel, there may be that option, but I don’t like chancing it. Will it be available, how good will the guide be, especially if I’m on a tight schedule. I wanted a guy who would have the luxury suv idling when I stepped out of the airport, have all the events and tours prebooked, be on a first name basis with all the people in charge of where we are going. He even had an assistant to drive and handle the water bottles so he could focus his eyes on us by giving us a tour without being distracted while driving. Name is Shambhu, his website is dohatransittours.com Tell him Mike from California sent you. LMK how it goes.
You said, “Each room features a single bed and ensuite facilities.” However, when we’ve stayed there, we had two beds in our room.
Do arrival first class passengers connecting on a business class flight have access? For example, AUH to DOH (first) and DOH to DFW (business).
No. Just Al Mourjan in that case.
Thanks Matthew! I read somewhere in this article that “Passengers flying in Qatar Airways First Class can access this exclusive lounge upon arrival or before departure.” I might have to do this first hand to figure out if it’s true I suppose.
Do let me know – I thought it was on departure only, but I certainly hope you will have access!
Yes, please report back! We are flying RUH-DOH then DOH-DFW (J). If we can access Al Safwa then I would book RUH-DOH in F, otherwise just Y. Thanks!
Yes – just did so on a DXB-DOH-ATL routing. DXB-DOH was F and the final leg was J. No issues with access.