It’s exceedingly rare for an airport lounge to be an architectural masterpiece, but Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge is just that. With a guest list that’s disproportionately small compared to the immense size of this lounge, Al Safwa is a quiet oasis in what is otherwise a bustling airport.

After flying in from Amman and spending the night in Doha, I return to the airport the next day. I’m awaiting my Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class flight to Sydney. And the fun starts at Al Safwa.

Al Safwa lounge location and details

The Al Safwa First Lounge is located within the main terminal of Doha’s Hamad International Airport. If you’re transiting or already in the main departures hall, you’ll find the escalator up to Al Safwa to the right of the towering Lamp Bear.

But if you’re starting your First Class journey in Doha, like myself, you’ll find a dedicated entrance up to the Al Safwa First Lounge after the private check-in, passport and security check is complete. The lounge is open 24/7, though the busiest periods are early morning and late night.

Al Safwa Lounge layout and seating

Plenty of comparisons have likened the Al Safwa Lounge to a museum, and it’s not hard to see why. Indeed, the lounge is modelled on Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, which I had the pleasure of visiting just hours before setting foot in this lounge. Both spaces exhibit an unparalleled sense of airiness thanks to unimaginably high ceilings, sleek sandstone walls and a simple, minimalistic layout.

Some people might think of the styling as ‘bland’, but personally, I really do think it’s a classy look. Plus, there are actual artefacts on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art on display in the lounge.

Although it’s not in the geographical centre of the lounge, the stunning water feature is a good reference point for a lounge tour. A stream quietly trickles down the outside of a perspex pipe, echoing softly around the room. Behind this fountain is the bar and restaurant, where travellers can tuck into a multi-course feast. But more on that later.

Start walking towards the other end of the lounge and you’ll find a service desk. To the left is a ‘grab and go’ casual dining room, including freshly-made sushi. On the right is a business centre with plenty of desk space.

Moving further down, we come to another intersection. The spa area and nap rooms are on the left, while the parents and kids area is on the right. There’s also an in-lounge duty-free shop nearby, though I don’t investigate it beyond a cursory glance inside.

With so many amenities around, the lounge seating is almost like an afterthought. It’s spread throughout the space, so you certainly won’t have any trouble finding a vacant seat. The best option for solo travellers is definitely the semi-private cubicles located near the water feature and restaurant.

Most of the other seating consists of groups of leather armchairs in various arrangements. There’s a small seating area adjacent to the restaurant which seems to be the busier area. For somewhere quieter, you could venture out to a nook near the main reception which remains completely empty whenever I wander past.

Al Safwa Lounge food & beverage

Restaurant dining

I’m visiting in the early afternoon, so there’s plenty of time for lunch in the restaurant. If you’re here for a long transit, you’d best come in with an empty stomach. The latest Al Safwa menu can be found online. Breakfast is served from 5:00 am to 10:30 am, while an all-day menu is available at all other times.

The mulligatawny soup is a knockout, bursting with spices. I mop it up in no time at all. Unfortunately, the lamb kibbeh isn’t available, so I choose the chilli prawn instead, which packs a moderate level of heat.

Out come the grilled lamb chops for the main course – succulent and still slightly pink inside. Finally, dessert is a sensory treat. Called ‘In the Wood’, it’s an edible art piece including chocolate ‘bark’, sponge ‘moss’ and fruits. But it’s the clever inclusion of actual savoury shimeji mushrooms that steals the show, adding a layer of earthy nuttiness to the otherwise sweet dessert.

On a separate morning visit between flights, my partner and I enjoy a refreshing fruit platter each. We finish with a baked shakshuka to share, which hits the spot.

Overall, I still prefer the dining in the Qantas First Lounges (the dishes seem a bit more inspired and there is more variety), but the Al Safwa restaurant is still excellent for an airport lounge.

Light buffet dining

If you’re short on time, you might prefer to grab a few bites before you dash out again. From the restaurant, head to the service desk and turn left for the smaller dining space. Healthy eating is the name of the game here – snack on salads, fresh-made sushi and other cold bites.

Champagne and other beverages

I understand that the Al Safwa Lounge previously stocked Krug and other vintage Champagnes in its pre-COVID heyday. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. Instead, passengers can sip on Laurent-Perrier Brut NV, which is the same drop served in the frequent flyer Platinum Lounge.

Nevertheless, the drinks list still impresses with rosé Champagne, quality red and white wines, beers, spirits and more. Personally, I also love the Arabic coffee served in First Class, so I’m glad that I can enjoy a sip in the lounge as well (served with a premium date).

During Ramadan, alcoholic beverages are hidden from view, but still available to order.

Al Safwa Lounge amenities

Quiet area

Passengers with long transits can look forward to a block of uninterrupted rest in the quiet area. Located within the spa, there are 12 mini-hotel rooms available. Four feature double beds and the rest include a single bed. Each room also comes with its own shower and toilet for ultimate convenience.

The rooms in the quiet area are available free of charge to any lounge guest with at least four hours left before boarding. If you can snag one, it’s your private sanctuary for the rest of your stay (up to six hours, if you’re here for a while longer).

Spa and jacuzzi

Facing a lengthy layover and have a bulging travel budget to whittle down? Then a visit to Qspa could just be the pick-me-up you need. A range of treatments are offered at Qspa from QAR 160 (AU$65) for a 10-minute massage, all the way to 450 QAR (AU$185) for a 50-minute deluxe ritual (e.g. full body massage with heated basalt stones).

These charges would certainly raise a few eyebrows with Point Hacks’ accountants so I didn’t indulge, but perhaps some of you will enjoy the treat of having a luxurious massage or facial ahead of your next flight. It would also be nice if ticketed long-haul First Class passengers could enjoy a complimentary treatment, as Emirates and Qantas offer.

Instead, I enjoy a session in the jacuzzi, which can be booked for free. However, availability is tight as the room is cleaned and reset after every use. You probably won’t get in on a short connection.

Family and kids area

Travelling with the young ones in tow is much easier when there is a dedicated space to stretch out. The family and kids area includes gaming consoles and even a racing car experience. Just flag down a passing staff member to get everything switched on.

A quick peek into the family room reveals various facilities that could be useful to parents with young children, including a feeding and changing area.


One odd omission from Al Safwa is the absence of dedicated shower facilities. Instead, you’ll need to ask at the spa whether you can use a shower room inside one of the various treatment rooms.

The main bathroom facilities are located near the restaurant. These have toilets only but are always kept immaculately clean whenever I visit. Signature Diptyque amenities and rolled hand towels help elevate the experience.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge bathrooms.
The elegant, marble-clad bathrooms are kept in tip-top shape.


Qatar Airways lounges in Doha just use the airport’s free Wi-Fi, which alternates between being blazing fast and unusable. Thankfully, it works fine during this visit, with download speeds of 46.9 Mbps and upload speeds of 3.54 Mbps. Outside of the dining areas, most seats have power points nearby and even wireless charging.

The Business Centre is also an impressive space with glass-walled cubicles so you can get some last-minute printing or work done. If you want to catch up on the latest news, the nearby ‘media room’ is usually empty and offers plenty of space to kick back and watch TV.

How to access the Al Safwa lounge

Entry into Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge is tightly regulated. Only the following passengers can get in:

  • Class of travel: Ticketed First Class on Qatar Airways (including regional First) and oneworld partner airlines. Access may also be granted when transiting between an arriving Qatar Airways First Class (including on regional flights) to a Qatar Airways flight in Business Class.
  • Frequent flyer status: Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum members flying in Qatar Airways Business Class (+2 guests who must also be flying Qatar Airways Business Class). Includes Platinum members travelling on Business Lite fares and upgrades from Economy with Avios or Qcredits.
  • Day pass: Qatar Airways ticketed Business Class passengers (including reward seats, but excluding upgrades and Business Lite) who can normally access the Al Mourjan Business Lounge may be able to pay a fee to upgrade to Al Safwa First. The fee is last reported to be QAR 600 (AU$248) per person for a 6-hour pass.

Unfortunately, Oneworld Emerald-grade status with other airlines, such as Qantas Platinum or British Airways Gold, won’t get you through the doors here. Instead, you can visit the Platinum Lounge. The same applies to Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum members travelling in Economy.

Walk through the Al Safwa lounge here:

Summing up

Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Lounge exudes a sense of grandness and luxury that I haven’t experienced in any other airport lounge before. While there are some elements that I feel other First Class lounges are better at, Al Safwa is still an impressive five-star lounge as a whole.

Your best bet at getting in is to fly Qatar Airways First Class, either on the Airbus A380 to Bangkok, Sydney or Perth, or take a regional First Class flight within the Middle East. Either way, you can book those routes with partner airlines such as Virgin Australia (Velocity Points), British Airways (Avios) and American Airlines (AAdvantage Miles).

Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge boarding pass
Al Safwa, tick. Next stop, First Class from Doha to Sydney!

Photography by Brandon Loo, who travelled at Point Hacks’ expense.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge, Doha was last modified: April 13th, 2023 by Brandon Loo