DOH: Doha Qatar First Class Lounge
NEWS: The new Al Mourjan Lounge at Doha Airport is now open. You should head here, and not to the First Lounge, if you have a First class ticket.
For the First Class lounge is not designed for First Class passengers: it is for oneworld Emerald passengers, and Qatar passengers with a Gold Privilege Club member card somewhere to sit. If you hold a real first class ticket, the much better Al-Safwa lounge (with 530 seats) is the one for you. However it has to be called the First Class lounge to satisfy oneworld rules - rather like the BA First lounge at Heathrow is not designed for First class customers.
The lounge for a start is tiny. It seems odd, but it has a total capacity of 123 seats - compare that with over 500 in the real First Class Lounge. And this lounge supposedly accommodates all of Qatar Platinum, Gold and Oneworld Emerald customers. When most of the flights come in overnight, the lounge is packed to the rafters, and then some.
The other thing every passenger says about the Doha Qatar Airways First Class Lounge - generally when they run out screaming - is ‘The lights! The lights!'. Do not enter the lounge if you are susceptible to epilepsy. The lounge is right under the main advertising board of the duty free area which has a vast LED display. The lounge is also kept quite dark, and hence the lounge is lit up by the colours of the display - which zap between red, green and blue every few seconds. It's as eye-popping as it is distracting. Forget sleeping in here.
However, you can occasionally get a seat, so it is worth taking the trip past the Teddy Bear and up to the entrance of the Qatar First Lounge. Via the escalator - and the two sets of staff who check your boarding card who warn you that ‘the lounge is very busy today'. You can then approach the desk, which is vast, wide and sweeping. The reception desk is the most impressive part of the lounge.
You are then waved right - into what seems like a cupboard holding the fire hose. This is not the First Class lounge - that is actually right again, through the door you can't see until you are there.
The new Doha Qatar Airways First Class Lounge is a small L shaped area, with a living wall on one side, chairs in the middle, and at the far end of the L the dining area. It has been designed with plenty of space and a few chairs around the edges, but without any allowance for the vast number of people who will be using it.
At the tip of an L is the magazine table, and then left there is the buffet dining area, followed by the waited dining tables. Inside the L are the bathrooms and a small computer room.
When it's not packed full, the lounge manages to be fairly tasteful and modern with Qataris in national dress next to westerners having a beer.
FoodThere are two dining experiences at the new Doha Qatar Airways First Class Lounge.
The lounge is designed for waiter service at the tables at the far end - of which there are a grand total of eight tables. There are no menus - you have to ask for these, and the waiter nips off to get one, then comes back later to ask you for your order, which is cooked for you. There are western dishes mixed with Arabic ones - which are often better. However the pasta is good. Equally if you want a drink, there is no wine list, but the waiters are trained to ask if you want red or white, and will eventally get it for you. The problem is the service is so laboured, it can take an hour to get some food - no good at all if you are on a short stopover. And then there is the huge queue to get a table. And the waiters won't serve you elsewhere in the lounge. All in all it is a waste of time.
The other option is the buffet, which most people go for. This is right at the back of the lounge, and with another small table out the front. There are sandwiches with at least 5 different kinds. There are also 2 different soups, and two hit dishes, under silver covers.
And then there is salad section with shredded beef, pasta, fish, and a classic green salad. There is also a small desert section.
BarThere is no bar in the new Doha Qatar Airways First Class Lounge. There Heineken in cans in the small fridge trough, however you have to ask the waiters for wine, and it is very slowly brought to you.
The lounge is dry during Ramadan, as is the rest of the airport.
Business FacilitiesThere is a small business area in the Doha Qatar Airways First Class Lounge, with two computers in the small room behind the food servery.
Wifi is good and free and fast.
There is a small table with newspapers and magazines.
There are only 2 showers, which are small and uncomfortable. Water pressure is weak, and the temperature control is decidedly variable.
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