Last Tuesday I posted about how Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class Lounge would finally be opening shortly, after over a year of delays. I figured “shortly” meant maybe a month or perhaps a year, given the pace at which Qatar Airways completes projects. 😉
But this time they were actually quick, and the Al Safwa First Class Lounge opened this past Thursday. Given how long the lounge’s opening has taken, and given how good the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge is, I had really high hopes for this lounge.
Well, several people have now visited the lounge and reported back, so we have some firsthand reports:
- My friend Chris Guillebeau did a write up about it on his site, and has been kind enough to give me the play-by-play
- My friend Bart hosted a review on his site which was written by a friend of his, with lots of great photos and commentary
- A Flickr user has lots of great photos of the new lounge
As I mentioned above, my friend Chris gave me the play-by-play of the new lounge, so I’d suggest checking out his report, especially as he’s a frequent flyer but also not a “traditional” miles/points/airline product blogger.
I’ll be visiting the lounge next month, though what are my thoughts based on the above reports and pictures?
First of all, I think for the most part the Al Safwa Lounge is gorgeous. The space is huge (roughly the same size as the Al Mourjan Lounge), though it looks like it’s much more sparsely furnished. I generally like the contemporary, minimalist design, though then there are some rooms which puzzle me.
But there is one really disappointing aspect of the lounge. For so long we’ve been hearing about how the lounge would have a spa. Qatar Airways is an airline which invests heavily in the soft product (after all, they serve Krug in their business class lounge), so that didn’t really surprise me, especially given that both Emirates and Etihad have spas in their first class lounges.
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Six Senses Spa
Well, as it turns out the Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge spa only offers paid treatments. That’s rather ridiculous, in my opinion. I’ve always enjoyed the 15 minute “teaser” treatments offered by Emirates, Etihad, and many other airlines. Typically I don’t arrive at the airport early enough for an hour-long massage, so even if it were free I generally wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it.
But to just offer longer paid treatments and no free treatments is disappointing.
Equally disappointing, and even more bizarre? The lounge has a hot tub, but you have to pay to use it. The charge is 60USD, which is sort of obscene.
Even Qatar’s premium terminal at their old airport had a hot tub, which was free for all guests.
On the plus side, the lounge has nap rooms with real beds, which is awesome. And they’re free! It seems a bit backwards to charge to use a hot tub, but not to use a nap room for hours on end.
But perhaps most puzzling is that the showers in the spa area aren’t free to use, however the quiet rooms have showers, which you can use for free. As noted by Chris:
I was surprised that the hot tub was only available for paid visits, and really surprised to hear that showers weren’t free either. Fortunately, this last information proved to be incorrect.
After I’d had a nice meal (once they sorted out the issues of bringing the wrong food), I asked to visit the “Quiet Area” section and take a nap. This area consists of a group of individual little day rooms with a twin bed where you can crash for a couple of hours. A few other airlines have them, but they’re rarely equipped with an actual bed. I liked this feature a lot.
Lo and behold, the rooms in the Quiet Area have showers! And though I didn’t take advantage of it, they looked like good showers (sorry, no pics … I took a very jet-lagged nap and then went to my gate).
For more details, check out Chris’ entire report.
Physically the lounge looks gorgeous, though it seems like they’re still working out some kinks (or at least hopefully they are, since operationally it sounds quite disappointing). Charging for hot tub use is ridiculous. Hopefully they eventually come around on mini-spa treatments as well.
On the plus side, the nap rooms look quite nice.
I’m excited to check out the lounge for myself next month, though in the meantime I figured I’d link to the above reports.
What do you make of the Al Safwa Lounge? What would you most like to see change, based on the above?