Hamad International Airport (DOH), Doha’s ‘five star gateway to the world’ (as Qatar Airways refer to it) is the long delayed replacement for the old airport in Doha, which was noteable in that it had no aerobridges. Hamad International Airport opened for passenger operations on April 30th, 2014, with Qatar Airways moving operations from the May 27th. At the time of writing, Qatar Airways have still not completed their ‘Al Safwa’ first class lounge, so the ‘Al Mourjan’ lounge is their premium lounge in the new airport.
Qatar’s ‘Al Mourjan’ lounge is officially only open to oneworld business and first class passengers, similar to Qatar’s London Premium lounge. However, when we visited there was a sign outside which listed oneworld status passengers as being eligible for access. We would expect this rule to change once all the lounges at Hamad International Airport are completed.
Before getting to the lounge every passenger comes across a gigantic and strangely creepy teddy bear. Apparently it’s a piece of art by Urs Fischer, one of three on display at locations around the world. Called ‘Untitled (Lamp/Bear)’ the bronze sculpture apparently weighs nearly 20 tons.
The ‘Al Mourjan’ lounge is located on the third floor of the airport, up quite a large set of escalators. Staff called ‘Traffic Agents’ scan your boarding pass at the bottom of the escalator to ensure that you’re eligible to enter.
After heading upstairs you’re immediately presented with a stunning water feature. This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Water shoots up in various patterns, creating quite a calm and pleasing atmosphere. Located above is the larger of two dining and bar areas.
A large chandelier (which stretches all the way to the ceiling of the second floor) is the centrepiece of this end of the lounge. Surrounded by seating areas, this staircase will take you up to the main dining area. Suffice to say it’s very impressive.
The lower level of the lounge is huge. Outside the raised floor area in the middle are individual and paired seating areas, which are comfortable and very well equipped.
Every seat has power and USB ports, along with a fixed tablet where you can access flight information and do some basic web browsing.
On a raised area in the middle of the floor are some more seating areas and a small self service bar with tea, coffee, water and a small selection of soft drinks.
Here you can clearly see the second floor dining area of the lounge. It’s quite striking from this vantage point and even more so when sitting up there yourself. Standing in the middle like this really gives you an appreciation for how large the space is. Reports suggest that the floor space is equivalent to that of ten Olympic-size swimming pools.
At the far end of the lounge there is a small garden area and another dining/bar area. If you were to continue through there is also a ‘Quiet Area’ and a set of showers. Showers are not hard to find however, as each set of toilets also has a separate attendant who will organise shower rooms and bookings if required. The shower rooms seemed not to be connected into the air conditioning system so they do have a tendency to get quite warm.
After heading upstairs we really got the opportunity to see just how large the stunning chandelier feature is.
The lounge offers both buffet and à la carte dining options. The hot dishes tended to be mainly middle eastern inspired and every dish we had was excellent. These naturally change to suit the time of day.
A wide selection of breads, fruit and cheeses are laid out during breakfast periods as well. The bread was reasonably fresh and there was the usual accompanying dips such as hummus to go with our pita bread.
Curtains were always drawn at the far end of the dining area. We assume this is because the view out this window would be less than stellar, or possibly to limit the amount of sunlight coming into the lounge.
Of note, as mentioned in our A380 review (London to Qatar), Qatar Airways seem to have a desire to serve premium champagne, so in this lounge there is Krug available. Surprising though is that the standard of the other drinks in the lounge, with only the most basic Johnnie Walker Red Label, Jack Daniels and other spirits being served. Just as well we are prepared to keep the Krug flowing whenever we decide to visit Doha. Update: As of 5 April 2015, there is no Krug served in this lounge. We will monitor developments in this area. Also, apparently there are some other higher quality alcoholic drinks hidden behind the bar than what is on display in the lounge.
The bar itself is a little spartan in design but it is very well stocked and the bar staff are attentive, ensuring that you’re well looked after. We weren’t offered any sort of bar snacks or food to eat. In fact, we didn’t notice anyone eating at the bar.
A well sized business centre rounds off the facilities in the lounge. A large number of PCs and printers were available, along with a small meeting room that could be booked.
Back downstairs there are some additional, smaller seating areas that aren’t quite as out in the open as the remainder of the floor.
Qatar Airways have really stepped up their game with the opening of this new lounge. Their previous offering, a ‘Premium Terminal’ was only available to passengers flying with Qatar and was much smaller. The travel from the plane in a bus and car transfer back out to the plane was also cumbersome.
The attention to detail in the lounge is apparent. The meticulous manner in which all of Qatar Airways’ lounges are fitted out leaves little wonder as to why the first class lounge is still yet to be completed.
This new ‘Al Mourjan’ lounge is accessible to more people, which means it is a lot busier. At several times this lounge was packed and the service suffered severely. However, having now visited this lounge several times we come to appreciate it more and more with each visit with the consistency and helpfulness displayed by the staff, no matter what time of the day. Definitely a lounge to look forward to visiting on your next trip though Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH).