Yeah, I drank my entry fee. So what?
From architecture to interior design, the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class lounge is something to behold. For starters, there’s an original large format Keith Haring painting just casually placed on a massive wall. There’s also $150 bottles of Bordeaux, Champagne and whatever else you fancy. Since the only way to access the lounge has always been to actually travel in Qatar First Class, I had never managed to sneak my way in until yesterday.
When I recently reviewed the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge, many commenters thought I’d been too nice. It too is an incredible space, but overcrowding has made it difficult to enjoy at peak times. When I landed at midnight in Doha yesterday, which oddly is peak time (12AM-2AM) is the worst, I had heard rumblings of being able to trade my free business class lounge access to paid access to the Al Safwa First Class lounge. It was all true.
If you’re on a paid Qatar Airways business class ticket, the airline is currently allowing guests to pay for a lounge upgrade to Al Safwa, the acclaimed first class lounge. Now, many of you might think “what a joke, who needs to pay for a lounge when they already have access”, but this is no ordinary lounge and you’ll soon see why.
For entry into Qatar Airways Al Safwa, I was charged 250 QAR, which came out to $69 USD. The lounge attendant simply scanned my boarding pass and processed my payment before welcoming me into the lounge, which is easily one of the most impressive in the world. Could this policy change? Without a doubt, but as of June 2019, it’s still active.
Why Bother Upgrading If You Have A Free Option?
Fine wine, sheer novelty, the sleep rooms, the a la carte dining. Al Safwa First Class is one of the few things many travel bloggers agree on: it’s great. There are sleeping rooms far nicer than many airport hotels, which all Al Safwa First guests have complimentary access to, there’s a la carte dining – and for one obvious one – there’ s just no crowds to be found anywhere.
And yes, the wine is spellbinding.
For me, this was a blend of novelty and a genuine passion for wine. I knew they had “good stuff” in there, but I didn’t expect to find myself drinking $175+, Robert Parker 95+ rated French Bordeaux or legendary Veuve Le Grand Dame 2006. I didn’t plan on indulging, but when in Doha and when French classics are presented…
The Insane Wines Currently In Al Safwa First Class
Many people upgrade to Al Safwa for the dedicated sleeping rooms, lack of crowds or a-la carte food. Amusingly, that was genuinely my intention. But when I parked myself at the bar and found a few of these outstanding wines, my focus shifted gears. For starters, there was…
- Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006
- Chateau Ducru-Beacaillou 2008
- Zucardi Zeta Red Blend 2012
- Remy Martin XO Cognac
- Chateau Lynch-Moussas Paulliac 2011
If you don’t speak wine nerd, the Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is a very rare pleasure, which often fetches over $300 a bottle retail and has received tremendous critical acclaim from the likes of all the major critics. I’d give it an A too! The Zucardi Red Blend is perhaps of lesser provenance, but it was a joy to drink and stood up really well against the 5x priced Bordeaux’s.
Of course, price doesn’t really determine the enjoyment of a wine outright, but it’s a great way to grab your attention. I had two hours to kill and rather than battle it out for a table in the business lounge, a mere $69 got me into a space where I could hear a pin drop and conduct an unofficial blind tasting. I loved sampling the stunning wines, with vague moderation.
Long story short: if you’re traveling on a Qatar Airways business class ticket and are departing during a peak time, this is pretty much the best $69 I’ve ever spent at an airport and you may enjoy doing so too.
I was amused, well looked after and enjoyed fabulous food to go along with the world class wine. If I had needed a nap or shower, I would’ve basically been granted a hotel room too. Fortunately, I was off on the Qsuite later that evening, so I figured a nap on the plane would do just fine. Right again!
There’s no telling how long this will last, so if you’ve been looking for a neat alternative, strike while the Grand Dame 2006 is cold!