Why I still love the Qatar Airways lounge at Heathrow (and why I was there)

Last Tuesday I was back in the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4.  Last time I wrote about this I declared that it was “the classiest lounge at Heathrow” and I wanted to see if that was still the case.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge Heathrow review

First, some background.

Starting tomorrow, there will be some coverage of Qatar Airways A380 business class and the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Ras al-Khaimah (photo below) on Head for Points.

As the obvious question (apart from ‘Where is Ras al-Khaimah?‘) is ‘Why were you in Ras al-Khaimah?‘, I thought I would explain.

The United Arab Emirates consists of seven Emirates –  Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain.  Taking Dubai as the central point, Abu Dhabi is to the south.  If you drive north from Dubai, you will pass through Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al-Qaiwain before ending up in Ras al-Khaimah.

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Back in December, I was invited to a formal dinner to meet the tourism minister for Ras al-Khaimah.  This was just after Qatar Airways announced that they were starting flights to the Emirate.

By coincidence, my main contact at Qatar Airways was also at the dinner.  The upshot of our discussions that evening was that I found myself invited on a Qatar Airways press trip down to Ras al-Khaimah.  I turn down more free flights and stays than I accept but the chance to escape the UK weather, review Qatar’s A380 in business class and try out the Waldorf-Astoria was too tempting.

The flight reviews I will run this week are therefore from comped flights, although I paid all of my other expenses including the Waldorf-Astoria.

Anyway, back to the Qatar Airways lounge ….

Qatar Airways makes a big play of its Premium Lounge in Terminal 4.  It is only open to Qatar Airways or other oneworld airline passengers holding a First or Business Class ticket.  If you are travelling in economy but have oneworld status, you must use the SkyTeam lounge.

(Alternatively, for a slightly smarter experience and a shorter walk to the plane, Priority Pass or Lounge Club cardholders can use the Plaza Premium lounge – above the Qatar lounge – which I reviewed here.)

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge Heathrow review

In my experience, when an airline has a combined First and Business Class lounge, it usually operates at the level of a Business Class lounge.  The Emirates lounge in Terminal 3 is a good example of this, as indeed is the SkyTeam lounge.  The First Class area of the old Star Alliance lounge in Terminal 1 was a bit of a joke and, apart from more chance of finding a seat, had very little to offer.

Qatar appears to have decided against this and is effectively running it like an exclusive First Class lounge but one which business class passengers can also enter.  As Qatar only has six flights out of Heathrow each day, it is unlikely that more than 250 people pass through the lounge.

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge Heathrow review

It is effectively like the British Airways Concorde Room but with more daylight.  Instead of a reception desk, you are greeting by the equivalent of a restaurant maître d’ who checks your boarding pass and will store your bag and coat if required.

It is a very civilised environment.  Should you plan to turn up with a group of friends and get wasted, it is not the lounge for you!

As I was on the 9am A380 departure, I wasn’t in the mood for overdoing the drink or the food.

All I had was some Billecart-Salmon rose champagne, a pain au chocolat and Eggs Royale.  As it happens, I often visit one of our local cafes for a pain au chocolat or Eggs Royale after I’ve dropped the kids at school, so I know how easy they are to do badly.

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge Heathrow review

The Qatar lounge managed both perfectly.  Given how hard it is to produce a perfect pain au chocolat or Eggs Royale, I was very impressed.  I wasn’t very surprised, however, because my past experience showed that this lounge has the best food at Heathrow – and I include all the paid restaurants.

Note the lemon squeezer that came with the Eggs Royale.  When was the last time that you got a piece of lemon with some food and it actually came with a squeezer?

Qatar Airways Premium Lounge Heathrow review

The lounge just ‘works’, or at least it works for me.  No shortage of newspapers and magazines.  Good staff.  Certainly no risk of overcrowding.  There is a shower room if you want one.

And, when it is time to go, it is a 30 second walk across to the Qatar gates.

The Qatar Premium Lounge is the complete opposite to, say, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Terminal 3 which is general regarded as the best ‘fun palace’ lounge in the world.  It is a high quality, restrained, adult environment where you can pass your time eating very fine food and drinking high quality beverages.  If that sounds like your sort of place, you should give Qatar a try.

Bits: Avios Suitcase closed, Finnair business class bargains from LON / MAN / EDI to Asia
Bits: introducing hotelroomauction.co.uk, Hyatt launches new brand for independent hotels
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  1. Enigma368 says:

    I think you might have your North and South the wrong way around when talking UAE Geography.

    • More Southwest to Northeast than South to North but definitely not the wrong way around.

  2. I totally agree with Raffles – I love this lounge and have used it three times in the last year and will be travelling through there again in a few weeks time. I’ve done early morning and late evening departures and prefer the latter, as breakfast is nothing special and I struggle to drink in the morning, but the later flights gives an opportunity to sample some great food and drink. This lounge beats the Al Moujan which is just too big, the Heathrow lounge feels far more exclusive.

  3. James67 says:

    This is easily my favourite lounge in the UK but unfortunately my chance to use it again will be very limitted. My only criticism of it are that the staff are just a little to attentive with the result that they became almost annoying and intrusive. If they could back off just a little, it would be perfect. Shower rooms are great. Food is of a high standard and proper set duning tables to eat it with table service and freshly prepared food. Ambiance is pleasant and relaxing. Not overcrowded. Everything a great lounge should be.

  4. Was there on Friday. Yes it’s a very good lounge. I did drink quite a bit over lunch. Food and drink v good. As I type this I am sitting in the Bangkok airways eco lounge at BKK. Obviously you can’t compare the two but this little lounge is also doing the job. I’m not a fan of ex-EU flights as a rule, but I think it’s fair to say that if you are – don’t worry about missing out on the LHR QR lounge. It is ultimately just somewhere to have a drink and something to eat. I actually prefer the Virgin lounge because it is fun as Rob says. The Qatar lounge is definitely more grown up.

  5. sam wardill says:

    I think that people often don’t realise that they can use Qatar lounge when on an MH flight in J / F. The MH gate is closer to Qatar lounge than MH lounge. I have done this. The Qatar lounge is certainly less crowded than MH as well as having a v classy ambience as Rob highlights. I did actually visit the MH lounge as well tho last time as Qatar did not have decaf coffee or decent magazine selection (I wanted bus traveller mag). I would also sometimes choose MH lounge food over Qatar if I was in the mood for something with a bit of (chilli) heat. Finally I don’t think they have ales in Qatar (but they have Pride in MH).

    • And I was about to say ‘but you can’t access if not flying F or J on Qatar’. Turns out I’m wrong!

    • That’s great to know as I will be flying MH J in a couple of weeks. Think I will pop into the MH lounge for a look and then head to this one.

  6. Seems nicer than the Etihad lounge in T4, which didn’t really do it for me despite the spa. It seemed to lack any sort of ambience somehow?

    • Yep, it’s definitely better than the EY lounge. At least EY offers a menu to choose from, but it’s nowhere near the same quality as QR.

      • Agreed. Despite the recent revamp, and the spa treatments, the EY lounge doesn’t ‘work’ and it is hard to be sure why.

  7. Agreed on your views on it – easily the best food in LHR. It also nicely prepares you for the great food that Qatar offers on board as well. I never have high expectations for an airport lounge, so when our breakfast turned up presented as it was and tasting delicious, it was a great surprise. Our last visit had barely 5 people in there, so it’s definitely one to file under peaceful, rather than fun.

  8. Hi Robert

    I formally invite you as the minister of tourism and jolly ups for Essex to review my Lounge in my three bed semi. You will be whisked here in my clapped out mark II cortina (with new reclining seats!) round the M25 during Friday’s rush hour.

    On the way we will stop at such places as the sugar hut in Brentwood to meet connoisseurs of the Essex Film & TV industry including A-list celebrities from TOWIE.

    I hope you can accept my invitation x

    • Genghis says:

      :) you could make the invitation even more enticing by getting some custom made ‘Mark’ and ‘Raffles’ name stickers for the windscreen of your Cortina…

      You’d also better be serving Krug…

      • Tilly71 says:

        Hi Genghis, got my 20k amex plat bonus points the same day my qualifying spend went to transactions, that was mega fast a week from start to finish. Will wait until tomorrow and cancel.

        • Genghis says:

          Nice. We’ll be keeping ours until next month when my wife will be able to refer me again.

      • Stephen says:

        >You’d also better be serving Krug…

        Just put cheap white wine through a sodastream- he won’t tell the difference.

  9. i concur – one of the best lounges i’ve ever been in, not that i have much experience.

    When i arrived – i was making the most of it so it was hours before my flight and was empty, i got a guided tour of the place. When my flight was called, the lady who greeted me as i entered the lounge, ala Mr Ben style – she literally just appeared out of nowhere, Came and found me and presented me with a box of sweets from the pick-you-own counter for my trip

    can definitely recommend the showers – BA should go an see how its done properly 😉

    • GnarlyOldGoatDude says:

      Thanks, Hugh.
      I now have the theme music as an ear-worm.

      For me, it was one of those programs where I always saw the same episodes (“Red Indian”) and never the others that I knew exist (“Astronaut”).

  10. where2travel says:

    “It is effectively like the British Airways Concorde Room but with more daylight” – not just daylight, in my view it’s in a league above the CCR on pretty much every measure you choose to assess lounges on.

  11. Great lounge but slightly difficult to find a seat in the afternoon when the A380 (14:15hrs) and the 42 seat 777 (15:00 hrs) are departing. Also, I think Qatar seem to block the seat next to you if you have OW Emerald status….I have been the only person with a free seat in about 5 out of my 11 old J

  12. Am very jealous – I’m currently sitting in the No 1 lounge (a misnomer is ever there was one!) at Gatwick. Awful!

  13. OT: I’m flying Air France from LHR T4 next week. I got the Alitalia Gold Card via status match, so should get into the Sky Team lounge. Would I also be able to access the Etihad lounge?
    Just to make it more complicated, the flight was booked on KLM with a Delta frequent flyer number.
    I recently got the Amex Plat so should be able to use Plaza Premium for a third option.

  14. RIccati says:

    An airline from the OneWorld alliance prohibits access to elite members to its lounge and sends them to the lounge of SkyTeam alliance!

  15. I’m sure I read on here if you’re flying Qatar Economy (but with a BA Exec club account linked to the booking) you can get complimentary access to the SkyTeam lounge. Can anyone confirm?