This is my review of the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 4.
Here are the other articles in this series:
My trip to Doha began with a trip to Heathrow Terminal 4. This was the first time I have visited since Terminal 5 opened back in 2008. Even then, because – in general – only long-haul BA flights went from Terminal 4, I was not a regular visitor. If I’m honest, I didn’t recognise a thing apart from the general layout.
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 which I reviewed on Monday.
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 150 people pass through the lounge.
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!
On entry you are faced with a very Arabian water feature:
and a lounge seating area – unused as it was very quiet when I arrived:
Off to the left is a small business centre with four terminals. This worked fine, except for an odd system glitch which meant that attempting to cut and paste anything led to a pop up asking you to pay to continue the machine! (It uses the same software as a pay terminal, just set to ‘free play’.)
Newspapers and magazines are laid out on small tables throughout the lounge. The magazine selection is not a patch on the British Airways Terminal 5 offering, but on a par with any other lounge with similar visitor numbers. I did end up nipping out to buy a copy of Bloomberg Businessweek from WH Smith (if you have not read this since Bloomberg bought it, I thoroughly recommend giving it another go).
You are then forced to turn right into a wide corridor, before the lounge opens out at their impressive bar and casual dining area. There is no buffet here – you can either order food from the menu or ask for things from the cold items on display.
Note that this area does not overlook the main apron – that is on the other side of the terminal.
It seemed rude not to start with a glass of champagne – after all, they were not about to run out in a hurry:
Your options are Bollinger Special Cuvee, Pol Roger Brut Vintage 2004, Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Rose 2004 and Bollinger Rose Brut. I went with the latter ….
The food here is where the lounge really scores. I have never been impressed by food in the British Airways Concorde Room. The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt still serves the best lounge food I have ever had. However, the Qatar Premium Lounge food was impressive – especially as I was there as a business class and not First Class passenger.
I went with the teriyaki glazed chicken, with spring onion, teppan noodles, sweet miso and edamame beans. And very impressive it looked:
There is a full wine list available, including dessert wines, but I decided to stick with the champagne.
This was good food. Simple stuff (easy to prepare in a small kitchen) but well executed and well presented. There is variety of light and heavy options, with Arabian selections as well. Mini beef burgers, tuna nicoise salad, salmon risotto, Thai laksa rice, king prawn linguini and Za’atar roasted lamb neck (which, for novelty value, I should probably have tried) were also on offer.
All food is cooked to order. You can see the kitchen at the back of this photo of the formal dining room:
Yes, there is a formal dining room as well. I didn’t sit there (the food is the same if you sit in the more casual area by the windows) but if you want a more formal meal then it is there:
I followed up my teriyaki chicken with some cheesecake (very good, no soggy base!) and a cappuccino:
It’s an oryx, before you ask, part of the antelope family.
Overall, this is a very smart and classy lounge, where you can happily enjoy a quiet drink and a restaurant quality meal before your flight. I personally preferred it to the British Airways Concorde Room where I was two weeks earlier but comparisons are slightly unfair – the Concorde Room handles a magnitude of passengers more.
For food and drink in a business class lounge, it is easily better than anything else I know at Heathrow (the Virgin Clubhouse, where I have not been for a few years, is undoubtedly more fun but I doubt the food and drink can match this). I am surprised that Emirates does not have something like this instead of their canteen-style lounge, albeit that does offer direct boarding of your aircraft.
After a couple of hours (and a l-o-n-g walk to and from the SkyTeam lounge at the other end of Terminal 4 to check it out) it was time to board. The lounge is situated directly opposite Gate 6, so it was a 20 second walk from the entrance to the boarding gate and my Boeing 777 to Doha:
My Qatar Airways flight report will follow in a day or so ….