EXCLUSIVE: I get a ‘hard hat’ tour of the NEW Qatar Airways Al Mourjan lounge in Doha
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Many Head for Points readers will have visited the Al Mourjan business class lounge at Doha’s Hamad Airport at some point. Here’s our last Al Mourjan review from 2022.
It is an impressive facility – I once had Krug with my breakfast on a visit there which isn’t something you get in a British Airways business class lounge (and to be fair isn’t something you’ll get in Doha now either!) – but overcrowding has become an issue at peak times.
Last week I was one of the first outsiders to see the BRAND NEW Al Mourjan business class lounge being built above ‘The Orchard’. It should be stunning.
Let me spoil your fun upfront. In order to see the new lounge I had to agree not to take any photographs and not to reveal certain elements about what it contains. This means that, frankly, this article won’t tell you much!
The only way I can even prove I was there is with this photograph:
…. which is taken from the lounge looking down into ‘The Orchard’.
Let me tell you what I can tell you.
There are two elements in this lounge which will be a world first. One of them genuinely stunned me. Two of the biggest brands in the world will be opening ‘brand extensions’ here.
When I say ‘world first’ I don’t mean ‘first in an airport lounge’. I mean that the airport has persuaded two huge brands to do something totally different for the first time anywhere.
I can’t say any more. However, I can say without a doubt that some people – admittedly probably not HfP readers – will rearrange their travel plans purely to travel through Hamad in order to visit one or both of these facilities. Interestingly, neither will be free – in fact, the total opposite. Deep pockets will be required.
I fully expect that many people will stop using the Al Safwa First Class lounge and move to the new Al Mourjan lounge purely to try out these two facilities.
The new Al Mourjan lounge is huge
‘The Orchard’ is basically a big circular space with the gardens in the centre and luxury shopping – probably the world’s biggest collection of luxury duty free boutiques – around the outside. Even the cafes are branded – I passed a Fendi bar and a stand-alone Ralph Lauren coffee outlet.
It opened in November 2022. There is a 60,000 square foot rainforest-like atrium. It claims to have 300 trees and 25,000 plants, with some trees reaching 50 feet high, and a large water feature.
As you can see above, it has elements of the ‘Jewel’ garden and fountain unveiled at Singapore’s Changi Airport a few years ago.
The lounge will sit one level higher, a bit like the First Class and Business Class lounges that Emirates runs in Dubai. You are basically sitting on a huge balcony which covers around 1/3rd of the perimeter of ‘The Orchard’.
Capacity will apparently be around 1,000 people. For comparison, the current Al Mourjan lounge – which remains open – apparently holds 800. I saw a report elsewhere that this will be the biggest Business Class lounge in the world, although to be fair it doesn’t look it. That said, because you’re on a balcony with the roof far above you and the garden and boutiques down below, I understand how it can feel smaller than it actually is.
It’s great for transfer passengers, but not for Doha travellers
If you’ve never been to Hamad then you won’t understand how large it is. Even before this new extension, it was the largest free standing building in the world. There is an internal monorail to ferry passengers around.
Many, but not all, transfer passengers will find themselves funnelled into the departures area via ‘The Orchard’, which makes sense as it is a lovely space.
If you are starting your journey in Doha, however, it is a l-o-n-g way away from check-in. You would need to take the monorail to get to it. However, the existing Al Mourjan lounge will be massively quieter once the new lounge opens so – if you’re not in shopping mode – you may well prefer to stick with that.
When does the new Al Mourjan lounge open?
It was largely complete when I was there last week although I don’t know what may need finishing behind the scenes. Much of the furniture was already in place, for example, and about half of the gym equipment was installed.
Let’s just say that Ramadan runs from 22nd March to 21st April and its unlikely you would see a formal opening during that period. I don’t know if there will be a soft opening before the official one.
The entry rules will, I believe, be the same as the current Al Mourjan lounge – ticketed Business and First Class passengers only, excluding ‘Business Light’ cash tickets and anyone who has upgraded an Economy ticket with Avios. Avios redemptions in Business Class can get in.
oneworld status members in Economy will not get in and need to use the new oneworld lounges, which I will be reviewing soon.
There will be more news from Hamad, and a competition, on HfP next week.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2023)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.