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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:

The Orchard Doha Hamad airport

…. 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 Orchard Doha Airport

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.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2023)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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.

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

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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (117)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Amy C says:

    Currently staying at The Pearl with a QR captain. I’ve picked his brains for info on this special secret new thing and he knows nothing. Disappointing.

  • will says:

    “Even the cafes are branded – I passed a Fendi bar and a stand-alone Ralph Lauren coffee outlet”

    The absolute nonsense of the ME at it’s finest right there, no doubt able to uplift the cost of a latte to some customers by putting a fashion company’s name on the cup.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      It seems from the article that the new thing will be in the same vein as those, just more expensive than coffee.

      If it’s ME branding obsession and in the same vein as a Ralph Lauren coffee shop then it’ll be basically rubbish but should be good for a laugh at the shallowness and idiocy of it.

      I honestly can’t guess what though. Brands that are huge (i.e. pretty mass market) but “high end”… hmmm…. Master artisanal craftsmen will assemble your Rolex in front of you. “Couturiers” will assemble your garment or bag? Nah, I give up, no idea really but it is unlikely to be for me anyway 😀

    • Andrew J says:

      Plenty of such establishments outside of the Middle East – there’s a beautiful new Louis Vuitton café in Paris. And the Ralph Lauren café on the ground floor of the Bond St store is always packed. As a couple of similar examples.

      • JDB says:

        These mass market brands are indeed fortunate that there is a good supply of pseuds and fashion victims for their products and now cafés. I’ll stick to being a shareholder to reap the rewards of their profligacy.

        • Andrew J says:

          Indeed – the luxury goods sector is a very profitable one and long may it continue to prosper.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Pretty sure RL has done cafes / bar for years

          • Rob says:

            It has. Regent St in London got first UK 6-7 years ago. The Hamad one is standalone though.

  • His Holyness says:

    They have to try so very hard to get people to fly them don’t they?

    • Rob says:

      Seems not. We haven’t had any decent sale fares from the UK since pre-covid and both of my flights last week were 100% full in business, give or take (I didn’t walk around to check but obviously saw the seatmaps).

    • marcw says:

      They don’t need to offer heavily discounted fares anymore. Their critical mass is enormous huge (and global).

  • Lady London says:

    Sounds like it’s got a mini-racetrack and you can pay to take a spin in a Formula 1 racing car.

  • NorthernLass says:

    I’m flying DOH-MAN on an economy award ticket (21,500 avios plus £60 each, bargain) in December – which lounge can I use (BA Silver)? I can see this becoming one of the FAQs here with so many lounges!

  • Mohamed Kajee says:

    Definitely a Harrods department store! He mentions shopping as being the reason for visiting, Qatar owns Harrods which makes it a natural move and not to mention the only Harrods at airports are gift shops not full on department stores

  • Boi says:

    1. We have 8 hours layover Mar 30 on our way JNB-LAX. Can anyone recommend how we can pass this time?

    2. Similarly we have a 7 hr layover in AUH on our way to JNB. Recommendations?

    Ps, both trips are in business with access to the respective lounges.

    Thanks in advance

  • Nick Pike says:

    I must confess I have always found the Al Mourjan lounge a triumph of style over substance. Nowhere near enough loos- I have just queued for 20 minutes to use the gents, seating which is uncomfortable and impractical, no real food options other than a full sit down meal and a layout which looks great until you realise you have to walk the full length of it to get to the other side. Great looking, but hopelessly impractical.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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