Qatar Airways' Premium Lounge at London's Heathrow Airport is a bit more exclusive than your 'typical' airport lounge. Here, only passengers departing the UK capital in first class or business class get through the door.
Everybody else, including Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers stuck in economy – a roster that counts Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members among its ranks – are directed to other lounges instead, such as the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge and the SkyTeam Lounge.
Here's what awaits for Qatar Airways' pointy end passengers in London: and for high flyers with Malaysia Airlines who choose to stop by.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security via the Fast Track channel at Heathrow Terminal 4, turn left.
You'll need to remember this, because oddly, there's no signage to this business and first class lounge directly from the security channel used by business and first class passengers – instead, the initial signage is visible only to passengers coming out of the 'economy' path, which is just silly.
Once you're headed in the right direction, take another left when you spot a sign for the Qatar Airways lounge...
... and at the end of the long walkway, the lounge is straight ahead, through the doors to the left.
However, the Qatar Airways logo is on the wall to the left of the lounge – not above the doorway – so it's easy to miss when you're looking straight-on. Don't do what I (and another traveller) did and take the lift to the floor above, thinking that's where the sign is pointing you..!
If you walk inside and see this room, huzzah, you're in the right place. There's no reception desk here: instead, a member of staff will approach you, scan your boarding pass, and provide you with the WiFi details.
Immediately beyond this room is the stylish Palm Court area, which often goes unused unless the lounge is full, making it a quiet place to relax if you have work to do or are only making a brief visit.
While signage is an issue outside the lounge, inside, it's very clear: follow the arrows to find what you need.
Lots of tiny touches contribute the lounge's overall 'premium' feel, ranging from olive trees in the dining area – greenery being rarer in the Middle East (where Qatar Airways is based) than in Australia – through to Arabic calligraphy in the styling of the walls and carpets, augmented by Mediterranean blues in parts...
... and with artful floral displays too, even if you're merely walking down the corridor to the restroom!
This lounge is open at least three hours prior to departure for every Qatar Airways flight – and as Qatar offers six daily departures from London, it's practically open for most of the day, with that timing working perfectly for passengers travelling with Malaysia Airlines as well on flights MH1 in the evenings and MH3 in the mornings.
Take note that 'officially', the lounge has a dress code: jeans, shorts, beach wear, vests (presumably only those worn without a shirt underneath), "revealing clothing" and flip flops (a.k.a. thongs) are all disallowed, however, I faced no issues at the door when arriving in a styled pair of dark, non-ripped jeans, but your mileage may vary.
Qatar Airways' Premium Lounge at London Heathrow exclusively welcomes:
- Qatar Airways' first class and business class passengers travelling to Doha
- Malaysia Airlines' first class and business class travellers jetting to Kuala Lumpur
If you're not on that list, you're not through the door!
Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire frequent flyers (including Qantas Platinum and Gold) travelling in economy with either airline may instead visit the Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounges in the same terminal – including the first class section to the right for Emerald cardholders.
Passengers flying with Qatar Airways with Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire status also have the option of the SkyTeam Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 by special arrangement, but if you have access to Qatar's Premium Lounge by way of your boarding pass, it's a much better option.
Unlike in other places, the terminals at Heathrow aren't linked 'airside', so if you're flying with a different Oneworld airline out of T3 or T5 (such as Qantas or British Airways), you won't be able to access this lounge either.
Begin your journey with a pre-flight meal in the lounge's dedicated dining room, situated in the far-right corner beyond the standard buffet zone:
All passengers – whether travelling with Qatar Airways or Malaysia Airlines, or in first class or business class – can make use of this space, where there's an a la carte menu with full table service as you'd expect of a high-end first class lounge: perfect if you're flying first class, but even better if you're flying business class where this isn't the norm:
I opted for a table near the wine cellar...
... and before long, had a glass of the Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne. As there's a Rosé on the menu too, it's fastest if you ask for the "white Champagne", which signals that you know there's a Rosé but still want the white: otherwise the waiter will ask, just like aboard Qatar Airways flights.
I began with the Arabic mezze platter, where warmed flat bread is served with hummus, tabbouleh, moutabel and olives, which was fresh and tasty...
... before enjoying a delicious bowl of the wild mushroom ravioli, served with watercress and a matching wild mushroom sauce. Top marks for the stylish crockery, too.
I opted to skip the a la carte dessert – a Middle Eastern-style Umm Ali bread pudding – in favour of a few sweet bites from the lounge's buffet area...
... but if you want a macaron, you'll just have to make do with four, because that's how they come plated!
Psst: Over in the dining room, there are giant jars of Lindt chocolates too, with scoops in front and takeaway boxes to the side: yes, you're allowed to take these with you, so grab a handful for your flight.
For travellers in a rush, or those who simply prefer the buffet, the food here ranges from the makings of a nice mezze plate...
... through to pastas and salads...
... and heartier bites such as lamb chops
At this area, you don't need to serve yourself: staff behind the counter (who hid briefly to enable this clear photo) will plate up your meal for you...
... but for a few of items, you can indeed help yourself:
Seating in this area is more 'communal' than the separate a la carte dining section – but during the day would have better natural light, given the nearby windows.
Naturally, some 'individual' seats remain available, but are better for snacking than dining due to their design:
Orders for cocktails can be placed at the main counter where other alcohol is also served, along with tea, barista coffee and the usual non-alcoholic drinks.
While this lounge is primarily designed to help you unwind before a long flight, there's a small business centre with PCs if you need to get any work done, including printing facilities...
... and as for any laptop work, you could set up at one of the communal tables in the dining area to get this done, or set your laptop on your lap anywhere else.
Wireless Internet is available throughout the lounge, but the speeds are pretty pedestrian, with downloads averaging 3Mbps and uploads 1Mbps during our tests.
Power points are available near some of the seats: typically those nearest the walls, although I didn't spot any USB outlets – only UK-style AC plugs, so don't pack your travel adaptor away too quickly.
There's plenty of choice when it comes time to relax, although the most popular seats seem to be those by the windows, which were all occupied during my visit except during this brief moment:
If you're not concerned with the view, you could instead unwind in one of the high-backed chairs...
... in one of the padded booth seats incorporated into the walls – which are also adaptable for larger groups by putting chairs and a table in front so that everybody can communicate easily...
... in that entry lobby with the soft noise of the nearby water fountain in the background...
... or behind that space, where a couple of 'lounge rooms' have been set up, ideal for larger groups or VIPs:
Showers are also at-hand, with each located in a private suite offering heated floors, a headed vanity mirror and even a bathrobe (which you probably shouldn't wear out of the suite, given the dress code and all!)...
... and in the gents' showers, there's also an adjustable shaving mirror, along with disposable razors amid the usual Qatar Airways dental kits:
Overall, while this isn't a particularly big lounge, it's quite a relaxing one – and with great pre-flight dining options, you'll be able to get on board and go straight to sleep if that's your plan.
As a first class passenger, I didn't feel that anything was 'missing' from the lounge and didn't notice the absence of a day spa, given the other amenities available here: and for business class flyers, a true pre-flight dining facility is a rarity, and something to be appreciated.
While frequent flyers stuck in economy can't access this lounge, it's a nice place for business class and first class travellers to relax: and the barring of Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire cardholders ensures the lounge can't get too crowded, as there are only a fixed number of premium cabin seats departing on every flight which caps the guest list.