In August 2019, Qatar Airways announced plans to open its own lounge at Singapore Changi Airport. Barely six months later, the facility was completed, becoming the airlines’ fifth outstation lounge after Bangkok, Beirut, London, and Paris.
I recently visited with The Milelioness in tow as part of an ill-fated trip report, which nonetheless led to a very fun evening at the airport.
|The Qatar Airways Premium Lounge is easily the best Business Class lounge not just in Terminal 1, but the whole of Changi Airport. A high-quality a la carte menu, full-service bar, and excellent staff are just some of the highlights. Make time for this on your next trip|
|The good||The bad|
The Qatar Airways Premium Lounge is located on Level 3 of Terminal 1, near the C gates
- If you’re coming from Terminal 1, turn left after immigration and keep walking
- If you’re coming from Terminal 2, exit the skytrain and walk across the concourse to the other side of the terminal
- If you’re coming from Terminal 3, exit the skytrain and you’re almost at the escalator to the lounge already
|By that same token, if you’re intending to return to T2 after visiting the Qatar lounge, it’s faster to take the skytrain to T3 and transfer to T1, rather than walking back across the terminal to the T2 to T1 skytrain|
As you approach the C gates, look out for this escalator going to the 3rd floor.
Once you’re up the escalator, you’ll see the Plaza Premium Lounge in front of you. Turn left, and you’ll reach the Qatar Premium Lounge.
Access and Opening Hours
The Qatar Airways Premium Lounge currently has three opening windows, based on Qatar’s three daily fights from Singapore:
- 0755-1055 hrs (QR 943)
- 1725-2025 hrs (QR 947)
- 2300-0200 hrs (QR 945)
|Due to the current Covid-19 outbreak, these flights are subject to rescheduling or cancellation. This will affect lounge opening hours- do keep that in mind if you’re heading to the airport during this period.|
The lounge is open to passengers flying on a Qatar Airways or oneworld-operated flight:
- In First Class (+1 guest)
- In Business Class
- In Economy, provided, you’re connecting from a ≥5 hours First/Business Class oneworld flight on the same day or before 6 a.m the following day
Unfortunately, Qatar Airways does not grant access to passengers who have upgraded from Economy to Business Class using miles.
Likewise, oneworld Sapphire or Emeralds flying in Economy Class will be sent to the SATS Premier Lounge instead. If you’re a oneworld Emerald, however, you’ll definitely want to go to the Qantas First Class lounge anyway.
The Qatar Premium Lounge has a very minimalist reception area, quite refreshing given how certain Middle Eastern carriers (won’t name names) are known to go over-the-top with bling.
The hostess welcomed us and offered to store our roll-on bag in the luggage check room. They even have a garment steamer handy here in case you need to get some creases out of your clothes.
After that, we were escorted into the lounge proper, just behind this LED wall which I’m still trying to figure out. World map? 3-D puzzle that jumps out at you if you stare long enough? Secret activation message for sleeper agents?
Opposite the LED wall you’ll find the lounge’s reading materials. Grab them here before you head in.
The interior is stunning, visually speaking. The design aesthetic is clean and the decor reminded me a lot of the Changi Lounge, in a good way. A total of 85 guests can be accommodated, making it the smallest oneworld lounge at Changi. However, it never felt crowded the whole time I was there- although to be fair, the period I visited can hardly be considered regular.
The passageway leading to the dining area is split between a seating area and individual lounging pods. The seating area on the left had leather upholstered armchairs and nesting coffee tables, complete with a mini-bar of its own. They don’t skimp on the drinks here- San Pellegrino sparkling and Acqua Panna still water are the order of the day.
The lounging pods (five in total) are more suited for relaxing than work- there’s not much desk space, and the chair looks more comfortable for reclining than sitting up straight. The pods have an adjustable reading light, a universal power socket and two USB charging outlets, so it’s a nice nook to read a book while powering up your devices.
Further into the lounge is the dining area. A gorgeous “living wall” sets the backdrop for the area. It’s oh-so-instagrammable.
Single diners can opt to sit at this series of individual high tables.
The dining area is also where you’ll find the full-service bar, adorned with a circular chandelier. It makes for a stunning centerpiece, and counter seating is available here.
Near the bar is the buffet line, although this isn’t the dining highlight- that’s the a la carte menu, which we’ll get to in a bit.
If the dining area near the “living wall” looked small, rest assured it’s not the only space to eat. Eight more two-tops are located on the reverse side of the buffet line.
The rest of the lounge is comprised of additional seating areas. As far as lounges come, it’s fairly low-density seating. But given that the maximum number of Qatar Airways Business Class passengers at any one time would be 46 (all three daily flights are operated by A350-1000s), there’s still a good amount of space to accommodate other oneworld customers.
Although I’m generally a fan of the lounge’s design style, I thought the purple chairs in a corner were a bit of an odd clash with the rest of the color palette. That said, they did remind me of the ones you’ll find in the Al Mourjan lounge in Doha.
The feature wall in the main seating area has some nods to Qatari culture, with books on falconry and pottery from the region.
Those here to do serious work will be glad to know that the Wi-Fi is fast enough, with download speeds of 20 Mbps and upload speeds of 7 Mbps. All seats have their own universal power sockets, and in a nod to modernity, wireless charging pads too
The lounge isn’t that large so I doubt you’ll get lost, but all the same there’s helpful signposts on the walls to remind you where everything is.
The seating areas are nice enough, but it’s the dining that’s the star of the show at the Qatar Premium Lounge.
We approached the dining area and were invited to have a seat.
A welcome mocktail called Green Garden was served, a delightful mix of fresh kiwi, cucumber, mint leaves, ginger and honey.
Then came the menu. Since the lounge is meant to serve both a morning and evening crowd, there are two different sets of selections depending on the time of day.
Here’s what’s on for breakfast…
…versus lunch & dinner.
After our orders were taken, we were invited to help ourselves to the buffet spread. The spread was well-stocked with bread, cheese, salad, fruits, and juices, but it would be nice to see them offering one or two hot items for people who are rushing to their flight and don’t have time to wait for made-to-order food.
Our orders took less than 10 minutes to arrive. For starters, The Milelioness and I had the satay and the chili king prawns. The latter came with a small salad and Thai chili sauce, and was so delicious we ended up ordering two more portions.
We also shared a stir-fried beef strips, which was equally good.
For the main course, I had a grilled beef tenderloin, done medium-rare. I’m not a fan of tenderloin; in my opinion it’s too little taste for too much cost (ribeye is where the action is). However, the accompanying sauce helped boost the flavor profile.
For what it’s worth, the cook on the steak was spot on.
I know it’s asking for trouble to order chicken rice in any place with air conditioning (Boon Tong Kee notwithstanding), but the Qatar lounge managed a valiant attempt. Their chili sauce was tangy with the right amount of lime, the chicken moist and the rice fragrant. It’s not going to win any awards, but I daresay that the Qatar lounge does more justice to local food than even Singapore Airline’s First Class Private Room.
The Milelioness ordered the pan-seared salmon, which looked plain on the outside, but was excellently executed. Way too many places overcook their salmon, but here they managed to keep the skin crispy and the inside moist.
We also split a farfalle with mushroom sauce. This one was more forgettable, so don’t feel bad if you give it a pass.
For dessert, I had the cheesecake, served with some rather good-quality vanilla ice cream.
Throughout dinner, the staff kept checking on our drinks situation. I had initially gone the boring route and ordered a glass of champagne for each of us (Veuve Clicquot Brut for me, Bollinger Rose for her), but the extremely friendly bartender looked genuinely disappointed we weren’t giving him a challenge. So much so he even felt the need to showboat by adorning our glasses with a raspberry…
…so I obliged him by ordering a mojito, which was fantastic. Apparently, a mojito is the trickiest drink for a bartender to make (who knew?), and if you ever feel like benchmarking a bar, you know what to do.
Other alcoholic drink options include:
- Little Black Dress Chardonnay (2017), California
- Oyster Bay (2017), New Zealand
- Thomas Schmitt Spatlese Riesling (2009), Germany
- McGuigan Single Batch Cabarnet Savignon (2018), Australia
- Chateau Le Gay (2016), France
- Aya Intense (2011), Portugal
- Porto Monge Tawny (N.V), Portugal
- Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut (N.V), France
- Bollinger Rose, France
All toilets and showers in the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge are in individual suites, and can be found at the rear of the facility. There are a total of five shower suites, but not all of them have an attached toilet. If that’s important to you, be sure to request one.
The showers were impeccably clean and dry, although it probably helped that we were the first guests to arrive. The suites without a toilet are, as you may have guessed, smaller in size…
…compared to the ones with toilets.
However, they’re otherwise identical in terms of finishings and amenities. You’ll still have adequate space for luggage, and a bench to sit on while wearing shoes.
Shower suites are stocked with Rituals bath amenities. A shaver and shower cap is provided by default; additional amenities like dental kits can be requested. There’s a hairdryer as well, although it’s not a fancy Dyson one (the ANA Suite lounge has set a high standard).
Both a hand and a recessed rain shower are available. The water pressure was great, and there’s a thermostatic mixer. What that means, for you folks who haven’t done renovations yet, is that the temperature won’t fluctuate when someone else in a neighbouring suite decides to crank up the hot water.
I can’t say enough good things here. From the time we entered to the time we left (in a fluster, to get offloaded from our Malaysia-bound flight), the service was absolutely top-notch. The staff were eager to help with every little thing, whether it was refilling drinks, snapping photos, or removing trash from the table. I think it might even come off as a little overbearing to those who prefer to keep to themselves, but I can’t fault them for being enthusiastic.
The Qatar Airways Premium Lounge, in my mind, is the best Business Class lounge in all of Changi. It’s certainly miles ahead of what Singapore Airlines Business Class passengers enjoy. I’d even go so far as to say I prefer it to the Singapore Airlines First Class lounge and Private room.
I know that’s a bit of an unfair comparison- the Qatar Airways lounge is set up to serve 85, while the Singapore Airlines lounge needs to handle hundreds, if not thousands. Obviously, it’s a lot harder (but not impossible) to serve a dine-on-demand menu and offer personalized service in an environment like that.
But I’ve always felt that the crowded, impersonal Singapore Airlines lounge experience at Changi felt like a jarring contrast to the polished and intimate service they provide onboard. Hopefully, those issues will be resolved when Singapore Airlines unveils its new lounges in 2021.
In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to visit the Qatar lounge at Changi when you’re next passing through. It’s pushing the bar higher for airlines here, and that’s a good thing.