Qatar Airways operates out of London Heathrow Terminal 4, which sadly has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
A 2022 Which? survey named it as the fourth worst airport terminal in the UK (Manchester’s three terminals swept the top three spots, in case you were curious), and having passed through, I think I can understand why.
Internal connectivity is a nightmare. The Heathrow Express had brought me swiftly from Paddington to the Terminal 2 & 3 station, but from there, I had to wait a further 40 minutes for a train to take me to Terminal 4. I made sure to arrive well in advance of my flight, but I can imagine squeaky bum time for anyone with a tighter schedule.
All the same, Qatar has doubled down on its Terminal 4 operations. Not only did it open a brand new Frequent Flyer lounge last year, it also built a dedicated Premium Check-in Area exclusively for First and Business Class customers. To be fair, this made the departures process a lot more pleasant, once I’d actually managed to get to the terminal.
After completing the departure formalities, I headed straight to the fast track security line and on to the Qatar Premium Lounge, which opened in 2012 as Qatar Airways’ first-ever outstation lounge.
|🍸 tl;dr: Qatar Airways Premium Lounge LHR|
|Qatar’s oldest outstation lounge offers a calming oasis amidst the chaos of T4, with pre-flight dining and shower facilities.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
|👑 Monarchy in the UK|
Access & Operating Hours
The Qatar Premium Lounge is located at London Heathrow Terminal 4 near Gate 1b, and opens from 7 a.m to 10 p.m daily.
Access is available to passengers departing on a Qatar Airways or oneworld-operated flight:
- In First Class (+1 guest)
- In Business Class
- In Premium Economy or Economy, provided you’re arriving on a ≥5 hours First/Business Class oneworld flight, with a connection on the same day or before 6 a.m the following day
Qatar Airways does not grant lounge access to passengers who have upgraded from Economy to Business Class using Avios (though full redemptions enjoy lounge access). Passengers who purchased Business Class Lite Fares are also barred from entry.
Likewise, oneworld Sapphire or Emerald members flying in Premium Economy or Economy Class will be sent to the Qatar Airways Frequent Flyer Lounge instead. This is a new facility that opened in September 2022, and while nice, lacks some of the frills that passengers in the Premium Lounge enjoy such as a la carte dining.
Qatar Airways isn’t above a touch of theatricality, illustrated here by a long gentle ramp leading to the reception, illuminated by decorative backlit panels on one side. At the end of the passageway is a reception desk, where a staff member scans your boarding pass and directs you to the proper lounge. The Frequent Flyer Lounge is down a staircase, while the Premium Lounge is straight on through.
In case you’re wondering why the strange layout, FlyerTalk poster Genius1 provides some excellent context in his review:
|The lounge is located within what is known as the Coaching Gate Building, a 1999 addition to 1986’s T4, built adjacent to Gate 1c. The building was originally home to a two-floor British Airways Terraces lounge (latterly known as the British Airways Gate 1 lounge), with two gate rooms (1a and 1b) on the lower level accessed by stairs and escalators with ramps down to bus pick-up areas to service aircraft on remote stands. When BA finally vacated T4 in 2009, the middle (gate) level was soon let to Qatar Airways, with Air India taking roughly a quarter of the upper level (now redundant space since AI moved to T2), and Plaza Premium taking the rest of the upper-level space a few years later.|
With the expansion of Gates 5 and 6 in 2009 to facilitate A380 service, Gate 4 (with its stand space shrunk due to the adjacent gates’ expansion) became the coaching gate, and Gates 1a and 1b became all but redundant. Prior to the pandemic, space had been set aside on the former gate room level to facilitate expansion of the QR lounge. QR finally opened their Frequent Flyer lounge in this space in June this year, serving status passengers who don’t have access to the Premium lounge (which is open to First Class and most Business Class ticketholders).
If you’ve visited the Qatar Premium Lounge in Singapore, you’ll notice some similar design language straight away. There’s a decorative LED wall lining the entrance, plus a sandstone wall bearing an Arabic inscription reading “marhaba” (hello in Arabic).
Qatar says that its London Premium Lounge is “more of a boutique hotel or private club than a lounge”. That might be a bit of a stretch, though it does have a certain charm to it.
The first thing you see upon entering the lounge is the Palm Court, a living room built around a central water feature (which has been deactivated for a while now).
Seating here is rather exposed, although off to the side there’s a secondary area where a decorative lattice provides a modicum of privacy. Even though Qatar did some refurbishments to the lounge during COVID, furniture doesn’t seem to have been on the priority list. Some pieces were notably yellowed or stained, revealing their age.
Further into the lounge are are quads of chairs lined up next to a window that overlooks the tarmac. Terminal 4 is something of an “anything goes” terminal, so you might spot some exotic carriers here.
At the rear of the lounge is the dining area, split into a casual bistro and a more formal dining room. It’s a nicely designed space, with copper accents adorning the pendant lights hanging over the attractively-lit bar.
The bistro area is awash in natural light, but if you prefer something a bit more solemn, the dining room is also open round the clock.
Food & Beverage
One of the signature Qatar Premium Lounge touches is an a la carte dining experience featuring made-to-order items. Since the lounge opens all day, both a breakfast and lunch & dinner menu are served.
My meal started with a very dainty pea soup served with crostini.
Next up was a platter of nigiri and sushi rolls, which was rather unappealing. I realise there’s only so much you can expect from airport sushi, but I don’t know why Qatar is so insistent on offering this across their lounges when the quality just isn’t there.
The yellow Thai prawn curry was competently executed, though the rice lacked the distinctive jasmine fragrance.
The ricotta cappellacci was served with sautéed king oyster mushrooms, which turned out to be the hero of the dish. The pasta itself was rather forgettable.
Finally, I had the seared beef steak, which turned out to be a piece of tenderloin served with roasted vegetables. I had no complaints about the cook of the steak, which came out a perfect medium rare. However, tenderloin is a rather bland cut of meat, since it lacks fat. I wish airlines would stop trying to impress customers with expensive-yet-underwhelming cuts like tenderloin and just stick to a good ribeye or striploin.
The dessert options were surprisingly limited to just ice cream, and not particularly good ice cream at that. It was icy inside, which suggests it hadn’t been stored properly, or had a very low butterfat content.
In case you can’t tell by now, I wasn’t very impressed by the dining experience. The Qatar Premium Lounge in Singapore was head and shoulders above this, and it’s definitely an area for improvement.
If you don’t have the time for a sit-down meal, you can help yourself to the buffet instead.
Rounding out the buffet was a glass display case with hummus, tabbouleh and baba ganoush dips, cold cuts, salads and cakes.
In the living room area was a refreshment counter, with Nespresso coffee machines, juices, soft drinks and still and sparkling water.
There was also a wine counter with self-pour reds and whites, plus Kettle chips.
|🍷 Qatar Premium Lounge Wine List|
|NV Joseph Perrier Brut||Champagne||3.9/5|
|NV Joseph Perrier Rose Brut||Champagne||3.9/5|
|Anthony Girard Domaine La Clef du Recit Sancerre||White||4.0/5|
|Moss Wood Chardonnay||White||4.2/5|
|Piguet Girardin Meursault 2020||White||Not rated|
|Nga Waka Pinot Noir 2020||Red||3.9/5|
|La Reserve De Leoville Barton 2014||Red||4.1/5|
|Podere Le Ripi Cielo D’ulisse 2017||Red||4.2/5|
The full drinks list can be found below.
Wi-Fi & Power
The Qatar Premium Lounge’s Wi-Fi network clocked in at 41 Mbps down and 89 Mbps up, more than sufficient for video calling and streaming.
Charging outlets are installed under most side tables, featuring a universal power plug, a Type-A and Type-C power port.
Wireless charging pads were also built into the surface of some side tables. These were a little finnicky, however, and the charge rate was very slow. If you need to urgently juice up a dying device before flying, stick to wired connections.
Toilets & Showers
The Qatar Premium Lounge has a total of three shower rooms, each with a toilet. They’re relatively narrow (some more than others), and the absence of a luggage rack will make navigating the confines challenging.
However, the shower itself is very impressive. In addition to an oversized rain shower head, there were four body jets and a hand shower. The rain shower and body jets can be activated at the same time, giving you quite the bathing experience.
Wall-mounted Diptyque bath amenities were provided in pump bottles.
The Qatar Airways Premium Lounge offers a welcome escape from the chaos of Terminal 4, with a soothing interior that invites you to take a breath, enjoy a drink, freshen up and grab a meal before you board.
The a la carte dining was a disappointment though, and hopefully my experience is just an aberration. Previous reviews speak more highly of the food, although these are notably all from pre-COVID times.
What do you make of the Qatar Premium Lounge at Heathrow?