Even the porridge is five-star.
It’s the perfect consistency and comes with a dinky jug of delicious cream – and is garnished with just the right number of raspberries and quantity of brown sugar.
I’m having breakfast in a Qatar Airways’ business class Qsuite, which the airline patented. It should do the same with its porridge.
Everyone says Qatar Airways’ Qsuite is, if not the best, then one of the best business class experiences in the world. Pictured are two middle seats in the cabin converted to a double bed (stock image)
Ted relaxes with a glass of Lallier Champagne in his Qsuite berth on board a Doha-bound Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER
My top-notch hot cereal experience is just one of many mini ‘wow’ moments I have on a return trip in the business class berth from London to the airline’s home of Doha in Qatar.
Everyone says Qatar Airways’ Qsuite is, if not the best, then one of the best business class experiences in the world – the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards (2019 winner), the Skytrax Awards (2018 winner), MailOnline commenters, frequent fliers I know. Everyone.
So I wanted to find out what all the fuss is about.
And low and behold – what the fuss is about is readily apparent at every stage.
THE LOUNGE AT HEATHROW
Ted’s first Qatar Airways experience is the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4, pictured
The Premium Lounge is premium in every way – and features a stunningly elegant Arabian fountain, pictured
The wow-count gets underway at the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4, where my Boeing 777-300ER is departing from.
This is no misnomer. It’s premium in every respect – serene, sophisticated, elegant and, a rare thing among airport lounges… beautiful.
In the lobby sits a giant bowl of orchids on a table beneath candles arranged on a circular wooden chandelier.
The centrepiece in the next room, called Palm Court, is a stunning Arabian water fountain.
The service in the Premium Lounge is excellent. What’s more, as a bonus, there are actual olive trees (pictured)
I leave it to babble gently away and move through to a delicatessen area where actual olive trees protrude through the spotlessly white tables.
The crockery is bone china. The service is impeccable. The eggs Benedict I order cooked to perfection.
I’m extremely impressed.
The lounge has showers with heated floors, which I’d love to try, but there’s no time.
Staff members are gliding from person to person and informing them that the flight to Doha is ready for boarding.
THE OUTBOUND JOURNEY
A view of Ted’s Doha-bound Boeing 777 at Heathrow Terminal 4, pictured from the Premium Lounge
Ted’s size nine feet have plenty of room to wiggle in the Qsuite footwell (left). And all the crockery in the Qsuite is, naturally, bone china (right)
I stride forth to my Qsuite, decked out in Qatar Airways’ signature burgundy and grey.
I actually get a choice of Qsuites. I’m thoughtfully shown a handful of empty ones by a cabin crew member and offered the chance to change seats, should I so desire.
But I stick with my reserved forward-facing middle-of-the-cabin berth – 4D.
It comes with a blanket, pillow and a cushion and a stewardess hands me an amenity kit and White Company pyjamas and slippers shortly after I sit down.
Qsuites in the middle are formed from blocks of four seats, two facing two, and all can be completely enclosed.
But cunningly the dividers can be lowered to form a meeting table for four, or a double bed for two.
I’m travelling on my own and so it’s a snug lair for one.
And within mere seconds I can see why the gongs keep coming.
For starters, the ergonomics are perfect.
There’s a media panel that curves around a table unit in the corner that incorporates USB and HDMI ports, the buttons for the seat and light and a removable TV remote – and they are all easily within arm’s reach.
Button-pushing bonanza: This is the Qsuite media panel, which is, writes Ted, ergonomically perfect
To the side of the seat, meanwhile, is a very useful compartment with a lid for storing mid-flight bits and pieces.
There’s a sliding privacy door, too. Splendid.
But I keep it retracted because I don’t want even the slightest delay to food and beverage deliveries.
The business class wine list is very well presented, with full descriptions and pictures of every wine available
Pictured left is the fabled five-star porridge, while the picture on the right shows one of the other breakfast components – an assiette of cold cuts
THINGS TO DO IN DOHA
Forget camels, on a Discover Qatar desert safari you hurtle around the dunes south of Doha in an air-conditioned 4×4 (with Wi-Fi), after a stop at a camp to deflate the tyres, swig a sweet tea and hold a falcon or two (falcons are a thing in Qatar).
Ted on a desert safari
It’s a thrilling excursion.
The highlight is reaching Khor al-Adaid, aka the Inland Sea – an inlet of the Persian Gulf – one of the very few places on earth where a desert meets a sea.
Want to hang out at the mall, Doha-style? Make a beeline, then, for the Souk Waqif, a labyrinthine, vibrant bazaar that has been trading for centuries.
Here you can buy spices, perfumes and traditional Qatari clothing, gorge on flavoursome fodder – I can recommend Al Terrace for tasty Lebanese food – and get your falcon mended at the Falcon Hospital.
It’s always busy, but that just adds to the buzzy atmosphere.
National Museum of Qatar
Conceived by French architect Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar is a building like no other. Anywhere on the planet.
It’s made from 512 concrete discs that jut out and intersect at every conceivable angle, like a jumble of flying saucers (though its design inspiration is actually the desert rose).
Inside carefully curated exhibitions tell the story of Qatar. Kids will love the giant wall of touch screens.
Dhow boat cruise
This is a must.
Doha has a jaw-droppingly futuristic skyline and it’s best viewed from the water.
Dhow cruises offer stunning views of the city’s skyscrapers.
For more information visit www.discoverqatar.qa/.
The first deployment is a welcome glass of Lallier Champagne – retail price around £26 a bottle. (Yes, it’s 7.50am, but there are no time zones on international flights, so don’t judge me. And besides, the palette is always liveliest in the mornings. Fact.)
The wine list blurb says it has ‘creamy and toasty’ notes. I’m not going to contest this.
After take-off I’m informed that I can eat my a la carte breakfast at any time and have the courses in any order.
Is this business class or first class? The boundaries are blurring.
I’ve already waxed lyrical about the porridge. Now it’s time to praise the assiette of cold cuts.
This is my starter and it consists of smoked salmon, cheddar, caper berries, artichoke and boiled egg. And it’s deliciously fresh.
I’m also served, in a little basket, a warm croissant and pain au chocolat good enough for most bakeries in France and a bread roll. Plus a smooth coffee.
The table is nicely set, too, with a linen tablecloth, a little flickering light that mimics a candle and the bone china crockery is back.
Next? Time to settle down and watch some movies.
And play with the seat.
The buttons are all intuitive and it’s very easy to find a supremely comfortable position.
It can be moved in mere seconds to set take-off and dining positions and down to a 6.5ft lie-flat bed (and every angle in between).
It’s supportive, too, and at 21.5 inches plenty wide enough. Plus there’s ample room for my size nine feet in the footwell.
Back up we go for some screen-prodding.
And what a screen. It’s superb.
It has pin-sharp visuals and a user interface that’s a doddle to use. And it’s so big – 22 inches – that movies don’t need to be reformatted for it.
But what about the headphones? Traditionally they’re a hit-and-miss affair for airlines.
Qatar’s slip into the ‘hit’ category. I wouldn’t describe the sound as high fidelity – and there’s slight distortion at low volume levels, possibly associated with the noise cancellation technology – but commendable considering it’s emanating from a freebie pair.
With the volume up, I’m fully immersed.
Somewhere over Turkey I decide to explore the white wines.
I order a glass of 2016 Matanzas Creek Winery Chardonnay – average price around £20 a bottle – and the stewardess suggests I have a cheese board with it.
Well why not?
I’m shown the bottle before it’s poured and offered a taste. Always a nice touch.
It’s crisp and slightly smokey. Very good indeed.
And the cheeses hit the spot, too.
Next I try a glass of 2017 Mansion House Bay Marlborough New Zealand sauvignon blanc – average price £11 a bottle – which isn’t quite as memorable, but still gets a firm nod of approval. Sauvignon blanc should be zesty and fruity and this delivers.
Ted is served this platter of cheeses with his afternoon white wine. It’s a tough life in a Qsuite
Inside the VIP Al Maha lounge at Hamad International Airport Ted enjoys a coffee before strolling over to the dedicated immigration officer
VIP TREATMENT IN DOHA
After touching down at Hamad International Airport I’m guided through the terminal by Qatar Airways’ VIP ‘Al Maha’ service.
One of its representatives is waiting for me at the bottom of the steps as I disembark from the plane onto the tarmac.
She ushers me into a VIP bus with extra comfy seats and once in the terminal guides me to a lift with no signage that brings us out near passport control.
No queues for me, though. Instead I’m shown into the swanky Al Maha arrivals lounge and told I can have a coffee and be processed by immigration at my leisure.
The best bit? There’s an immigration officer in the lounge.
I can’t help but chuckle at the VIP-ness of it all.
THE RETURN JOURNEY
Welcome to Qatar Airways’ premium check-in area. Have you ever seen such a grand entrance to a bank of check-in desks?
The sweeping business class check-in desk area (pictured) and its elegant privacy screens, shiny floors and sleek designer sofas feels like something out of Tomorrowland, writes Ted
The return journey is similarly praiseworthy.
The sweeping business class check-in desk area and its elegant privacy screens, shiny floors and sleek designer sofas feels like something out of Tomorrowland. And there are a cluster of mini wow moments at the split-level Al Mourjan Business Lounge.
It boasts enough room for 1,000 high flyers (I’m told), a games rooms for children with PlayStation pods and an F1 driving simulator and a breathtaking 15m (49ft) x 7m (23ft) infinity pool water feature at the base of a spiral staircase linking the two floors that’s lit by a stunning five-tiered chandelier.
The split-level Al Mourjan Business Lounge (pictured) features a breathtaking fountain pool and five-tiered chandelier
There’s plenty of room for all in the Al Mourjan Business Lounge (pictured). Dining is self-service and Qatar Airways’ great Champagne is on offer
The dining options don’t quite match the surrounds – it’s a modest self-service affair. I go for a fairly decent korma curry.
There is fizz, though. Hello again, Mr and Mrs Lallier.
THE FLIGHT HOME
Qsuites in the middle are formed from blocks of four seats, two facing two, and all can be completely enclosed. But cunningly the dividers can be lowered for the benefit of those travelling in groups
Off again: Ted’s flight home to London is once again in a Boeing 777 (stock image)
My plane home departs at 4.50pm and so once we’re ‘in the cruise’ the cabin crew take orders for dinner.
I plump for centre cut salmon with black-and-white sesame seeds, braised beef cheek and creamy Parmesan polenta and chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
Overall – delicious (but see the ‘quibbles’ section below). And there’s a tasty amuse-bouche, too.
To accompany this, having had white wine on the way over, I opt for some red-wine quaffing.
Pictured here are the breakfast and dinner menus presented to Ted on his outbound and inbound flights
An amuse-bouche is served before dinner proper gets underway (left). On the right is Ted’s centre cut salmon with black-and-white sesame starter
Ted’s braised beef cheek and creamy Parmesan polenta main course, pictured left. On the right is the chocolate and vanilla ice cream rustled up for dessert
I have a silky smooth 2016 Loscano Gran Reserve Malbec from Argentina – average price £17.
But this is trumped by a marvellous 2011 Bordeaux Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion Pessac-Leognan (average price £27), which is elegant, well-balanced and full of blackcurrant flavours.
I delve into my amenity kit, too, which is made by renowned Italian luggage-maker Bric’s. It’s a pretty classy bag and contains Monte Vibiano facial mist, moisturiser and lip balm, plus socks, ear plugs and an eye mask.
The amenity kit is made by renowned Italian luggage-maker Bric’s and contains Monte Vibiano facial mist, moisturiser and lip balm, plus socks, ear plugs and an eye mask
The toilets are posh – for an airliner. There are free toothbrush and toothpaste packs, Rituals toiletries and panels with a wood-veneer effect
It’s toothbrush-less, but there are baskets of them – sealed in packets with mini tubes of toothpaste – in all the business class loos, along with Rituals toiletries.
And wood-effect panelling.
The service, meanwhile, in both directions, has been impeccable. Gold standard.
The stewards and stewardesses are gracious, utterly courteous and sincerely passionate about making sure every passenger is well looked after.
As I said, I see what all the fuss is about.
Qatar Airways’ Qsuite is the trailblazing world-beater that the hype suggested it would be.
But my journey hasn’t been perfect.
The Wi-Fi on the way out irks me a tad.
You get free access for an hour and after that you have to stump up $10 (£7.94) for access for the whole journey.
Well, sod’s law – it works perfectly for the free hour, then drops out almost completely after I pay.
And on the return journey I can’t get it to work at all.
The wine list booklet, too, furrows my brow, albeit momentarily.
I love the way it’s laid out, with detailed descriptions and half-page photos of all the wine bottles.
But the introduction… it states that you’ll be ‘exploring the world of fine wines’.
Here I think Qatar Airways is guilty of overselling. I don’t believe many people would consider an £11 sauvignon blanc a ‘fine wine’.
And the beef main course doesn’t quite come together for me.
The meat is nicely cooked and tender – full marks – but the accompanying flavours are a tad on the bland side and it is a bit too runny (technically, it should be thick enough to cut with a thread and hold its shape).
Anything else? Oh yes – one of the toilet seats on the Doha-bound plane refuses to stay up…
Other than that – Qatar Airways, take a bow.
Return fares from London to Doha in the Qsuite start from £3,936. Visit www.qatarairways.com for more information.
Rating key: one star – poor; two stars – ok; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
A rather jaw-dropping accommodation option in Doha is The St. Regis Doha. Full review to come.