For most, the standard flight experience involves cramped seats, wailing babies and questionably edible food. But for the elite, flying means fine dining, spa services, nannies to tend to the disorderly children and champagne bars to take the edge off.
The airline lounge is a swanky sanctuary for the upper echelons of air travel. Once uninspiring spaces, today’s airport lounges are havens of luxury and comfort. Airlines spare no expense in offering travellers premium products, top tier food and exceptional perks (some more eccentric than others).
We’ve reviewed the cream of the crop to bring you the best airline lounges of 2015. Check into one of these and you’ll almost hope your flight is delayed.
Qantas First Class Lounge, SYD
If there’s a formula for creating the perfect first class lounge, Qantas seem to have found it. The airline’s flagship lounge in Sydney is the masterful work of Creative Director Marc Newson and architecture firm Sébastien Segers Architecte DPLG. Striking design, private suites, a spa, a 30-metre vertical garden, and a restaurant menu created by Neil Perry (of Rockpool fame) are amongst the perks awaiting well-heeled guests.
British Airways Concorde Room, LHR
The dapper British vibe is unmistakable in the British Airways Concorde Room at London Heathrow. Visitors enter the lounge through the appropriately monikered “millionaire’s door,” then are greeted by crystal chandeliers, private cabanas with day beds, a state-of-the art business suite and the Elemis Spa. The fine dining restaurant, and extensive champagne and wine selection, are particularly praised by passengers.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, LHR
Heathrow scores again with the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. Richard Branson’s tradmark flair has made the London flagship lounge one of the most original and acclaimed in the world. The Clubhouse has something to offer everyone: vintage arcade games, pool tables, tea service, big-screen televisions, space-age design, complimentary spa services, expert mixologists behind the bar and even a hair salon for last-minute grooming emergencies.
Qatar Airways Lounge, DOH
Qatar Airways is also responsible from some of LHR’s prime real estate, but the airline’s true gem is found in Doha International Airport. The Al Mourjan Business Class lounge and First Class Al Safwa lounge defy all expectations. Opulent design is everywhere, from the sweeping staircase entry, to the tranquility pond, to the designer furniture and marble detailing. The world-class facilities even include a Formula 1 simulator.
GVK Lounge, BOM
The GVK Lounge at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai is the ultimate rarity: a lounge that’s open to the public via a pay-per-use plan. Divided into first, premium and business class sections, the GVK Lounge offers a 5-star experience to all travellers, including private relaxation rooms, spa treatments, a library, a buffet, a fresh juice bar and a whiskey lounge. Most stunning of all is the gold and silver decor, a beautiful example of modern Indian design.
Lufthansa First Class Terminal, FRA
First-class travellers passing through Frankfurt receive the ultimate A-list treatment with Lufthansa: an entire premium terminal. The experience includes private passport control and security checkpoints, plus luxury car transfer to your plane. Perhaps the most unexpected detail is the Lufthansa-branded rubber duck, which you can keep as a souvenir if you indulge in a luxurious layover bath. The unconventional memento has become a collector’s item.
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge, IST
Boredom is not an option at the Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge in Istanbul. There are two levels of rooms for lounging, dining, entertainment and napping in private relaxation rooms. Highlights of the expansive space include a music room equipped with a theatre screen, a pool table, and local touches like prayer rooms, a garden with olive trees and an olive bar. You can even get Wi-Fi in the showers.
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, SIN
Singapore’s Changi Airport is consistently ranked one of the best in the world, so it’s no surprise that one of its lounges makes the list. The SilverKris Lounge from Singapore Airlines is spacious and welcoming, with a variety of options for a meal, rest or work. For pampering at its most over the top, passengers departing from Changi in First or Suites Class can be admitted to the ultra-exclusive Private Room.
Cathay Pacific Lounges, HKG
Cathay Pacific is the crowning glory of Hong Kong International. The airline operates a whopping five lounges in the gargantuan airport: The Bridge, The Cabin, The Wing, The Pier and The Arrivals. The main attraction is The Pier, a glass-enclosed oasis tastefully decked out in green onyx, walnut, bronze and leather. The worst part is having to decide between the fine dining, the bar, the day suites and the foot massage zone.
Etihad Premium Lounge, AUH
No one is surprised to find a pinnacle of luxury in the Middle East. Etihad‘s Premium Lounge in the Abu Dhabi International Airport is brimming with indulgences for discerning travellers. There’s a cigar room, the Six Senses Spa, a champagne bar and even nannies to watch the little ones. The ultimate splurge is available only to guests flying in The Residence, Etihad’s “better than first class cabin”: a special partitioned-off part of the lounge to shield you from the hoi polloi.