World’s Best Airport Lounges

With stringent security procedures in place at airports, business travellers have resigned to a good amount of time spent idly at the airport. However, an airport lounge with the best of luxury and amenities can make the wait quite rewarding

EXEC rounds up some of the best airport lounges around the world based on what it offers to its guests and of course, the sheer touch of decadence. Who doesn’t love a little bit of special treatment?

British Airways’ Concorde Room, Heathrow Airport

The Concorde Room at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow is one of the most exclusive lounges, and not with reason. At its elegant, private dining booths, passengers can sit down to a full waiter service, and enjoy complimentary champagne, fine wines, freshly ground coffee and afternoon tea. Its coup de resistance is a private cabana with a comfortable day bed and en suite bathroom leading to a terrace and viewing area. For travellers who would rather work, the Concorde Room also has a business suite with boardroom facilities, Internet and computers linked to a printer, and a 40-inch LCD display screen for presentations. Only Gold Executive Club members with 5,000 Tier Points can receive a Concorde Room Card. Other perks include a free treatment at the Elemis Travel Spa and a sit-down meal before night flights. A concierge will also help you with travel plans like booking a cab or changing your flight reservation.

Qatar Airways’ First Class and Business Class Lounges, Premium Terminal, Doha International Airport

At Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal, built at a cost of US$100 million, first and business class passengers are offered a treatment worthy of a five star hotel. On stepping onto the terminal, they are met by a concierge before heading to check-in. The separate First Class and Business Class Lounges at the terminal offers options for fine dining with Arabic and international cuisines, duty free shopping over 500 square metres, massage treatment rooms, shower rooms, free Internet access stations, simulator games and Sony PlayStation games, a 24-hour medical centre and a children’s play area and nursery. First class passengers can also enjoy spa treatments, jacuzzis and saunas – no wonder the lounge received the ‘Best First Class Lounge’ award at the Annual Skytrax World Airline Awards 2011. For business travellers, the lounge offers a conference room with audiovisual facilities and meeting rooms with secretarial services, available free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Premium passengers flying on codeshare flights operated by Qatar Airways and children and nannies travelling Economy Class with First and Business Class passengers are also allowed to check in at the Premium Terminal and use selected areas.

Lufthansa’s First Class & Senator Lounges, Frankfurt Airport

Travellers can retire to separate quiet rooms with day beds, enjoy a massage or beauty treatment at the First Class Spa or relax in the hot tub. For smokers, the Cigar Lounge is worth a visit. The restaurant is another bonus here, with freshly prepared dishes complemented with an excellent wine list. Individual office units equipped with a telephone, Internet kiosk, laptop sockets, W-LAN and office stationery are also at the disposal here.

Lufthansa has also launched its Senator Lounge at Frankfurt airport, which is now its largest airport lounge. Senator Card holders can enjoy showers, massages, facials, full-body treatments or other beauty treatments. At the City Lights Bar, a bartender prepares drinks and mixes cocktails or classic long drinks. In addition to the comfort zones, bistros and work areas, there is also a separate relaxing area with leather day beds and a smokers’ room. Lufthansa lounges also offer access to free, wireless broadband Internet service – definitely a plus.

Emirates’ Business Class Lounge, Dubai International Airport

The interior design and seating areas at Emirates’ Business Class Lounge revolve around the concepts of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Here, passengers can relax with gourmet selection of hot and cold delicacies from around the world. Fresh juices, soft drinks, beers, wines, spirits and hot beverages are also available. The Timeless Spa at the lounge offers beauty and massage therapies and a quick hairstyling session. These as well as a shoeshine service are available for nominal fees. For freshening up, passengers can head to the shower facilities. Complimentary Wi-Fi, two business centres and a conference room and PCs with broadband Internet for printing documents are also features at the lounge. For children, there is a dedicated play area, a 42-inch plasma TV screen and other activities to keep them entertained.

Cathay Pacific’s The Wing, Hong Kong International Airport

The Wing has acquired a new look courtesy London based architectural firm Foster + Partners. Its mix of natural materials and signature granite and marble incorporates a wooden touch to offer uncluttered space and unobstructed views. The lounge area had been expanded by about 400 square metres, with also an increase in seating capacity. The revamped lounge features premium seating including 45 Cathay Solus Chairs, Classic Chesterfields from Poltrona Frau, contemporary pieces from B&B Italia and Walter Knoll, as well as custom-made furniture exclusively designed for Cathay Pacific. The number of showers in the First and Business Lounges has also gone up to 41 from 16.

The food is another major attraction at the lounge open to first and business class passengers. A new Coffee Loft concept has also been introduced along with an expanded hot and cold buffet, Noodle Bar has Japanese dishes, and Haven reserved for first class passengers has been expanded to offer a larger range of a la carte dining options and a Cocktail Bar. A new Champagne Bar will also serve welcome drinks in the reception lounge for first class passengers. To unwind, the lounge has IT workstations, day beds and a spa – all this with a view of the runway.

Etihad’s Diamond First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi International Airport

The lounge pampers its passengers with an à la carte restaurant, a Six Senses Spa offering short but rejuvenating treatments, a champagne bar, a cigar and cognac lounge, a business centre with free Wi-Fi, and a library. For those travelling with children, the lounge has a nursery with books and toys, and its own children’s menu and nannies.

Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris First Class Lounge, Changi Airport

First and business class passengers can grab a quick shower or nap at the lounge. There are massage chairs, and a hot buffet to enjoy. For those with work on their minds, there are the meeting rooms, and a fully equipped business centre. There are also soundproof booths from where travellers can make free phone calls within Singapore.

La Mamounia’s VIP Lounge, Menara Airport

If you have a flight to board from Marrakech, waiting in this lounge can make you want to postpone it. It is also the only lounge in the list not managed by an airline; it has been launched by the La Mamounia hotel. A work by French interior designer Jacques Garcia, a custom Olivia Giacobetti fragrance of dates wafts through the lounge. Moreover, you have access to free Wi-Fi and concierge service, gourmet food and cocktails as you wait to be cleared through customs.

Qantas’ First Lounge, Sydney Airport

The lounge with its Poltrona Frau Furniture and Carrara marble designed by Marc Newson offers a view of Sydney, and a 30-metre-high tropical garden wall adds a special touch. Here, you can spend time trying a treatment or two at the Payot Paris day spa, toying with Sony PlayStations, watching movies or browsing the Net using the free Wi-Fi service or even holding a quick conference. The open-kitchen restaurant headed by famous chef Neil Perry also makes for a delicious experience.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, San Francisco International Airport

The floor-to-ceiling windows of the lounge present the San Francisco Bay in all its glory, while a rotating digital art exhibit showcases works by local artists. After some soul food, head to the restaurant where passengers can eat light snacks and entrees all day long.

Air France L’Espace Premiere Lounge, Charles de Gaulle International Airport

The lounge resembles Air France’s l’Espace first-class cabins with red carpets and leather armchairs. A limousine transfers passengers from the Air France L‘Espace Premiere Lounge to their flight. While waiting in the lounge, they can browse the Net, relax at the spa, take a shower or enjoy a full-body massage. Food from France’s top chefs can be sampled here along with premiere wines and champagne. A personal assistant is also on call for assistance.

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