Gallery checks out the world’s top ten first class lounges
10: Malaysia Airlines,
Kuala Lumpur International
While it may not be the most modern of airport lounges, with its most recent renovation being back in 2005 (a long time ago in airport-lounge speak), the Golden Lounge at Kuala Lumpur International is the only lounge with its own putting green. That’s right, argyle-clad fans of the sport can enjoy a round or two right before take-off! And that’s not the only thing they can do; insiders can pig out at the best airport buffet ever that offers 10 types of sandwiches, 22 different kinds of bread and 55 beverage choices. You can also get down to work at the business centre, which gives travellers access to the internet as well as fax and copy machines. There’s also a dedicated Relaxation Room with massage chairs and foot massagers for those who need to wind down before they go up.
9: Air France l’Espace
Air France, Charles de Gaulle Airport
While a dedicated check-in area may not be anything out of the ordinary for today’s spoiled traveler, it is what lies beyond that will please those with hours to spare at Charles de Gaulle’s Air France l’Espace Premiere Lounge. While you may not be able to see the Eiffel Tower from its windows, you will be able to relax in seats that fold out into real two-meter-long beds, enjoy delectable French cuisine prepared by famous Parisian chef Guy Martin and indulge in as much wine and champagne as your gut can take. There’s also a work area, but who needs work when Clarins massages are offered on-site?
8: Lufthansa First Class Lounge.
Lufthansa, Frankfurt Airport
Helping to keep the riff-raff out and the noise levels down, the Lufthansa First Class Lounge at Frankfurt Airport is located in a gleaming freestanding building outside of the main airport terminal. Ultra-spacious, at 12,000 square feet, the lounge is an oasis of calm and tranquility with an Old World cigar lounge, a bar serving 80 varieties of whisky, private glass-door offices, and a rest area with slick leather daybeds, alarm clocks, wardrobes, mirrors and monsoon showers. The best part? Passengers leaving the comfort of the lounge (God knows why they would) can be chauffeured directly to their awaiting plane in true P. Diddy style via a Mercedes or Porsche limousine.
7: Emirates Lounge
Emirates, JFK International Airport
As you’d expect from a city as demanding as New York, JFK’s Emirates Lounge is fit for discerning city-slickers with plush leather sofas to sink into, massage chairs to be pummelled by, plasma screen TVs to get lost in, and an array of international magazine and newspapers to get stuck into. And it’s not only the lounging area that’s top-notch either; there’s also a business center with complimentary Wi-Fi internet access and private bedrooms stocked with only the very best toiletries. Naturally, complimentary gourmet food and drink is available 24 hours a day.
6: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Virgin Atlantic, London Heathrow
As Richard Branson’s flagship lounge, the 8,000 square-foot Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow is more like a private members’ club than a place to crash while you’re waiting for airline staff to get their asses in gear. Catering for travellers’ every whim, there’s a cocktail bar, brasserie and deli for those wanting a bite to eat, and an office and library for those who can’t tear themselves away from the daily grind. Of course, there are those who have no problem whatsoever escaping the daily grind and those happy people can enjoy themselves by catching a flick on the multiscreen, by playing a game of pool or by turning back time on the retro video game consoles. What’s more, there’s an on-site spa with a spa pool, steam rooms and tanning booth. After a few hours recharging your batteries here, you’ll wonder whether you need that holiday after all.
5: The Royal Orchid
Thai Airways, Bangkok Airport
As if being whisked across the tarmac in one of the airline’s fleet of Mercedes cars isn’t luxurious enough, visitors to Thai Airways’ Royal Orchid lounge can expect traditional Thai hospitality at its very best. Decked out in a contemporary style with authentic Asian flair, the lounge is everything any first-class passenger could ever possibly need, with private corners, an à la carte dining room, a business centre with Wi-Fi internet, slumber rooms and, of course, shower suites. Complimentary Thai massage and gourmet cuisine help earn the Royal Orchid its rightful place on this list.
4: The Wing
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport
Spread over 43,000 square feet, The Wing at Hong Kong International Airport would have any stressed business traveller reaching for an ice-cold gin and tonic instead of the neck of a nervous check-in clerk. One of the highlights of the lounge is the 80-foot Long Bar, which looks more like the bar of a trendy city restaurant than that of an airport lounge. There are also four restaurants and a full-service day spa, along with private cabins complete with showers, oversize beds and Jacuzzi tubs. And if execs can’t tear themselves away from the office long enough for a spot of pampering, then they can always knuckle down courtesy of the free Wi-Fi in the executive office suites. Hotels? Who needs ‘em!
3: Qantas First Lounge
Qantas, Sydney International Airport
Designed by Qantas Creative Director Marc Newson, Qantas First Lounge at Sydney International Airport will certainly take the sting out of your delay. Having teamed up with hotel group Sofitel, the lounge ensures that all guests benefit from the kind of hospitality afforded at five-star resorts. This includes a concierge who is happy to call ahead and make plans at your final destination (car rentals, restaurant reservations, flowers in your room, etc), a day spa that provides Payot beauty treatments, shower suites and essential toiletry items such as shaving kits, as well as a restaurant with master chef Neil Perry heading the show. And that’s not all; there’s a well-stocked bar and an equally well-stocked library, in addition to a business area complete with complimentary desktop computers and wireless internet access. With a 180-degree view over Sydney’s gorgeous Bontay Bay, flight attendants will have to call airport security to pry you away.
2: Premium Terminal
Qatar Airways, Doha Airport
Just like checking into a hotel, at Doha International Airport’s Premium Terminal you’re greeted by a porter who’ll take your Louis Vuitton bags before you chat with the concierge who’ll tell you about all the luxuries on offer inside. Once you’ve got the know-how, it’s just a matter of swanning about to enjoy all the five-star amenities; whether you want to indulge in a massage in the world-class spa or have a game or two on one of the Nintendo Wii consoles available, your eight-hour delay will go by in no time at all. There is also an excellent restaurant (your boarding pass doubles up as a reservation for breakfast, lunch and dinner), a business centre with everything you need to work away from the office (wireless internet access is available throughout the entire building), a duty-free shop where you can stock up on tax-free goodies with the best of ‘em, and a nursery where on-site nannies are there to look after your screaming tots for an hour or two. Forget getting to your destination; this is a destination.
1: Terminal 5 Galleries
British Airways, London Heathrow
Comprising six lounges and an Elemis Travel Spa, the Galleries at London Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 building make up the most luxurious, expansive first class lounge complex in the world. Appointed exclusively for British Airways first- and business-class passengers (the prestigious airline certainly knows how to up the lounge stakes), the complex was designed by interior superstars Davies+Baron and mimics the style and ambiance of a modern boutique hotel. With millions invested in it you’d expected Galleries to have everything — and it does, with sections including The Silver Bar, Wine Gallery, Work and Entertainment Zones, Show Suite and Kids Zone. The decor is suitably sumptuous too, with Swarovski crystal chandeliers, paintings from BA’s collection of 1,500 artworks, faux fireplaces and four quirky life-size wooden horses with heads crowned by lamps. So, if your flight is permanently canceled, who cares? There’ll certainly be no sleeping on floors or hard benches here.