Words by Carlie Tucker
Melbourne's new Etihad Premium Lounge is the latest in a long line of new extravagant lounges as airlines around the world are taking strides to improve the travel experience from start to finish. These plush lounges seek to offer a 'home away from home' feel with all the trimmings, pampering eligible members to their heart's content. But some do it just a little bit better than others.
Combining surprisingly serene settings with everything from first-class dining to private sleeping quarters, these First Class lounges are cut above the rest.
Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney
- Location: Airside, Level 4 with entry via the level 3 escalator
- Eligible Members: Platinum Frequent Flyers, Emirates Platinum Skyward Members and Emerald Oneworld customers with an onward flight operated by Qantas or a partnering airline.
This award-winning lounge continues to dazzle guests with its beautiful layout. Designed by Marc Newson, it features an airy design with a natural touch provided by sleek wooden venires and lush vertical gardens. While open and spacious, privacy is still easily found with plenty of seating nooks, meeting rooms and private suites available. Wireless Internet is available throughout as are Apple Computers and charging stations.
Peckish guests can choose from restaurant or lounge dining with menus expertly crafted by celebrity chef Neil Perry. Alternatively, refresh yourself with a spa treatment in the serenity of the spa. Surrounded by vertical gardens, guests can choose from such treatments as a massage, facials or hand and foot therapies with luxe ASPAR Aurora products.
Qatar Al Safwa Lounge, Doha
- Location: Level 3 of the Hamad International Airport
- Eligible Members: Platinum Privilege Club members and all passengers travelling in First Class on a Qatar flight.
This recently opened first class lounge could make it on this list based purely on the sheer size of its space. The sprawling layout features soaring ceilings immaculately finished with a minimalist design approach. The centrepiece has to be a stunningly simple water feature with water cascading from the ceiling. Though, the facilities are beautiful with service to match. Guests are treated to private check-in desks and a dedicated immigration channel.
Private and group seating options are abundant; restaurant meal service is available with multi-course menus and attentive staff; and there is a room dedicated strictly to desserts. If that's not enough to convince you, the Six Senses Spa provides a list of available treatments, or relax before your flight in one of the private nap rooms with a full size bed. There is also a small duty free shop and TV room.
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Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt
- Location: Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1 near Gat A13 in Pier A
- Eligible Members: All First Class passengers and HON Circle members.
Taking the First Class experience to the next level, Lufthansa created the First Class Terminal. That's right, an entire terminal dedicated to First Class passengers, and the VIP treatment starts from the moment you arrive. A personal assistant will be there to greet you and whisk you through security to the lounge where every luxury has been realised with incredible attention to detail.
The design is chic and minimalist with traditional hallmarks such as premium dining options, a bar, nap rooms and shower rooms; however, Lufthansa has taken the luxury to new heights with such additions as gourmet catering provided by DO & CO and a separate water bar with nearly every brand of water in the world. Even the showers offer a little something extra with branded Lufthansa collectable rubber duckies! And when it comes time for your flight, your personal assistant will show you to a private car to drive you directly to the plane.
Air France La Premiere Lounge, Paris
- Location: Terminal 2E across from Gate 14
- Eligible Members: All passengers flying First Class as well as Flying Blue Gold and Platinum members.
Counted by many frequent First Class flyers as the best of the best, Air France's La Premier lounge is an oasis in the Charles De Gaulle airport. The premium service begins the second you land or arrive curb side with an attendant waiting to escort you through the check-in process or straight to the lounge.
The sprawling space is fitted out in chic, relaxing tones with plenty of windows offering natural light throughout. There are communal and private seating options along with a bar and restaurant. A dedicated business centre provides private working stations, or grab a private couch to stretch out with a good book. A spa and shower rooms are also available if you need to refresh before your flight. Alternatively, head for the relaxation area with its day beds and lounging chairs. Guests are also treated to a lounge gift before departing via personal driver to the tarmac for your flight.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, New York
- Location: A Concourse above Gates A4 and A5
- Eligible Members: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ticket holders, Virgin Atlantic Gold members, Virgin Australia Gold or Platinum members and Virgin America First Class or Main Cabin Select ticket holders.
This airport lounge is Virgin through and through. Think glitz and glam decked out in red, gold and just a touch of purple. Perfectly toeing the line between communal and private, the spaces in this lounge will suit all types of travellers. Ultra modern furniture offers a futuristic flair, while all the calling cards of a great lounge are accounted for. This includes quality dining options, entertainment zones and a long, snaking bar fully stocked to imitate one of New York's uptown cocktail venues.
Of course it wouldn't be Virgin without a few extras and this lounge definitely offers some unique features that set it apart. This includes a concierge team ready to help with any request and the first Clubhouse Spa outside of London with iconic New York hairstylists Brumble & Brumble on hand to whip up a new pre-flight do.