Qatar Airways First Class Lounge Review

Qatar Airways are well known for their excellent service in premium cabins both on the ground and in the air. Having flown their QSuite business class only the day before, I was eager to find out how the First Class product compared to other airlines and having just stepped off Cathay Pacific’s first class, the bar was set pretty high. Before I got to step on the plane, however, I had to sample the lounge experience in Doha. You can see my full video review below or read on to find out what I thought.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge

The ground experience in Doha is simply incredible. Your taxi driver will ask what cabin you are flying in and if it is first or business class, will drop you at at a specific area where staff are on hand to take your bags for you and lead you to your specified first or business check-in area. I’ll write more on this in the flight review so hold tight for that.

As soon as you collect your belongings from security, you are led up an escalator and straight into the Al Safwa First Class lounge. This process is seamless and I didn’t see a single other passenger until I got to the lounge.

As soon as your boarding pass is checked, you are guided down an enormous corridor filled with historic artifacts, huge paintings and a waterfall. It really is mind-blowing how EXTRA this place is.

There are corridors on both your right and left leading to other rooms which I will take you down later in the article but at the end of the corridor is another enormous waterfall and the restaurant/bar area.

I took a seat right away and my menu was brought over along with a choice of drink. It was proper restaurant service which I loved.

I opted for the beef sambusak which was really nice for an appetizer.

Next up I had the lamb chops which were my favourite part of the meal.

The lounge is fit with several different rooms coming off from the main corridor starting with a business room on the left.

The business room has a mixture of PCs and Macs in quiet rooms which would be a perfect for a business meeting or a quiet spot to do some work.

Next up, the first class lounge has a private duty free area with all the duty free products you would expect from the shops downstairs.

On the right of the corridor is another restaurant area which had a sushi bar and salad bar.

I sat there for a short while toward the end of my stay where i enjoyed a few glasses of wine, sushi and a bang average chicken sandwich.

The lounge features a family room off to the left with a few darkly lit rooms, televisions and a private food area filled with small sweets and nibbles.

Attached to the family area is a kids and gaming room. The room was amazingly kitted out but I highly doubt it is used often as I don’t expect many kids pass through.

Off to the right is the spa area which has both a male and female spa and double and single bedrooms which are bookable for 6 hours. I booked one of the single rooms which was great as it gave a place to drop your bags base yourself for your stay in a lounge.

The spa menu was on show but the prices were quite expensive and i found it weird that you had to pay for a treatment. I opted for a visit to the Jacuzzi which was free and it was a lovely way to relax. I was also brought slippers and a gown to change into afterwards which was a lovely touch.

Conclusion

The Al Safwa lounge is huge and full of things to do, eat and buy. As I left the lounge for my flight I felt extremely relaxed and ready for my 13 hour flight. The food had been lovely, the staff had been very attentive and I thought the private rooms were a lovely touch.

If you have a chance, I would highly recommend paying this lounge a visit and checking it out for yourself.

The Wing First Class Lounge | Hong Kong

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is well known among frequent travellers to be an experience of a lifetime. In fact, when I tried it, I fell in love. More of that love story here.

Part of the experience that makes flying Cathay First so incredible, however, is the ground experience in their base Hong Kong. Because I was flying out of New York on my first class trip, I obviously didn’t have access to these facilities but the next day, I departed Hong Kong with Qatar Airways in their fabulous QSuite cabin.

Because I had landed on a first class ticket, I was granted access to both First Class lounges by simply showing them my boarding pass from the day before. I had been told by lots of people that I had to land on the same day to gain access but trying my luck paid off and I was allowed into both the Wing and Pier First Class lounges. I have reviewed them in one video below but one article has been written for each lounge so be sure to check them both out.

The Wing First Class Lounge

The first of the two lounges I visited was ‘The Wing’. This lounge is both a business and first class lounge with the partition at the top of the stairs. I approached the desk, showed the staff my first class boarding pass and was told to make my way upstairs and turn left instead of right.

Picture by onemoreweektogo.com

Once I got to the top, there was no boarding pass check and in complete honesty, anybody could have wondered in. It would have been nice to see better enforcement.

Once you enter the lounge there is a buffet of rather unappetising food to your right and seating areas overlooking the airport to your left. I assume this buffet isn’t used much seeing as there is a restaurant area to your left after the buffet.

I entered the restaurant area and was seated in the uncomfortably dark room.

I was given a menu which had certain lunch options including lots of different types of noodles. I opted for the Shanghai noodles and a glass of champagne which both arrived promptly. The noodles were OK but I didn’t finish them and left the restaurant slightly unsatisfied.

As you exit this room there are three more seating areas to your right stretching out to the end of the lounge.

The seating areas are rather bland and unappealing and even the self-service champagne bar didn’t scream first class.

There is also a bar with more seating areas overlooking the airport.

My final stop on this review was to the private cabanas. Because I knew what to expect from other reviews I expected the WOW moment not to hit me but as soon as I walked in, I was amazed!

I was very lucky in that there was no waiting list for the cabanas as I am told there often is so book one before you eat if you’re visiting this lounge.

The private cabanas are the most extravagant I have seen in an airport lounge featuring a bathroom, sink area, large sofa, enormous open shower and finally the crown jewel: a bath tub!

The amenities don’t fall short either. Each cabana is equipped with shaving kits, dental kits, creams, slippers, a bath robe and more.

Both the bath and the shower have shampoo, body wash and a stupid amount of towels.

Finally, to your left is an oversized cupboard where you can hang your whole wardrobe and a desk with charging ports and a large wall mirror.

The bath is nice and big and for picture purposes I filled in with shower gel to create some privacy bubbles! Honestly, it was the perfect way to relax before a long flight and I loved it.

After I had taken a bath, I tried out the shower which has three nozzles. I decided to turn them all on at once and got blasted with cold water from every angle!

Once I was definitely clean I lounged around in my bathrobe on the comfortable sofa before leaving the lounge and heading to the Pier.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Wing First Class lounge isn’t the most impressive. The seating areas are unappealing and the restaurant areas dark. The buffet selection didn’t look the best and most of all I did feel comfortable in the lounge which can definitely be said for its sister lounge the Pier.

The cabanas are, however, an absolute game changer. They are the coolest rooms I have seen in an airport and the bath is novelty like no other.

If I were visiting again on a short stopover I have to say I don’t think I’d visit the Wing but skip straight off to the Pier.

The Pier First Class Lounge | Hong Kong

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is well known among frequent travellers to be an experience of a lifetime. In fact, when I tried it, I fell in love. More of that love story here.

Part of the experience that makes flying Cathay First so incredible, however, is the ground experience in their base Hong Kong. Because I was flying out of New York on my first class trip, I obviously didn’t have access to these facilities but the next day, I departed Hong Kong with Qatar Airways in their fabulous QSuite cabin.

Because I had landed on a first class ticket, I was granted access to both First Class lounges by simply showing them my boarding pass from the day before. I had been told by lots of people that I had to land on the same day to gain access but trying my luck paid off and I was allowed into both the Wing and Pier First Class lounges. I have reviewed them in one video below but one article has been written for each lounge so be sure to check them both out.

The Pier First Class Lounge Review

With about an hour until my Qatar Airways flight and having just had the bath of all baths in the bang average Wing First lounge, I headed to gate 62 on the underground train and into the Pier lounge. On arrival, two women greeted me and instead of scanning my boarding pass, I flashed them my one from the day before and was granted entry.

Picture by travelingwellforless.com

The moment you walk into the Pier you know it is going to be a more luxurious experience than the bland Wing lounge. The entrance takes you into a well carpeted corridor fit with oak tables in the middle and plants standing on them. The walls are decorated with lamps and artwork making passengers feel really at home.

As you walk down the corridor, exits to the right and left lead you to different areas of the lounge.

At the start of the corridor is an exit on your left taking you through the ‘library’ into the main seating and bar area. The bar is well stocked and placed nicely in the middle of the room.

The seats all look lavish and comfortable and some are set up around tables.

The next exit to your right takes you into the ‘bureau’ which has 6 small office type rooms equipped with Mac books.

The next area along the corridor takes you into the ‘retreat’ area. Here, passengers can book day rooms, foot massages and showers. Seeing as my time was extremely limited in here, I opted for a day room which didn’t disappoint.

The rooms have excellent privacy, are extremely comfortable and most importantly have fantastic views of the airport.

As I was seated, an Emirates A380 pulled up right infront of my window!

Passengers passing through here are entitled to a free 15 minute massage in ‘The Retreat’. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit so stayed in the day room.

Finally, at the end of the corridor is the real gem! The restaurant area is amazingly lit unlike the its counterpart in the Wing and the menu looked extensive for both food and drink. I didn’t stop here as I only had a small amount of time.

 

The views from the restaurant are lovely and it makes the lounge well lit by natural lighting.

Final Thought

The Pier lounge oozes with comfort. Whether it’s walking through the quiet, carpeted and well decorated corridor, sitting in the well-lit and well-stocked restaurant or watching an Emirates A380 pull in from your private day room, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your stay in the Pier.

The only thing stopping you from visiting the Pier is the bath option in the Wing lounge. My advice would be exactly what I did. Allow yourself 3 or so hours to visit both lounges.

Start by visiting the Wing, have a bite to eat but don’t fill up then head to a cabana for your amazing bath and shower and once you’re feeling refreshed, head to the Pier for a proper meal service and relax with a foot massage and a visit to the day rooms!

British Airways Concorde Room at LHR Review

The Concorde Room is notoriously hard to enter. Either rack up 5,000 tier points a year to receive a membership card to the room or spend £5,000 and fly first class out of London Heathrow and you will be able to enjoy the elite room of Terminal 5.

On a recent day-trip to Berlin, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by someone who had racked up enough tier points to have that card. Luckily for me, members can take in one guest with them so when Paul rocked up with me, not a single eyebrow was raised and we walked into T5 paradise. See my full video review below!

There is no other way to describe the CCR than luxurious. The moment you walk in, luggage is taken from you for storage, your coat is hung up and you are personally welcomed to your seat. Paul passes through the lounge so often that Mo (the lounge manager) knew him by name and had a lengthy chat with him as we walked to our seat.

Once seated, he brought us two glasses of cold Laurent Perrier Vintage champagne which retails at a whopping £110 a bottle. It was the perfect way to sit down at 8am.

The lounge isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination but it also doesn’t need to be. There were probably 10 people inside when we got there but that number did increase over the three hours we were inside. Once you walk in past the storage area, there is a piano sitting there waiting to be played.

To the right of the piano is the large seating area which occupies most of the room. To one side of the seating area is the bar.

To the other side is the Concorde dining room.

The dining area has a handful of small booths where passengers can dine in ones or twos.

We opted to dine outside the dining area which the staff were completely ok about.

Outside the main room is the terrace. As Mo explained to me, the terrace is filled with ‘Moroccan style furniture’.

It was extremely colorful and the seats were as comfortable as inside.

Finally, in the corner of the lounge is a corridor which takes you to the cabanas and washrooms.

There are four cabanas. The cabanas are available for up to four hours and give passengers the opportunity to sit back and relax during their layover.

Each cabana is fit with a sofa/bed and TV

A table for eating on.

And a bathroom fit with a shower. There would be no need to leave the cabana as each one has a button for calling a member of staff.

In terms of food options, the meals are fantastic. Seeing as we were there so early, it was the breakfast menu we could use. You are given two breakfast menus, one for the lounge and one for the dining area.

The lounge menu included croissants, cereal and yogurts while the dining menu had hot food options such as a full English which I tried.

The English was good but wasn’t served with toast which I’m sure I could have requested. During breakfast, the staff made sure to keep refilling our glasses so that we never ran out.

After seeing me filming the menus, a member of staff asked if I would like to see the lunch menu too. When I agreed he came back with every single menu they had and talked us through each one. What it showed was that you’d struggle to go hungry in a lounge like this.

The Concorde staff were really what made the lounge stand out to me. They were welcoming and friendly throughout and knew the regulars by name. This really helped to show me how exclusive this lounge is. Once we had finished eating, snacks were brought to us which tasted fantastic. My personal favourite was the stuffed red peppers.

Once we were ready to leave, Paul asked the staff for two of his favourite drink. I had no idea what was coming but suddenly two Espresso Martini’s arrived and I was over the moon! The drink is amazingly presented and tasted just how it should.

After knocking back the Martini we were ready to go and left the lounge feeling slightly less sober than when we had entered it.

Conclusion

The Concorde room is exclusive and very hard to access. It is probably the most luxurious lounge I have ever been to even though the food and drink were no better than some business class lounges (ie: the Clubhouse). The staff were the best I have ever seen and I can’t wait to come back here in the future.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK Review

Virgin Atlantic is known for its super stylish lounge product at London Heathrow. I reviewed this lounge early last summer and found it simply amazing. You can read all about it here.

Having spent a week in New York, it was time to fly home and as an Upper Class passenger, I was allowed access to the clubhouse at New York JFK. I have made a video review of this lounge which you can see below.

I arrived at JFK bright and early with the hope of properly checking out the lounge before my flight to LHR but found that security didn’t open until 5am so had to kill around 30 minutes in the departures hall before heading through.

At 5am, I checked in my bag and headed through security before hunting for a sign for airline lounges. It wasn’t for 10 minutes that I found signs to the lounges and found that I had walked in the completely wrong direction.

I eventually made it to the lounge and was greeted by a very friendly woman on the door who apologised for the closure of the spa. She said that as this was the only morning flight out of JFK, the lounge was only running at half capacity and then would close again once we departed.

I entered the lounge to find that I was the first passenger inside which was an awesome feeling.

The lounge is set up in a really nice way. It has a central bar area which acts as a division between the restaurant/sit down area and the more social, relaxed area.

As soon as you walk in you can see the pool table that is also in the Virgin Atlantic lounge at LHR. I love a game of pool and thus far haven’t played with anyone inside a lounge so I look forward to ticking that off my list shortly!

The middle area is filled with comfy seating, each seat has a table with a menu on it. The menu being displayed was the breakfast menu which I sat down with to have a read.

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I chose the eggs royale from the menu and as I was still the only person in the lounge, it came within minutes along with my orange juice and latte.

I re-positioned from the middle area to a more relaxed area in front of the window. From my position I could see the ATC tower, an El Al B747-400 and it allowed lots of natural light in.

Just around the corner from my new position was some more funky seating and two Apple computers for those who needed to work.

Toward the back of the lounge are the toilets and showers. The little bathrooms are fantastic if you want to shower and come equipped with all the amenities you would need. I didn’t shower this time around but I’m sure I will next time I visit.

The food and drink in the lounge were spectacular. My eggs royale was made to perfection as was my latte. Seeing as it was so early in the morning, I opted to stay away from the alcohol and instead buckled down to do some work on my laptop.

The staff came around to clear my plate and mug and often asked if I wanted refills of any drink or more food.

Conclusion

The lounge at JFK may not be quite as good as the one at LHR and I definitely didn’t visit when it was operating at full capacity but it has the same stylish vibe as the LHR clubhouse. The food and drink were excellent and the staff were polite and friendly.

I would love to see what the lounge is like in the evening and next time I fly Virgin Atlantic out of JFK, I will be sure to take the night flight to see just that.

Aer Lingus Dublin Lounge Review (again)

Split over two terminals, Dublin Airport is rapidly growing into one of Europe’s major hubs. The sleek, modern Terminal 2 is the home of Aer Lingus as well as other major transatlantic carriers.

Before my Dublin – Malaga flight, where I reviewed Aer Lingus’ Airbus A330, you can read that review here, I decided to head on down to the lounge to experience some award winning Irish hospitality for myself.

Entrance to the lounge in T2

Once you have cleared security and get airside, getting to the lounge is a simple case of following the clearly displayed signage, heading down a level in an elevator, turning a corner and hey presto you’ve arrived!

As soon as I stepped through the door, I was immediately greeted by Gloria, who was manning the welcome desk this morning. After a quick check of my boarding pass, I was given a card with the Wi-Fi details printed on it, and I was wished a very pleasant stay.

The firs thing I noticed when I walked through into the seating area was an unmistakable sense of peace and tranquillity. The lounge has TV sets mounted on the walls at various points throughout the lounge, all of which are set to mute to allow guests the opportunity to relax before their flight and to let them catch up on work. Giant floor to ceiling windows allow lots of natural light to flood into the lounge; they also give guests inside the lounge a view of the distinctive shamrock that is on the tail of every Aer Lingus aircraft.

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This mornings buffet consisted of a cold selection of cereals, pastries, yoghurt and fruit salad. There was some snacks such as biscuits and every airline’s favourite sour cream and chive pretzels. I had previously read about the disappointing array of food options available here at the lounge, and Its very clear that nothing has changed. All food is accompanied by fresh fruit juices, hot drinks and a selection of sodas from the fridge.

Split over two levels, the lounge offers an upstairs seating area that is designated as the quiet zone. Also on the top level are complimentary shower rooms that guests transiting through Dublin can use. My experience with airport lounge shower rooms is that they can become quite hot and humid very quickly, however without using Aer Lingus’, I can’t comment on them.

The upstairs seating area is designated as the quiet zone. There is also a giant Airbus A350 model that I really wanted to take home with me!

As the flight information display screens indicated that it was time for me to head to the gate so that I could board my flight to Malaga, I got the sense that the Aer Lingus lounge is ideal for an hour or so whilst you wait for your flight. In my honest opinion, If the access had not have been included in my fare, I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it. The lounge is practical and modern, but not quite what I expected from a Skytrax 4* rated airline.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LHR Review

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow is famous for showcasing the style of Virgin Atlantic and when I knew I was going to be visiting this lounge I decided to film a short video to show you inside as well as showing you the main features in this article! Enjoy!

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse is positioned with the other airline lounges in Terminal 3. It is lounge H if you are following the signs and above the American Airlines lounge. I’m a big fan of T3 as security tends to be very quick and the lounges are all in one place which helps if you’re hopping between them with your priority pass through AMEX.

As soon as you enter the lounge you know it is special. The entrance area is staffed with friendly Virgin Atlantic faces who check your ticket, walk you in and even show you around if this is your first visit.

The view on entering the beautiful lounge

My first impression of the lounge was amazing. I was shocked by just how big it was. The high ceilings and large windows looking out to the airport improve the lighting and make it a really welcoming environment.

As soon as you take a seat in the lounge, one of the staff will attend you and ask what drink you would like. The length of the drinks menu was so long that I asked what they recommended and two minutes later, a glass of the ‘Virgin Redhead Cocktail’ turned up.

The flagship ‘Virgin Redhead’ cocktail

The drink was lovely and I opted for one more before heading to the Champagne. Virgin offers three champagnes: Lanson, Follador and Jenkyn. I opted for the Lanson and wasn’t disappointed.

My Lanson champagne

The bar area is nice and big which allows people to work but also sit and chat with friends over a drink. It was very well staffed and everyone was happy to help as much as they could.

The bar area!

Once your drink is finished, the staff come and ask if you would like something to eat from the ‘bar snacks’ area of the menu. All the options looked great but I opted for the baked chicken wings with hot sauce. The wings were very nice and left me with very dirty fingers. They gave me a knife and fork but who in their right mind eats chicken wings with cutlery?!

These chicken wings tasted unbelievable!

After I had eaten my bar snacks I went for a quick visit to the other food area. Just to the left of the entrance is an area where you can get salads, breads, meats, cheeses and fruits. There was a fantastic selection but I decided to save my appetite for the flight which turned out to fail as you’ll see later on!

A lovely food selection!

Another fantastic area in the lounge is the mezzanine which has a pool table, lots of TV screens showing the news and sports matches and a long sofa on which two people lay fast asleep (we can only hope they made their flight!).

Floor two. Pool anyone?

The upstairs area then leads up some stairs to the third level which is the outside terrace. The terrace is amazing if you’re into aviation as you can sit outside on the sofas with a drink and watch the planes taxi infront of the famous LHR tower. Do note that it can get pretty noisy out there!

Time for some planespotting!

The area below mezzanine has more tables of which a few had a ‘reserved’ tag on them. I’m not 100% how you go about booking a table and if it costs much but this was cool to see and gave this area of the lounge a restaurant feel.

Can you spot me?;)

After I’d been outside I came in to do something I was very excited about – get a haircut. I’d seen many people do this and so was very excited to actually get a trim in an airline lounge! I headed up to the spa desk and inquired.  She said that there was a relatively long wait for the haircuts but that I was welcome to have one of their complimentary treatments instead. This was a shame but I was totally happy she mentioned the complimentary treatments as mine turned out to be absolute heaven.

I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures but here is a shot from my GoPro

The complimentary treatment I opted for was the ‘head and scalp massage’. The complimentary treatments may only last 15 minutes but once you’re in there you can relax into it amazingly and 15 minutes is plenty to relax before your flight. The woman at the desk asked me to listen to the loud speaker in the lounge as she would announce when it was my time to return to the spa and low and behold as I was sitting down with another glass of champagne I heard ‘Could Mr Stevenson please make his way to the Clubhouse spa for his treatment!’ so off I went!

The spa is located where I am standing, in the far right corner of the lounge

The spa area is kept cool by a fan and kept dark to help you relax during your treatments. You are asked to fill in a small form stating if you have any illnesses or diseases and once you’re done, you’re led into the spa and fully taken care of. After the treatment, you are offered a glass of water and led back into the lounge feeling fully refreshed. I have to say this was my absolute favourite part of the lounge experience.

After my spa treatment I still had about 30 minutes until boarding began so I treated myself to one of the meals on the menu. After deciding that I couldn’t be bothered to save my appetite for the plane, I opted for the ‘southern fried chicken burger’ – lots of chicken today, I know – and couldn’t have been happier that I did so.

What a burger…

The burger was packed full and served with chips (or fries as it said on the menu), BBQ sauce and pickle slaw, spicy mayonnaise and lettuce inside.

After (partially) destroying the burger and chips, I sat down to sweat off the huge meal I had just almost finished and before long my flight was called and I headed on the 20 minute walk to gate 21 where my Boeing 787 to JFK was boarding Upper Class passengers.

Conclusion

I still can’t decide whether this lounge is more of a hotel, bar, spa, viewing terrace or restaurant but one thing is clear, it has elements of them all.

Just look at those chairs!

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse has to be one of the best lounges I have ever visited and almost certainly the best LHR lounge (I still haven’t visited the Concorde room but when I do it will be very interesting to compare).

I was very impressed with the level of service, the space, the whacky hanging chairs, the dine-on-demand service, the drinks and above all the ability to relax into a massage chair for 15 minutes while getting a relaxing head massage.

If this doesn’t do it for you, I’m not sure what will!

If flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class isn’t on your bucket list then you’re doing something wrong – flying Upper Class is an incredible experience in itself and being able to come to the Clubhouse beforehand makes it even more special.

Tip: Booking Upper Class

If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class then what are your options? Revenue fares can be quite high, especially at peak times of the year, so I advise to use miles and points. If travelling at peak times, Virgin will charge you £371 and 57,500 miles to book this flight. At off peak times, you can get it for as low as 47,500 miles and £371. However, those fuel surcharges are still very high.

The flight is also bookable through Delta SkyMiles who are an American Express partner with a 1:1 transfer ratio which can help to reduce the surcharge.

If however, you don’t have points to spend then revenue is what to go for. I would advise booking through SkyScanner as they have great prices.

Aer Lingus Flagship Dublin Lounge Review

After arriving in Dublin from Southend at around 16:00, I had around 2 hours before boarding began for my connecting flight to Manchester. Unfortunately, although my previous flight was operated by Stobart Air (which uses Terminal 2 under the ‘Aer Lingus Regional’ brand), this flight used the older Terminal 1. Prior to my flight, I had seen conflicting reviews about the terminal transit process in Dublin, but I found the whole experience very smooth.

To connect between terminals, you do have to pass through the Irish Border at passport control. After exiting into the Baggage Reclaim area, simply continue to walk through the hall, following signs for ‘flight connections’. At this point you will take a flight of stairs and arrive at a small passageway into the Terminal 2 Security area. This process seemed almost too simple, but you must have your onward boarding pass with you to use this system.

Whilst Terminal 1 at Dublin airport is claustrophobic, chaotic and in dire need of refurbishment, the relatively new Terminal 2 has a completely different feel. Terminal 2 is where you’ll find Aer Lingus, Etihad and most other long-haul carriers at Dublin – so it has a more premium and modern feel. To access the lounge from the connections security area, I simply turned left and followed a corridor down to the premium lounges at Dublin – these included the Etihad lounge, a generic Dublin Airport lounge (used by a variety of airlines) and the Aer Lingus flagship lounge.

The entrance to the lounge is extremely modest and understated for its size.

Entrance to the Aer Lingus Lounge at Dublin.

After a warm welcome into the lounge, I was met with a surprisingly spacious expanse, with a feature wall paying tribute to important Irish figures, such as the first female President – Mary Robinson. The lounge is full of natural light and, thus, has a fantastic view of the apron for us aviation enthusiasts. iMacs were available for guests’ use – along with a communal desk area –  and there was fast and quick Wi-Fi – something that I value greatly in a lounge. All showers to the lounge are located on the upper mezzanine level (one of the lounge attendants will guide you to an available room, should you want to access the facilities). Whilst I didn’t make use of the shower, this could well be a useful facility.

On the ground floor, the furnishings were tasteful – with a colour scheme of green and warming mahogany, which gave the lounge a homely feel – despite its size. There was a relaxing mezzanine level with an additional mini self-service bar and large seating area – which was completely unoccupied during my time here. The main self-service bar area offered scones, pastries and a selection of hot drinks – whereas the upstairs bar only had a limited offering. The evening’s hot food offering was Beef Goulash – which tasted superb – but I was rather disappointed with the lack of hot food available. I can only suggest that there is a more plentiful food offering at different times of the day.

What really impressed me about the lounge was the amount of power ports available and the positioning. Close to every seat, a power port was available, which is obviously an imperative feature for business travellers.

Although this lounge has big plusses (such as the tranquil and unpretentious atmosphere) and was an inherently positive experience, for a flagship lounge, I wish more food options could be available throughout the day.  Otherwise, I’d have no hesitations using the lounge facility again.


Featured photo courtesy of Aer Lingus

London Southend ‘SkyLife’ Lounge Review

London Southend Airport is one of the easiest airports to traverse in the country, with a promise of under 4 minutes to pass through security. All of this means you have more time to relax in the airport, and the Skylife lounge is the perfect place to do just that.

Whilst the rest of the airport is a relaxing experience to begin with, the Skylife lounge provides a more comfortable environment to wait for your flight. Located immediately after passing Security – on the mezzanine level – above the main departure lounge area, lounge access is not exclusive to business travellers or frequent flyer members. Any passengers flying through the airport are welcome to use the facility; I think that’s a huge selling point for less frequent flyers. You can pre-book entry to the lounge online for £17.95 or take advantage of the walk-in option, which costs £20.95. Special offers are available when combining lounge access with airport parking, and children under 14 enjoy a reduced rate of just £9.95.

My initial impressions of the lounge were very positive. Ambient blue mood lighting created a tranquil atmosphere – there was no lack of seating, with sofas, chairs and stools with desks all available.

The lounge had a distinctively modern feel.

The lounge itself is split into three sections; one by the entrance, which offered stools around one table – striking me as the perfect place for meetings and conferences ‘on the go’ for those travelling on Business. The other two sections were more relaxed, with lots of comfortable seating areas and easy access to the self-service bar. The lounge isn’t particularly spacious, but with the relatively small volume of passengers using the facility, rather than feeling claustrophobic, it felt homely and almost private.

There certainly wasn’t a lack of seating available.

There are lots of power points located around the lounge, in the arms of the chairs, which is essential for most travellers nowadays. In addition, in the seating area overlooking the main airport, adjustable tablet holders were available – perfect for using your iPad or tablet easily. Fast and free Wi-Fi, exclusive to those in the lounge, was also available.

The Skylife lounge provides a great view of the departure area.

Located on the main wall of the lounge, a walk-up self service bar was available. It offered a range of hot beverages, chilled alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, sweet treats and snacks. Unfortunately, it appeared that there was no hot food available in the lounge – so that’s something to bear in mind.

In conclusion, Southend Airport is a great place to be regardless, but the lounge offers more comfort, refreshments, snacks and an all round more relaxing aura. If you have a long layover or some time to spare, kicking back in the lounge and getting your journey off to a smooth and sophisticated start is a great option.


Porto Airport Lounge Review

There is only one lounge at Porto Airport. It is used by all airlines that offer lounge access as an option on their tickets.

I used the lounge on my trip home from Porto to London Gatwick with TAP Portugal. While the lounge may be small (like the airport) it is nicely laid out and cozy. There was no queue to check in so I came through in seconds.

As you enter the lounge you are met with a wide range of reading material to take in with you. Lots was in English which was nice to see.

The lounge is setup in two regions – an indoor and an outdoor. Don’t get too excited however, the outdoor region is only a balcony overlooking the airport terminal.

The outdoor area

As it was dinner time I jumped straight in and went to get something to eat. The selection was an impressive range of hot snacks, cold sandwiches, salads and nibbles such as peanuts and of course – the famous portugese custard tart!

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The drinks selection was also impressive. The drinks on offer included juices, soft drinks, beers, wine and spirits. There was also a coffee machine available to use.

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The lounge has a computer area with a few desktops, a printer and a phone charging area in the corner.

I sat in the outdoor region which had a nice comfy feel and allowed you to have a good view of the airport from where you were sat.

The inside area looks basic but has a nice feel and good comfort

A huge downside of this lounge is that there are no toilets… Yes, no toilets!! To use the loo you have to leave the lounge and use the ones on the opposite side of the corridor. I found that very strange. In all fairness, the toilets were only a minute or so walk but it seemed weird to leave the lounge then have to recheck your boarding pass to head back in.

Overall, Porto Airport’s only lounge is small and pretty quiet. The food and drink on offer are not disappointing and the comfort is good. I had a great experience in this lounge and would recommend it if you are flying TAP as it costs as little as £22.50 to add on!