Lounge Hacker: Ten Airport Lounges You Need To Experience At Least Once

Image: Campbell Simpson

Airport lounges can help transform even the longest flights into a luxury experience with impeccable service, delicious food and a rejuvenating shower. The open bar doesn't hurt either. Here are ten of the best.

Travel Hacker is presented by the new Qantas App for your tablet, Android or iPhone. Packed with features to improve every step of your journey -- from check-in to boarding to in-flight entertainment and exploring your destination.

Frequent travellers will know that the best airport lounges have all of these things in common.

But some stand out for other reasons, they're different or special in some way. Here are the ones you need to try.

Qantas International First Lounge, Sydney

When I asked for favourites around the Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Business Insider and POPSUGAR office, the Qantas International First Lounge Sydney (and also Melbourne) was high on everybody's lists. One particularly memorable quote came from Business Insider's Chris Pash, "I go to the airport a couple of hours early just to go to the lounge for the table services, the wine list and the excellent food. I like the way they say, 'Of course, Sir.' when I ask if it would be okay to order both the calamari with the hot green sauce AND the schnitzel."

What makes it special:

  • The salt and pepper squid. No really, everyone talks about it
  • Stunning, modern and intelligent design
  • Retro-style split-flap flight display boards
  • Marble shower suites
  • Spa with its own signature treatments and a living wall
  • Private suites
  • Alliance: Oneworld and Emirates Skyward. Eligibility: Visit Qantas.
Image: Campbell Simpson

Not exclusive enough for you? Perhaps you can aim for the Qantas Chairman Lounge -- a secret, invitation only club that you can 't even buy your way into. Fancy.


Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt

Image: Lufthansa

Most high end airport lounges have showers, but Lufthansa take this to the next level...

  • Spacious baths complete complete with a souvenir rubber ducky. Amazing.
  • Cigar lounge
  • Quiet rooms with day beds
  • Dining menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs
  • 130 different varieties of whisky
  • Lounge-to-plane transfer in a Mercedes or Porsche
  • Alliance: Star Alliance. Eligibility: Visit Lufthansa.

Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse, New York

If you're in New York and want to experience a lounge with a truly unique atmosphere and decor, looking no further than the Virgin Atlantic Club House.

What makes it special:

  • Spa that's equipped with a hairdresser
  • Flight menu ahead of time, so you can make an informed decision on your lounge meal or snacks
  • Stylish and artistic modern decore
  • Billiards tables
  • Privacy lounge areas
  • Paleofuture style work area
  • Their signature cocktail, the Virgin Redhead
  • Dr. Hauschka skincare products
  • Eligibility: Visit Virgin America.

Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge, Istanbul

Image: Turkish Airlines

Arguably the best thing about the CIP Lounge is that it's business class, making it far more accessible. Some even say that it's the best in the world. Here's what you can enjoy while you're there.

  • Movie theatre with complimentary popcorn
  • Dedicated Video game area
  • A stunning grand piano
  • Tricked out sleeping rooms
  • Spacious, it is now double the size that it once was
  • Alliance: Star Alliance. Eligibility: Visit Turkish Airlines.

Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Qatar

Opulence is the name of the game at Al Mourjan, a business class lounge with a first class feel.

  • The decore -- marble as far as the eye can see, hand crafted accents, and designer furniture
  • Ceiling-to-floor crystal chandelier
  • Reflecting pool
  • Garden resort area
  • Modern games room, complete with an F1 simulator
  • It's so big that you need a map to navigate it properly
  • Work stations with AC and USB power outlets that allow plugs multinational power plugs without the need for an adaptor
  • Areas where each seat comes with a built in tablet
  • Alliance: oneworld. Eligibility: Visit Qatar Airways
  • .


Cathay Pacific's The Pier, Hong Kong

Image: Cathay Pacific

One of the best first class lounges in the world, The Pier is the epitome of style, class and luxury. But it's the unique extras that really make it special.

  • Freshly made noodle bar
  • Teahouse, serving seasonal and artisan tea
  • Private day suites
  • Signature Cathay Pacific scent through the lounge -- a blend of lavender, bamboo, green tea, and jasmine
  • Relaxation area
  • Alliance: oneworld. Eligibility: Visit Cathay Pacific.

Air France La Première Lounge, Paris

Image: Air France

The La Première Lounge may not be the most showy of some on this list, but there is something indescribably beautiful about it. Something unspoken. Something inherently French.

The combination of delectable cuisine, elegant decore and attentive, but discreet service, makes it a favourite of many frequent travellers.

  • Tarmac transfer service
  • Quiet zones that look like the most comfortable art installations in the world
  • 30 minute complimentary spa treatment -- many lounges only offer 15 minutes
  • Culinary requests
  • Le Salon Le Premiere, the stunning lounge bar with a red luminescent aesthetic that feels a little debaucherous. In a good way.
  • Menu designed by Alain Ducasse
  • Luxury buffet. Sure, all first class lounges have them, but this one looks like you're in an exclusive Parisian shop
  • Alliance: SkyTeam. Eligibility: Visit Air France.

Emirates' First Class Lounge, Dubai

Dubai is often synonymous with luxury in the minds of well seasoned travellers. So it's unsurprising that Etihad has a lounge to match. In addition to gorgeous decore, it also features:

  • Wine cellar with expert sommeliers
  • Cigar bar
  • Luxury quiet areas with chaise longues, blankets and pillows
  • Dedicated retail outlets for first class passengers
  • Sound proof rooms for parents with infants
  • Opulent decore
  • Eligibility: Visit Emirates.

American Express Centurion Lounge, San Francisco

Image: The Centurion Lounge

You can find Centurion Lounges all over the world, but the Bay Area incarnation is a standout for travellers.

Why you need to try it:

  • A dedicated Napa Valley wine tasting area
  • WineEmotion automatic wine dispenser. This may seem crass and impersonal, but it's a high tech and fun way of dispensing the most beautiful wine from the Bay Area.
  • A menu designed by James Beard Award-winning chef and food writer, Daniel Patterson
  • Signature cocktails by renowned mixologist, Jim Meehan
  • Lush, natural and wine country inspired decore
  • Naptime nook. I wanted to make a Napa joke, but didn't
  • Eligibility: Visit American Express.

Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa, Abu Dhabi

Image: Etihad

Similar to Dubai, we expect great things from Abu Dhabi, especially when Etihad is involved. You won't be disappointed.

  • Open 24 hours
  • Gym
  • Style and shave salon where you can also get a manicure
  • Futuristic relaxation room
  • Spacious rain style showers
  • Signature cocktails inspired by some of the world's most beloved cities
  • A tasting meny designed by the chef's from the Emirates Palace
  • Alliance: Etihad Airway Partners. Eligibility: Visit Etihad.

Comments

    Would be good if you listed the prices along with this, otherwise it's nothing more than an ad for these lounges, lacking the important information you actually need to decide if you want to visit one of them.

      @moonhead

      Given that most people access lounges via their tickets or status, we included the alliances for each lounge.

      Some lounges do allow buy-ins but not all, and the prices can vary depending on circumstances.

      Thanks for the feedback!

        But most people don't have the ticket or frequent flyer status to access lounges, so a majority of your readers would be interested in the actual price it would cost for them to access it, not just the elite few.

          I think as pointed out it depends on one's traveller status.

          I don't think many (if any) offer a fee for access unless you buy (at least) a business class ticket.

    Visited the Qatar lounge last year.

    Biggest lounge I've ever been in, but in spite of the lounge being less than a quarter full I couldn't get a shower as they were booked out.

    For me having a shower to freshen up is the most important feature of a business lounge.

    So that lounge is a big FAIL.

    Well unless you're travelling First or Business class for most of these, you're not getting in. Actually they won't even let you peek in the door (found that out with the Qantas lounge once back in the 90's)

    The USA lounges (JFK and The American Express one) though appear to let any schlub in the door as long as you stump up $50 - $75.00 per person per day.

    Maybe a followup blog about the best airport terminals for the great unwashed in cattle class would be more useful, and more relevant for most of us...?

    Totally agree with you about the Sydney lounge. I often book a return flight later than I need to, just to enjoy the lounge. Sure, I could make it from the CBD to the airport by 5:30; but taking the later flight is far less stressful.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now