Tag Archives: lounge review

Review: Dan Lounge Tel Aviv Airport (TLV)

The Dan Lounge at TLV is accessible via Priority Pass (there are actually two of these lounges in different parts of the airport).

Entrance to the Dan Lounge

There aren’t very many airport lounges at TLV, which is why I think this lounge was so crowded when I visited. Tons of people, to the point where I had to wait a little bit to find a seat. It’s also not a huge lounge–it’s just a long rectangular room–given how many airlines it’s serving.

Busy lounge

The food options were not that extensive when I visited. There were a bunch of breads/pastries/cereals, there were a couple of cold foods like salads and yogurt, and that was about it. I had some oatmeal, which was about the only hot food I could find.

Food

Food

Food

Drinks

All in all, it might be marginally better than waiting in the terminal, but given how crowded the lounge was and the poor food options, this lounge isn’t really worth a visit.

Review: Club Aspire Lounge London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 3

On a recent trip to London, I had the chance to check out the Club Aspire lounge at LHR Terminal 3. This lounge is relatively new and accessible via Priority Pass (in Terminal 3, you can also visit the No1 lounge using Priority Pass).

Entrance to the Club Aspire Lounge

The lounge isn’t huge, but it’s got a variety of seating options. There are communal tables to work, smaller tables if you just want to sit with a traveling companion, and recliners if you want some rest.

Seating

Seating

Loungers

The food selection in this lounge isn’t extensive, but the food that was there seemed to be of decent quality as far as lounge food goes.

Hot food options

Cold food options

Snacks

All in all, I would probably choose the No1 Lounge above the Club Aspire lounge if you’re just looking for a Priority Pass accessible lounge (but I’d say that Cathay Pacific lounge is still my favorite lounge in Terminal 3 that I’ve visited so far).

Review: Plaza Premium Lounge KUL

The Plaza Premium Lounge at Kuala International Airport opened up relatively recently, but it’s a pretty standard Plaza Premium Lounge in Asia (that is to say, pretty solid for an international lounge that you can access via Priority Pass).

Entrance to the lounge

There’s plenty of seating in the lounge, although the lounge was decently busy when I visited. There could definitely be more power outlets, as a number of the seating options don’t have anywhere to plug into. The showers were also out of service when I visited.

Seating

Seating

Bar

In terms of food, there was a decent selection. Some of the options were super Asian (e.g., Hainanese chicken rice, sweetened barley soup, kuih), which I appreciated. The kuih (a general term for Malaysian/Singaporean bite-sized desserts that are often made with glutinous rice flour and are often vegan) were located at the bar, and you couldn’t serve yourself–you had to ask the bartender to get you some. Maybe that’s to prevent people like me from bingeing on them.

Drinks

Drinks

Condiments for chicken rice

Fried noodles and vegetables

Made-to-order noodles

Salad

Soups and porridge

Kuih

Overall, this is a solid lounge offering, especially since it’s accessible via Priority Pass. I imagine the renovated Malaysia Airlines lounges will be nicer once they reopen, but this is a decent alternative in the international area in the interim.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Regional Golden Lounge KUL – Renovated

Malaysia Airlines is currently renovating their main lounges in KUL, and on a recent trip, I had the chance to stop by one of these renovated lounges, namely the Regional Golden Lounge. If you’re departing from KUL and want to stop by this flight, go to the left right after you pass security. There’s an escalator with a sign to the lounge (don’t get on the train yet if you have an international flight).

Escalator up to lounge

Lounge signage

My first impressions of the lounge were very positive. The old Malaysia Airlines lounges in international terminal were large, but they just felt tired and old. This lounge was bright and vibrant in comparison. It was a tad crowded given that this is the main lounge that people are using, but I could still find a seat, and there were lots of servers around to help clean plates and offer drinks.

The lounge is pretty large and spacious. There are seats by the huge windows, counter seating, tables, gender-segregated nap rooms, showers, and a family area.

Seating

Bar

Seating

Seating

Dining area

In terms of drinks, there’s a coffee bar with a barista, an alcohol bar with a bartender, and your typical array of non-alcoholic beverages. People were also proactively going around and asking if people needed drinks.

Drinks

The food options were also pretty good. The buffet had a number of hot and cold food options, and there were also some made-to-order food options with a noodle bar and sandwich bar (the sandwich bar is easy to miss–it’s essentially at the coffee bar).

Food

Condiments

Food

Food

Food

Desserts and sandwiches

Salads

Fruit

Noodle bar menu

Sandwich bar menu

Coffee bar

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the lounge. It’s a huge step up from previous Malaysia Airlines lounges at KUL (although the domestic lounge is also pretty good for a domestic lounge), and I’m excited to see the main lounge reopen.

Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD)

I recently transited through ORD on my way back from Asia, and–to my surprise–I was handed an invitation to the Flagship lounge when I went to the Admirals Club. I am clearly a bad travel blogger for 1) not keeping up with AA’s Flagship lounge renovations and 2) not knowing what the access rules are (international first and business class on oneworld gets access; JFK-LAX/SFO transcon business and first class gets access; AA Platinum and up get access on international itineraries on oneworld airlines; oneworld Sapphire and Emerald and Concierge Key get access on oneworld itineraries).

In general, lounges in the US aren’t great. Particularly lounges run by US airlines. So I wasn’t expecting much when I entered. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The lounge was spacious, had plenty of seating, had lots of power outlets, had nice shower rooms, and had extensive food and beverage options.

Seating

Seating

Seating

Recliners

Seating

Seating and views of apron

Shower room

Snacks

Non-alcoholic beverages

Bloody Mary station

I’m not a big drinker, but the alcohol selection in this lounge was pretty extensive. Even though it was only 10am when I arrived, I was tempted to crack open a beer.

Wine

Wine

Beer selection

Liquor selection

The food selection was also quite impressive for a US lounge. There were lots of hot food options for breakfast, including an omelet station, eggs, bacon, potatoes, a lot of different baked goods, and steel-cut oatmeal. Although I hate on dragon fruit, I am shocked that they had dragon fruit given how expensive it is in the US (and it was actually pretty decent as far as white dragon fruit goes!). I believe they have sushi because of Japan Airlines, but the sushi was not very good, although the rest of the food I tried was reasonably good for airport lounge food.

Breakfast eggs and potatoes

Bacon

Baked goods

Baked goods

Cheese and meats

Salads

Sushi and fruit

Desserts

Bagels, English muffins, croissants for breakfast

Condiments–the individual-serving jars of ketchup, mustard, and mayo seem a little wasteful, though

Dining area

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by this lounge, and I’m looking forward to AA opening more of these lounges!

Lounge Review: Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)

My next stop during my layover at AUH was the Etihad Airways First Class Lounge and Spa. This visit happened just a couple of weeks after this lounge opened.

Entrance to the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa

The lounge isn’t enormous like the Qatar Airways Al Safwa lounge or the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai, but it’s tastefully appointed and has plenty of awesome amenities.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounging areas

Lounge area

Lounge seating

They’ll serve you food just about anywhere, and they specifically have a bar/lounge food menu. There’s also a limited self-service food station, but there are people roaming around the lounge who are ready to take your order and bring you food wherever you are.

Bar

Self-service food

Self-service food

Self-service drinks

There’s also a cigar room, a workout area, and a spa. During my layover, I had a shave at the spa.

Cigars

Cigar room

Cigar menu

Spa area

Workout room

Workout room

Shower room

The most impressive part of my visit was the dining room. Mostly because the service was impeccable. I was told that during the first couple of months that the lounge was open, they actually had flight crew serve as staff in the lounge to ensure a high level of service.

Dining area

Dining area

Dining area

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

First, I had a snack before I sat in the dining room proper. I asked for the spring rolls vegetarian and some sweet potato fries. Both were pretty good.

Vegetarian spring rolls and sweet potato fries

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

I then had a proper meal in the dining room. I didn’t see much on the main food menu that appealed to me, and the server essentially asked me what I wanted to eat and she’d tell the chef to whip me up something catered to my liking.

First, I was served a confit of asparagus and roasted baby beets. It could have used some salt and acid, but I was impressed by the effort.

Confit of asparagus and roasted baby beets

Prior to the next course, I was served an intermezzo of a mango sorbet palate cleanser. Not really necessary after my first course, but that’s the level of formality of the lounge dining room.

My entree was a vegetable curry with rice and bread. It was pretty tasty! Probably the best savory thing I ate all day.

Vegetable curry with rice and bread

For dessert, I had the chocolate sponge cake with salted caramel ice cream and a fruit plate. Both were presented beautifully.

Chocolate sponge cake with salted caramel ice cream

Fruit plate

And since I’m gluttonous, I also helped myself to a number of the self-serve dessert options. These were all fine and considerably better than the self-serve dessert options at the Qatar Airways Al Safwa lounge.

Dessert

Overall, it’s not the most outwardly fancy lounge, but the dining options are terrific, the service was incredible, and there are cool amenities like a spa, workout room, and cigar room.

Lounge Review: Etihad Airways Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)

My first stop during my transit of Abu Dhabi airport was the Etihad Premium Lounge. This lounge is open to business class passengers flying on Etihad.

Entrance to Etihad Premium Lounge

The lounge has all of the typical amenities of a business class lounge: plenty of seating, a business center, dining area, and bar. In addition, there are also some more novel amenities like a spa (that you have to pay for). The lounge is quite large, so there are plenty of places to sit.

Business area

Six Senses Spa

Sofa seating

Lounge seating

Dining area

Although the lounge isn’t the fanciest business class lounge I’ve been in (that would probably be Cathay Pacific’s Pier or maybe Emirates’ Business Class lounge), I was pretty impressed by the extensive food options in this lounge. The food options just seemed to go on and on. There’s everything from sushi to pandan jelly, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to you.

Sushi

Olives and pickles

Hot food

Hot food

Salads and mezze

Bakery items

Butter

Cheese, yogurt

Salads

Hot food

Bar

Dessert

Dessert

Dessert

Fruit

Dessert

Dessert

Sandwiches

Overall, it’s a solid business class lounge with quite extensive food options.

Lounge Review: Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha Airport (DOH)

I’ve reviewed Qatar’s business class Al Mourjan airport lounge before at Doha, but this was my first visit to Qatar’s first class Al Safwa lounge.

As I stepped off my previous flight from Guangzhou, I was met by a person with my name on my sign. This person escorted me through transit security (and let me cut in front of everyone) and took me to the Al Safwa First Class lounge.

Escalator up to the lounge

The lounge is absolutely stunning. It’s an incredible space, and it feels like a museum. In fact, they even had pieces on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art on display!

Al Safwa first class lounge

The lounge is very large, and it has a lot of different seating areas. When I was there, almost everyone was sitting in the semi-private seats near the (very large) dining room, but there’s a lot more space to the lounge.

First class lounge seating

First class lounge seating

These seemed to be popular seats.

First class lounge seating

First class lounge fountain

Pieces on loan from Museum of Islamic Art

Art

First, there’s an outdoor terrace (by outdoor, I mean open to the rest of the terminal). It wasn’t as well air-conditioned out there, which is perhaps why no one was sitting there, but there’s a lot more seating out on this terrace.

Seating

Terrace space

Drinks

Seating

Seating

Seating

Within the lounge, they have private rooms similar to the ones they have in the business class lounge. These rooms have a sofa and seat and TV. This is perhaps somewhere to nap if all of the hotel-style private rooms are taken.

Private room

Private room

There are also rooms for children and nannies. I did not see anyone utilizing these rooms while I was in the lounge, but they are there.

Nanny room

Nanny room

Rooms for children

Rooms for children

It’s not obvious to me that any of these consoles actually worked…

Rooms for children

Rooms for children

In terms of dining, there are a couple of options. First, there’s a very large dining area that has some self-serve options as well as table service.

Bar

Dining table

Dining area

Baklava tower

Arabic coffee

Meat and cheese

Desserts

Fruit

Breakfast menu

I was there for breakfast and lunch. The breakfast options seemed pretty basic for a first class lounge.

Fruit plate and bread

After getting some food, I was able to check out one of the true private rooms. Essentially, these are like hotel rooms in the lounge available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Reception

The private rooms are pretty awesome. It’s like having a transit hotel in the middle of the lounge. One of the best perks to any lounge I’ve visited.

Private room

Private room

Bathroom

Hallway of private rooms

There’s also a business center, which was just as beautiful as the rest of the lounge.

Business area

Work station

A bit later, I grabbed some lunch in the dining room. I started off with some cream of pumpkin soup. This was just okay, as the pumpkin flavor wasn’t very strong.

Pumpkin soup

Next, I tried the spinach fattaya. This was probably the best thing I ate in the lounge!

Spinach fattaya

For an entree, I had some paneer makhni. I thought that this was also lacking flavor.

Paneer makhni

Finally, I had some dessert that the server recommended. This was essentially old pastry in a sweet cream. Not my favorite.

Dessert

If there’s one thing I can fault this lounge on, it’s the food. The food was all very average.

Beyond the main dining area, there’s also more of a “deli” kind of area if you head straight past the luggage room. This area did not seem very frequently visited (the staff member in this area seemed really excited when I wandered over). This area had sushi, salads, and a sandwich bar. This isn’t any sushi bar like the one they have in the JAL first class lounges, but it’s there.

More dining

Sushi

Tea

Salads

Deli area

Bar seating

There’s also a dessert room if you head toward the family rooms. There are cakes, macarons, etc. I sampled a macaron, and it was honestly pretty bad, even for lounge food. The texture was wrong, it was quite irregular, and the filling wasn’t good.

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Chocolate art

Movie theater

Overall, this is an incredible lounge for many reasons. The space is beautiful, there are tons of great amenities (including what are essentially private hotel rooms), and there’s lots of food. In terms of the space, it’s probably my favorite lounge I’ve ever visited. But the food seriously needs improvement.

Lounge Review: Premium Lounge Guangzhou Airport (CAN)

This lounge was extremely crowded when I visited because a lot of airlines use this lounge for their premium passengers at Guangzhou. It’s also accessible via Priority Pass, which probably adds to the crowding.

Entrance to the Premium Lounge

Some of the airlines that use this lounge

The lounge is actually deceptively large. It’s pretty long, and there are a fair number of seating areas. In addition, there’s a large dining area all the way at the end of the lounge, so if you keep walking, you’re likely to find a place to sit.

Lounge seating

More seating

Seating

Seating

For drinks, there were sodas, beer, and wine (and soy milk).

Drink fridge

Wine

There were a couple of snack stations throughout the lounge with drinks, fruit, packaged goods, and snack foods.

Fruit

Snacks

Packaged goods

At the end of the lounge was a pretty decent dining room. There weren’t as many people in this area, so there was more space to sit, and the food options were more extensive than expected.

Dining area

Dining area

Dining area

There were quite a few hot food options, but they were mostly variants of fried foods. So not the best if you’re looking for something healthy.

Fried food

One thing that I found strange was the bakery case. It was full of desserts, but you couldn’t access it yourself. There were staff standing near the bakery case, but none of them offered to help me even as I looked wistfully at the desserts.

Bakery case

Hot food trays

Soups

More fried food

Starchy food

Overall, this lounge has better food options than the Baiyun First Class lounge, but it’s a lot busier (which I guess makes the food more trustworthy since there’s higher turnover), but it’s also much more crowded.

Lounge Review: Baiyun Airport First Class Lounge Guangzhou Airport (CAN)

Transferring at Guangzhou was an… interesting experience. Probably because I was transferring from Royal Jordanian to Qatar at neither of their hubs. When I got off my Royal Jordanian flight, I asked the ground crew how to transfer flights, and they had no idea what to do with me. I ended up finding a friendly woman who called an airport staff member who works for Qatar to come to the transfer desk, and he took my passport and bag tag and then left me alone. But half an hour later, he reappeared with my boarding passes and passport!

My first stop was the Baiyun Airport First Class Lounge. At the time, this was the lounge that Qatar used for their premium class passengers at CAN (this lounge is also accessible via Priority Pass). I’ll note that this lounge is essentially just some make-shift walls carving out a space in the terminal. The lounge is completely open to the rest of the terminal, and the walls aren’t very high.

Entrance to the Baiyun Airport First Class Lounge

The lounge was quite empty when I arrived. And there were never more than a couple of other passengers while I was there. The lounge has large windows overlooking the apron, but I was there at night, and there were massive thunderstorms, so I couldn’t see much out the windows. But there was plenty of seating for the number of passengers who were there.

Lounge seating

Work stations

Another view of the lounge

In terms of beverages, there were sodas and beer. I did not see other alcoholic beverages besides beer.

Drink fridge

Other beverage options

For food, I was simultaneously impressed and a bit scared. There were some packaged foods like sandwiches, muffins, and instant noodles, and there were also some trays of hot food. However, I had no idea how long the hot food had been sitting out, and given the lack of passengers in the lounge, I can’t imagine that there’s much turnover of the hot food. So I would say eat at your own risk.

Packaged baked goods and sandwiches

Bok choy

Some sort of stir fry

Fried rice

Fruit and instant noodles

Overall, it’s a place to sit, and there’s food to eat (if you dare). Not a great lounge by any means, but it’s significantly less crowded than the Premium Lounge, which is where I headed next. So if you just want some peace and quiet, you might want to come here.