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10 Incredible VIP Airport Lounges You Need To Visit

If you’re going be be delayed, these are the airport lounges to be delayed in

Jonathan Holmes
By Jonathan Holmes, Founder & CEO

The world of luxury travel is vast and varied with first-class and VIP airport lounges (and the flights they precede) often a destination in themselves.

From the artful expanse of the Al Safwa Lounge in Qatar to the refined First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, here’s a round up of the world’s most exquisite airport lounges to while away the hours before your flight to an equally luxurious hotel.

It’s worth noting, before taking flight, that certain lounges are partially or fully closed due to travel restrictions and reduced flight numbers, affecting the breadth of services offered by these luxurious airport sanctums.

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Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport

The definition of expansive, the Emirates First Class Lounge occupies an entire concourse of Dubai International Airport—itself one of the biggest airports in the world. First opened in 2013, the lounge invites guests to wander a stretch of duty-free shops, which are intercepted by elegant seating areas. Transporting you to the roaring twenties, the cigar lounge features kaleidoscopic stained glass windows and wingback chairs. Air-conditioned resting nooks are available, with hushed lighting and arching chaise longues. The lounge also has a reputation for superb service—the staff are attentive and observant, and will go the extra mile to deliver a luxury experience.

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Lufthansa First Class Terminal at Frankfurt Airport

Taking exclusivity to the next level, the first-class lounge in Frankfurt airport is housed in its own terminal. An exercise in minimalism, the space sets marble and wooden dividers against low leather sofas. Private bathing rooms allow guests to wind down, with one featuring a jacuzzi bathtub set into steely grey stone. Each guest is assigned a personal assistant to guide them through their boarding process, before spending the day relaxing by the backlit bar, which offers 130 varieties of whiskey. For those hoping for a souvenir, passengers are given a collectible rubber duck as a token of their stay. Access is permitted for those flying First Class on a Lufthansa plane.

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SWISS Air First Class Lounge in Terminal E at Zurich Airport

Opened in 2016, the Swiss Air Lounge is an aviation enthusiast's delight, designed to turn the stretch of tarmac and Alps beyond into an awe-inspiring viewpoint. The entranceway sees neon lighting reflecting off the dark wooden floors, and guests are greeted by a wine humidor, encasing over 1,000 bottles. This VIP airport lounge features an 8,000-foot terrace with seating where guests can relax with champagne in hand, watching the planes cut through the skyline.

Arguably the most attractive feature of the lounge is the hotel-style bedroom offering with two suites named after the Swiss havens of Montreux and St. Moritz. There, guests can recline in a HÄSTENS bed from the Maranga collection, and cast their gaze to the runway through the floor-to-ceiling windows. SWISS First, First Class Lufthansa, and HON Circle Guests have access to the lounge, provided they are flying first class.

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Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport

The somewhat impersonal qualities of an airport are swept away upon entry into The Pier, which feels more like a charming living room or study area. The lounge’s designer, Ilse Crawford—founder of Studioilse and a LuxDeco 100 honouree—endeavoured to create a space driven by contemporary luxury. The result is a carefully curated sanctuary, with an onyx entryway and limestone flooring, atmospheric pendant lighting, soft rugs and supple leather and velvet seating which provide a relaxing backdrop for travellers. Function meets style in each enclave, with tables fitted with inbuilt USB ports and electrical outlets.

Elsewhere in the lounge, guests can enjoy complimentary massages, cradle Cathay Pacific’s signature cocktail, The Betsy, and watch the planes go by from one of the eight day suites. To use the lounge, you need to be flying Oneworld first class that same day, unless you’re an Emerald member.

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Air France La Première Lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport

Architect Didier Lefort, who has worked on projects from Ritz Carlton to Club Med, designed La Première Lounge in the French capital in 2010. There, a red and white colour scheme is pierced by silver artwork. The scarlet bar sees premium liquor framed by black lacquer, and in the dining area, curved grey banquettes rest against quilted leather walls.

The main attraction is the restaurant where, fusing gastronomy and seasonal produce, the eatery’s menu is designed by Michelin chef Alain Ducasse. Guests can request a complimentary spa treatment, which takes place in a softly lit room divided by screens of pearly branches. For those hoping to visit, the lounge is open to Air France La Première or First Class passengers flying on the same day.

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Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge at Ataturk International Airport

After a lengthy renovation, Istanbul’s international hub reopened in early 2019, unveiling a new VIP airport lounge in place of the old. Open-plan, it sits on a mezzanine overlooking the shell of the airport, with cream interlocking sofas lined against the glass viewpoint. Drawing on Turkey’s hand-painted İznik ceramics, the lounge is peppered with porcelain tiles, set against natural materials of stone and sun-bleached wood. The lounge’s pièce de résistance are the gastronomy stations, which see local chefs serve up a selection of Turkish dishes made on the spot, from stuffed pide to savoury gözleme.

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JAL First Class Lounge at Narita International Airport

Reopening in April 2019 after an extended renovation, Japan Airlines' First Class Lounge seating area is an elegant space framed by dark wood and honeyed lighting. A veritable mecca for gourmands, the lounge boasts a ramen eatery, known as JAL Table, and a sushi bar. Each restaurant has an independent aesthetic, with blonde carpentry or opulent gold light fixtures. The saké is also free-flowing, offering guests the opportunity to sample a host of varieties of the sweet rice wine. If you’ve time to spare, avail yourself of a shoe shining; the polish station was created in collaboration with British shoemaker John Lobb.

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Etihad First Class Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport

A sign of things to come, the entryway to the First Class Lounge sees silver chandelier lights hanging from above while gold foil illuminates the walls. Inside, an expansive dining area with white seating sweeps across the space. Those looking to rest can withdraw to the reclining chairs, which are bathed in mood lighting. Each guest receives a complimentary treatment at the Six Senses Spa, and shower suites, abundant with Acqua di Parma toiletries, are open to book.

A unique attraction in this ultra-VIP airport lounge is the gym. There, those craving exercise can take advantage of the treadmills and free weights, relaxing their muscles before a flight. To pay a visit, guests must be flying Etihad first class or be an Etihad Guest Platinum member.

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Qantas First Class Lounge at Sydney International Airport

Designed by Marc Newson and Woods Bagot in 2007, the Qantas First Class Lounge is infused with natural light, with towering windows facing out towards the airport’s apron. Newson reflected the design of the Qantas A380 aircraft in the interior, evoking the glamour and aspiration of the golden era of aviation. The result is a striking curved space divided by European oak panels, which highlight the circular structure of the terminal. Newson designed the furniture for the space, blending tones of red and ochre in rich materials. A honeycomb pattern carpets the floors, leading guests to the restaurant, which is catered by chef Neil Perry’s team at Rockpool.

Those with time on their side ought to visit the Aurora spa, which is hemmed in by a verdant wall of plants, designed by acclaimed botanist and inventor Patrick Blanc. All passengers flying on Qantas or Emirates with a flight number of EK can access the lounge with one guest.

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Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge at Hamad International Airport

Antonio Citterio and Partners S.R.L are the visionaries behind the Al Safwa Lounge, which is closer to a cavernous museum than an airport lounge. Spanning over 50,000 square metres, the project was completed by the Italian studio in 2015, aspiring to create a microcity within the terminal. The first class lounge houses an array of artwork, the sandstone-toned walls scaling overhead. Tranquillity pervades the space. Private double bedrooms are available for those seeking rest, while others discover respite in the wellness area or jacuzzi.

As for dining, the restaurant offers a medley of local delicacies, with tangy fish samak harra or creamy muhallabieh on the menu. Admittance is open to all First Class guests of Qatar Airway, as well as Privilege Club Platinum members.