Review: Best airport lounges in the world

Transit in style at any of these swanky lounges.

Louis Vuitton Lounge by Yannick Alléno in Qatar (Photo: Hamad International Airport)

Airports, for some, are destinations unto themselves. But what makes an airport great is not just its service, but the lounges that feel like home. These tastefully appointed spaces, complete with amenities such as fast WiFi, shower rooms, spa treatments, private workspaces and top flight F&B offerings, will leave your body relaxed before a trip and after you've embarked on your adventure. 

Vienna Lounge
Wien-Schwechat International Airport, Vienna, Austria


The lounge boasts a Vienna-appropriate Art Nouveau café feel

What: This independent lounge, which services all the airlines, has a 2,500 sq m space that fits up to 450 pax easily. If you were on a hectic work trip and did not have time to visit the Albertina, you could at least console yourself here, as the Vienna Lounge cooperates with the Leopold Museum to permanently present a selection of masterpieces, mostly from the city’s cultural heyday of the 1900s. There are, for example, heaps of stunning works from Egon Schiele, Alfred Roller, Ferdinand Andri and even a particularly dreamy Gustav Klimt — a 1910/11 piece titled Tod und Leben (Death and Life).

What else: Boasting a Vienna-appropriate Art Nouveau café feel, it has dedicated workspaces and meeting rooms. The showers are equipped with Dyson hairdryers. For design junkies, the furniture is by Rolf Benz. Bag a seat with an unbeatable view of the planes landing and taxiing on the runway and you wouldn’t even feel the tediousness of a lengthy layover.


It has dedicated workspaces and meeting rooms

Food + drink: A most important offering in every airport lounge, it must be said that the Viennese do this very well indeed. Extra care has been taken to ensure you would know you are in Austria. The spread features several wonderful local specialities, including Mohnnudeln (poppy seed dumplings) with Apfelmus (apple sauce) and Grünkernsuppe (green spelt soup), all of which may be washed down with libations that include local Gruner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch wines. But since you are in the land where coffee and cake is considered high culture, make it a point to indulge in something sweet and baked, such as Topfenstrudel (curd cheese cake), Gugelhupf and fresh Schlagobers (whipped cream), which is particularly wonderful to slather atop your selection of treats. — By Diana Khoo


Louis Vuitton Lounge by Yannick Alléno
Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar


The lounge is open 24/7

What: Situated above the Louis Vuitton store in Qatar Duty Free at Hamad International Airport's Central Concourse, this breathtaking lounge offers travellers a well-deserved respite to relish a meal while immersing in the brand's travel legacy. Stacks of trunks frame the entrance, guiding you into a lounge adorned with contemporary tropical aesthetics. The lounge is open 24/7 and accessible to select Louis Vuitton shoppers as well as Platinum and Gold members of Qatar’s Privilege Club loyalty programme.

What else: Bathed in gentle illumination, the space features vibrant Quetzal bird installations by atelier oï, evoking a sensation of feathers gently swaying in the breeze. Crafted from green and blue leather, the design exudes a sense of movement and whimsy. The same bird appears on the table, as napkin rings. The seating area is composed of exclusive designer pieces from the maison, featuring India Mahdavi low tables, Paola Lenti high tables and Martin Eisler's Costela armchairs, with notable additions from the Objets Nomades collection — Raw Edges' Cosmic Table and Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby's Bell Lamps. Studio Louis Vuitton's twist glasses are nothing less than eye-catching.


Order a cappuccino finished off with ‘LV’ coffee art

Food + drink: Yannick Alléno — famed for his three Michelin-starred restaurants, including Alléno Paris at the Pavillon Ledoyen and Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc Courchevel — introduces a culinary approach that accommodates various taste buds and dietary needs through a contemporary menu that showcases local ingredients, French classics and international dishes. From scrumptious pastries to indulgent caviar, the offerings range from light fare to hearty mains such as langoustine carpaccio with geranium essence, confit lamb shoulder flavoured with yuzu, and pilaf rice with dried fruit and spices. Guests can enjoy à la carte or opt for a multi-course tasting experience. If you are pressed for time, order a cappuccino finished off with ‘LV’ coffee art and a pastry for social media bragging rights. Food and beverages here are not complimentary; all items are available for purchase. — By Dian Pasquinal Kaur


The Pier Lounge
Hong Kong International Airport


Knock back some locally-inspired tipples at the horseshoe bar

What: Some of the fiercest airline competitions actually happen on the ground, and Cathay Pacific’s newly rejuvenated first class lounge, located at Gate 63, is one to beat. Upon entry, a long hallway with a gleaming brass chandelier dangling overhead sets the scene of a sanctuary away from the terminal hubbub. A rich palette of green onyx and walnut suffuses the lounge, which resembles a penthouse suite populated with marble tables and designer furniture by brands such as Knoll, Cappellini and Kalmar. The crowning glory of the 2,061 sq m space (which seats up to 231 passengers) is, of course, the horseshoe bar, a theatrical focus for visitors to knock back a few locally inspired cocktails. If it wasn’t for the sprawling view of the runway outside, you’d probably forget you were in an airport altogether.

What else: To get some shut-eye, retire to one of the eight suites in The Retreat Area, where each room is equipped with a comfortable daybed, reading light and heavy curtain for added privacy. Spending a night in a plane cabin is hardly the path to a luminous complexion and relaxed body; so, book a spot with the lounge for a quick foot or shoulder massage during your layover. The 14 shower stalls — furnished in natural limestone and timber — are as roomy as, if not more spacious than, most entry-level business hotel bathrooms in the Fragrant Harbour.


The dan dan mian is unmissable

Food + drink: Never underestimate the restorative power of a hearty bowl of noodles. The unapologetically spicy dan dan mian, served with a thick peanut broth mostly ascribed to Sichuan cooking, is the perfect antidote for the bleary-eyed nursing jetlag. If you missed the opportunity of scarfing down plump wantons from one-Michelin-starred Ho Hung Kee at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay, The Pier dishes up a decent-enough version to ensure you leave the city, a dining mecca, without regrets. With more travellers packing more time into the day, the swanky lounge has a ‘grab and go’ pantry area, where people in a rush can pick from a wide selection of breakfast items, from pastries and sandwiches to juices and a hot cuppa. — By Kong Wai Yeng

This article first appeared on Aug 28, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.


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