Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today: Top 10 best First Class airport lounges in the world
One of the most appealing aspects of traveling First Class is having access to an exclusive airport lounge prior to your flight. But not all lounges are created equal: many lounges are located in cramped spaces, lack daylight, feature a depressing design, and offer mediocre food at best. However, none of that applies to the 10 First Class lounges listed below, which represent my favorite 10 airport lounges in the entire world. In fact, you might even want to get to the airport early to spend the pre-flight hours in these lounges while enjoying fantastic à la carte dining, recharging with spa treatments, and relaxing in real hotel rooms before being whisked away to the plane in a limousine.
There is more information (with reviews + YouTube videos) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite First Class lounge in the comments section, or take my poll below!
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10. BRITISH AIRWAYS CONCORDE ROOM, LONDON
British Airways’ Concorde Rooms in London and New York are the epitome of the carrier’s lounge offerings. The Concorde Room at London has recently been refreshed, taking inspiration from the very best of British design, craftsmanship and heritage, with elegant lighting from Porta Romana and contemporary tables from Boss Design. Here, you can enjoy pre-flight dining in private dining booths with full waiter service and and à la carte menu from Executive Head Chefs Frank Coughlin and Errol Figueroa. Meals are paired with the finest champagnes and wines from around the world. The Concorde Room at Heathrow also houses the ’Forty Winks’ nap lounge, a lounge within a lounge featuring power nap sleep pods.
9. EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE, DUBAI
Emirates features several First Class lounges at its hub in Dubai, but the one in Concourse A is the most impressive one: it’s the biggest First Class lounge in the world, providing seating for almost 600 (!!!) guests and stretching an entire floor above the main concourse. Facilities include a business center, conference rooms, wine cellar, dedicated duty free shopping area, children’s club, quiet areas, prayer rooms, showers, and a cigar lounge. The restaurant takes center stage under the enormous ceiling and offers fine dining with an international selection of dishes, prepared using the freshest ingredients. First Class passengers also receive complimentary 15-minute spa treatments in the adjacent spa facility. The lounge offers direct access to the aircraft boarding gates.
- Review: read my review of Emirates’ First Class lounge here (or watch my YouTube video with tour of the lounge here).
8. THAI AIRWAYS ROYAL FIRST LOUNGE, BANGKOK
Thailand’s flagship carrier provides exceptional service at its hub in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport for passengers traveling in its flagship product, Royal First Class. An elegant mix of modern and traditional Thai design elements and materials emphasize the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the Royal First lounge, which offers a capacity to accommodate 134 passengers at the same time. A 22-seat a-la-carte dining room serves delicious Thai and international cuisine. Other facilities include VIP rooms, slumber rooms, and shower suites. The Royal Orchid Spa, located opposite to the First Class Lounge, offers a wide range of treatments, including a 60 minute full body massage for each First Class passenger. Electric vehicles transfer passengers to the departure gates.
- Review: read my review of Thai Airways’ First Class lounge here (or watch my YouTube video with tour of the lounge here).
7. ETIHAD AIRWAYS FIRST CLASS LOUNGE, ABU DHABI
Inspired by the world’s most prestigious hotels, private members’ clubs and fine dining establishments, Etihad’s First Class lounge at Abu Dhabi is an ultra-exclusive lifestyle environment, featuring 16 unique zones designed to ensure that passengers can relax, re-energize and be entertained in total luxury before boarding their flight. An à la carte restaurant, showcase bar, fitness room, cigar lounge, Six Senses Spa, Style & Shave barbers, nail bar, TV room, secluded relaxation room, prayer room and children’s play room ensure that all guests receive a highly personalized experience and intuitive service. Given the round-the-clock nature of Etihad’s global schedule, the First Class Lounge is open 24/7.
6. SWISS FIRST CLASS LOUNGE, ZÜRICH
The SWISS First Class lounge in Zürich offers mini suites, a club with inviting leather sofas, two hotel rooms, a business zone and a meeting room with a view of the apron area. Further facilities include a relaxation room and a smokers’ lounge with its own outside section and a choice of fine whiskies. With its bright oiled-oak parquet floor, its Jura limestone walls and its elegant furnishings by Swiss designers such as Vitra and de Sede, the lounge exudes an ambience of refined exclusivity. The centerpiece is an extensive barista bar, at which guests can sample various speciality coffees and choose from over 100 Swiss grappas and further fruit brandies. On the culinary front, the lounge offers both an à la carte restaurant and a front cooking option.
- Review: read my review of Swiss’ First Class lounge here (or watch my YouTube video with tour of the lounge here).
5. QANTAS FIRST CLASS LOUNGE, SYDNEY
Designed by Mark Newson, sculptural wooden dividers made from European oak separate Qantas’ First Class lounge in Sydney into open, bay-like sections. Aerodynamically shaped, like a section of an airplane’s wing, these open frames highlight the curve of the ceiling and slope of the window wall, and create a sense of intimacy and privacy by dividing the space into smaller areas. The furniture throughout the lounge – including easy chairs, sofas, dining table and chairs – features a color palette of dark red, ochre, and subdued warm tones, inspired by the Australian landscape. The lounge houses not only work, rest, and relaxation spaces, but also a spa and five star restaurant run by chef Neil Perry (who also creates Qantas’ in-flight menus).
4. CATHAY PACIFIC THE PIER, HONG KONG
Designed by Studioilse, the London-based design studio led by Ilse Crawford, Cathay Pacific’s First Class lounge, The Pier, features warm, tactile and timeless materials, creating a residential ambience. Contemporary Asian touches are tangible in the lounge’s green onyx walls, as well as the walnut and bronze screens. Asian and international influences are showcased in the lounge’s 100-seat restaurant, The Dining Room’s, with a seasonally changing à la carte menu which features classic dishes, signature noodles, and specialty desserts. At The Retreat, the lounge’s elegant in-house spa, you’ll enjoy bespoke service and soothing massages, while at The Bar, you’ll be treated to exquisite cocktails unique to The Pier. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, The Pier is closed ‘until further notice’.
3. QATAR AIRWAYS AL SAFWA LOUNGE, DOHA
Featuring an exceptional design, Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa lounge encapsulates its cultural surroundings with simplicity and grace. Clad in sandstone and impeccable marble detailing, the open spaces are luxuriously appointed to inspire guests and exude a serene sense of tranquillity. Key highlights that contribute to the harmonious essence of the lounge include a grand water fountain, an abundance of natural light, and a showcase of Islamic fine art installations and artifacts on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art. The 250-seat restaurant of palette-pleasing flavors feature both International and Arabic-infused cuisines and premium beverages. Before your flight, you can also step into our relaxing jacuzzi, enjoy a pedicure and manicure, or rejuvenate in the relaxation room.
- Review: read my review of the Al Safwa lounge here (or watch my YouTube video with tour of the lounge here).
2. AIR FRANCE LA PREMIERE LOUNGE, PARIS
With Air France, your First Class travel experience begins well before your departure. At Paris Charles De Gaulle airport, you can take advantage of a relaxing moment in the La Première Lounge, where you can flip through an art book, read newspapers and magazines, stretch out and relax, watch the news in HD, get some work done and more! The best part of the lounge is the restaurant, were you can choose from a list of wines and menu items selected by chef Alain Ducasse and enjoy a fine dining experience with the carrier’s elegant table service. At the “La Première Sisley beauty institute”, you can relax and recharge for 30 minutes with a complimentary spa treatment, including special facials and body treatments designed to meet the needs of frequent travelers.
1. LUFTHANSA FIRST CLASS TERMINAL, FRANKFURT
If your Lufthansa First Class journey starts in Frankfurt, you begin it in style in the separate First Class Terminal, where you can await your flight in exclusive surroundings where everything is geared to your personal well-being. The First Class Terminal has relax chairs, quiet rooms with day beds, spacious bath and shower rooms, fine wining and dining with cuisine by Michelin-starred chefs, a Cigar Lounge and a bar where the drinks include more than 130 different varieties of whisky. Of course, there are also high-quality office units available if you wish to work. A personal assistant will be waiting for you in the entrance area and will promptly and discreetly take care of all travel formalities, accompany you through security and check you in for your flight. Once the plane is ready for boarding, you are driven by limousine to the aircraft!
- Review: read my review of the Lufthansa First Class Terminal here (or watch my YouTube video with tour of the lounge here).
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Only experienced one FC lounge which is Singapore’s The Private Room at Changi. For a FC lounge it was incredibly disapointing. No soul, no character and food out of a microwave. Very poor alcohol slection and knowledge from the waitors. Lucky I had read the reviews beforehand but can only imagine people’s disapointment. The business class & first class lounges had better offerings.
Yes, I agree. Although Singapore Airlines offers a terrific onboard First Class product, its Private Room at Changi is a huge disappointment and in need of a refurbishment.
Do you know the logic behind this? It doesn’t chime with the ever changing on board products or the rest of the Singapore city/Changi experience.
I thought Abu Dhabi will be in Top 5
Would u include GVK lounge in top 5 if it had been owned by any airline?
Is there any time limit (max hours) that you can enter the first class terminal in Frankfurt before your flight time?
No, as long as you depart/connect the same day. I spent 8 hours in the terminal during my recent First Class flight with Lufthansa.
Any thoughts RE KLM’s FC AMSTERDAM lounge? We’ll be sampling it in a couple of months.
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Ataturk Airport Lounge is better than some of these lounges.
What about TK’s lounge in IST.. one of the best I have ever been to.. and I have been to a few in the above list!
I also loved LATAM’s first class lounge in São Paulo. It has fabulous showers, wonderful food and large, beautiful sitting areas. And the wait staff were extremely friendly
What is the best Lounge in London?
I always enjoy Singapore Airline’s ‘Private Room’ at Changi Airport, Singapore. Service is amazing.
I was wondering what the top ten lounges are for lounges located at sites other than the “hometown” lounges?
For consistent excellence around the world you can’t beat Qantas. Don’t forget business class passengers too – first class is dying out. Qantas’s home lounge is superb but Heathrow is excellent too.
But I agree about Singapore’s on board first class which is second to none; and their service at Changi.