Most people dread waiting for their flight to board, but with lounge access, waiting at the airport can be one of the most enjoyable parts of air travel.
In Australia, lounges from some of the world’s best airlines endeavour to outdo each other with more and more luxurious features. From day spa treatments to private shower suites, some of these lounges have it all. Here are our top picks.
Qantas International First Lounge, Sydney
Qantas’s International First Lounge at Sydney Airport is deservedly ranked among the world’s best airport lounges. An awesome view, Neil Perry inspired à la carte dining, bar service, barista coffee, complimentary spa treatments and marble-lined shower suites are a few of the perks that this lounge has to offer.
The design incorporates a curved walkway spanning the length of the lounge, with large wooden dividers creating several different seating zones, both for lounging and dining. There is ample natural light thanks to angled floor-to-ceiling windows that provide excellent apron and partial runway views. Although there is an inherent lack of charging ports, this lounge doesn’t have many downfalls.
Comfort: various seating options; spacious design – 5/5
Dining: barista service; extensive bar; small buffet; quality restaurant dining – 4/5
Facilities: shower suites; spa treatments; newspapers and magazines; wi-fi; private meeting rooms – 5/5
Overall: an open and inviting space with great views and fantastic facilities – 5/5
Qantas International First Lounge, Melbourne
Essentially a scaled-down version of its Sydney counterpart, the Qantas International First Lounge at Melbourne Airport offers truly à la carte dining, restaurant table service, a day spa and stunning apron views from floor-to-ceiling windows. There is plenty of seating including some for small groups and single armchairs for solo travellers. At the far end of the lounge is the dining and bar area, which can seat up to 50 guests. While there is a small counter offering drinks and snacks, the main dining in this lounge is à la carte. The seasonal menu is prepared by chef Neil Perry and is fairly extensive, plus the bar offers a good selection of beverages including beer, wine, cider and cocktails.
Comfort: various seating options, mostly leather couches – 4/5
Dining: barista service; extensive bar; small buffet; quality restaurant dining – 4/5
Facilities: two office suites; spa treatments; shower suites; newspapers and magazines; wi-fi – 5/5
Overall: a relatively stylish space with great views – 4/5
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge, Brisbane
With premium entry, lots of seating and plenty of food and drink, there is a lot to like about Brisbane airport’s Qantas Domestic Business Lounge. Available to elite frequent flyers and business-class guests, Qantas’s premium lounge entry offers a dedicated check-in area, bag drop and security screening with direct access to the Qantas lounge precinct.
The area is divided into a variety of zones for dining, working and relaxing. Various seating options are available including bench seats near the main bar, banquette and armchair seating by small tables as well as seats lining the windows that provide a good view of the apron.
Along with the buffet, which has several options including hot dishes, crudités, salads, fruits and sweets, Qantas’s signature dining concept at Brisbane is ‘The Cantina’ which serves freshly made Mexican dishes. Similar to other lounges, one dish is offered at a time from a list that includes nachos, soft tacos, empanadas and more. Barista coffee is made to order and the main bar serves drinks including beer, wine, spirits and soft drink.
Seating: many seating options – 4/5
Dining: good selection at the bar and buffet; barista coffee – 5/5
Facilities: work area; premium entry; plenty of AC and USB power outlets; newspaper and magazine selections; wi-fi; bathrooms and shower suites – 5/5
Design: An inviting design that makes good use of the space – 5/5
Qantas Domestic Business Class, Melbourne
Qantas’s stylish Melbourne Domestic Business Lounge is a fantastic renovated space, featuring dark tones and sophisticated finishes. Apron-facing windows span the length of the lounge, giving the space a light and open feeling. A diverse range of seating for up to 350 guests lines the lounge, with space for solo travellers and some for groups.
Towards the middle of the lounge is the bar, which stocks a generous selection of beers, wines and spirits, as well as all-day barista coffee and signature cocktails. As well as the standard buffet that offers several Asian-focused dishes, Qantas has introduced an Asian Spice Bar to its signature dining concept. Inspired by Neil Perry’s Spice Temple restaurant, the Spice Bar offers a range of fresh dishes prepared to order, with two options available at any one time.
Comfort: various seating options; quite busy at peak times – 4/5
Dining: excellent range at the bar and buffet; Asian Spice Bar; barista coffee – 5/5
Facilities: separate work area; plenty of AC and USB power outlets; newspaper and magazine selections; fast wi-fi network; shower suites – 4/5
Overall: a modern and welcoming design that makes great use of the space – 5/5
The House, Melbourne
The House lounge at Melbourne airport is operated by No1 Lounges for Etihad Airways. A contemporary design and full-service experience make The House a great place to wait before your flight. As well as a small buffet there are two main meal services – breakfast and all-day dining. Although the à la carte menu contains only a few options, items are of high quality. The lounge also provides a barista service, as well as the Etihad Bar, which contains over 90 types of drinks.
There are multiple ways to gain access to this lounge, including by class of travel and elite status with Etihad or Virgin Australia, Priority Pass members (with a $20 co-pay), plus the option of purchasing a pass for $80 online or $90 at the door.
Comfort: seating for up to 144, mostly leather armchairs – 4/5
Dining: ordinary buffet station; barista service; one of the coolest bars in MEL; high-quality dining despite little choice – 4/5
Facilities: luggage lockers; wi-fi; shower facilities; charging at every seat; prayer rooms – 4/5
Overall: a sophisticated lounge design with excellent views – 4/5
Singapore Airlines SilverKris First Lounge, Sydney
Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris lounge at Sydney airport is a rather small and private lounge that features comfy armchairs, a buffet and dining room, and eight individual seating pods (similar to business class suites you might see in the air).
As far as dining, there’s a good selection at the self-service bar and buffet plus an à la carte menu. The menu has a few options to choose from and changes throughout the day, with full table service offered throughout the lounge.
Seating: little capacity; luxury seating options – 4/5
Dining: good selection at the bar and buffet; à la carte dining – 5/5
Facilities: eight working pods; newspaper and magazine selections; wi-fi; showers – 3/5
Overall: an intimate design using dark tones makes the lounge feel welcoming – 4/5
American Express Lounge, Sydney
The American Express lounge at Sydney airport is a boutique lounge limited to eligible AMEX card-holders and their guests. The lounge is split into three zones: a public dining space, a lounge area and a social area. Seating options include long tables with bench seats in the social area and leather armchairs and banquette seating in the lounge area.
As well as a selection of self-serve dishes, guests can choose from an à la carte menu. Dishes are made-to-order at ‘live cooking’ stations where you can watch the preparation of your meal in full view. Alternatively, meals can be delivered to you even if you’re sitting outside the dining area. Barista coffee is available from the bar, as well as a wide selection of beers, wines and cocktails.
Seating: low capacity; multiple seating options across three zones – 3/5
Dining: great buffet and à la carte menu; barista coffee; good drinks selection – 5/5
Facilities: AC/USB outlets; wi-fi; shower suites (shared with plaza premium lounge) – 3/5
Overall: a stylish design with excellent dining options – 4/5
Virgin Australia’s Domestic Business Class Lounge
Incorporating two storeys with two bars and three barista coffee stations, plus a premium entry facility, Virgin Australia’s Domestic Business Class Lounge at Sydney Airport is a comfortable and generally well-designed lounge. Within the lounge, various types of seating are available with leather benches by small tables, shared bar areas and some more relaxed leather seats. Although there are windows, views on the ground floor are pretty much non-existent, thus it is worth venturing upstairs for greater views (plus it is often less crowded). Unfortunately, the upper level is only open during peak times.
Barista-pulled coffee and Virgin Australia’s usual buffet selection is available with both hot and cold options. Although satisfactory for a quick snack, it’s otherwise unremarkable as far as quality and choice. As far as drinks, beer and wine are on offer, but no spirits. There is also a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages. If you want to get some work done wi-fi is available throughout the lounge and there several curved desks equipped with AC and USB power.
Seating: multiple seating options over two storeys – 4/5
Dining: average buffet; barista coffee; ordinary drinks selection – 3/5
Facilities: premium entry; showers; newspapers and magazines; wi-fi; AC and USB power available – 5/5
Design: a well-designed lounge however dining could be improved – 3.5/5