More often than not, airports are places where time slows down, money magically drains from your credit card and small children suddenly decide to start playing up. Put simply, they’re one of the most stressful places in the world. However, if you have the funds and the inclination, there are places dotted around the world that can transform airports into hushed pockets of relaxation and pampering. Here are the best places to chill before a flight…
Cathay Pacific’s lounges at Hong Kong airport
Cathay’s flagship lounge, The Wing, is often spoken about by travellers in reverent tones; however, there are five other Cathay lounges to choose from. Want a shower? There are 24 stone and bamboo-lined suites to choose from, replete with luxury cosmetics. If you’re peckish, there’s a self-service buffet with a range of cusines available, and of course, the drinks are all complimentary. If you’re feeling a bit woozy and don’t want a cheeky tipple, make your way to the Coffee Loft, which serves handcrafted beverages and freshly-baked pastries. Even the furniture is geared towards hard-working travellers; the Solus Chair, which was designed by Foster + Partners, is a small, rounded ‘cabin’ designed to give travellers privacy and the space to work without being claustrophobic.
Priority Pass lounges around the world
Loved by upmarket travellers for over 20 years, Priority Pass is the original and largest independent airport lounge membership program. Members have access to over 700 airport VIP lounges worldwide; they’re quiet, comfortable places that offer complimentary drinks and snacks, free WiFI, and a place to relax between flights. Some of the lounges even offer a free massage, so if you’ve just spent half a day having your arms and legs knocked around by a trolley, take advantage of the treatments on offer . The best part is guests can join you, so there’ll be no awkwardness if you’re travelling with someone who isn’t a member.
Qatar Airways lounge at London Heathrow
If there’s one way to soothe the horror of the Heathrow Express, it’s a trip to the Qatar lounge. Boasting ‘true five star service’, from the minute you walk in, you’re treated like some kind of celebrity. Arabian water fountains, gourmet dining and the Delicatessen, which serves fresh food in a flash if you’re pushed for time. The shower suites have heated floors (now you’re talking), heated towel rails, free cosmetics and the fluffiest towels known to man. If you have the time to eat here, make sure that you do; the open theatre-style kitchen allows you to watch your meal being created. Plane food will never look more unappetising after a trip to the jewel in Terminal 4’s crown.
Turkish Airways lounge at Istanbul airport
While the rest of the world frets in duty free, this is the place that the rich and famous come to forget that they’re about to spend ten hours trapped on a flight. Not only is there a grand piano to tinkle around on, there are pool tables, a library, extra-large TVs to watch (with every channel you could possibly want) and plush sleeping suites. Oh, and in case you were wondering, freshly-made hot and cold mezzes are also available (hummus! Hummus for all!), along with an olive bar, a grilled meats bar, a fruit section and our favourite, a Turkish pizza station. There’s never been such a good excuse to miss your flight.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK airport:
Let’s be honest – when Virgin do something, they do it well. Not only do they have a spa that specialises in night-time treatments to help passengers sleep, the entire space is modelled on an upmarket bar; shimmering golden lighting will soothe your frazzled nerves, and ‘soft decadent textures’ will be sure to delight you.
It’s always inadvisable to drink before a flight, but the cocktail bar, with its range of complimentary free tipples, is not one to miss. The best part? There are small wool-lined pods lining the walls, so if you want a nap, get changed into your ‘sleep suit’, hang your clothes up, and catch 50 winks. The food on offer is suitably lush; breakfast dishes include homemade churros, Eggs Benedict and The Clubhouse British breakfast. If your bed head’s causing you grief, make sure you pop in to see the Bumble & Bumble hairstyling team, who operate out of the spa.
Etihad Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi airport
From the minute you arrive at the airport, the pampering starts. You’ll be greeted curbside by a porter and a concierge, and from then on, you’ll be praying for your flight to be delayed. The Six Senses Spa allows you to freshen up, and they also offer 15-minute mini treatments. If you’re travelling with kids, don’t worry – there’s a playroom for families, so you can spend some quality time together, and even a personal nannying service, so you can have your offspring whisked away while you drink a glass of fizz at the Champagne bar. Smokers can even indulge their nasty little habit; there’s a Cigar Lounge, where the best tobacco products from around the world are flown in. You can even have your shoes shined and your spare clothes ironed while you’re enjoying a bite from the a-la-carte menu.
Vicky Anscombe is Editor-in-Chief at Columbus Direct.