Over the past few years I’ve been incredibly lucky to try out quite a few business class products, and with that entailed going to their hub business class lounges as well. I’ve been to a range of lounges and come out with a variety of impressions, and find it such an exciting addition to the airport experience, especially when airlines put effort into it.
Last year I listed the top 10 things that I look for in an airline lounge. Many airline lounges I know feature a large number, if not all, of these features in their own quirky variations. The five lounges featured below all have at least a majority of these features.
Too many times over the past few years, I’ve come out of a lounge thinking “hmm, this could potentially be one of the best in the world”. I haven’t visited all the business class lounges that I believe would make this list, though I don’t have plans to visit any of them in the near future. For that reason, here are my five favourite business class hub lounges, and I’ll share lounges that I believe potentially make the list as well.
So, what are my five favourite business class hub lounges around the world? Before we start, I’d like to emphasise that all these comments are written based on personal experience. So this isn’t an arbitrary list of lounges, but rather a ranking of some of the best business class lounges I’ve personally been to. I’ve also heard of other great ones I’ve yet to visit, which I’ve listed at the very bottom.
While business class lounges can be nice sometimes, they’re not always an experience to be had. That’s not true for the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow. There’s an abundance of seating, including workstations, separate, quieter partitioned areas, and generally comfortable seating scattered throughout the lounge. The lounge isn’t the most elegantly designed out of the list, but that’s not what the airline’s trying to be – the colours are modern, feel in place, and give a vibrant pop.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow
However, what makes this lounge stand out is everything that you can do in it. The Cowshed Spa has a hot tub and multiple massage treatments you can choose from, and you can get your hair (or nails) done at the Bumble and Bumble Salon. Of course, there are shower rooms as well, which also double as steam rooms.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Bumble And Bumble Salon
If you need outdoor space, there’s also a “garden” – it’s not the nicest outdoor area in any business class lounge I’ve been to, though the tarmac and runway are quite clearly visible from this area, which is a nice addition to everything else you can do in the lounge.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden
Furthermore, if you’re feeling peckish, there’s a large variety of a la carte menu items that you can choose from in this lounge, which can be served anywhere you want within the “main” area (not the outdoor area, salon, spa, or hot tub, unfortunately). There’s also a bar with a spectacular bartender, and the amazing service ethic spreads to the entirety of the lounge – everyone’s so happy with the product, which is great to see.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie
The only thing this lounge lacks is a separate room for sleeping – there are daybeds, but they’re littered around the main area, which is usually rather busy. However, I’m not sure why you’d want to sleep here when there’s so much other fun to be had.
Virgin Atlantic’s ground service for Upper Class passengers (and paying Premium Economy flyers) is flawless. They have similar lounges littered around the U.S. (they used to have a Clubhouse in Hong Kong as well, but it was demolished to make way for the Centurion Lounge), and those lounges have similar amenities.
Cathay Pacific’s flagship business class lounge at Hong Kong Airport is a little further from the immigration area than some of their other lounges, but it’s worth the walk. The lounge has elegance in spades and is beautifully designed, with precisely thought out touches all around the lounge. The food hall, bar, noodle bar, and teahouse are in separate rooms, and there are separate nooks for different tasks that need to be achieved as well.
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Food Hall
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Bar
The noodles at the noodle bar are also amazing. While Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse lounge has a larger selection of food across different cuisines, Cathay Pacific’s catering crew has mastered every aspect of their noodle selections at the Noodle Bar.
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Noodle Bar Seating
The reason I ranked this lounge behind Virgin Atlantic’s was that there’s not that much “fun” to be had. In other words, I’d be just as happy here as I’d be in a hotel room or at home, whereas at the Clubhouse I’d get to the lounge early for a spa treatment, get my hair done, etc.. However, what I love about the lounge is that it gets all the basics right – there’s more than enough seating, awesome showers, an abundance of work areas, a separate rest area, awesome food at the Noodle Bar, the lounge itself is quiet and relaxing – it’s the perfect setup for a long layover.
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Relaxation Room Daybeds
Swiss’ non-Schengen business class lounge in Zurich is beautiful. There’s an abundance of seating, including sofa chairs, dining-style bench seating, and daybeds. The colour scheme isn’t remarkable by any means compared to the former two lounge offerings, but it’s clean, sleek and consistent, which I like.
Swiss Business Lounge Terminal E Zurich Airport Seating
In terms of food options, there’s a bar, as well as a selection of items that you can order off a counter, all of which are delicious. The selection isn’t as extensive as what you’d get at Cathay Pacific’s noodle bar or Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse Brasserie, though it’s awesome nonetheless.
Overall this makes a really good airport lounge, though what makes it stand out from the rest is the outdoor terrace. While other lounges have outdoor areas, this is the biggest airport outdoor terrace that I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, either in real life or online. The terrace has awesome views of aircraft parked at the E gates, as well as the runway behind. It’s worth noting that the Senator and First Class lounges both have their own stretch of the terrace to themselves (admittedly, this is less useful during winter, but…).
Overall the lounge isn’t as stunningly practical as The Pier, and the amenities of the lounge can’t compare to those of The Clubhouse. I also feel like they could’ve done more to the terrace, given how unique it is (a couple of sofas, loungers, etc.). Nonetheless, I love this lounge.
Hong Kong Airlines operates a stunning lounge in their Midfield terminal, dubbed Club Autus. The lounge features an abundance of seating, and I love the decor. I love the different seating layout options, as well as the “food line” spread and the bar.
Hong Kong Airlines Club Autus Lounge Hong Kong Seating
The lounge also features a Noodle Bar, though I don’t find the noodles to be as good as they are at Cathay Pacific lounges.
Hong Kong Airlines Club Autus Lounge Hong Kong Laksa Noodles
However, it’s worth noting that the lounge isn’t as polished as the other three lounges. For example, there’s usually a wait for the (cutely designed) shower room, the curtain is a tacky addition, and the room seems to be consistently damp because of the water-absorbing nature of the tiling. The lounge also lacks an “X-factor” – there’s nothing there that would make you want to spend an extra few hours, such as a spa, outdoor terrace, etc. (the few lounges I’ve ranked above this lounge all feature an X-factor of some sort).
Hong Kong Airlines Club Autus Lounge Hong Kong Shower Room
However, it’s still a solid lounge I wouldn’t mind spending plenty of time in.
Back in the day when Qatar Airways first opened the Al Mourjan Lounge, it was one of the best business class lounges in the world. I still really like the lounge. It’s ever so slightly on the sterile side, but seating is abundant (almost overly so), and all the seating is comfortable. Some of the seating comes with tablets where you can check your flight status. Casey Neistat skateboarded through the lounge once – that’s how spacious it is.
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha
One thing I love about this lounge is how large it is. Now, a lot of airlines have huge lounges, though this one is huge and well-equipped. There’s a business center, there’s a game room, there are family rooms, etc.. Also, there are tons of rest areas. I’ve never seen so many daybeds in a lounge before.
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha Business Center
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha Game Room
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha Quiet Rooms
However, the airline has been cost-cutting lately, and quite a few of the lounge’s amenities have fallen victim. The lounge used to offer an a-la-carte menu, but now what’s left is a small food spread near the restaurant, and a sandwich a-la-carte menu in the deli. The sandwiches are still okay, though nothing special.
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha Restaurant Bar
Also, while service at the other four lounges is friendly, I’ve never found the lounge attendants to be particularly happy, upbeat or proud of where they worked. This may be since both my visits were between the ungodly hours of 12 AM and 6 AM, though may also speak for the strict working conditions at Qatar Airways (my experience with Qatar Airways’ onboard crew has been consistently great, though).
What Other Lounges Do I Think Will Make This List?
I haven’t been to a lot of lounges yet, so this is more of a starting point consisting what I believe are some of the world’s industry-leading lounges, rather than a full-on, comprehensive list. I’ll be visiting many more business class lounges and hope to create a more comprehensive ranking in the coming years. Here are some of the lounges I believe will find their place:
- Turkish Airlines seems to have a great business class lounge in Istanbul, and will have a better one when their new terminal opens
- Brussels Airlines has a great lounge in Brussels, The Loft
- I’ve heard great things about the Star Alliance Lounge LAX (I get that I’m being lax – haha! – about the fact that it’s an “airline hub lounge”, but I’ve heard some really good things)
- Air Canada’s Signature Suite Toronto seems to have its place in this list
- China Airlines’ Taipei lounge looks cool too
It’s amazing to see how some airline hub lounges have transformed from comfortable waiting areas to airside (adult) playgrounds. Here’s a short list of my favourite lounges, though obviously my insight isn’t omnipotent, since there are still a vast number of business class lounges I haven’t been to. While a few of the above hub lounges are deservedly hyped (the Al Mourjan lounge and the Clubhouse come to mind), others have kept quiet about their amazing lounges (such as the Swiss Dock E lounge, for example – I didn’t go into the lounge expecting that it’d make the list).
What’s your favourite business class hub lounge in the world?