a man with luggage in a room with a bar and chairs

Review: Swiss Senator Lounge E, Zurich (ZRH)

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Review Overview

Swiss' flagship Senator lounge is a treat, and even though I visited in the morning when their whisky club and terrace were closed and there was a long shower wait time, I still felt like I had everything I needed. The coffee in this lounge is a let-down, though.


After flying Swiss’ A321neo from London to Zurich, it was time to fly to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. Typically, Cathay Pacific uses the Aspire Lounge at Zurich Airport. However, since I had booked my Cathay Pacific flight as a Swiss codeshare and knew Swiss had a really great non-Schengen business class lounge at Zurich Airport, I wanted to try my luck at getting in.

Not only did I succeed, but I was (most likely erroneously) directed towards the Swiss Senator Lounge at Zurich Airport’s Concourse E, where I definitely shouldn’t have had access eligibility. Since I was running on empty by the time I paid this lounge a visit, I didn’t even realise I was inside the Senator lounge until I left.

This review will detail my experience being in Swiss’ flagship Senator Lounge, with the main focus on the seating and atmosphere, food and beverage, amenities, service and more, as well as the lounge’s many unique features.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Access and Opening Hours

Swiss’ Senator lounge in Zurich Airport’s Concourse E is open between 6 AM and 10 PM, and is open to passengers departing from Terminal E who are either:

  • Miles & More Senator members
  • Star Alliance Gold members

Star Alliance business class passengers, and presumably those flying business class on codeshare flights with a Swiss ticket, have access to the very similar Swiss business class lounge (which has a few more seats and doesn’t feature a Whisky Club, though otherwise mirrors this lounge – I reviewed it in 2016). I presume that my entry to this lounge was granted erroneously, especially since the lounge agent couldn’t understand what I meant by a codeshare flight.

You won’t be able to access this lounge if you’re not flying out of Concourse E, since you have to pass through passport control and/or an additional security checkpoint (in theory – I’ve heard cases of people telling passport control that they simply wanted to use the lounges, and were “let through 99% of the time”).

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich (Concourse E) Location

The Swiss Business and Senator lounges share an entrance, located approximately by gate E43 at Zurich Airport. The E gates at Zurich Airport are generally monopolised by a couple of duty-free shops, without the typical high-end duty free maze that you’d otherwise find at this airport adjacent to immigration control.

people walking on an escalator in a building
Zurich Airport Concourse E Gates and Signage

I followed some clearly marked signage to a set of stairs in order to access the lounge (I’d forgotten to take a picture of said staircase).

Not knowing if I’d actually have access to the lounge, I presented my boarding pass to the lounge agent and asked if I had access. She said “yes” and asked if I had my frequent flyer card on me; I don’t have Star Gold, so I said no, but I was flying business class on a Swiss codeshare flight. She smiled, said “enjoy your stay”, and pointed me towards (what I now realise was) the Senator lounge.

a long hallway with benches and windows
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Entrance

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Seating and Atmosphere

The Swiss Senator lounge spans a total of 1100 sq. m, and is gorgeous. The “main” seating area was a long, rectangular room with a partition running down the middle, and consisted of bar-stool tables, restaurant-style bench seating, as well as a selection of comfy armchairs.

a man sitting at a table in a restaurant a room with black chairs and a white wall
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Seating

I was a huge fan of the fact that a plethora of power ports were featured at every seat, including USB power ports and 110V ports of all shapes and sizes.

a power strip with multiple outlets
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Power Ports

Near one end of the partition was a Breitling watch display, which I remember from my previous stay. There were two comfortable-looking but uncomfortably positioned chairs that were placed on the elevated platform, which looked ready to be used for a talk show.

a room with a television and chairs
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport “On-Display” Chairs and Breitling Display

The lounge was fairly quiet during my visit at 10 AM, though I figured I was slightly too late for the morning rush to the U.S., though far too early to coincide with many of Swiss’ late-night flights to Asia. I know the business class lounge tends to fill up a touch more by the evenings, and presume the same is true of the Senator lounge.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Dining Options

You’re unlikely to go hungry in the Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich, with a live cooking station and a limited-selection buffet. Hot items included potatoes, omelets, tomatoes and bacon, and there were some freshly prepared options as well.

a kitchen with a counter top and shelves of food
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Live Chef Buffet

For breakfast, scrambled eggs was the only freshly prepared option, so I went for that. I asked the friendly chef for scrambled eggs with cheese and chives, and added some tabasco myself – this was delicious!

a plate of scrambled eggs on a table
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Scrambled Eggs

In terms of drinks offerings you’re unlikely to go thirsty either. By the live cooking station is a huge island with a few coffee machines – I’d say a big criticism (especially for a hub lounge) is that none of these coffee machines are great, and there isn’t any barista coffee here. Behind the island was a selection of wines, which I didn’t indulge in this early in the day.

a coffee shop with a counter and lights from the ceiling
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Coffee and Drinks Island

Opposite the coffee and drinks island was a selection of spirits, as well as beer and soft drinks on draught. I thought that the ability to dispense iced tea and sparkling water on draught was especially snazzy, and also liked that there were many shapes and sizes of glasses to choose from.

a bar with liquor bottles and glasses a group of black pipes with different colored labels
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Fancy Beverage Dispensers

Overall, a thumbs up for food and beverage at this lounge – clearly a huge investment in catering, with a regrettable pitfall in the lack of good coffee (even if barista coffee was unfeasible or inappropriate, you’d hope they’d at least have a large keg of kaffee crème going, given Switzerland’s coffee culture).

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Whisky Bar

The Whisky Bar 28/10 (named after one of Zurich Airport’s runways) was located left of the entrance, and was largely unattended at this time of day. The bar showcases 120+ whiskeys from round the world, and the polygonal design is meant to reflect the shape of the airport’s runways. A sleep-deprived me wasn’t about to add to their 10 AM patronage (and they also seemed like they were closed in the morning), though I know this particular whiskey bar concept is well-executed and well-loved by many.

a bar with a counter and stools a man standing in a room with a bar and chairs
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Whisky Club 28/10

Perhaps I would’ve appreciated a bar that offered a few mocktails especially during the day (a juice of sorts would’ve helped me stay hydrated), but I’m being nitpicky.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Terrace

One of the USPs of this particular Senator lounge is that it features a terrace (it even features a separate terrace from the business class lounge). Unfortunately on this particular snowy day the terrace was closed, though it’s a lot of fun to planespot from the terrace during the summer months.

a glass door with a sign on it
Snowed In at Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport

I’ve visited the terrace in the Business Class lounge in past, and it’s brilliant – you get close-up views of lots of cool aircraft, there are runway views, and I can’t think of a better landscape to sip some wine (or in this case, whiskey) in.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Terrace

It was a shame that the terrace was closed, but if I’m honest, the temperature was a few degrees too cold for me to have enjoyed any time out there anyway.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Relax Area

On the opposite end of the lounge from the whiskey bar is the “relax” area, a concept shared between the Swiss business class and Senator lounges in this concourse (though the spaces are separate).

a man sitting in a room with a white wall and a black and white stand
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Relax Area

I never peeked behind the white curtain, though I did manage to spend some time on one of these cool mechanically-reclining lazy-Z daybeds. There weren’t any electronic controls or even a manual recline button, and the degree of recline was based solely on your weight distribution across the daybed – though I found it a very comfortable place to relax nonetheless, and also appreciated the fact that it faced the tarmac (I’m not sure if it would’ve been as relaxing if the terrace was open to guests?).

a row of black chairs in a room with a window
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Relax Area Chairs

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Bathrooms and Showers

One area that Swiss’ Concourse E business and Senator lounges share is their bathrooms. I was handed a buzzer for one of their shower rooms upon asking, though unfortunately a shower room didn’t open up before boarding (I was told there were two people in line upon enquiry, and waited for approximately half an hour before giving up). Here’s a picture I took of the well-appointed shower room, featuring a rainforest showerhead, during my last visit.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Shower

The bathrooms were also very well-appointed and similarly designed.

a room with doors and a tv
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Bathroom

I’d say the wait was fairly disappointing since the lounge wasn’t particularly crowded, though a wait of this length was consistent with my experience at quite a few hub lounges recently, including the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul and the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan lounge in Doha.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Work and Phone Booths

The Swiss Senator lounge features separate booths for working and phone calls. I’d say that the working booths especially are a little too devoid of natural light for my liking, though you could always choose to work elsewhere if you wanted to.

img_1808a black headphones on a shelf
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Airport Work and Phone Booths

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich WiFi

Accessing the lounge WiFi either required either scanning your boarding pass at a machine for a passcode, or using your mobile phone to login. The latter process was easy and I was very quickly connected, and speeds were impressive, measuring 103 Mbps down and 94 Mbps up, with a ping of 6 ms. This is very competitive, though I would’ve appreciated an easier connecting method.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich Service

While I was fairly perplexed with my interaction with the lounge agent upon entry, all lounge members I interacted with were friendly and eager to please. Plates were cleared swiftly after I finished eating, and the lounge attendant helping me secure a shower room was friendly, and apologetic when I didn’t manage to get a shower room in time for my flight. I have nothing but good things to say about all of the lounge attendants working this lounge.

Conclusion: Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich

The Swiss Senator Lounge at Terminal E is a treat, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit, despite both the 28/10 Whisky Club and outdoor terrace being closed. I can imagine that if both features were open, this would’ve been a powerhouse of a lounge visit in competitiveness terms. I’d say that since my 2016 visit I’d noticed a couple of things that I didn’t in past, specifically regarding the quality of coffee in this lounge, a larger variety of seating, and a bar offering a few cocktails/mocktails (or drinks other than whiskey). On this occasion there was also a disappointing shower room wait that didn’t align with my experience in the past.

Apart from the shower room issue, this lounge gets all the basics right – there are plenty of comfortable places to work, the atmosphere is airy, spacious and quiet, the WiFi is some of the fastest I’ve ever experienced, and I love the live cooking stations. I’d think twice before crowning this lounge one of the world’s best for its calibre, though it’s a great place to spend some time and I can’t wait to be back.

Read more from this trip:

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  1. It’s interesting that you were granted access on a codeshare. Star Alliance usually does everything based on operating carrier, though maybe there is an exception here since it’s operated by a LX partner?

    1. I’m not sure, honestly – my guess would’ve been “no”, though my boarding pass did have a fat LX flight number on it and indication that I was flying business class, so…

      (Still shouldn’t have been the Senator lounge I’m sure!)

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