The lounge opened last May at Abu Dhabi International airport’s terminal three, Etihad’s dedicated terminal. There is a check-in zone attached to Departures for the airline’s first and business class passengers and the first-class lounge is located just past security.
What’s it like
After presenting my boarding pass to the attendant, I took the lift to the first floor where I was greeted by another member of staff, who showed me around the lounge.
Spanning 1,700 sqm, the lounge is made up of several leisure “zones”, which includes a fitness room, TV room, relaxation room, private lounge and dining areas and a cigar lounge. Located next to the lounge’s entrance is the Six Senses spa, which has three treatment rooms and offers all guests a free 15-minute treatment. I was offered the choice of a head, back and shoulders, foot or hand massage, or the option of a facial – I went for the foot massage, during which I nodded off so I imagine it was extremely relaxing. There is also a hairdressing room, Style and Shave, where you can book a wet shave, haircut, nail treatments, eyebrow shaping or a blow dry. Guests can book complimentary express treatments at Style and Shave instead of a spa treatment should they wish.
The fitness room is also just outside of the main lounge area. It’s small, but well-equipped for a short workout before boarding, with two Technogym treadmills, an exercise bike and a set of free weights. There are showers next door plus a clothes-pressing service.
Through the sliding doors and into the main lounge, there are a range of seating arrangements, from the main restaurant, which dominates the space, to more secluded pockets with armchairs and reading areas. There are also two private lounge rooms within the main dining area, used on a “first come first serve” basis.
The lounge was quite busy when I arrived at 11am, but there were still plenty of tables free in the restaurant and I was offered the option of an à la carte meal or the buffet, which was set on a small counter, at a remove from the main dining area.
There wasn’t much on offer there – cold cuts and a few pastries and dessert pots, so I went for the à la carte option. There was an extensive international menu with dishes such as “homemade Hong Kong noodles”, “butter chicken curry” and a full English breakfast. I went for a healthier option – the spinach-polenta crespelle with a grapefruit juice. Service was quick and our waiter was friendly and had a great sense of humour.
The main bar is well stocked, situated around the corner from the restaurant against the far window looking out onto the runway. Bollinger is on tap plus a range of 75 premium spirits. There is a smaller bar near the kitchen too. The airline has partnered with UK-based beverage consultancy Fluid Movement to design its own cocktails and mocktails, with syrups and garnishes made in-house. All drinks are complimentary.
Past the main bar there is more seating, magazine and newspaper racks and at the end of the corridor, a darkened TV room. Next door to this there is a “relaxation room”, which has five to six Poltrona Frau armchairs that recline at 180 degrees. The lighting is soft and, across the length of the room, an enormous video wall shows soothing graphics – when I visited there were three people asleep in the chairs.
Next to the relaxation room there is another seating area, where the cold cuts buffet is set up. It’s much more quiet and casual than the main dining area, though darker and a little too secluded if you want to be within sight of any staff. There are screens showing flight times here, next to the bar and in the main dining area too. Attendants will find you to tell you when your flight has begun boarding.
Back in the dining room, the cigar lounge is located in an oval room near the kitchen. It’s quite inconspicuous and had to be pointed out to me. There is a large selection of single malt whiskies and Cognac plus nine cigar varieties. Smokers also use the lounge, though there is a separate smoking room near the bar. All cigars are complimentary.
Passengers of The Residence are offered their own lounge along with the services of a Savoy-trained Etihad butler. This lounge has its own separate entrance, TV area, a private dining room, prayer room and shower.
The food and drink was first-rate, as was the service. There are lots of places to work or relax, and if you want to get in a quick workout or spruce up at the barbers or spa before the flight, the facilities are more than adequate.
Who can access it?
First class guests; Etihad Guest Platinum member with one guest; Etihad Airways Partner airlines platinum members with one guest; Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum members with one guest and guests of The Residence