Tried & Tested

Lounge review: KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge, Schiphol Airport

1 Jul 2019 by Tom Otley
Amsterdam Crown Lounge

Background

As we reported last year, KLM has been renovating and to some extent completely rebuilding its main lounge at Schiphol Airport, the Crown Lounge. This is the lounge you will be using if you are using Schiphol as a hub.

As our expert Alex McWhirter wrote, “…readers will know the Dutch airline fuels its network with sixth-freedom customers (those who travel via, rather than to or from, Amsterdam).

“KLM links a multitude of different countries and cities around the world carrying dozens of different nationalities. It therefore must impress a huge global audience at Schiphol – its hub airport and one which always wins Business Traveller reader awards.”

First impressions

If you are a stranger to transferring at Schiphol, first impressions can be slightly bewildering (though thankfully not as bad as Paris Charles de Gaulle).

Getting off a flight from the UK you wander round for a while until ceiling signs point you to the exit or transfer, and if you are looking for a lounge, eventually you are told there is a lounge 52 or a lounge 25, though what these numbers mean, is anyone’s guess at this stage. (In fact, lounge 25 is the Schengen lounge, so you don’t want that one if you are flying onwards somewhere like Asia.)

I went for lounge 52 simply out of luck, and eventually came to this entrance which is between piers E and F, which looked impressive enough to give it a second look.

KLM Crown-Lounge-entrance

The escalator takes you from the ground floor, past the first of hundreds of these models of Delft houses to the first floor.

It’s a lovely touch, I think, and an expression both of Dutch design and a nod to the houses that are handed out at the end of long haul flights in business class.

The lounge was designed by Concrete Amsterdam. 

KLM Crown Lounge Delft houses

At this point you are either met by a lounge attendant or you can simply scan your boarding pass (or presumably your Skyteam card) to gain access to the lounge.

Regulars have doubtless worked out the layout of the two-floor lounge, but at first it is confusing, and while I have the highest respect for KLM staff, I did rather get the impression they were fairly tired of explaining it to passengers.

The lounge is demarcated into several different areas which, at the time of my visit (July 2019), were not all open. Each area has been given these names, which of course further confuse since without explanation, they mean nothing.

“Sea” is not yet open, but will be “A quiet getaway to recharge and refresh” with ‘private nap rooms at a fee’ as well as private showers (not sure if these will be chargeable). Also yet to open is “City” area, which is “a cool place to get a bite and a drink”. From what I was told, these won’t be opened until October 2019 when KLM celebrates its 100th anniversary. In fact, I think they are racing to get it open for that time since the lounge is very crowded during busy times, particularly weekday mornings.

KLM Crown Lounge Polder-to-the-left

Both to the left or the right as you enter the lounge is “Polder”. To the left it is more of a café area where, judging by the boarding at its far end, City will be located, with Sea beyond it.

The day I visited, it was quiet in this area to the left, and so after walking around I decided that would be where I would sit. Once I did, I realised it was quiet because the air conditioning wasn’t working and it was hot, just like outside (it was during that hot spell in Europe). A lady working there told me I was not in the best area, but once I told her I’d rather be somewhere quiet and uncomfortable rather than busy and comfortable, she pulled the mobile air conditioning unit around so it was blowing more towards me. True service!

At the far end of the Polder area to the right is Dutch Mountain which is a sort of stepped area leading up to the second floor, and where there are some TV screens and booth tables. Next to this is another area which doesn’t have a name, but which has co-working areas and what looked like a private meeting room.

There are several areas to get food and drink and both cold and hot snacks. I couldn’t take pictures of all of these since there were people around helping themselves but you could definitely get a full meal, and much of it looked pretty healthy – salads and then hot options including both meat and vegetarian options.

Go up another set of escalators, and you get to 18m long Blue Bar and terrace on the right and the Blue Restaurant on the left.

This is the view from the terrace.

KLM Crown Lounge Terrace-view

The seating area is fairly comfortable, and there are plug points, but it was warm out there and I wanted to do some work so came back inside.

The Blue Bar is large with a fair amount of seating both at the bar and around it. There are a variety of drinks available free of charge, as well as paid-for premium drinks, bar snacks or more substantial food.

Crown Lounge Bar-menu-2

I’ve heard a rumour that eventually you will be able to pay for food and drinks using frequent flyer points / miles. It didn’t seem to be an option while I was there, and since I don’t have any it wouldn’t have helped me (I’m termed an Explorer in the loyalty programme, which means I’ve probably flown with Air France or KLm before, but not very often). In addition, on the other side of the foyer there is the new Blue Restaurant which serves ‘New Dutch cuisine”.

I didn’t eat here, so can’t speak much about it, though there is a lot of information on the KLM website including links to the current menu.

Lounge52/restaurant

Here is a picture of the menu.

Blue restaurant-Menu, Crown Lounge Amsterdam

And here is a picture of the restaurant on the Sunday lunchtime I was there.

KLM Crown Lounge Blue-Restaurant

I went back downstairs to work and write this. Chatting with the lady who helped me with the air-conditioning unit, she said that the furniture in the main part of Polder to the right is temporary, and will be replaced sometime in the next few months. I’m glad about that, since it is obviously from the old lounge, and looks out of place, and a little dated.

Note that at the moment entrance has been restricted to the lounge (because it is under renovation). Guests of Flying Blue platinum and gold members, and Skyteam Elite members are denied entry during peak hours, which are from 0730 – 1100), and regular entry vouchers are not valid.

The printed information says that “Ultimate, Skipper and C2000 as well as Platinum for Life members and their guests are always welcome in the lounge.”

Salads-in-Crown-Lounge

Verdict

Your experience of this lounge will depend on how busy it is, of course, but as new areas open, it’s moving from being pleasant to being pleasurable. The size has increased and will increase further, and regulars will soon find their preferred location.

Once renovated completely, the lounge will offer around 1,500 seats in comparison with the previous 800 and will boast a surface area of 6,800 m2 compared to 3,600 m2 now.

It seems strange to have a restaurant that is chargeable in the lounge (I can’t think how it can make any money), and charging for bar snacks means you’ll probably stick with the salads and the hot buffet which is to one side of the Dutch Mountain. Maybe when you can pay with frequent flyer miles it will get busier. If I earn any I can see it being a good way of ‘burning’ them.

I also think giving names to all these areas in the lounge adds to the confusion, but I am looking forward to the lounge being fully open to give a true verdict. For now, I’m partly perplexed, but mainly impressed.

The lounge is open from 0445 until the last KLM flight departs.

klm.com

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