Air travel was once a leisure pursuit only of a fortunate few. The champagnes, cigars and quality service of uniformed stewards part of airline packages used to only be available for the rich, but a lot of things have since changed. Most of us dread battling through the airport and have to gaze in envious awe at those fortunate few who can bypass the queues and sip their drinks in peace. You have to pay a lot for the privilege, although the Amex Platinum Travel Club will get you into many luxury lounges around the world, but for many it’s not just worth it, it’s essential.
Here are some of the world’s best luxury lounges.
Incheon International Airport, South Korea
Despite being one of the world’s busiest airports, Incheon has got plenty of places to hide from the crowds and get your senses together. You can indulge yourself with a Thai massage before enjoying the spa and sauna and putting your head down in one of the many private rooms. It’s been voted the best in the world, includes museum exhibits from the nation’s cultural museum and no fewer than seven gardens.
San Francisco International Airport
If you want to learn while you travel, take a trip via San Francisco where they’ve really made an effort to feed the mind. There are galleries with more than 60 works specially commissioned by the city’s art commission as well as exhibits on science, history and aviation. A children’s learning zone and aquarium should make it a pleasure even for the little ones.
Hong Kong International Airport
Airport shopping is big business these days and Hong Kong’s airport has the best in the world for its 50 million-plus visitors. Fancy something a little more physically stimulating and you can tee off at the golf course or plug into one of the many high tech sports simulators.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Airports can be terribly unnatural spaces, but at Kuala Lumpur you can wonder through genuine rainforest courtesy of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia who helped relocate a patch of jungle to the terminal. A massage and reflexology centre should iron those kinks out and you needn’t feel too guilty, it’s the greenest airport in the world.
Qantas First Lounge, Sydney Airport
Qantas really wanted to show off the best their country has to offer and got Marc Newson to design this hymn to Australia’s wonderful natural resources. A foliage wall helps sooth the mind before a free spa and brilliant food courtesy of Neil Perry, one of the country’s top restaurateurs.
Lufthansa, Munich Airport
Natural light floods this beautiful space with its bars made from white marble, cigar lounge and wandering back massage therapists. Being Germany, you’ll want to pop into the beer garden to enjoy the fruits of the famous local Franziskaner brewery.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, New York JFK
The 10,000 square feet of the Virgin clubhouse at JFK is dedicated to luxury and cost $7 million to put together. It’s all built around a classic New York cocktail lounge which is as good as anything you’ll find in the City That Never Sleeps. You can even get your hair done by one of the city’s top salons and begin Amex Express holidays in style. Bumble and bumble.
British Airways Lounges, Terminal 5, Heathrow
Terminal 5 suffered from some teething problems and bad publicity when it opened, but they did get everything right, spending £60 million on six lounges here. The Galleries First Lounge is a picture of opulence with a bar covered in gold leaf under a Swarovski crystal chandelier.
About the Author
Luke Ryan has worked for a number of websites and has written a variety of articles on the subject of travel. He loves the luxury of lounges and enjoys travelling 1st class when he can.