Is this the world's best first-class lounge?
Renowned for luxury
Etihad is known for its innovative approach to luxury for discerning travellers - the airline launched The Residence cabin on its A380 aircraft, which was said to be 'better than first-class cabins'. The company's aim is to 'reimagine' the flying experience and rather than taking inspiration from existing airport loungers, it has looked to some of the world's most luxurious hotels. Etihad wants to make travellers feel “like they're relaxing in the likes of Claridge's or at The Ritz rather than killing time before a flight," according to the CEO of the company, Peter Baumgartner.
First-class drinking and dining
The 17,900-square-foot lounge features 16 different zones and is accessed via a ground-floor reception. The dining area alone has a 24-hour a la carte restaurant, cake buffet, two bars and a casual area for dining. The menu has been developed with the help of Mezlai Restaurant at Emirates Palace Hotel, whilst London drinks consultancy Fluid Movement is responsible for the bar menu. The highlight of the latter is the cocktails named after some of the airline's most frequently-visited destinations, with drinks such as The London, a gin-based concoction with blackberries and rhubarb, hard to resist.
Relax and unwind
It is the lounge's additional features that ensure it stands head and shoulders above its competitors. A fitness room with cross trainers and treadmills is a great place for a pre-flight workout, whilst the Six Senses Spa offers a range of relaxing treatments. There is a Style & Shave area with a barbers, shoe shine stand and hair salon where you can pay for treatments or even enjoy complimentary express treatments. The Relax & Recline Zone features Poltrona Frau loungers, with 27 screens filling a 36-foot-long wall displaying soothing images and sounds to help you wind down before you take off. For families, there are a creche and children’s playroom, with nannies who have been trained at the prestigious Norland College in Bath.
There is even a VIP area reserved exclusively for celebrities and visiting dignitaries. This will be permanently staffed by butlers trained at London's Savoy Hotel, with the area including a prayer room, marble bathroom, library, dining area and spacious living area.
The lounge is accessible to Etihad Platinum members and first-class passengers; however, with return flights from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi costing from £3,916 travelling first class, you may need to start saving. You don't need to spend a fortune on your travel insurance, however, as cheap annual travel insurance with insurefor means you can travel as many times as you wish within 12 months and still benefit from the cover you need.