The Wing at Hong Kong International
Cathay Pacific bills its first-class lounge, The Wing, as the world’s most exclusive balcony. With great views out over the apron, it’s easy to see why. It’s a fair assumption however that most eyes will find enough to be gaping at inside. Recently redesigned and renovated, it features great furniture such as the solus chairs, cocoons perfect for whiling away a few hours with one shelf for the G&T and another, with power points, so you can watch Netflix on your iPad.
There's a champagne bar, huge dining area, and five cabanas with showers, baths and beds, as well as 12 luxury shower suites for waking up in. Have a little quiet time in the reading room, or make use of the computers in the IT room, if you must. cathaypacific.com
Star Alliance Rooftop Lounge, Los Angeles International
The words “airport lounge” typically describe boring pubs or bland tastes. But Star Alliance’s roof-top lounge at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal is more nightclub than lobby. Situated airside on level six, it has both indoor and outdoor seating areas and views up the northern runway to the Hollywood Hills.
The lounge has circular seating areas arranged around open fire pits, a water wall, and comfy chairs fitted with power and USB points. As well as fast wifi there's a media room, a library and eight shower suites. staralliance.com
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge, Istanbul
Ataturk Turkish Airlines’ CIP lounge has been renovated and doubled in size, so it you’re lucky enough to have stopped over here before, you’re in for something twice as nice. A whopping 3,000sq m, it is located in the international departures area. Enjoy great cuisine, book yourself into a private relaxation room, or make the most of the great toiletry kits.
There’s a playroom for kids, a private infant room if someone needs a nap and masseurs wandering around looking for people carrying tension. With a billiard hall, library and daily press from around the world, even the most hard-working execs will be able find it easy to ignore the high-tech business centre. Just stow your electronic devices into the special charging-up lockers, complete with all kinds of adapters, and listen to the tinkling of one of the grand pianos instead. Or stow yourself into one of the private “oases”, practically a full hotel room with bed, TV, desk and phone.
Just make sure you wake up in time for a go on the golf simulator.
La Premiere Lounge, Charles de Gaulle, Paris
We rely on the French for that certain sybaritic style and Air France’s first class lounge here does not disappoint. The experience starts outside in the terminal (2E, across from Gate 14) where a porter is standing by to take care of your baggage while someone else leads you to a private check-in lounge. Once in, tarry a while flipping through the art books they leave lying around the place, to get your bearings.
After you’ve made enough “considering” faces, move quickly to the Biologique Recherche Spa for personalised face and body treatments. Who cares about delayed flights when you can get a two-hour deluxe treatment? You can sleep like a baby, with skin to match, afterwards on one of its day beds, giving you time to work up an appetite for the restaurants, catered by Alain Ducasse. By the time your flight is ready for boarding, you’ll be chauffeur driven to the steps of the plane.
If they could carry you up those steps in a litter, they would. airfrance.ie
Lufthansa First Class Lounge, Frankfurt
Next time you waddle on board trying to outfox the baggage fees by looking like Johnny Fortycoats, think of your fellow travellers in Frankfurt. First-class passengers heading off for some winter sun hand over their fur – and other – coats to a guy here and have them handed back when they return, tanned and shivering. Having sorted their coat issues, they can then fully enjoy such frills as the Cigar Lounge, perusing the seasonal menu (but choosing the unseasonal salad) and inspecting the extensive wine list. Business travellers will be more interested in the individual office units on hand, each with phone, internet kiosk, laptop socket, WLAN and stationery.
Others may prefer the coffee table books – this being their natural habitat – in the lounge's "library". lufthansa.com
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, JFK, New York
You can trust Virgin to come up with the kind of quirky “I’m mad, me” touches you can imagine its founder grinning in approval at. Its “clubhouse” lounges are no exception. The opposite of bland, the aim is to reproduce the look and feel of a private members club. Seeing as how most of us have no experience of any such thing, we’ll just have to trust that they deliver.
Reserved for its Upper Class passengers, and Flying Club Gold members, the JFK Clubhouse has a complimentary cocktail bar, a giant red ball sofa (as in, a giant sofa made entirely of red balls) with complimentary food and brasserie-style dining area. JFK also has the only Clubhouse Spa outside of London, featuring a Bumble & Bumble hair salon and skincare specialist Dr Hauschka. If all that leaves you too relaxed to stay upright, curl up in a ball in one of the holes in the wall, lined with wool, for you to do just that. In fact, if you put on your onesie here they'll give you a hanger and suit cover so you can hang up your suit on board. Really. virgin-atlantic.com
Etihad Arrivals Lounge, Abu Dhabi
While Etihad’s first class lounge here is being refurbished – due to reopen in April – the company is still high up in the rankings for its luxurious arrivals lounge. Perfect for those times when you arrive into a city early and can’t check in until much later that day, use it to have an energising shower and to hand your suit over so that it can have an energising iron.
There are fully trained barbers and a Six Senses Spas nearby, where complimentary treatments will help combat the effects of that red-eye flight. Some of its lounges even have nannies to look after your kids while you're in there. And, when you're finally ready to hit the town, the Etihad Chauffeur Service will take you from the airport to anywhere in the UAE. etihad.com
Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai
Another little oasis of luxury in a Middle Eastern airport hub, this one has little shower spas that include everything from fluffy towels to luxury toiletries and hairdryers to help you freshen up before you attempt the next leg of your journey. Catch 40 winks in one of its dedicated quiet rooms, with chaise longues, blankets and pillows.
Brush up on your viticulture with a visit to the wine cellar or make the most of the full service bar and the gourmet restaurant – just leave time for a treatment at the Timeless Spa. First-class passengers here have a private duty-free store too, with no shortage of luxury brands to choose from. Kids have their own play area with toys, games and a special buffet for them to refuse to eat from. emirates.com
Concorde Room, London Heathrow
British Airways’ lounge, at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, has gone the five-star boutique route, with luxurious furniture, chandeliers and artworks. Dine in intimate private booths with full waiter service and repair to a private cabana with comfy day bed and en suite, to sleep it off afterwards.
There's all the usual high tech office-y stuff, and if you do get any work done you can reward yourself with a drink on the terrace, enjoying great views out over all the people kipping on plastic seats below. Just don't forget your complimentary Elemis Spa treatment. What, boarding already? britishairways.com
Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge, London Heathrow
Hitting the list not least because it’s the executive lounge you’re most likely to encounter is Aer Lingus’ new Gold Circle lounge in Heathrow’s new billion-pound Terminal 2. Opened in August 2014, the lounge is 50 per cent bigger than the old one in T1, with capacity for 130 jet setters. It’s also bright and spacious with blonde wood panelling, comfy arm chairs and plate glass windows looking out onto the airfield. Other features include showers, meeting rooms and a quiet space for working, plus free wifi to help you do just that.
As well as fast-track security facilities, visitors can enjoy being inspired as they head out to conquer the world by the wall commemorating Irish innovators of note, from Harry Ferguson (tractors) to Eileen Gray (furniture). And, because the new lounge is close to the boarding gates, no more legging it down the "green mile". aerlingus.com