Is the new Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi the best lounge in the world? Maybe not, but after having visited, in my opinion it is certainly in the conversation among the best lounges I have visited.
Dessert and drink display in Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi
Both Matthew and Rocky have visited since the lounge opened in late May. They have both provided detailed reviews, and I simply want to add my thoughts having experienced it for myself.
Related: Full review from Matthew with tons of photos: Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
Related: Lounge review by Rocky including video: Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
On this trip, I had the pleasure of traveling with my wife. We spent a few days in Abu Dhabi, and were picked up from our hotel by an Etihad Chauffeur. Once at the airport, a porter collected our bags as we pulled up to the curb and we went directly to the premium check in area in Abu Dhabi’s Terminal 3. From there, we headed to Passport Control where the agent processed us and registered us for the UAE E-gate system. That was something I intended to do, but forgot to ask about it. Glad she was on top of it.
After clearing security where I had to remove my belt and jacket, but not any electronics despite the posted signs, we were at the entrance to the new Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa.
Etihad First Class Lounge Entrance, photo credit to Matthew
We were greeted at the door, and invited to go upstairs into the lounge. When we arrived in the lounge, there were only a few other passengers. More guests arrived during our stay, but despite the lounge not being that large, it was never crowded at all. We quickly made arrangements for spa treatments. But first we sat down and were immediately offered Arabic coffee and dates. After that a drink of our choice. It is Ramadan season through most of June 2016, so the bar is closed during the day and alcohol is not available, but we arrived in the lounge around 7pm (approximately sundown), just as the bottles were being displayed, and the bar was opened.
Soon it was time for our spa treatment, and we both followed the staff’s suggestion to partake in The Realignment. I just took the complimentary 15 minute treatment where I was seated in a chair. My wife opted for a 25 minute treatment after a 15 minute complimentary foot massage. One thing to note, is the 15 minute treatment was in a massage chair, and the 25 minute realignment apparently uses a table. Word of warning, The Realignment uses a lot of pressure. I was quite sore afterwards, but it was a great massage. Here is a link to the spa menu.
Etihad First Class Lounge dining
From there I returned to the lounge to have another drink and wait for my wife to finish in the spa. We decided to have our dinner in the lounge, and then given the late flight departure, try to sleep onboard soon after takeoff. With the staff aware of our plans, we then went for the a la carte dining, in the main restaurant area. We were treated to a multi-course meal. I went with the tasting menu from the Emirates Palace hotel. The Food and Beverage manager that served us was excellent, as was all staff we encountered. My meal was very good, and I appreciated the wine pairings for the various courses of my meal. This was by far the best meal I’ve had in an airport or on an airplane.
Our flight boarded about an hour before departure, and while enjoying our meal, we realized that our time in this lounge was running short. We were told not to rush as boarding was delayed slightly, so we got to finish our meal at our own pace before heading to the gate.
the scallops appetiser was incredible
Is this the best lounge in the world?
During the meal my wife and I were discussing how this lounge compares to others we have visited. We’ve both experienced the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and the Thai Airways Royal First Class Lounge in Bangkok. She thought the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa blew them both away. I can’t really disagree. Service from the staff was top notch. The physical space itself was also excellent. Granted, it was about a week old when I visited, so I hope it stays as fresh as it was when we were there.
The free massage is only 15 minutes which seems a bit cheap, but pricing is reasonable for additional treatments. Still, it is a far cry from the hour massage in the Thai Airlines Spa. There is no buggy ride like Thai, and no tarmac transfer in a premium German car like on Lufthansa, but the in Lounge experience definitely matches up. I’m probably still partial to Lufthansa First Class Terminal for the entire experience, but after this visit, I have to say that the Etihad lounge is very close.
My only regret was not getting to the lounge earlier. When I first booked the Etihad chauffeur car, the original pickup time was a mere 2 hours before departure. That would leave almost no lounge time. I’m glad I changed the schedule, but our approximately 2 ½ hours in the lounge just flew by, and looking back we should have definitely gotten to the airport earlier to have more time to enjoy this wonderful new lounge.
Thanks to Matthew for the extensive photos of the lounge in his report, from which I borrowed heavily!