back to all news

Photos: Etihad's new First Class, Residences lounge at Abu Dhabi

By David Flynn     Filed under: first class, etihad airways, airport lounges

Etihad has cut the ribbon on its flagship first class lounge at Abu Dhabi, revealing a five-star facility which the airline says will "set a new global benchmark for airline lounges.”

Located at the airline's Terminal 3 hub, the five-lounge takes its design cues from "prestigious hotels, private members' clubs and fine dining establishments", Etihad says: the result is understated elegance rather than an overload of bling.

Spread across 1,700 m² and boasting expansive views of the airport, the lounge embraces Etihad's 'Facets of Abu Dhabi' design language from its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 premium cabins, with geometric patterns and colour palette inspired by the UAE landscape to create what Etihad describes as "the ultimate expression of 21st century Arabian modernism."

It also includes a private area for travellers in the airline's exclusive A380 The Residence suite, with a dedicated Savoy-trained butler, custom-made Poltrona Frau Italian leather armchairs and sofas, its own shower room stocked with a range of Acqua di Parma products, a prayer room, and private dining.

So what's in store for Etihad's first class flyers?

An à la carte restaurant, naturally, serving Arabian, Indian and international cuisine prepared to order by the kitchen using locally sourced, seasonal produce...

... with the culinary standout being a five-course Emirati tasting menu, developed by chefs from Mezlai Restaurant at Abu Dhabi's prestigious Emirates Palace Hotel.

The bar is stocked with 75 premium spirits, champagne and aperitifs, including a bespoke cocktail menu headlined by Abu Dhabi mocktail which uses Middle-Eastern flavours such as aromatic cold brew coffee infused with cardamom and sprayed with delicate rose water.

A cigar lounge stocks nine premium brands including Hoyo de Monterray, Cohiba, Bolivar, Montecristo, Arturo Fuente and Romeo Y Julieta from its own humidor – with each cigar matched with a number of whiskies and cognacs.

You can relax before your flight at the Six Senses Spa...

... while the Style & Shave area offers an expert wet shave and beard trimming...

... with nail and hair services for female first class travellers.

A Relax & Recline area features six Poltona Frau leather recliners and a 'video wall' consisting of 27 individual screens, soothing sound and lighting.

If you'd rather work up a sweat, head for the Fitness Room with its state-of-the-art treadmills and cross trainers.

There are plenty of small but thoughtful touches, such as AC and USB power sockets scattered around the lounge – including the underside of the bar!

Etihad's Abu Dhabi First Class Lounge is open to First Class and The Residence travellers, Etihad Guest Exclusive and Guest Platinum members; and passengers in first class on Etihad Airways Partner airlines (such as Alitalia) and top-tier frequent flyers in those airline's 'Invitation only' and Platinum-equivalent levels.

However, at the time of writing, Virgin Australia's Velocity Platinum members do not have access to the lounge.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 1/2/16 by spacecadet

Sounds promising. I wonder if Etihad will allow Velocity Platinum cardholders entry too....

1 on 1/2/16 by David

That's not yet known.

2 on 2/2/16 by Gian

I hope they do, I'm flying EY J through there on 26 May and 10th June, hoping to go check this out! 

3 on 2/2/16 by cssaus

Presently you can get access to the "roped-off" First Class area in the current lounge but it's subject to how busy it is.

I'm assuming that with the opening of the new lounge and the closure of the roped off area, and given the fact that access was given to the old first class lounge before it closed, access to the new First Class lounge ought to be available to VA Platinum members.

Hopefully I'm not proved wrong!

2 on 1/2/16 by etihadguestgold

Etihad clearly stated they are to deliver the best premium ground experiences. That is quite a claim, considering some airlines out there go above and beyond for their First Class guests.

Lufthansa: First Class Terminal enmoulds an unprecedented privacy from check-in to aircraft. Completely separated from terminal and private chauffeur to aircraft. DO&CO catering, water bar, shower facility, cigar lounge, duty-free shop, Bang & Olufsen TVs and a private assistant.

Air France: Collection and Drop-Off to respective aircraft delivers the most encompassing ground experience. Hermes Spa and Alain Ducasse Dining are amongst the most luxurious facilities.

Thai Airways: Transport within the terminal and vast menu. Immensely personalised experience.

And of course Garuda Indonesia, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and many more. Now if Etihad tops all these, combined with the First Class Apartment, then they will set themselves right on top, almost unbeatable by other airlines.

-Michelin-Star Dining

-Limousine Transfer to Aircraft

-Personal VIP Assistant throughout stay

-Sleeping Rooms

-Sauna & Pool Facilities

-Entertainment Options (Cinema, Consoles, Music Lounges)

That would be insane!

1 on 31/5/16 by Rishi

Go for it if you want EY to also go set themselves right on top of insane prices which I guess they already might be.

3 on 2/2/16 by jubbing

Damn, I miss out on this by a MONTH! Flying in April on the Apartment :(

4 on 2/2/16 by MichaelP

David, do you know what date in May? Flying SYD -> LHR in The Apartment on 16th. May...

5 on 2/2/16 by BevanMcBevan

Well that is good news.In response to 'Etihadguestgold' commentary I would say it is hard to beat EY at the moment. Having flown around the world a bit last year up the front the new EY First on the A380 is something else. I'll be back on EY in two weeks and look forward to the experience once again.As far as airlines go Etihad have the deepest pockets.

6 on 3/2/16 by fftraveltimes

Does this mean that for those with Gold status etc will now get to use/ experience finally the current business lounge rather than the cheap and nasty Al Reem lounge?

7 on 20/4/16 by Globetrotter

When in May does the new First Class lounge open?

8 on 4/5/16 by BevanMcBevan

Hi David. Any news on the opening of the new Etihad First Lounge at AUH?

1 on 4/5/16 by David

We're hearing end of May.

1 on 4/5/16 by BevanMcBevan

Thanks David! Look forward to your review... although Middle East time (end of May) I imagine will remain pretty 'iffy'. 

9 on 30/5/16 by LoveToFly

Hi David, any update on the lounge opening. I fly through in First in August and I am hoping it will be open.


10 on 30/5/16 by Ben84

Loving the first pictures! And they did build a gym - thought that might happen. I assume they'll provide gym wear and sneakers for guests like many top hotels do. 

It would seem that all that's missing are people to sprinkle rose petals at guests' feet as they walk about the lounge and to and from the gate. 

11 on 31/5/16 by virginconvert

It would be a big loss if Virgin Plat's no longer have access; it was one of the very few points of differentiation between Velocity Gold and Plat...

1 on 31/5/16 by cssaus

According to the press release announcing the opening of the lounge, it says:

"Measuring just under 1,700 m², and boasting expansive views of the airport, the new facility is open round-the-clock for the exclusive use of guests of The Residence, Etihad First Class, Etihad Guest Exclusive, Etihad Guest Platinum members (plus one guest), Etihad Airways Partner (EAP) airline First Class guests, EAP ‘Invitation only’ members (plus two guests) and EAP equivalent Platinum members (plus one guest). "

The text I have highlighted would indicate VA Platinum members will be given access.

1 on 31/5/16 by Dez

Virgin Website does not state the First Class Lounge for Platinum FF.  Only Etihad Premium Lounge (Terminal 1 & 3)  - so I would say No.

12 on 31/5/16 by nw

Is 'Etihad guest exclusive' the equivilant of Emirates Platinum IO and Qantas Platinum One ? Never heard of that tier before. Does anyone one have any information on it?

1 on 31/5/16 by Chris

It's the equivalent of Emirates iO (not Platinum) and Qantas Chairmans Lounge, offered by invitation only. :)

13 on 31/5/16 by eminere

That lady is having a massage with her clothes and watch on? 

14 on 31/5/16 by Zac

I'm pretty sure Virgin isn't a formal member of "Etihad Airways Partnership" (EAP) - partners yes but not via EAP - so the comment in the press release re EAP Platinum having access doesn't apply.

As a poster mentioned above, no access for VA Platinum would be a big deal... in terms of differentiation to Gold, but really in terms of competitiveness  to Qantas where the QF Plat proposition is already really strong in the routes to Europe. It's already hard to justify preferring VA to QF as a frequent international traveller...

15 on 3/6/16 by IAN

Alitalia doesn't have a first class

16 on 4/6/16 by Rameez

Contacted Etihad directly to check whether VA platinum will have access to the new First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi. Eithad advised that as VA platinum member, I will have access to their new lounge with one guest. 

1 on 5/6/16 by cssaus

I don't suppose you got the response in writing.

1 on 5/6/16 by Rameez

Yes, got the response in writing. I am travelling from Abu Dhabi airport next week and would be able to confirm whether they let VA platinum members access new first class lounge.

2 on 5/6/16 by Rameez

Yes, got the response in writing. I am travelling from Abu Dhabi airport next week and would be able to confirm whether they let VA platinum members access new first class lounge.

1 on 5/6/16 by cssaus

Great, look forward to hearing about your experience.

2 on 11/6/16 by Gian

I can confirm even though you have something in writing.. The lounge dragons haven't been told. I was just denied entry as a VA Plat flying Business, and told EY has updated their access rules "a few weeks ago" to exclude VA Plat access to the new lounge.

Not happy Jan!  

17 on 14/7/16 by virginconvert

I may have missed some up-dates but i thought i would share this anyway: I was flying out of Abu Dhabi in Business Class with Etihad (VA Platinum) and approached the Business/Premium lounge presuming first class entry was no longer even a possibility. At the Premium lounge i was asked whether i had a platinum card (likely the agent noticed the Platinum signification on the boarding pass) and once i handed it over i was redirected to the first class lounge. When i asked the agent to double check this i was told that there was a verbal agreement now in place and that i would not be refused. Very happily, i was allowed in.



Related News Items


Australian business traveller newsletter

Get Updates as they happen, tailored to your preferences, right in your inbox


What topics interest you?