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.
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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.