Greeting Gold frequent flyers at Abu Dhabi International Airport is the Al Reem Lounge: run by Plaza Premium as an independent facility but open to eligible members of Etihad Guest and Velocity Frequent Flyer before Etihad and Virgin Australia flights.
Having undergone a significant refurbishment in 2014, the Al Reem Lounge also opens its doors to a long list of credit card and lounge card guests, and to anybody else willing to pay for a visit: giving you an alternative to sitting out in the terminal while waiting for your flight.
Australian Business Traveller stepped inside on a recent trip to Abu Dhabi to bring you this review.
Location & Impressions
Located beyond security and outbound passport control in Terminal 1, the Al Reem Lounge is easily found by following the overhead terminal signage... ... and is nestled right next to the Etihad T1 Premium Lounge:
As Terminals 1 and 3 are connected, you're free to walk between the two and to use this lounge even if your flight departs from T3: just allow 10-15 minutes walking time in each direction.
Once inside, Arabian coffee and dates greet you at the front desk... ... before you emerge in a casual dining area with chairs that rotate – theoretically making them easier to slip into, but which proves difficult as they come tucked in and are challenging to slide on the carpet. A better bet for your pre-flight meal are the tables further back, and although appearing cramped in the photo provide ample space to slip between for guests in the booth seats. Constructed over three tiers, the dining area sits atop with an impressive chandelier above: A small 'middle tier' follows with a few extra seats down below, joined by a larger space and a bar area further down again. Wherever you sit, the tiered design gives the space quite a cosy and intimate feel – as, for example, guests seated on the dining tier can't see down towards the lower two levels... ... with their view instead obstructed by railing and a curved wall design which reminds us of a live theatre.
Smoking is also allowed in this lounge, but fortunately for non-smokers is contained to a sealed-off smoking room on the upper level.
- Virgin Australia Velocity Gold frequent flyers prior to Virgin Australia and Etihad flights in economy and premium economy, as offered
- Etihad Guest Gold members before Etihad- and Virgin Australia-operated flights in economy and premium economy, as available
- Etihad Guest Silver travellers prior to Etihad-operated flights in economy (not Virgin Australia flights)
- Priority Pass, Diners Club, Lounge Club, Airport Angel and DragonPass cardholders travelling with any airline
- Selected American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders with cards issued in Australia, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada.
- Selected MasterCard World, World Elite and Titanium credit card holders from the Middle East and Africa (excludes Australian cards)
A number of other airlines also use this lounge for their frequent flyers with varying access rules including Qatar Airways, while anyone else can also visit the lounge at a cost of 150AED (A$54.50) for two hours, 250AED (A$90.80) for five hours or 400AED (A$145.40) for 10 hours.
Separately, guests only wishing to use the shower facilities can pay 75AED (A$27.25) to do so.
Business class passengers flying with Etihad and Virgin Australia can instead visit the superior and adjacent Etihad Premium Lounge, while Platinum-grade travellers and first class guests can head to the new Etihad First Class Lounge.
Served up during our visit was a lamb biryani, an Oriental roast chicken dish with tomato and potatoes, spaghetti carbonara with Parmesan cheese and Aloo Gobi for vegetarian travellers, along with rice: We tried the meaty dishes and were satisfied with the spaghetti and also the biryani rice (left), although the biryani itself was light on the lamb described as it's hero ingredient.
The chicken also came tasty but the tomato marinade makes it hard to spot and cut around bones with the hindquarters being used, and would instead work better with chicken breast or stripped chicken that's ready to tuck into.
Next to these are lighter options with Middle Eastern and Oriental salads, fresh fruit... ... mini-croissants with cucumber, lettuce and cheese which were a delightful snack... ... and sweet bites with mini carrot cakes, triple chocolate mousses, stacked granola, fruit salad and yoghurts: Non-alcoholic beverages can be found nearby with staff also taking drink requests from seated guests.
It's a very nice touch when done well, especially so in a smaller lounge, but after placing an order for a simple Diet Coke, two further staff members came by to ask the same question in the short time it took the first one to fetch the drink, which feels a bit too over-attentive.
Downstairs is a separate manned bar and coffee area with most alcohol provided complimentary to frequent flyers of Etihad and Virgin Australia – plus those paying full price at the door – while Priority Pass and other lounge cardholders can enjoy beer gratis, but are charged for other drink types. Barista-made coffee, however, is free for all guests... ... and the lattes found here would be easily pass muster in any Australian lounge.
With soft music playing in the background and no loud TVs blaring and interfering with your thoughts, the Al Reem lounge is a great place to set up your laptop or tablet and get some work done.
The WiFi comes suitably fast with downloads of 17.5mbps, uploads of 11.33mbps and ping speeds of 6ms during our tests, which translates into Internet access that's both quick to transfer files and fast to respond.
Power points can be found throughout the lounge wherever the lamps are located: primarily on the middle tier... ... but also on the lower level, with each outlet accepting a variety of international plugs and also boasting two USB power ports for smartphones and tablets. Desks for longer working stays are absent, but you can also find the odd power point below or beside the dining tables on the upper and middle tiers to suffice.
Overall, the Al Reem Lounge is quite reasonable for what's mostly a pay-in and Priority Pass facility with two private shower suites and reading material also joining the amenities, but with no natural light and limited seating during peak times, it's not one to arrive at the airport incredibly early for.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Plaza Premium
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