The new Star Alliance Lounge at Rome's Fiumicino Airport gives travellers one last taste of Italy before they depart: quite literally, with tasty pizza, pasta and local-themed cocktails for business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers jetting from the Italian capital.
With space for up to 130 guests – primarily those taking shorter European flights, given the lounge's location in the terminal's Schengen Area – here's what Star Alliance's newest branded lounge has to offer.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security screening, follow the signs to "airline lounge" and/or the D gates, depending on where you're coming from:
This lounge is located one level above the departure concourse, which you can access by escalator, near gates D4/D5:
With glass panes running the length of this largely rectangular-shaped lounge, one of the first things you're bound to notice is the abundance of sunlight: particularly in the European summer, when it's light until mid-evening:
Inside, you'll find a variety of zones tailored to different needs, whether you're planning to get some work done (aside some location-appropriate artwork)...
... or are kicking back somewhere more comfortable:
There's an extensive buffet featuring plenty of Italian favourites and some cooked-to-order dishes as well...
... along with a tended cocktail and espresso bar:
The lounge is open daily from 5:15am until 9:15pm.
The following guests have access to the lounge in Rome under Star Alliance rules, when flying to any domestic or international destination:
- First class and business class passengers departing on a Star Alliance flight.
- Star Alliance Gold cardholders flying onwards with a Star Alliance airline.
- United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide members flying onwards with any Star Alliance airline.
However, while the lounge is technically accessible regardless of where you're flying to, it's situated near the D gates in Terminal 3 and primarily used by passengers taking shorter flights within the Schengen Area, rather than on longer routes or to other non-Schengen countries like the United Kingdom.
While passengers bound for non-Schengen countries could trek over to this lounge before wandering back in the other direction to clear passport control and reach their departure gate, the amount of time required to do so, while giving enough of a 'buffer' in case of any long lines at passport control, means it's probably better to use the lounge your airline sends you to near your non-Schengen gate, unless you've arrived many hours in advance.
Of Star Alliance's 28 member airlines, Rome Airport is served by 17: Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Asiana Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Singapore Airlines, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United.
Rome is the seventh city to feature a branded Star Alliance Lounge, joining existing facilities in Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Nagoya, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Let's start with the bar, and the lounge's signature cocktail, mixing Limoncello Sorrento, Aperol, lemon and lime: quite a refreshing drink...
... and this wouldn't be an Italian lounge without espresso coffee – namely, a true local cappuccino. If you'd like to practice your Italian, "Vorrei un cappuccino, per favore" will get you just that, although the staff here speak English too.
(If you'd normally order a latte at home, in Italy, it's best to request a cappuccino instead, which is not served with chocolate. In Italian, the word "latte" literally means milk, so if you order a "latte", you're asking for a glass of milk, not a coffee.)
Continuing with local theme, there's Prosecco here as you'd expect, along with a good selection of wine and premium spirits. Venturing over to the buffet finds meats, cheeses...
... fresh salad ingredients...
... ready-to-take vegetable soup...
... and what you've been waiting for, a pizza bar, with a good variety of flavours beyond the traditional Margherita, with many different varieties popping up throughout my visit:
You'll also find garlic bread and sandwiches...
... along with fresh pasta. During the lounge's quieter times, a tasty penne pasta is kept at the ready with other dishes available to order, such as ravioli with ricotta cheese and spinach, served with either butter and sage or basil and tomato.
I went for the latter – naturally, with cheese on top – and wasn't disappointed:
When the lounge started to get busy closer to dinner time, pasta service moved to buffet-only, and continued to prove popular with passengers:
Along with the staffed bar, beverages are also available from the rear of the buffet zone...
... with plenty of dining tables nearby where you can enjoy your meal:
However, on the dessert front, there's nothing at all, unless you reserve the meats and cheeses for after dinner instead of enjoying them as appetisers as would usually be the case.
Given the lounge's strong focus on Italian dining, a cannoli tray certainly wouldn't go unappreciated: but, being Rome, there's no shortage of Limoncello at the bar as a dessert substitute, served by quite the character of a bartender, who brought a great atmosphere to the lounge:
All in all though, this feels like more of a 'long-haul' lounge than a space designed to serve passengers merely taking shorter European flights: but given Rome Airport is largely dominated by Alitalia, a member of the rival SkyTeam alliance which calls Rome its home hub, it's a very smart play by Star Alliance, and one that's sure to attract some passengers away from Italy's 'default carrier', while also improving the experience for the alliance's existing customers.
When there's work to do pre-flight, there are plenty of benches with access to power, beneath an apt quote or a tarmac view...
... although I found the chairs at these benches too low to type comfortably, so instead set up camp on the long working table which was a more standard height:
When the afternoon sun kicked in, I had to move further along the same bench because I could feel myself getting burned, as the windows in this area didn't appear to be tinted as was the case throughout the rest of the lounge.
As for power, there are European AC and USB outlets throughout the space, suited to both full-sized plugs and smaller chargers such as for iPhones, if you'd rather not use the supplied USB socket.
Password-protected wireless Internet is available throughout the lounge; download speeds of around 1.9Mbps and uploads of 4.5Mbps can be expected, which is workable for basic tasks but not particularly speedy.
Hopefully your schedule allows for relaxation, as there are plenty of places to kick back here: whether for a quick stay with companions...
... or on your lonesome, with accessible power points to keep your gadgets recharged and cocktail tables at the ready:
... although tucked away back near reception is a "quiet zone": one so hidden, in fact, that once you've entered the lounge, you'll forget it's there, unless you know to look:
Its occupants are unlikely to complain, though, because fewer guests translates into less noise, which is great if you're trying to read or just listen to some music, without the hustle and bustle of the main lounge in the background.
When I travel, I find that airport lounges typically fall into one of two categories: those that 'get the job done' as a place to sit until a flight is called for boarding, and those that become almost destinations in their own right, and justify an early check-in.
If I were flying through Roma again on a Star Alliance airline, there's no doubt that for me, it'd be the latter: after spending plenty of time in The Eternal City, of course.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Rome as a guest of Star Alliance.