TPE: Taipei China Airlines First Class Lounge
It's not that the Taipei China Airlines First Class lounge is bad. Far from it; it is quite amazing when you first walk in and gasp in wonder at the, err, greyhound and tent theme. However, it does make you quietly ask, under your breath, 'what were they thinking?'.
To get your mind into full-boggle-mode, walk into the China Airlines lounge reception, past the blond beach wood carved logo, and admire the sculptures of a stork, giant bonsai trees, and a vast, huge, lantern. Then walk along the rock cave corridor, and turn right. This is the famous Taipei China Airlines First Class lounge. Push hard on the door; it's heavy, and an artefact in its own right, carved by an expert carpenter from Sanyi no less.
And then you walk into a tent. Quite a nice tent, it must be said. The ceiling is covered in fabric which resembles a marque out on the steppes in the eighteenth century. There is a huge coffee tables - with all the Taiwan local papers - uncomfortable chairs right out of the same marque, and a dog statue.
Not any dog, oh no, for this is a famous dog in the dog breeding circles of Taiwan, and this statue symbolised the dog in his pride. It's good luck to rub his nose before a flight.
The tent - inspired by the Suzhou Surging Waves Pavilion of course - is but an anti-chamber to the main lounge, which is inspired by Song Dynasty aesthetics. And huge lumps of furniture.
The biggest item in the China Airlines First Class lounge Taipei is the thirty foot long monastery refectory table, carved from solid oak. It's used to put the cake stands and sandwiches on. The lanterns above it are the lounges main source of light, as there is no natural light in the lounge.
Around the edges of the table are eight - just eight - drinking booths, inspired by, well here we get a bit lost. A sake bar in Hong Kong maybe? These small sub-spaces with half height room dividers makes the lounge looks a little dingy, thanks to the lack of windows, and indeed that is the other feature of this lounge: the sheer lack of a view.
The vast hanging lanterns theme - as if there aren't enough themes - carry on to the food area at the back of the China Airlines First Class lounge Taipei.
Led by NexGen designer, Ray Chen, the design and construction of the Terminal 1 VIP lounge took around 6 months to complete. The design was inspired by Song Dynasty aesthetics with the conceptual use of southern China style garden.
According to the airline the feeling of nature continues through the lounge with "further earthy elements such as Hualien granite stone, leather surfaces and velvet sofa fabrics, help create a relaxing environment of 'literary taste'."
The China Airlines First Class lounge Taipei is, however, a pretty decent place to wait for a flight.
FoodFood wise, the China Airlines First Class lounge Taipei has the same basic selection as in the Business Class lounge, however you can ask the rather harassed waitress to bring you food to your seat.
The main buffet food consists of three hot woks with noodles and fish, momos (a kind of dumpling) and pork, or some salad with a couple of dressings.
Noodles can be cooked to order, but there is no English menu. Delicacies include Taiwan favourites such as bubble tea and French-style vegetable stew, a southern French recipe that brings together fresh taste of assorted vegetables. There is also the Shanghai dry noodle, which gives passengers a taste of an authentic Shanghai snack.
The five-star hotel, Novotel, is providing the catering for the Taiwan China Airlines First Class lounge, and they do a decent enough job.
BarAlas the bar in the China Airlines First Class lounge Taiwan is pretty basic.
There is real French Champagne (Robert), in the bucket in the salad fridge. There are also two very mediocre whites, and a red on the worktop.
Spirits are very basic, except for the amazing Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky. There is also a small flask sized bottle of Baileys.
Beer comes in cans, with Heineken or Sapporo in the fridge.
BathroomsOutside the lounge.
Showers available, with an assistant who will hand you an amenity kit.
AccessThere are two other China Airlines lounges at Taipei. The 65 seater Supreme lounge is for First Class customers, and also on the fourth floor. The VIP lounge in Terminal 2 is for both Business and First class, and seats 242, and is next in line for a revamp.
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