IST: Istanbul Prime Class Lounge
The Prime Class Lounge Istanbul is right after security, under the HSBC lounge, down the escalator next to Burger King, and left at the bottom. Here there is a small reception desk, which is generally packed with people trying to fight their way past the confusing entry requirements, made even more of a nightmare because the lounge is run by TAV (the airport operator) in collaboration with Akbank. So bank card holders get access. As do airlines the lounge is contracted for.
The lounge has now taken over as the British Airways Istanbul Lounge: hence, you can still (sometimes) get access on a oneworld (Malaysian and Qatar) airline with a British Airways silver or gold card.
If you get really stuck, there is a large file on the desk with entry requirements for each airline and file, but it generally best to avoid this, as the staff on the desk always seem to get confused and often say no. When they do, they don't mention that you can buy access for only 40 euro, which is often an easier way in - money always wins.
The PrimeClass Istanbul Lounge is basically one large box room: you can see all of the lounge from the entry. The food area is straight ahead of you, the children's room on the left, the library on the right, and the bar at the far end by the window.
The best part of the Istanbul Prime Class Lounge are the large squashy chairs running down to the bar: these are comfortable, but with a very low table between them. It's hard to rest your pint on here while sitting down, or come to that do any work.
There are banks of much higher and harder chairs running down the spine of the inside of the lounge - and there are power sockets here too. At the far end of the wall is a work table, with more power sockets and somewhere to put a laptop.
The children's room is on the inner wall, and next to here is a library with lots of newspapers and magazines: the spread is good, and there are even some real books too, mainly of the tourist variety.
FoodIt is for the food that most people come to the Istanbul Prime Class Lounge - for the price of a couple of burgers in Burger King overhead, you can get a decent buffet and a free beer to boot.
The spread in the lounge is some of the best of any of the lounges at Istanbul. There are two heated buffet tables, with a spread including five tubs with rice, chicken, curry, pies, quiche, and even a hot desert. There is soup too, in the container at the end of the table.
Next to the hot table is the cold one: with a fridge full of small mini salads - there is none of the mix it yourself nonsense here! They are on small plates and bowls, with larger bowls to hold the small ones. There are also plates of cheese here, with some special Turkish cheeses.
Don't miss the deserts too: there are a dozen different types of cheesecake, ice cream, profiteroles and Turkish sweet deserts also in the fridge.
BarThe bar is very good in the PrimeClass Istanbul Lounge. It's a proper, walk up to the bar and sit at it while the barman makes cocktails type bar, which is very pleasant, the only downside being that you can't actually get a drink yourself: you have to be served: for this reason if you plan to down ten pints and a whisky chaser before your flight, the bar in the HSBC lounge upstairs might be a better option - there you can serve yourself.
The other problem is trying to find a barman: they also clean tables, and sometimes aren't around for ten or 15 minute gaps - and longer at breakfast time.
Beer is good, with Efes Pilsner on draft, and bottles of Efes Light, Dark, Old and the same Pilsen. There are some of these bottles on the bar top, but don't take them: they have been super-heated by the sun, and are undrinkable.
Wine is better than you'd expect, with - count 'em - three types. White, Red, or Rose. All from the same Turkish vineyard. Hmmm.
Spirits however are the name of the game, and the Istanbul PrimeClass Lounge barman has a big cocktail book. There are a dozen spirits to choose from, and some flavoured Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin, Chivas Regal, Malibu, Kahlua, you name it. Avoid the flavoured Turkish spirits.
BathroomsThere are showers in the PrimeClass Istanbul Lounge - the corridor leading to them is on the left past the food. However the showers have seen better days, with broken taps, and only so-so tepid water. However there is shampoo and soap in the lounges.
Business FacilitiesBusiness facilities in the Istanbul Prime Class Lounge consist of a large desk with eight seats, and power sockets for powering laptops (euro plug round pin only).
There is free wifi - ask at the desk for the code.
The newspaper collection in the lounge is great, with lots of papers including some from the UK. There is also an excellent magazine selection, and even some books on shelves close to the door (where the lounge staff keep an eye on them to stop them from walking).
AccessBusiness Class on British Airways get's free access, as do economy on British Airways with a silver or gold card. You can still (sometimes) get access on a oneworld (Malaysian and Qatar) airline with a British Airways with a silver or gold card but not with any other oneworld card.
Otherwise, it's 40 euro to get in.
The lounge is also a Priority Pass and Airport Angel lounge.
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