AUH: Abu Dhabi Independent Al Dhabi Lounge
NEWS: The Al Dhabi Lounge has recently increased it's walk up price to US$56. It can be cheaper to pay in AED if you are paying by credit card (just AED200 - about 52USD).
Finding the lounge is a bit of a pain: walk out of the main central roundel that is Terminal 1, turn left at the junction, and then go as far as you can towards the hotel. Take the (very slow) lift up, and eventually you get to the front entrance, with the reception desk, where you will always be charged in USD unless you know to pay the cheaper AED rate.
An Abu Dhabi Al Dhabi lounge review always comments that the lounge looks like a themed set out the Arabian knights. And so it does. As you walk through the small interconnecting rooms, there are several arches all made out of carved wood, but it's better than the out-of-use theatre look in the Al Reem lounge. There are also more than 8 armchairs - again, unlike the Al Reem lounge.
The main part of the lounge is in a centre circle, with smaller alcoves around the edges, with curtains to separate them off, and with odd chairs looking at single TVs high up on the wall. On the left here is the entrance to the showers, and great entertainment can be had from watching the bedraggled look of weary travellers entering, and departing, from the shower block. Alas this area is rammed with high-backed winged armchairs, and looks rather like a care home.
Around the sides here are orchids in pots, and wooden screens set off this part of the lounge. There is also a small soft drinks bar here, but further on, in the next room, is the main dining room, with all the food on the left, and very inconvenient dining tables around the walls on the right.
Carry on through and you get to the bar area, which looks like an out of work 1960s cocktail bar in some northern town. You can sit at the bar here, but the bar staff always insist on bringing your drink to you. This can take forever, and should be avoided. There is a large flatscreen TV on the wall here too, but this is the most depressing part of the lounge.
Back past reception, there is a smaller 'library' area, with three large sofas, a small sub-bar, and another large flatscreen TV, and at the end an area with two large odd looking sleeping pods. In one of the most stupid pieces of design, these pods are comfy to sleep in, but are placed right under bright lights, under a very loud TV, and right next to the chiildren's playroom. Madness - but very similar to the ultra-bright Thai Airways sleeping rooms in Bangkok, or the insane Air China sleeping area in the food servery in the Peking lounge.
There is a children's playroom right next to the sleeping pods: it's quite good, but it is also placed right next to the small smoking room at the far end of the lounge; and indeed smokers tend to drift into the playroom, along with their fumes.
FoodThere is a hot food buffet in the middle room, which is pretty good if you are into veggies. It includes a selection of vegetarian dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but not all the time: you have to time it carefully to get food, and the buffet is timed to local eating habits.
At breakfast times there is some meat, in the form of chicken sausages under the hot dish tops on the right. Oddly at breakfast time is when the best deserts come out, with some very good sundaes.
At other occasions (such as in the middle of the night, when most flights interconnect) there is little food. Sandwiches and snacks are available 24 hours a day, but that's it, and it really seems as if little thought has been applied to the food area.
BarThere is a small free bar. This looks like a dodgy Indian restaurant from the 1980s, complete with six swivel stools at the bar. However, don't ever sit here: the bar staff hate it. They prefer if you sit in an armchair, and they will slowly, very slowly, bring you a drink. It takes about 10 minutes for the waiter to take your order, go to the bar, the barman to mix it, and for it to come back.
BathroomsThere are showers and bathrooms in the lounge. These are quite good, and if anything makes you pick the Al Dhabi lounge over the Al Reem, it should be the showers, which are all fake marble and big sinks.
Business FacilitiesAround another circle is a curious area with half a dozen flat screen TVs screwed to the wall, with chairs facing them. Single chairs. Its not very social.
There is free wireless Internet, with fax, phone and TV.
There are a few slow PCs in the main lounge area. Beware - most are riddled with viruses, and you should never use a USB memory stick with them, or log into your accounts.
AccessAs the generic pay-per-use lounge at Abu Dhabi airport, the Al Dhabi lounge takes all comers. Pay on the door for US$56 (or the walk-in rate of AED 200 if you are paying by credit card (AED200 is about 52USD) and you don't get hit by the runious rate of exchange the lounge charges.
Priority Pass, Airport Angel or Veloce Logistics can also use the lounge.
First or Business Class passengers of any airline (except Etihad) have free access: just present your boarding pass, although it is easier if you collect a voucher at check in.
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