AUH: Abu Dhabi Independent Al Reem Lounge
The Abu Dhabi Al Reem lounge is designed for those with status, or with the right credit card, or even as a pay-per-use lounge for those people too poor to afford the more affluent Al Dhabi Lounge next door (which has better showers).
So why, then, would you want to visit the Al Reem Lounge at Abu Dhabi airport? Well, actually, it isn’t too bad once you get past the down at heel daggy decor and the worn out seating. On a stopover you can at least get a shower, a drink, and some OK ish hot food, watch a bit of telly, and put your feet up. Assuming that there is room to do all of this of course: at peak times, this lounge can have them sleeping on the floor.
The lounge is located on the walkway between Terminal 3 and 1, but at the Terminal 1 end, and down a side alleyway towards security (and all the other lounges). There is a long narrow wood panelled entryway which can frequently become blocked by arab entourages; to visit you need to factor in another 10 minutes queuing to get entry into the lounge.
The main part of the lounge is one large hall like room, with a bar at one end, and food at the other. There are two other levels which can be quieter: on the far side there is a strange kind of basement level deep in the ground, and along one side there is a balcony with seating. This area feels a little strange, rather like an out of use theatre.
Bathrooms are on the opposite side of the lounge to the basement balcony.
The Abu Dhabi Al Reem lounge has a terrible reputation among frequent flyers as being tired, dull, smoky, and cheap. It is badly organised, with slow staff. It is also a right pain to get to if you are flying out of Terminal 3. The walk is only about 10 minutes, but you also have allow for security at each end, of another 10 minutes. Allow queuing time to get into the lounge, waiting for the waiters to get you a drink, boarding time and so on, and the lounge is really only worthwhile visiting if you are in Terminal 3 if you have a good 2 hour layover – and then some. On a 2 hour stop you may only have a rushed, stressful, 10 minutes in the lounge.
FoodThe food area is at the far end of the lounge, with a central area with eight hot tourines, on the left of which are cold deserts, and on the right salads. During dinner times the hot food is very good, with chicken, beef, and fish in various types of curry with rice and pasta.
At breakfast there is a fairly standard hot buffet selection, including scrambled eggs and chicken sausages. Lunch is similar to dinner. However at all other times you’re pretty stuck: there are sandwiches and a few snacks, but not a lot. The buffet is timed to local eating habits, even though most passengers are passing through, and on a very different body clock.
The biggest problem with getting something to eat comes at the midnight peak: the lounge is very busy at these times with transit passengers, however the staff clear away all the food – after all, it’s not a local eating time, so why would anyone eat?
BarThe bar at the other end of the lounge is equally wacky and charmless. Theoretically you can sit at the bar on four wobbly rotating leather armchairs, however the staff behind the bar are absolutely determined to serve you at your seat – not in these chairs. If you just walk up to the bar and ask for a drink they will determinedly show you back to a seat in the main lounge, and then go off to get your order, and return with it a good 10 minutes later. Service can best be described as slow.
Never the less, drinks here are quite good. There is a decent range of spirits – all complementary of course. Beer is Heiniken or Fosters. Wine is fairly low end Australian and New World blends, but with a couple of variants of red and white. There is even a sparkling wine if you ask.
BathroomsThere are showers and bathrooms in the lounge, of a kind.
Both the ladies and gents are very small, with only two stalls in each. There is also a shower in each one, however the staff insist of giving the shower a good clean, and then allowing it to dry, before the next customer is allowed in, which can take an hour. There is no queuing system. As a result at peak times with the lounge overflowing, it is very unlikely you’re get access to the shower.
Business FacilitiesThere are no business facilities in the lounge, except for free Wifi.
There is a small magazine rack next to the bar.
Above the bar there are two TVs: one is usually on BBC World, the other CNN. There is also a small flight information screen.
AccessAs the cheapest generic pay-per-use lounge at Abu Dhabi airport, the Al Reem lounge takes all comers. Pay on the door for AED 140 or use Priority Pass, Airport Angel or Veloce Logistics. Or Most credit cards. Or American express. Most of the banks in the Gulf hand out free access.
Plus First or Business Class passengers of any airline (except Etihad) also have free access, as does anyone in economy with any kind of elite status, from Silver upwards. With all of this lot, it is no wonder the lounge can be a little busy.
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