AUH: Abu Dhabi Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge Terminal 3
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However, that's not to do the lounge down: far from it. The new Abu Dhabi Etihad lounge Terminal 3 is good, very good, with lots of space, and a great restaurant. However when you finally stagger into it at 6am after a 14 hour flight from Australia, the last thing you want to see is passengers sitting on the floor because there aren't any seats left, and a two hour queue for the showers.
The Abu Dhabi Etihad lounge is now located much closer to the gates than it was before, and on the same level (if on the same could be said of the Terminal 1 lounge). It is by gate 35, and then you head 'inland' up a wide corridor lined with works by UAE artists.
The Etihad Terminal 3 lounge entrance is on the left, and seems pretty small, however once inside there is a wide desk with normally three people manning it. These gatekeepers can be pretty fierce, and need to be, to keep out economy passengers just with Gold cards, or the Priority Pass crowd. They often issue dire warnings about not taking photos of the lounge too.
Once inside however it is clear it is no ordinary lounge. It is a vast wide space, much larger and more impressive than Etihad's previous T3 offering. Light bright and airy, your eyes may almost go monochrome with the colours, which have white walls and dark (almost black) wood screens. The only colour comes from the orange seats at the bar, and very contemporary aqua and beige seats.
As you walk in, the most obvious item is the bar. Right in the centre of the lounge, the large, wide, bar is the core element of the lounge.
With high bar stools you can draw up to the bar, it is a great place to sit and watch the passing crowds. True, there isn't that much atmosphere at the bar, but at least it avoids the normal problems of having a massive TV screen above it.
To the left is the main dining area, with racks of seats. You can sit down here, and order off the menu, or there is a large curved buffet area. Indeed, there are two other buffet areas flanking the bar, and another smaller bar area on the extreme left, which is the early morning coffee barista station.
Beside the restaurant is a strange 'swivel' seat area, where all the seats are large high 1960s style rotating office chairs.
In the pillars beside here are the flight departure screens.
Throughout the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge are the usual Etihad high wooden screens displaying Arabic vases, along which there is a shelf and the usual Etihad orange swivel seats. It may look uncomfortable, but if you are only in the lounge for a short time these shelves are very useful as you can plonk yourself down for a few minutes with some plonk before quickly leaving for your plane.
Inland from the main restaurant area are racks of large brown and blue armchairs, facing coffee tables. These are arranged in sets of 2+2, which is a huge pain considering the many single passengers on Etihad, who will dump all their shopping and luggage on three of the seats, and then go off to the bar, leaving you with nowhere to sit.
The quietest part of the lounge is generally towards the library section at the rear of the lounge, where on the right there are shelves with books and a TV, and yet more groups of 4 seats together. It's similar towards the windows, but here you may have a chance to sit down. At the back are decent leather sofas - they come from the renowned Italian manufacturer Poltrona Frau. And it must be said, the main part of the lounge does look very nice: certainly much better than the old Etihad Abu Dhabi lounge, and the way it is split into several walled off areas, with classy wooden dividers or curtains, add to the feeling of space, despite the crowds.
In the middle of the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge is a large oval area with high walls. Called the Den, and quiet snug, with large white chairs facing the TVs. In the absence of a snooze room, if you turn the television off, you can sometimes get a good sleep in here.
At the back of the Etihad Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 lounge, by the low down poufs, is the shaving zone, and to the right of this the entrance to the spa with showers. Always head here first if you want a shower, as the queues can be long, up to 2 hours on occasions.
The main problem with the Abu Bhabi terminal 3 Lounge is that it is rammed between 8pm and midnight, and 6am to 9am: it can be standing room only when the main connections from the UK to Australia take place, but empty at other times. As a result, the lounges are now strictly for Business Class only: you can no longer gain entry with a Gold Frequent Flyer card.
At the end of the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge there is what is called a 'hi-tech electronic games room'; in effect this means a fairly basic area with an xbox. There is also a smoker's lounge and gallery showcasing work by local Arab artists.
Finally there is also the Children's area, which is equipped with books, toys, TV and a children's dining menu. There are even nannies who watch over the children.
Alas, this Etihad Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 lounge may only be around for a few years until the mid-airport terminal is complete. However the lounge at the moment feels very permanent and luxurious.
FoodThe food options are pretty good in the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge: Arabic in flavour, but with a decent buffet.
The selection of refreshments includes hot and cold buffet dishes, which offers a la carte and snack menus. Most of the time you can take a table in the restaurant area, and a waiter comes up to you and offers the menu.
However, the downside is that the food is always orientated around the local time, with breakfast firmly between 6am and 9am. If you've just stopped off a long haul flight, your body clock may be on dinner time, and not really in the mood for cornflakes and eggs.
The buffet options include a large number of choices, from pastries to eggs to fish and chickens. There are a large number of different types of salad. The cheese carts and the desert trolleys are often groaning, and are presented as a sumptuous affair.
BarA key feature of the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge is the bar, and it is quite popular in the early morning, when the first flights arrive from the UK or Australia: being late at night there, it is seen as a good time for a tipple. The only downside is the bar is right in the middle of the lounge, and so everyone in the lounge sits there looking at you.
However, make no mistake; you have to ask for everything. There is no self-serve bar, not even for a beer, in the Etihad Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 lounge.
The wine list is OK, but in the loungeindex Etihad AUH Lounge review we have to argue it is not quite top-notch. There are some good new-world wines. If you are in the restaurant you have to ask for the wine list, and then wait while it is brought to you. You are given 10 minutes to make a choice, and then it is brought to you 20 minutes later. So the moral is, if you are in a hurry, always ask at the bar for wine before you sit down.
Don't be surprised if you have to show your boarding card to get some bubbly. The champagne on offer to business class passengers is Lanson, while first class passengers are offered Billecart.
BathroomsBathrooms and showers are in the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge, in several different areas. There are two very small bathrooms in the wooden arrival corridor, and at the back of the lounge. Each one of these bathrooms also has one small shower. It may actually be quicker getting a shower here, rather than heading to the spa.
The Six Senses Spa in the Etihad lounge is world famous. Mainly for its queues. The spa within this lounge has been completely refurbished and you can enjoy a refreshing complimentary 15-minute spa session, with a range of other treatments available by appointment.
However, for a shower, head to the spa reception and you are given a beeper, which may take up to two hours before your shower is ready.
The Etihad Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 lounge showers are however a delight, with lots of hot water, in an enclave with Etihad's famous tiled walls. They are very impressive.
At the back of the lounge is the Style & Shave Salon, which offers everything from hair treatments to shaves to manicures to a blow dry.
Business FacilitiesRight in the middle of the Abu Dhabi Etihad T3 lounge is small curved area which is the business centre. It is equipped with six fairly new computers - they are iMacs.
There is free internet access and wifi, however around the lounge there is a major shortage of power sockets. The only way to get power to recharge your phone is often to unplug the lamps to free up a socket, which is a nonsense in a new lounge.
There is a telephone in the business centre, and a fax which doubles as a printer.
AccessThe Etihad Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 lounge is only for First and Business Class customers. There is no access for Gold frequent flyers, and no pay-in access.
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