MEL: Melbourne Virgin Australia Business Class Lounge
Renovations of the Virgin Australia Lounge at Melbourne are now complete, and what a change it has made. The lounge is now far removed from the old Ansett-inspired space, with vivid colours and timber finishes, and is a light bright lounge with lots of room and crucially, lots of seats. Six hundred of them to be precise. The subtle makeover by Lounge designer Tim Greer has added plush Walter Knoll chairs, and it is now genuinely a good place to wait for a flight, or even hang around after one, as it is also available post-flight.
The Virgin Australia Melbourne lounge is 100 metres long from end to end, and features a new espresso and late night wine bar, plus there is now a fast-track from the lounge straight to gates 1 to 10, which helps as it is still pre-security, and there is still no way to access the lounge airside.
Indeed, this is the downfall of the lounge. It is still landside, so if you are transferring at Melbourne you need to go landside, and clear security again. To find it go down the check-in escalators, turn left before security, and it is the small glass doors on the left.
At the entrance there is a large curved reception desk, and a flying maiden curtain behind it. Turn left into the main lounge, through the dark wood pillars, and there is then the clean white floor and ceiling in the main area of The Virgin Australia Lounge Melbourne. Or turn right, and head straight to the bar.
By reception there is a short stay area, close to the bar and food counter. Indeed, if you have only a short time in the lounge before your flight, this is the place to go. Then on your left there is the main food area, the bar, and coffee area, before the lounge widens out into the main area, with sweeping views of the tarmac.
A brand new area to the right of reception has huge floor to ceiling windows, and a vast coffee bar, with lots of stripped formed wood. This new Espresso Bar - has lots of arty wooden stools and high benches offering an expansive view across the tarmac. It can get busy, and makes and amazing 1,500 coffees each weekday morning.
Behind there is a new stand-alone Wine Bar, which complements the bar next to the buffet area.
Large parts of the lounge are taken up by curving white benches, with office 'bucket' chairs: in the middle of the benches are power sockets which gives a strong hint that that is what the area is for: people using laptops. The last of the benches sits across from another bar, which is very purple and funky and designed as a stand-up zone for suits heading back out of Melbourne at the end of the week.
Indeed, this area at the back of the lounge is deserted (and un-opened) during the day. The bar here opens between 3pm and 5pm each day, at the same time as 'pass arounds' offered on a tray as staff walk through with canapés and mini-bites, just as mini-burgers.
At the front of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge is the veranda area, which overlooks the airport apron: there is a huge long curving bench here with great views, and more intimate tables in front of it.
At the far end of The Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge is the 'Business Zone', thought a small subtle little door, with four PCs running. Windows XP no less. There is a photocopier and printer too. Next to this is a meeting room, with 14 seats around the large table and space for 16 more around the room.
When the time comes to leave the lounge, there is the famous Premium Exit, at the right of the coffee bar. This opens into Pier F, just before security, for gates 1-10. For Gates 11-15, you're on your own and have to turn around and exit through the entrance.
Don't miss the unique Virgin Australia toasted sandwich machine: just take the bits you need from the salad bar.
Early in the morning there is a continental breakfast offering with gourmet natural muesli, fruit, yoghurt, breads, jams and even coco pops.
BarThe bar is top notch, with three white and two red wines, on the bench, plus beer behind the counter. There is no champagne, but good Aussie sparkling wine.
Beer is available in bottles - there is a vast fridge behind the bar. Peroni (two types) is on draft.
This bar is complemented by the main coffee bar at the front on the lounge from 11am, which also serves wine, and the small cocktail bar at the back of the lounge, from 3pm onwards. This is the place to head for a decent post-work beer, with plenty of in-suit quaffing.
The bathrooms in the Virgin Australia Melbourne Lounge are impressive, with a George Nelson Platform bench, organic skincare products from Grown, and designer tapware. There is also a single shower.
What's almost more impressive are the crisp, black, tiles.
Business FacilitiesFast wifi is free in the Melbourne Virgin Lounge.
There are six computers and two more workstation cubicles with a printer and fax & copier in the small work room at the back of the lounge, plus a meeting room.
There is a small newspaper and magazine stand half way through the lounge, but most passengers take advantage of the free Pressreader App with thousands of magazines to download.
AccessPaid Virgin Australia membership, or access with Velocity (Gold or Platinum) status or a Business Class ticket.
Virgin Australia also sell day passes to the lounge, with Virgin Australia lounge daypasses costing $65 a pop.
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