SYD: Sydney Etihad Lounge
Read the full story of the opening of the Etihad Sydney Lounge opens
Etihad Airways new lounge in Sydney has oddly, attained a rather 'holy grail' status in the minds of many frequent flyers. Partly, this is because it is so far from Etihad's base, and also because it can't normally be accessed with a Frequent Flyer card. It is also, we do have to say, very good indeed.
The Etihad Airways Sydney Lounge is a brand new lounge, and still has a new carpet and new seats aroma.
The new Etihad lounge Sydney is a joint First and Business class lounge, and it is spilt across two levels with the entrance and reception located on the upper level, plus somewhere to store your luggage, and the main part of the lounge downstairs, occupying just over 600 square meters on the main lounge level.
The lounge will look very familiar to Etihad travellers around the world, and shares a colour scheme, furnishings and general concept with the airline's generic lounges such as Dublin or Paris. As you walk down the stairs you'll be greeted by the floor walkers - or waiters - who also seem to immediately direct you to the dining area, and seem to be completely thrown if instead you plan to get a drink at the bar, or sit in the main seating area in front of you. As soon as you sit down you'll also be offered traditional Etihad touches like Arabian coffee, flavoured with rose water and cardamom, and a side helping of Arabic dates.
It is the main seating area which dominates the lounge. It can look great if you are the first passenger in the lounge at 6pm, less so if you arrive at 8pm when the place can be packed to the rafters, and then some. A major problem in any event is that most of the seats are arranged in groups of four around a table, and many single passengers just dump their bags on seats, and then head off to eat, increasing the problem.
There is a large restaurant area at the most 'inland' part of the lounge, however this area only offers seats for 26 passengers, or 13 if they are on their own. It can be a struggle to get a table if you are last in the door.
The overspill area is the curved bench with tall orange barstools along the wooden partition. It is a great spot to come to roost with a computer and a drink, but less so if you want a full four course dinner before boarding.
Up the corridor from here there are the usual Etihad lounge features including the small business centre, and then further around there are two bathrooms with showers. There are also separate male and female prayer rooms. In the middle of the Etihad Sydney lounge is the central rack of large arm chairs. However, the lounge is fairly small, and the prime spots in the lounge will go quickly.
There is a small children's play area, with lots of bright primary colours and a large screen TV.
Don't miss some of the nick-nacks on the shelves. For example, there are some really collectable Arabic works of art, and also a british modern art, such as the Queen's portrait.
It is then a fine lounge, however a real curiosity is that Etihad didn't make more of the first floor of the lounge, by for example having a row of seats that admire the view, instead of just putting the left luggage storage in this area. This would also have prevented the overcrowding problems prevalent in the evenings.
FoodThe food in the Etihad Sydney lounge is top notch, with waiter service at the a la carte dining.
The menu changes every two months, and the lounge's dining options centre on a selection of western and Arabian dishes. You can get your steak, but there are also some Tapas-style mezze dishes.
If you can't wait - or can't get a seat there is also buffet dinning anywhere in the lounge, with the main buffet area in the triangle beside the lounge.
BarAt the far end of the lounge is the bar, with those orange seats again. Indeed, it is also a 'staffed' bar, with a barman on hand to serve cocktails. However, unlike other Etihad lounges like Dublin there is no formal cocktail list; instead to have to know what you want.
Wine isn't kept at the bar; instead it is at the waiter's position to the left of the bar. Here there is also the Champagne, but a real pain is that you can't serve yourself, and the waiters are so busy they often will delay 10 minutes or so before giving you a glass.
There is also a small coffee machine, which doles out the signature Etihad lounge touches such as Arabian coffee - flavoured with rose water and cardamom - plus Arabic dates.
BathroomsThere are showers in the lounge, and good ones too. Towels are available in the respective ladies and gents area, and there are amenities too if you ask the attendants.
However there is no spa in the Etihad Sydney Lounge, unlike at London Heathrow.
Business FacilitiesThere is a small business centre which has three Apple iMac computers plus a printer and photocopier.
There is free wifi in the lounge.
There is a small newspaper rack in the lounge, and some magazines.
The lounge has a plentiful supply of mains power (Australian and international) and USB power sockets, particularly around the curved wooden divider.
AccessThe Etihad Sydney lounge is a vast improvement over the old Koru Club which Etihad previous used, however the new Etihad Sydney Lounge is in turn getting packed.
Access to the Etihad Sydney lounge is for First and Business Class passengers. In the morning Etihad Guest Gold and Gold Elite members of the Etihad Guest loyalty program can use it, but in the afternoon these members are now directed to the new Sydney Star Alliance Lounge.
Etihad of course have close ties to Virgin Australia, and these members also get admittance on Etihad flights, and on Virgin Australia flights to Abu Dhabi, but not the US.
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