Lisa Pitzer, Director of Business Travel Services at Covington shares her take on the Turkish Airlines lounge Istanbul.
On a recent trip to Asia, I had a long layover in Istanbul in both directions. Because I was a business class passenger on Turkish Airlines, I had use of the Turkish Airlines lounge. I was dreading the nine-hour layovers and toyed with the thought of getting out of the airport to see a bit of Istanbul, but after an 11-hour flight and sheer exhaustion, I opted to see what the lounge could offer. I was not disappointed!
Upon arriving, Turkish Airlines business class passengers simply scan their boarding pass to enter. Immediately upon entering, you get a grand view and realize this is NOT your normal airport lounge. I’ve put together five tips to help you navigate this experience. You’re welcome!
Layout of the Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
There are two expansive floors, and each has their own vibe. Upstairs is more active and great for people-watching, but if you need a quieter place to rest or binge-watch TV shows on your device (free and fast Wi-Fi), head down the sweeping staircase to the lower floor. Comfortable leather chairs are placed throughout and are moveable, so by spinning one, it makes a big comfy couch suitable for catching some zzz’s. One end of the lower floor has several activities, so avoid the area with the Grand piano if you don’t want to be awakened by a wannabe concert pianist practicing scales. Lisa’s tip: If you want to avoid the “trapped in an airport” feeling, nab an area near the huge floor-to-ceiling windows. On my return layover, I was able to catch a beautiful Istanbul sunrise.
The dining options are inspired by the destinations Turkish Airlines serves, featuring the cuisine of different countries. On my outbound, chefs prepared authentic Japanese cuisine. On my return, the featured country was China. Make sure you walk around both floors of the Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul and check out all of the different food stations. Depending on the time of the day, you can find made-to-order omelet stations, hot-from-the-oven flatbreads with a variety of toppings, salad and olive bars, grilled sandwiches, fresh hot pretzels with butter, stir-fry… the list goes on. Lisa’s tip: Do be sure to try the ravioli station on the lower floor. These tiny little pockets of deliciousness smothered in tomato sauce and fresh yogurt are not to be missed.
If you need freshening up, take advantage of their shower rooms. When I was there, there was a waiting list for a shower room. I put my name on the list, was handed a beeper, and went off to relax until they buzzed me 45 minutes later. I was given a spacious room with a large shower and separate sink area, big fluffy towels and a robe, soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Lisa’s tip: Trust me, nothing makes you feel better than a nice hot shower after a long flight. In this same area, they also offer sleeping rooms, but the waitlist was several hours, and after my shower, I was ready to see what else the lounge had to offer.
While nine hours seems like a long time to spend in an airport lounge, I was far from bored! There is a movie theater, complete with hot buttered popcorn and big reclining seats, a full library that also doubles as a billiard room with a pool table, and a piano on each floor that can be used by anyone who cares to play. Downstairs you can practice your golf swing in the golf simulator room, race your buddy with remote control slot cars through a miniature city of Istanbul, or challenge them to a video game duel. There is also an enclosed play area for children and a media wall with news from all over the world and a myriad of newspapers and magazines. Lisa’s tip: If you can catch their eye, beckon over one of the roaming masseuses for a shoulder and neck massage.
While taking advantage of all the fun things to do (and eat), who wants to drag your carry-on everywhere? Luggage lockers are located on both floors. Lisa’s tip: I found the lower floors lockers less crowded and easy to get to, especially since I spent most of my time downstairs.
The Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul has been called the best Business Class lounge in the world. If you are lucky enough to find yourself with a layover in Istanbul, or even if that is your final destination, I encourage you to allow some time to experience this lounge. Lounge access is available to all Star Alliance Gold members, Star Alliance Business Class passengers, Turkish Airlines’ Elite and Elite Plus members, or if you have a United Club membership and are traveling on any Star Alliance flight out of Istanbul.