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United Arab Emirates
- Free spa treatments for business and first class passengers
- A well-stocked bar with champagne
- In-lounge nanny service for travelling families
- Only buffet dining for business class guests
- Free haircut, shave, nail polish or blow dry for first class flyers
From the obligatory dining options through to a cocktail bar, a day spa and even an on-site barber and nail salon, there's something for every business class and first class traveller in the Terminal 3 Etihad Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi Airport.
Whether you're killing time in between flights or checking-in early to enjoy all that's on offer, here's what you'll find on Etihad's home turf.
Location & Impressions
Etihad's Premium Lounge is close to gate 35 and beyond outgoing passport control.
As far as first impressions go, clear signage at every turn is a huge plus, with various amenities scattered from end to end.
The lounge itself blends the modern with the traditional: taking its design cues from the West and the Middle East, combining to create something both reflective of its location and of the airline's new-age image.
Larger spaces are also broken up by patterned dividers.
These give each distinct area the mutual feelings of both openness and privacy, and comes significantly better than a typical sea of chairs.
The Etihad Premium Lounge opens its doors to:
- Etihad's business class, first class and The Residence passengers
- Virgin Australia business class passengers bound for Sydney
- Etihad Guest Platinum members travelling with Etihad, Virgin Australia and other selected Etihad partner airlines
- Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum frequent flyers travelling with Virgin Australia or Etihad
- Business and first class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers of Airberlin, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia, Alitalia and Jet Airways
Velocity Frequent Flyer Gold and Etihad Guest Gold members don't have access to this lounge when stuck in economy – instead, these travellers can visit the Al Reem lounge before their flight.
Etihad first class passengers are also treated to their own roped-off area within the Premium Lounge until a new dedicated first class lounge opens in May 2016...
... while travellers in The Residence get their own room with a la carte dining facilities.
You'll find an extensive array of food scattered across two buffet sections in the business class area – one boasting salads, hot foods such as chicken, rice, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables...
... and the other with Arabic sweets...
... European-style treats...
... and Western-style desserts, or more accurately, an array of delicious mousses.
There's a dedicated dining area too, but which doesn't replicate the more impressive dining room in Etihad's Sydney Airport lounge – instead providing a place to eat the buffet fare.
Making up for it is a staffed cocktail bar with a solid selection of spirits – including multiple brands of vodkas, gins and whiskeys...
... an espresso bar opposite the dining room with well-trained baristas...
... and a selection of a la carte dishes exclusively for first class travellers. There's no actual menu, though, so you'll need to ask one of the roaming waiters what's available.
Steak, curries, vegetables and deserts of ice cream, brownies and fruits were all offered during our visit, with the steak proving perfectly cooked and flavourful...
... lifted further by a great mushroom sauce.
For any serious work, head to the business centre as the design affords you a little extra privacy than the open lounge areas...
... and also insulates you from the movement of passengers wandering to and from the spa.
Elsewhere in the lounge there are both AC and USB power ports to recharge your gadgets – in some areas hidden inside pop-up outlets...
... and in others, such as in the first class zone, opening an inconspicuous hatch in the carpet discovers the same:
If you've snagged one of the bench seats, you'll also find a few plugs hidden below the seat on the skirting board (hidden here by the cocktail tables):
Printing and photocopying facilities are also available, as is free WiFi which pleasing delivered steady download speeds of 34Mbps during our stay: a strong improvement over our previous visit at a comparable time where the connection was too slow to function.
For most travellers, the highlight of the lounge will be the Six Senses Spa – with free 15-minute treatments offered to all passengers, subject to availability.
It's not quite the day spa in the Sydney and Melbourne Qantas First Lounges, but with a range of massages, facials and wellness therapies to choose from, only the most frequent travellers will tire of the menu.
We opted for the back support massage, described as "a relaxing back treatment to release muscle tension and induce a deep sense of calm".
The masseur responded well with requests for changes to pressure and focus areas, yet as the treatment is performed through your shirt on a kneeling massage chair, it's not as relaxing as a calming massage table.
Nonetheless, with Etihad just one of a handful of airlines giving its business class passengers free spa treatments before their departure, there's not much to complain about.
Also a standout is 'Style & Shave' – Etihad's in-lounge barber and beauty salon where short 15-25 minute treatments are free for first class passengers such as clipper cuts, wet shaves or beard trims, and for the ladies, a blow dry, nail touch-up or a nail polish.
Business class passengers can pay for these services at a nominal fee – such as AED55 (A$19.19) for the wet shave and AED75 (A$26.17) for a clipper cut – while all travellers in the lounge can shell out for style cuts (AED95/A$33.13), manicures or French nails.
For time-poor travellers, it's a great way to make use of otherwise 'lost time' while awaiting your flight. We opted for a style cut and also a shoe shine, which were both more than satisfactory.
Our tip: appointments for the spa, salon and barber are snapped up fast, so head there as you arrive to lock-in a time, and set a reminder on your smartphone for when it's time to wander in.
Afterwards, you're free to indulge in a glass of the Lallier Champagne, to unwind with a movie in 'The Den' – a suite of private TVs hooked up with satellite channels...
... with some supplied reading material...
... or in a variety of zones catering to every mood, from 'business casual'...
... to 'I give up, my kids already decided we're sitting here':
Etihad's qualified in-lounge nanny could help sway their decision though with a dedicated family room just for the little ones, meanwhile you can visit the smoking room, the showers to freshen up or even just enjoy a moment to yourself before being reunited at boarding time.
All things considered, Etihad's T3 Premium Lounge holds its own for business class travellers, and we can't wait to see what Etihad's new first class lounge brings to the experience in Abu Dhabi.
But we know one thing: its opening will unlock much more elbow room for guests remaining in the Premium Lounge, which travellers will surely notice and appreciate.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Abu Dhabi as a guest of Etihad Airways.
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