Taipei - Taoyuan
- Cooked-to-order meals plus a full cocktail bar
- Restrictive door list keeps the lounge quiet
- Ample power points, plus a business centre
- Slower WiFi than the lounges next door
- A relaxing design that escapes the traditional airport feel
Designed as a better-than-business-class lounge by an airline that doesn't actually have first class, EVA Air's The Garden lounge at Taipei's Taoyuan Airport caters solely to the airline's top Diamond-tier frequent flyers.
With cooked-to-order meals, a full cocktail bar and high ceilings providing a good sense of space, The Garden is a cut above EVA's The Infinity lounge for business class flyers, and considerably better than The Star lounge for Star Alliance Gold travellers: so here's what awaits inside.
Location & Impressions
Located in the international departures area of Terminal 2, you'll find The Garden by taking the escalator upstairs after passport control, where you'll be able to see this sign from the lower level:
The subtle entrance is directly opposite from EVA Air's The Infinity lounge, and once inside, you'll find an open space divided into a variety of zones...
... and with plenty of greenery, as the lounge's name suggests:
Being located above the terminal concourse but with open walls around the room, the space avoids feeling boxed in, and adopts a feeling that's not necessarily typical of an airport lounge.
The Garden opens daily from 5:30am until 11:30pm.
Here's the complete – but very short – list of who gets in:
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands Diamond cardholders prior to EVA Air and Star Alliance flights.
That's all, folks! If you're flying with EVA Air or another Star Alliance airline in business class without also holding an EVA Air Diamond card, you'll instead be able to access EVA Air's The Infinity lounge, or the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge nearby.
Star Alliance Gold cardholders not flying business class (or first class) can also visit the SilverKris Lounge, or can use EVA Air's The Star lounge, located next door to The Infinity and across the walkway from The Garden, as only a Diamond card unlocks the doors at The Garden.
With a great variety of food and beverage options to choose from here, let's start with the buffet, which is always handy if you're pushed for time.
On the hot food front, this visit found pan-fried chicken fillets, roasted tomatoes and penne pasta...
... joined by curry-flavoured rice vermicelli with vegetable julienne, mixed vegetables and Chinese cabbage with tofu...
... along with specialties like cabbage buns, Hidaka mini steamed buns, Taiwanese meatballs and taro-stuffed buns...
... completed by the obligatory soups:
Nearby, you'll also find various salad ingredients and dressings for a healthy and fresh bite...
... with machine-made espresso coffee available from the same buffet area, aside a broader selection of drinks:
But here's where things get interesting – in addition to the regular buffet fare, a selection of dishes are also available to order any time from 6am until 11:30pm:
- Noodles with braised beef shank & tendon
- Braised beef noodle soup (two varieties)
- Prawn and pork wonton with spicy sauce
- Dumplings (cabbage and pork)
- Noodles with Yunnan-style spicy meat sauce
- Angelica noodle soup with red date
- Mixed meat ball soup with squid ball
Between 6am and 9:30am, the following breakfast choices are also added to the menu:
- Turnip cake
- Chinese plain porridge with side dishes
- Eggs sunny side up
Being an evening visit, I tried the prawn and pork wontons which were nice and spicy, as described...
... followed by a braised beef noodle soup for dinner, of which the meat was nice and tender. If you want the same, it's 'option 2' from the menu, as the other beef noodle soup ('option 4') is a little different.
Beyond food, there's also a tended cocktail bar – something you won't find in any of EVA Air's other lounges here in Taipei, or even the Singapore Airlines lounge nearby:
Top of the menu is the lounge's signature drink named The Garden Special, mixing Crème de menthe, gin, lemon juice, syrup and soda, garnished by lime, which was most refreshing...
... with the same menu providing a longer list of more standard mixes, so with hours to spare before my flight, followed up with an Old Fashioned, which was excellent:
While I wouldn't have wanted espresso coffee before heading to bed on board, the absence of a barista station would be more noticeable for passengers travelling in the mornings.
Many airlines choose to set these up at the bar counters, given coffee is much more popular than alcohol early in the day which makes good use of space, although here, your java comes only from a push-button machine.
For an open workspace with individual booths and plenty of sunlight, turn right after entering the lounge and that's exactly what you'll find...
... while for any computer work or printing, there's a separate business centre at the opposite end of the space:
Power points are available at both locations above, and near many of the seats that line the walls, where you'll find international AC and also USB power at-hand:
Although The Garden is located opposite EVA's The Infinity and The Star lounges, it offers its own dedicated WiFi network – I measured download speeds of 4-8Mbps and uploads of 3-6Mbps during my visit.
While not particularly speedy, that's still usable for basic tasks, although the WiFi next door in EVA Air's other lounges was about 10 times as fast: so logically, if EVA can ramp up the speeds in its other lounges, it should do so here in The Garden as well, being home to the airline's most valuable frequent flyers.
Hopefully your pre-flight time provides for some relaxation, because it's quite peaceful sitting in what is essentially a sky garden, with lots of greenery surrounding you:
The carpet and furniture here are colour-coded to match the overall aesthetic, and while they look a bit too green when seen up close...
... when viewed in the context of the full lounge, the overall impression is more subdued:
Finally, there's a modern shower room available with all amenities supplied – to book or make use of this, just ask at reception.
All things considered, EVA Air's The Garden lounge is the airline's best, with cooked-to-order meals, a full cocktail bar and a restrictive guest list that generally keeps the lounge quiet for those on the inside.
While it's a shame that other top-tier Star Alliance flyers don't receive access here, for regular travellers with EVA Air – including on flights to and from Brisbane – having access to The Garden is a great incentive to aim for the top of the Infinity MileageLands frequent flyer pile, or cement your place for another year.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Taipei as a guest of Star Alliance and EVA Air.