Reviews

Review: KrisFlyer Gold Temporary Lounge, Singapore Changi T3

The new Marhaba Lounge in Changi T3 also serves as Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer Gold Lounge until 2021.

Overall Rating

By Brandon Loo, September 6 2019
KrisFlyer Gold Temporary Lounge, Singapore Changi T3
Country

Singapore

City

Singapore

Airport

Singapore - Changi

Alliance

Star Alliance (temporary)

Airline

Singapore Airlines (temporary)

Cabin-class

Any

Notes
The Good
  • Wide variety of hot food
  • Power outlets wherever you look
  • KrisFlyer Gold Lounge passengers finally get restrooms
  • Plenty of light during the day
The Bad
  • Small space that gets very busy at night
  • Long wait times for showers and toilets
  • No business facilities
X-Factor
  • Lounge staff are proactive in finding empty seats for new visitors
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

The Marhaba Lounge, operated by dnata, is the newest addition to the long list of independent lounges at Singapore Changi Airport. Open to paying passengers departing on any airline within Terminals 1 to 3, it's also now the temporary home of Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, which relocated in August 2019 to make way for a massive overhaul of all its lounges.

Location & Impressions

The Marhaba Lounge is located just after immigration in Terminal 3 of Changi Airport. Singapore Airlines has a handy map of the lounge's location relative to the huge Louis Vuitton store.

Map of the Marhaba Lounge (alternative KrisFlyer Gold Lounge) in Changi T3.
Map of the Marhaba Lounge (alternative KrisFlyer Gold Lounge) in Changi T3.

On the right-hand side of the store, you'll find an escalator going up with the Marhaba and Singapore Airlines logos clearly marked.

Signs for the Marhaba (red icon) and KrisFlyer Gold (white icon) lounges.
Signs for the Marhaba (red icon) and KrisFlyer Gold (white icon) lounges.

Directly up ahead is the main Marhaba Lounge entrance which welcomes all eligible guests except for passengers who are accessing the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge.

Marhaba Lounge Singapore main entrance.
Marhaba Lounge Singapore main entrance.

If that's you, head down the same hallway where you'll quickly see that Singapore Airlines has created its own entrance and branding for the temporary KrisFlyer Gold Lounge.

Entrance to the temporary KrisFlyer Gold Lounge within the Marhaba Lounge, Singapore T3.
Entrance to the temporary KrisFlyer Gold Lounge within the Marhaba Lounge, Singapore T3.

After checking in with the Singapore Airlines staff, you'll wind up in the far end of the Marhaba Lounge where the bulk of the seating is. Unsurprisingly, it was very full and busy in the late evenings, just like the old KrisFlyer Gold Lounge was.

However, Marhaba Lounge staff were actively seen on the floor, welcoming guests and directing them to the nearest empty spots. They were even proactive in asking passengers if they could help with anything, which was a great redeeming factor.

The main seating area, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
The main seating area, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

On paper, there's seating for 130 guests, which isn't a lot when you think about how many people have access. Here's how the space looked during a previous visit at a quieter time (you can see the natural light and window views too).

Bar tables, main seating area, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Bar tables, main seating area, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

Walking back towards the main entrance of the lounge, you'll spy dining tables on the right and the buffet stations on the left.

Dining area, buffet area, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Dining area, buffet area, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

At the front part of the Marhaba Lounge is the 'quiet zone', although in the evenings it's never as quiet as depicted below, which was again from an earlier visit during daytime hours.

Quiet area (earlier visit), Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Quiet area (earlier visit), Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

The restroom facilities are located through a corridor near the main entrance and quiet zone.

Hallway to restrooms, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Hallway to restrooms, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

The combined Marhaba/KrisFlyer Gold Lounge is open all day, every day, as are most other third-party lounges in Changi Airport. 

As a side note, if you tried to access the original KrisFlyer Gold Lounge T3 now, it's been shuttered and arrows will direct you back to the Marhaba Lounge.

The original KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, Singapore Changi T3.
The original KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, Singapore Changi T3.

Access

There are many ways to get into the Marhaba Lounge through class of travel, frequent flyer status, lounge membership or pre-booking online.

  • Business class passengers of China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Myanmar National Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus and equivalent members before China Airlines and Garuda Indonesia flights.
  • Oneworld Sapphire, Emerald and equivalent members before SriLankan Airlines flights (although there are three other OneWorld lounges to use).
  • Lounge members of Priority Pass, Loungekey, Dragonpass and Lounge Club, which uses up one visit per person where applicable.
  • Pre-book online starting from S$55 (A$58) for three hours access.

While Singapore Airlines has its temporary KrisFlyer Gold Lounge here until 2021, the following guests are welcomed too:

  • Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum members before Singapore Airlines or SilkAir marketed and operated flights.
  • KrisFlyer Elite Gold members before any Star Alliance flight.
  • Star Alliance Gold members before any Star Alliance flight.

Dining

There is no shortage of food options here, with more than ten hot dishes and numerous other cold platters available for grazing.

As an appetiser, it's hard to ignore the chicken satay with condiments. Not pictured but nearby are chicken char siu buns and steamed Shanghainese dumplings.

From left to right, top to bottom, main courses included roasted carrots and potatoes, pasta and beef rendang, steamed rice and vegetable curry, and finally Taiwanese braised chicken and vegetarian noodles. 

Also available as sides: soy-braised eggs (which pairs marvellously with the Taiwanese braised chicken), and steamed bok choy for those paying attention to their daily serves of veggies.

Also read: You're never too busy to eat your greens

The cold options are somewhat less impressive, with an assortment of simple sandwiches and salads. There are a couple of options for dessert, including chocolate brownies and apple crumble squares.

Tomato cheddar & chicken mayo sandwiches, vegan carrot pumpkin & mixed bean and corn salads, chocolate brownies and apple crumble, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Tomato cheddar & chicken mayo sandwiches, vegan carrot pumpkin & mixed bean and corn salads, chocolate brownies and apple crumble, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

All drinks here are DIY with four spirits (Johnnie Walker Black, Barcadi White Rum, Gordon's Dry Gin, Smirnoff Red Label Vodka), mixers, ice and lemon all nearby to stir up your own cocktail. Wine options are slightly lacking – two reds, two whites and no sparkling.

Australian wines are well-represented in the Marhaba Lounge, Changi T3.
Australian wines are well-represented in the Marhaba Lounge, Changi T3.

The bar fridges stock Singapore's Tiger beer and Heineken, plus a range of soft drinks, mixers and juices.

Tiger beer, Heineken and soft drinks, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Tiger beer, Heineken and soft drinks, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

If you're game, show off your bartending skills and pour your own glass of Tiger beer from a dispenser in the lounge, though many travellers seemed to have trouble managing the foam from their un-tilted glasses.

Tiger beer on tap, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Tiger beer on tap, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

But the best beverage for pre-flight hydration is simply the cucumber, mint and lemon infused water.

Infused waters and juices, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Infused waters and juices, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

Australian Vittoria coffee is brewed on demand through two coffee machines, while nibbles and Dilmah teas are nearby.

Coffee machines, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Coffee machines, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

Work

The bar tables are probably the best place to set up a laptop out of the way. The power outlets are even rotated in a way to ensure that bulky power bricks will fit on the benchtop.

Bar tables with power outlets, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Bar tables with power outlets, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

Otherwise consider taking a seat at the dining area, especially if travelling in a group, although be mindful that there is high traffic along this hallway.

Dining table with power outlets, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Dining table with power outlets, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

Power outlets are located at practically every seat, so at least there's no reason to run out of juice while recharging at this lounge.

General seating, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
General seating, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

We measured the WiFi speeds to be a paltry 1.84Mbps down and a more reasonable 6.84 Mbps up, with browsing speeds undoubtedly impacted by the high number of users in the lounge. 

This, combined with the lack of business printing facilities and dedicated work areas, make the Marhaba Lounge less-than-ideal for getting important business done. 

Relax

With such a small footprint, there aren't many places to relax. You'll be directed to the nearest available seating by staff, which may include seats in the general area towards the back of the lounge.

Solo seating, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Solo seating, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

The best place to chance a snooze is within the quiet zone at the front of the lounge, where the seats are more suited for slumbering and there's less foot traffic. The TVs are muted but do have subtitles if you're following along.

Relax in the quiet zone, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Relax in the quiet zone, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

While you while away the time, magazines and newspapers are available throughout the lounge, and there are handy 'mini-information screens' which show the status of imminent flights.

Newspapers, magazines, flight information displays, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Newspapers, magazines, flight information displays, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Small flight information displays, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Small flight information displays, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

If you need to take a shower, that's sorted too – just speak to reception to pick up a towel set. There are three shower rooms, plus a few more individual restroom cubicles. The lighted signs show what facilities are available and if they are occupied. Buzzers will be handed out if showers (or toilets) are busy with a waiting list.

Shower and restroom lights, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.
Shower and restroom lights, Marhaba Lounge Singapore T3.

Summary

All in all, the Marhaba Lounge is a quality third-party lounge, compared to the numerous other options available in Terminals 1, 2 and 3. For guests who normally frequent the KrisFlyer Gold Lounges, the overall ambience, food options and restroom facilities are a definite upgrade, although the peak-hour evening crunch remains.

This means that passengers with a Priority Pass or similar lounge membership, who can choose where they go, are better off avoiding the Marhaba Lounge in the evenings and picking somewhere quieter.

The Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 (which also welcomes American Express Platinum Cardholders) and the SATS Premier Lounge in T3 come highly recommended, both of which are roughly equal to Marhaba Lounge in terms of the service and offerings.

Brandon Loo travelled from Singapore at his own expense.

Brandon Loo

Brandon divides his time between Perth and Launceston, with ample hours spent in airport lounges in between. He recently picked up photography and tries to capture the beauty of Tasmanian landscapes, aeroplane cabins and in-flight food, to varying degrees of success.

David69

David69

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jul 2017

Total posts 14

I've been there a couple of times so far. Both times it was overcrowded and we were actually turned away once but were allowed in half an hour later. 2nd time I was very lucky to score a free shower straight up which was very much appreciated after an 18.5 hour Newark to Singapore flight. Food and drink options are good but I hope the new lounge is much bigger.

JBH

JBH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2012

Total posts 118

You can also get a good look down into the open parts at each end of the lounge from the indoor plane viewing deck level above it on landside.

Ho Really

Ho Really

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Dec 2014

Total posts 81

Thanks for the review Brandon. Good lounge for the interim.

Cheers

n0471895

n0471895

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 3

I have been through the Marhaba Lounge a few times now as Virgin Gold flying with SIA. I agree with sentiments in the article. The staff at Mahraba are attentive and welcoming. The lounge is marked improvement over the Krisflyer Gold Lounge providing far more food options, showers and restrooms. I can only be hopeful that SIA includes these additional utilities to their lounge upgrade.


Cheers


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