Airport lounges continue to embrace a feel that's more comfortably residential than coldly commercial, but Swiss Airlines has taken this to a whole new level with Zurich's new Alpine Lounge, which is more like the chic designed-styled mountain hut retreat of a monied exec or a dot-com doyen.
Swiss' flagship lounges has always been unmistakably, well, Swiss, from extensive use of woods to clean uncluttered lines which still manages to be exude elegance and warmth rather than sparse minimalism.
The Alpine Lounge, which replaces the old First Class lounge in the A gates of Terminal 2, dials that Swiss-ness up to 11. Not only is the much of the bespoke furniture hand-made by Swiss craftsfolk, the alpine-style carpets and cushion covers are also hand-crafted and sourced from small Swiss manufacturers.
And like its real-world namesake, the Alpine Lodge is made for cosy: there's room for just 100 passengers. However, this is still enough to take some weight off other Swiss lounges when it comes to handling the busy morning and evening waves of 'Schengen' flights within Europe. (In a nod to the business nature of those flights, the Alpine Lodge is currently open only from Monday through Friday.)
Given its compact footprint, the Alpine Lounge is divided into two functional and also residentially-inspired areas: a living area for relaxing, and a dining area for eating.
The former includes clusters of chairs and lounges suited to solo travellers or friendly groups, some of which surround carved tree trunks serving as tables.
The open-plan dining area centres on large wooden tables which underscore the hut-like ambience and encourage a communal approach to dining, although there are also a handful of restaurant-style booths.
Seasonal dishes are prepared at a large rustic oven, while the self-serve buffet relishes in a riot of salads, deli meats, cheeses and breads. The eye-catching granite water fountain is a stand-out feature.
The new Swiss Alpine Lounge is open Mondays to Fridays from 5.30am to 6.30pm for business class travellers on Swiss and other Lufthansa Group airlines, and passengers in any cabin class holding Miles and More Senator or equivalent Star Alliance Gold status.