Domestic Airport T2
- Beautiful design and inviting feel
- Premium guest bathroom facilities
- Impressive views across the tarmac
- Premium Lounge Entry still closed
- À la carte dining and quality drinks list
- Intuitive service, much like a five star hotel
Virgin Australia set a high bar for itself when its invitation-only premium status tier and lounges – formerly known as The Club – were relaunched as ‘Beyond’ in April. As a member or guest, you now expect an experience that truly goes beyond that of a traditional lounge.
After an opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the exclusive oak and leather-clad lounge at Sydney Airport Terminal 2 while awaiting a flight, I'm pleased to say it lives up to both its name and the hype... though perhaps not in ways you may have expected.
Where it could have gone bigger and flashier, Virgin has pulled back, creating a surprisingly refined experience, almost like an executive lounge at a top hotel. It’s intimate and personalised from the moment you arrive, and most people wouldn’t even know it existed.
Location & Impressions
Privacy and discretion are the name of the game at this premium hangout, which is directly above and accessed via a separate entrance to the main Virgin Australia Lounge. There’s no signage or velvet rope, just sliding glass doors and an entry marked ‘Private’.
Although still closed due to staffing shortages at the airport, the Sydney Lounge Premium Entry also has a dedicated entrance for those lucky enough to be on the guestlist. After security screening, there’s a leather-clad staircase leading you up to the check-in desk.
Once inside, it’s immediately clear Virgin Australia Beyond is no average airport lounge.
Flooded with light, the space is divided into several zones. There are cosy nooks separated by curved frosted screens where guests can chat in private, as well as an open lounge area, four-person dining settings, and a bar area for when you’re feeling social.
Every element has a premium feel, from abstract-patterned carpets and emerald leaf-shaped tiles lining the bathroom entrance – imported specially from Italy – to high-backed leather armchairs, featured in both the main lounge and in private two-person nooks.
Then there’s the view. It’s just a single level up from the regular Virgin Australia lounge, but it makes a huge difference, with an impressive outlook to Botany Bay and Terminal 1.
Lighting is similar to the fractured ceiling panels downstairs, with subtle downlights around the lounge perimeter and the addition of caramel pendant lights drawing your eyes upwards.
Combined with the wall treatments, it gives the space a warmer and more inviting feel.
Virgin Beyond is the airline’s invite-only membership tier. Exactly who gets an invite and when is a closely guarded secret. In the past, it was allegedly a mixed bag of politicians and government officials, along with celebrities or those who had significant spend with the airline.
Chatting with the staff, I learned football and rugby coaches were also regular invitees, giving them a chance to enjoy the high life while the players used the primary lounge downstairs.
Beyond membership lasts for 12 months, with access reviewed and renewed annually.
In addition to lounge access, other perks include:
- 12-month annual membership for the primary member with the option to also nominate a spouse/partner for Beyond membership to enjoy the same benefits
- Access to Beyond Lounges in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
- Dedicated phone concierge service to make or change bookings
- 4 x complimentary upgrades from Choice and Flex fares to Business Class each year
- 1 x complimentary Velocity Gold membership for the primary member’s executive assistant
Beyond Lounges are open to members seven days a week, one-hour before the first flight of the day, and closing upon boarding of the last. The Sydney lounge has capacity for 91 guests.
There’s no buffet or dining counter in this lounge (and no DIY toastie service either). Instead, guests can look forward to an à la carte menu with breakfast and all day options, plus a curated list of Australian and New Zealand wines, beer, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.
Waiters, or hosts, tailor dining recommendations in line with how long you are in the lounge.
After finding my seat, my lounge host Mario introduced himself and brought a copy of the menu, offering a welcome glass of Champagne, sparkling water and some roasted nuts to snack on while I browsed.
Among the menu highlights were a hearty grass-fed steak sandwich with caramelised onion and pickles; a superfood salad with brown rice, beetroot, broccoli, grapefruit and pecans; grilled salmon with salsa verde; and a chef’s sandwich of the day, plus a selection of cheeses.
For breakfast, there’s an omelette of the day, plus pastries, fruit, berry and cocoa granola, and a design-your-own breakfast option that includes eggs your way with choices like bacon, spinach, sausage and mushrooms.
Barista coffee and freshly squeezed juices are available too.
I opted for pasta with grilled chorizo, zucchini, cherry tomato sauce and marjoram pesto, followed by a pistachio pavlova with whipped mascarpone and rhubarb ginger jam. Both were delicious and full of flavour, with a garlic bread a nice accompaniment to the spicy pasta.
The steak sandwich was another winner, with some truffle fries served on the side making for a more substantial meal.
Based on my meal choices, Mario preempted my wine selection, bringing over a small decanter of Peppoli Chianti Classico 2017 and offering a taste before returning with more.
Service was intuitive but not pushy, much like you’d find at a silver service restaurant.
For those travelling for business, the lounge features private seating nooks enveloped by curved screens.
Each has two leather lounges, plus a convenient bench with power outlets and slide-out tables that provide a handy workspace to tap out a few important emails. It’s not the most comfortable desk to work on though, so a proper dining table you can stretch out on may be a better choice.
The main lounge area is tailor-made for multiple people to gather, with armchairs radiating from low coffee tables, and four-person dining settings making convenient bases for a work lunch.
It would be a fantastic venue for time-poor travellers to meet, work, and then fly home, rather than heading into a city office (although you would all need to be Beyond members to enter).
A boardroom and one private office can also be booked ahead of or on the day of travel.
The ability to freshen up when you’re travelling is always appreciated.
The Beyond Lounge includes a stylish bathroom area for guests, with the vertical leaf-patterned tiles adorning the entrance making you want to reach out and touch them. It’s a very luxurious feel for a bathroom, showing it wasn't a mere afterthought.
Inside, you’ll find high mirrors and white scale-like tiles lining the walls, timber and glass screens with a swirling hessian-like design, and fluffy towels and Appelles Apothecary toiletries.
The name ‘Beyond’ is an apt one – and I wish my name was on the permanent guest list.
While Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are currently the only cities to feature a dedicated Virgin Australia Beyond lounge at present, it would make a great addition in other major capitals.
Whisper-quiet by design, but thankfully featuring a subtle background soundtrack to build some atmosphere, it’s a very calm and inviting space. A perfect sanctuary away from the bustle of the main lounge and terminal beyond, and one I’d happily return to again and again.