Review: Virgin Australia’s exclusive Sydney Beyond Lounge

With sleek decor and service akin to a luxury hotel, Virgin’s VIP-only lounge truly lives up to its name.

Overall Rating

By Chris Ashton, July 8 2022
Virgin Australia’s exclusive Sydney Beyond Lounge
Country

Australia

City

Sydney

Airport

Domestic Airport T2

Alliance

None

Airline

Virgin Australia

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Beautiful design and inviting feel
  • Premium guest bathroom facilities
  • Impressive views across the tarmac
The Bad
  • Premium Lounge Entry still closed
X-Factor
  • À la carte dining and quality drinks list
  • Intuitive service, much like a five star hotel
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

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.

The light-filled lounge enjoys impressive views to Botany Bay and the international terminal.
The light-filled lounge enjoys impressive views to Botany Bay and the international terminal.

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’.

The secret VIP-only lounge is hidden behind a nondescript door marked 'Private'.
The secret VIP-only lounge is hidden behind a nondescript door 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.

Virgin Beyond Sydney lounge has seating for up to 91 guests, with leather Chester seats and four-person dining tables.
Virgin Beyond Sydney lounge has seating for up to 91 guests, with leather Chester seats and four-person dining tables.

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.

The Virgin Beyond lounge is located directly above the main Virgin Australia Sydney lounge.
The Virgin Beyond lounge is located directly above the main Virgin Australia Sydney lounge.

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.

Oak and leather-clad walls give the space a warmer, more inviting feel.
Oak and leather-clad walls give the space a warmer, more inviting feel.

Combined with the wall treatments, it gives the space a warmer and more inviting feel.

Access

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. 

Few travellers get the chance to step beyond these glass sliding doors.
Few travellers get the chance to step beyond these glass sliding doors.

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.

There's no buffet here, with Virgin opting instead for a breakfast and all-day à la carte menu.
There's no buffet here, with Virgin opting instead for a breakfast and all-day à la carte menu.

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.

Dining

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.

The drinks menu includes a small but premium mix of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks.
The drinks menu includes a small but premium mix of beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks.

Waiters, or hosts, tailor dining recommendations in line with how long you are in the lounge.

Guests can pull up a seat at the bar if they're feeling social.
Guests can pull up a seat at the bar if they're feeling social.

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.

An assortment of the dishes available within the premium lounge.
An assortment of the dishes available within the premium lounge.

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.

This spicy pasta dish tasted even better than it looked.
This spicy pasta dish tasted even better than it looked.

The steak sandwich was another winner, with some truffle fries served on the side making for a more substantial meal. 

The grass-fed steak sandwich with caramelised onion and pickles.
The grass-fed steak sandwich with caramelised onion and pickles.

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.

Work

For those travelling for business, the lounge features private seating nooks enveloped by curved screens.

Privacy pods dotted around the lounge provide a one-on-one space for guests travelling together.
Privacy pods dotted around the lounge provide a one-on-one space for guests travelling together.

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.

When it's time to work, winged tables can be slid out from the main bench space.
When it's time to work, winged tables can be slid out from the main bench space.

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.

A large meeting room can also be booked in advance.
A large meeting room can also be booked in advance.

Relax

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.

From the tiles to the toiletries, the bathrooms all have a very premium feel.
From the tiles to the toiletries, the bathrooms all have a very premium feel.

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 Verdict

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.

All the new staff, the old staff made it specially the old grey haired guy normally behind the bar.

31 Oct 2018

Total posts 8

Chris, how do you rate this vs Chairman's Lounge? 

19 Jul 2018

Total posts 7

Sorry but this ticks few boxes for me. I’m not sure how much experience the reviewer has with lounges overseas but aside from its exclusivity it misses in a number of areas. The design isn’t coherent with leather wing chairs from a gentlemen’s club sitting on generic commercial carpet and a odd mix of textures.  The food looks very pedestrian. I’d say the Star Alliance lounge at LAX run by Air NZ has more flash and amenities. It doesn’t compare to first class lounges such as the Thai First Class Lounge at BKK, Swiss first lounge at Zurich or even the relatively new United Polaris Lounge at SFO. It’s a corporate gimmick designed to make top customers feel exclusive and that is not a bad thing, but it’s certainly nothing special by any measure. The reviewer needs to get out and about a little more. This story reads like a PR spin sheet. (I’m a journo who wrote travel for SMH, Australian Way etc back in the day and reviews like this get under my skin because they’re not critical and show a limited scope of the writer’s experience with the subject matter). 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 383

Have to respectfully disagree, Mark, in comparing this Beyond lounge to a conventional first class lounge or even the United Polaris business lounges. Lounges like Beyond are a very different proposition, for a start they are not 'international' like the ones you have cited, they are just domestic, so the longest flight anybody will be doing will be maybe 4-5 hours to Perth but most likely just 90-120 minutes on the east coast triangle. Also the Beyond lounge isn't about replicating a full first class lounge experience, it's more about privacy, exclusivity and a high level of personal service and upgraded f&b from a domestic lounge.

sid
sid

07 Jan 2011

Total posts 56

Sorry Mark, there is no 'PR spin sheet' on this, it's a straight forward review of a domestic lounge for VIP travellers. 

Trying to compare it to an international First Class lounge is misguided and shows your lack of experience and knowledge on this subject matter. There are very few domestic lounges globally that compare to this lounge. 

'reviews like this get under my skin because they’re not critical' - our reviews over the years have consistently called out issues and that's why readers trust us. 

You claim to have written for 'Australian Way' magazine - how did you feel about 'PR spin' when you were doing that? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2016

Total posts 30

Comparing a domestic lounge in Australia to the Thai F lounge at BKK has little merit.  I'm a QF flyer but this lounge appears to be a top of the line product from Virgin Australia: stylish, refined and a wonderful way to kick start your journey.  In a country with, frankly, little competition in so many areas this lounge allows VA go toe to toe with QF and I only consider that to be a good thing.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Australia’s exclusive Sydney Beyond Lounge