Sydney - Kingsford Smith
- À la carte dining, plus Veuve Clicquot Champagne
- A new addition: barista-made coffee
- Distinct zones work working, dining and relaxing
- WiFi was out of service, and unusable for most of the visit
- Peace and quiet, in what's otherwise Australia's busiest international airport
Singapore Airlines' international first class lounge at Sydney Airport's Terminal 1 is quite well hidden, perhaps by design: if you're not on 'the list', you probably wouldn't even notice it was there.
For those on the inside with a first class boarding pass or a top-tier Solitaire PPS Club frequent flyer card, there's a private dining room to enjoy, areas for lounging and working, and free-flowing Champagne.
Executive Traveller puts the SilverKris first class lounge through its paces following a recent flight through Sydney Airport.
Location & Impressions
Nestled down in Pier C at Sydney Airport, you'll find the SilverKris Lounge by following the signs to gates 50-63. Once you reach the centre of that pier, take the escalator upstairs, where the SilverKris Lounge is next door to Air New Zealand's lounge.
Singapore Airlines has both a business class and a first class lounge in Sydney. They share the same entrance and reception area...
... but if you're eligible to access the first class space, the staff will buzz you in. A subtle door opens to the right, and you'll be escorted through. Here's the view from inside, as from the outside, the door blends in with the wall:
Glide through that door and you'll emerge in what's essentially a lounge room, featuring comfy chairs, some reading material and a TV, kept at an appropriate volume...
... before walking through the dining area and into the business nook, with individual seats serving as both work spaces and more private dining tables...
... or keep walking through, and you'll reach the windows for some tarmac views, with Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 parked further behind the passing Emirates superjumbo below:
I got comfortable in one of those flexible business desks 'slash' dining tables, where I was immediately greeted by a member of staff, handed a menu and offered a drink, where Champagne (Veuve Clicquot) was an easy choice:
- Singapore Airlines' first class and Suites Class passengers travelling to Singapore.
- Singapore Airlines' Solitaire PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club Life members prior to Singapore Airlines flights only.
- Thai Airways' Royal First Class passengers jetting to Bangkok.
- Air China first class passengers zipping to Beijing, but only on three-class Boeing 777 flights where first class is sold, as is typically available around the busy Chinese New Year travel period every year.
Put simply, this is a lounge exclusively reserved for passengers departing in first class, and for Singapore Airlines' highest-tiered frequent flyers who are also no stranger to flying up the front, given Solitaire PPS Club status can only be earned by regularly travelling in business class and first class with Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.
That's a stark difference to Sydney's Qantas First Lounge, for example, which welcomes Platinum-grade frequent flyers of not only Qantas, but also of Emirates and all Oneworld alliance airlines, so while the Qantas First Lounge is much larger, it's also much busier.
In the first class section of this lounge, there's both buffet and à la carte dining, catering to passengers making shorter stops and longer stays.
Beginning with that buffet, a breakfast-time visit found hot bites like roast pumpkin, mini omelettes with corn and cheese...
... chicken congee...
... and, chicken sausages:
Around the other side of the same counter was a variety of fresh salad ingredients, crackers, yoghurts and granola...
... with pastries not too far away:
Just behind, a variety of spirits and mixers...
... plus, beer, standalone soft drinks and juices, and wine:
There's also a DIY espresso coffee machine...
... but when I approached it to make myself a morning latte, a member of staff offered to fetch me a coffee from the business class lounge instead, where there's now a barista station – certainly better than a 'push-button' brew:
There's also a selection of wine in the 'lounge room' area, although these are merely on display, and can instead be ordered via your waiter:
Speaking of waiters, with a full table service throughout, I really didn't see the need for the buffet. As a first class passenger, I knew there'd be plenty to eat on the plane, plus anything ordered up via the menu in the lounge, and so didn't graze the buffet at all.
On that morning menu were the following choices, many centred on breakfast given the time of day, but with a couple of lunchtime staples as well.
To begin, it was hard to pass up the very Singaporean chicken satay with peanut sauce, which was delicious...
... followed later by the waffle with mixed berries and maple syrup, which tasted as good as it looks:
I'd also like to have tried the signature dish, prawn laksa, but didn't feel like something that heavy at 8am, so here's a supplied photo:
I moved around the lounge several times during the visit, and regardless of where I sat, the staff were never far away for a Champagne top-up or another latte.
You won't find a business centre in the lounge – after all, if you're flying first class, it's fair to assume you own a laptop – so I found the best place to work was at these pods, in between the dining room and the windows:
Here, there's desk-level AC and USB power, as well as a large bench suitable for both typing and dining:
The design of these pods also allows you to swivel around and face outward, such as when your work is finished, whereby the working bench becomes a cocktail table, meaning you don't have to move seats:
Wireless Internet is usually available here, although the network wasn't functioning during most of my visit, with guests unable to login using the supplied password.
This was rectified only shortly before boarding, when I was able to quickly test the speeds and was pleasantly surprised to find that the connection had been upgraded since my last visit, with downloads averaging a whopping 148Mbps, and uploads even higher at 164Mbps. Read: very fast.
It'll be interesting to see whether that connection proves more stable going forward, but other than that last-minute test, it wasn't usable at all until that point.
Given the very restrictive door list for this lounge, what I appreciated most about the space wasn't the food or even the Champagne, but instead, the peace and quiet.
I spent about 2.5 hours here before my flight was called for boarding, and during the entire stay, I could count the number of guests that visited this lounge on one hand, which was particularly pleasing given this also came at the start of the Australian school holidays, when most other Sydney airport lounges are typically packed with travellers.
It was so quiet, in fact, that some travellers even 'claimed' their preferred window seats while enjoying breakfast over in the dining room, which wasn't a problem for anybody as seats were still open for those who wanted them...
... but I was rather content just behind in the business area, which I had to myself:
The one downside to this lounge versus Sydney's only other first class facility – the Qantas First Lounge – is the absence of a day spa, although the restrooms and showers in Singapore Airlines' first class space come well-appointed, featuring fresh flowers...
... and, at least in the male bathroom, packed a variety of essentials:
Back in the 'lounge room', you'll also find a variety of reading material. There's no information screen showing flight departures, but being the first class lounge, you can simply listen out for your boarding call.
All things considered, Singapore Airlines' first class lounge in Sydney doesn't have some of the bells and whistles like day spas or the private offices and meeting rooms as you'd find over in the Qantas First Lounge, but as a solo business traveller, I really didn't notice their absence.
Instead, I was too busy enjoying the peace and quiet in this haven, tucked away within what's otherwise Australia's busiest international airport: and when you're flying up the very front, being able to take a moment to yourself can really make all the difference.
Chris Chamberlin travelled at his own expense using frequent flyer points.