Review: The House Lounge, Sydney Airport

Is this Sydney’s best pay-per-use lounge?

Overall Rating

By Chris Ashton, May 30 2024
The House Lounge, Sydney Airport
Country

Australia

City

Sydney

Airport

Sydney - Kingsford Smith

Alliance

None

Airline

Any

Cabin-class

Any

Notes
The Good
  • Modern shower suites
  • Tended bar and barista coffee
The Bad
  • Showing its age
X-Factor
  • Á la carte dining
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Sydney Airport boasts some solid airline lounges, including those of Air New Zealand, Qantas and Singapore Airlines to name a few.

However, it also offers some great independent louges – and foremost among them Swissport’s highly-underrated The House.

Part of the group’s Executive Lounge portfolio, better known for its Aspire brand, The House is the go-to for eligible passengers flying British Airways, Cathay Pacific and more, plus Priority Pass cardholders and others on a pay-per-use basis.

There's plenty of reading material to go around.
There's plenty of reading material to go around.

With contemporary shower suites, bartender service and the option of á la carte dining, it’s a confident step up on some rivals. And with an imminent refresh in the wings, it could rise even higher.

Location & Impressions

The House is located pretty much halfway between the two main wings of Sydney Airport’s T1 international terminal.

To find it, stroll through the SYD X retail hub and make your way towards gates 50 and above. You’ll spot the entrance to The House just around the corner from McDonald’s, on the left hand side.

Amcal Chemist is right next door.
Amcal Chemist is right next door.

The lounge proper is a level down, accessible via stairs or an elevator – and once inside, the residential vibe hinted at by The House moniker becomes immediately apparent.

Many keen travellers will remember this as the former Etihad Airways lounge, and the space is virtually unchanged from the Gulf carrier’s decade-old design.

Interiors are light and spacious.
Interiors are light and spacious.

The good news is, a broad facelift – slated to begin mid-2024 – will give The House a new lease on life, with a spokesperson for Swissport confirming to Executive Traveller an expansion into some adjoining space is also part of the update.

The main lounge space.
The main lounge space.

For now, the familiar milk chocolate, mint and cream colour scheme, accented by pops of orange and silver, remain firm fixtures of the experience.

And barring some very worn seating, which will no doubt be swapped out, the space is still an inviting one.

Departures info is visible from most areas of the lounge.
Departures info is visible from most areas of the lounge.

Timber screens and shelves cleverly break the space into zones, including a casual dining area and window-side lounge dotted with lounge chairs.

Ample seating options.
Ample seating options.

At the far end is a small buffet and self-serve tea and coffee station, alongside a bar where you can order barista coffee, beer, wine and spirits, and perhaps make yourself at home on one of the orange barstools.

Waiter and bar service is an appreciated addition to the lounge.
Waiter and bar service is an appreciated addition to the lounge.

If timing allows though, it’s the three-course á la carte menu – complimentary for selected passengers or at a modest fee for everyone else – you’ll want to try. More on that soon.

Access

One of the key benefits of The House is its broad guest list.

That includes arrangements with airlines such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific (both of which are also on the guest list at the Qantass lounge, by travel class and Oneworld status), unaligned carriers such as Hawaiian Airlines, and numerous lounge programs.

Open daily from 5am to 10pm, the lounge welcomes:

  • Walk-ins at $82.50 for adults and $51.33 for children, for up to three hours, or $75 if booked online at least 24 hours in advance
  • Passengers travelling in business and first class on Batik Air, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Hawaiian Airlines, Philippine Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, and Vietjet 
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers when travelling on British Airways, Cathay Pacific or SriLanlan Airlines
  • Priority Pass, Dragon Pass and Lounge Key members for free as one visit allocation, though a $20 co-payment is required to unlock shower facilities, à la carte dining and premium drinks

Dining

The yardstick of every airport lounge is its dining. At The House, your options are a small yet tasty assortment of sweet and savoury breakfast and all-day buffet bites, or an optional á la carte experience.

The House Sydney buffet area.
The House Sydney buffet area.

Á la carte is plated up daily for lunch from 12:30pm to 3pm and again for dinner between 6pm and 9pm. It’s free for passengers of British Airways and Hawaiian Airlines, while others can enjoy it as an upgrade for just $20.

That’s a small price for a three course meal, particularly compared to what you’d pay outside the lounge.

Used plates and glassware rarely linger for long.
Used plates and glassware rarely linger for long.

A sample menu includes:

  • roasted carrot and coriander soup with Ras el Hanout spiced flatbread crisps
  • glazed salmon, soba noodles, sesame and shallots
  • potato gnocchi with burnt sage butter, garden peas and shaved parmesan
  • crepes with blue cheese, pear, radicchio and sunflower seeds
  • tiramisu with basil, orange and dark chocolate

Unfortunately, the á la carte menu was not available on the evening of my visit, despite this being advertised as a standard experience offered seven days.

Instead, I set my sights on the buffet stocked with a soup of the day, three hot dishes (a Greek vegetable bake, chicken breast in tomato and cinnamon sauce, and roasted vegetables) plus an assortment of salads, cakes and breads.

A trio of hot dishes - two vegetarian, one meat.
A trio of hot dishes - two vegetarian, one meat.
Dressings are provided.
Dressings are provided.

For drinks, you have the choice of a push-button coffee machine and selection of teas, grab a self-serve soft drink, or make your way to the tended bar and barista station.

Automated coffee is available, if there's a queue at the barista station.
Automated coffee is available, if there's a queue at the barista station.

The bartender was knowledgeable and approachable, and only too happy to recommend a glass of wine to go with dinner. (Given the small number of guests in the lounge, this no doubt gave him something extra to do.)

Work

Power points are conveniently in reach of most lounges as well as the main dining area, either lining the wall or hidden under a lift-up flap in the floor.

Power outlets run along the kickboard of the main dining room.
Power outlets run along the kickboard of the main dining room.

You’ll find the broadest selection – two USB ports, plus Australian and UK power outlets – along the curved divider wall, which is lined with stools.

Business travellers will gravitate to the dining room or these upright stools.
Business travellers will gravitate to the dining room or these upright stools.

WiFi speeds reach a decent 20Mbps download, which is more than enough to fire off a few emails or spool up some streaming content to supplement the inflight offering.

Relax

It wouldn’t be a premium lounge experience without shower suites.

These are tucked at the far end of a long hall alongside the buffet, just past the children’s play area. See staff for a key.

The Family Room contains a television and smattering of toys.
The Family Room contains a television and smattering of toys.

Each one is stocked with fragrant l’Occitane amenities, and I’d go as far to call these among the best shower facilities of the wider Sydney loungescape.

Verdict

After a couple of hours enjoying the quiet surroundings and dining, I’d rate this one of the better independent lounges in Sydney – it’s significantly larger than Plaza Premium, with the á la carte offering a key point of difference even on the branded airline lounges.

That said, visible signs of wear and tear let the experience down. Seating in the main lounge area has clearly seen better days. Hopefully this will be addressed during the impending lounge refresh, and I’m keen to revisit down the track.

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 25

I'm usually directed here by BA but go to the QF F lounge these days. Hopefully the refurb will give this place some new life. 

That aside, did this ever used to be a Qantas lounge in around 2007? I recall going to a QF Business Lounge on tarmac level down some escalators or stairs with windows like this at SYD around then.  Anyone remember that?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

10 Apr 2019

Total posts 13

Yes there used to be a QF lounge down escalators in SYD. Thats now the crew room for Pilots and Flight Attendants. 


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