Step inside Etihad’s new first class lounge

The airline's exclusive lounge at Abu Dhabi airport includes a spa, cigar lounge and a la carte restaurant.

Neil Churchill May 30, 2016

Etihad Airways unarguably has the most luxurious class of air travel offered by any airline in the world – The Residence.

But if you’re spending $20,000 on an apartment in the sky – it comes with two bedrooms, living room and bathroom remember – you will expect a similar level of luxury while you wait to board.

Which is why Etihad has finally unveiled its new First Class Lounge & Spa at Abu Dhabi International Airport, complete with a separate ultra-private space for guests of The Residence.

Part of the airport’s Terminal 3, the lounge has taken inspiration from hotels, private members’ clubs and fine dining restaurants, so as you’d imagine, it’s a bit plush.

It’s also pretty large, measuring just under 1,700m² and features no fewer than 16 different areas, including an a la carte restaurant, fitness room, cigar lounge, Six Senses Spa (with complimentary treatment) and a barbers – useful if you forget to shave before that business trip.

So can anyone who’s flying Etihad rock up and use it? Of course not, this is the First Class Lounge, not a Marhaba free-for-all. The lounge is reserved for the airline’s first class and Guest members – the airline’s loyalty programme – and their equivalents at Etihad’s partner airlines. 

As mentioned, if you’re flying in The Residence you don’t have to associate yourself with the rabble in 1st; you get your own discreet space which includes its own private dining, shower room and prayer room, with a Savoy-trained butler attending to your every pre-flight whim.

Out in the rest of the lounge, more butlers, chefs, a concierge and maître d’ are on hand, as well as mixologists at the showcase bar – a regular feature at Etihad’s lounges across the globe. 

Stocked with no fewer than 75 spirits and Champagnes you certainly won't get thirsty before you board. There's also a bespoke cocktail menu featuring one-of-a-kind concoctions named after the leading cities the airline flies to – “A Sydney on the rocks, please,” or something like that. However, we’d recommend ordering a Negroni, as surprisingly the aperitif is mixed, barrelled and aged behind the bar. 

The cigar lounge offers a strong choice in sticks, including Cohiba, Hoyo de Monterray, Montecristo, Arturo Fuente and Romeo Y Julieta. Stored in the lounge’s humidor, each has been matched with a number of whiskies and cognacs. 

In fact, once you’ve made the most of this lounge you may not want to get on your first class flight after all. Even The Residence is starting to look pretty tame by comparison.