As part of our three part series on Turkish Airlines impressive business class offering, we finish with a review of their CIP Lounge in Istanbul. Located in the main terminal away from the hustle and bustle of the departure lounge. On arrival into Istanbul at 4am, its clear to see that it’s busy 24/7, with only a few times of the day where the terminal quietens down.
It’s no secret that Turkish Airlines lounge is vast, spanning two floors and seating for hundreds. For those starting the journey in Istanbul can even take advantage of the Fast Track lane that leads directly into the lounge, saving time and leading you directly into the impressive atrium area.
The lounge is separated into zones and there are more amenities than you can shake a stick at, from golf simulators, Scalextric tracks, kids zones, grand piano, libraries, indoor cinemas, spa, sleep rooms, multiple dining outlets, kids zone, media walls and the concierge service.
From our previous two reports, you will see how we wax lyrical about the inflight product, and it’s certainly Turkish Airlines’ strength, however the sheer scale of passengers using the lounge is putting the lounge through its paces.
As well as being incredibly impressive on the surface with the sheer volume of entertainment options, a little scratch of the service raised one or two areas for improvement. The staff (understandably at 4am) were rushed off their feet and somewhat disinterested in passengers. When trying to use the downstairs sleep suites, it was virtually impossible to rest, as the designer wooden floor creaked with every step outside, and the lounge attendants happily chatting away fairly loudly.
When leaving the rooms, it was virtually impossible to find a seat due to the volume of passengers. However, during the stay it was clear to see that elements such as the racing track or virtual golf weren’t being utilised, taking valuable real estate that could have been reinvested into more comfortable seating for passengers.
From the only real criticisms to the real benefits, and thats the use of Do&Co for Turkish Airlines’ catering on the ground as well as in the air. The in lounge dining was superb, and the food and drink offering was phenomenal. To ease congestion on the food outlets, food and drink stalls were placed throughout the lounge, offering a range of local and international food and drink.
The lounge has a wealth of design elements, and the series of arches that run through the space help break up the lounge, offering smaller, mini-lounge environments throughout the space. The most beautiful design elements are found upstairs around the atrium where fretwork arches, along with piped in birdsong, helps give the impression of an ornate garden, and is perhaps the most peaceful place to relax between flights.
All in all, the lounge is impressive, the design elements are stunning and the amenities plentiful. Sadly the lounge has become a victim of the airline’s success where overcrowding strains the space at certain times of the day – but don’t let this put you off, it’s far better than many lounges around the world.
This said, in a few years, a larger, more open airport in Istanbul will take the mantle for the carrier, and allow them to address the sheer volume of business class passengers the carrier now flies. We look forward to seeing the next incarnation of the lounge in the near future.