Turkish Airlines Lounge set the bar for business class travel. Since it relocated to the new IST airport, does it still top my list?
In 2014, I visited Turkey and fell in love. From the historical sites of Istanbul to the caves of Cappadocia and the service and hospitality in between, Turkey quickly became a favourite destination. This love, really, started upon arrival.
The CIP Turkish Airlines lounge blew me away with its overwhelming experience. It had a cinema, miniature golf course, baristas, and amazing Turkish food. I’ve never seen so much in a business-class lounge before and it really set the bar for me.
Ever since the new airport opened in 2018 I have been eager to return to see how the new lounge compares. Just before the pandemic, I booked several connecting flights through Istanbul specifically to check out the lounge. Finally, after two years of cancelled travel, I got to experience the new (to me) Turkish Airlines lounge at Istanbul airport.Compare prices on flights to Istanbul with Skyscanner
Where is the Turkish Airlines Lounge Located?
The new IST airport is huge. As a major hub between Europe, Asia, and Africa, it’s also very busy. Thankfully, the Turkish Airlines lounge is located above it all. Just after security, you’ll see the lounge on an island in the middle of all the organized chaos.
Note, there are two entrances to the lounge – One for Smiles and Miles members, and one for business class travellers. There’s also a separate entry for disabled travellers, as I inadvertently found.
The signage isn’t overly clear and I ended up walking 3/4 of the way around the massive elevated island that is the Turkish Airlines lounge. For reference, here are the locations of the various lounge entrances;
- Smiles and Miles – Opposite C1 boarding gate
- Business Class lounge – Opposite E1 boarding gate
These two lounges are actually physically separated with Smiles and Miles reserved for Turkish Airline loyalty members and Star Alliance Gold status members and the business lounge for Star Alliance members travelling on a business class or better ticket. This helps keep the volume of passengers at a manageable level. The old CIP lounge, although amazing, was at times as chaotic as the busy airport.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Service and Amenities
As expected, the Turkish Airlines lounge at the new IST airports goes above and beyond compared to other lounges when it comes to service and amenities. Here are the highlights.
After heading up the escalator and clearing the ticket scanner, to your left you’ll find a machine that dispenses Wi-Fi access codes. I had no issues using the service while there so I didn’t bother with a speed test but I’ve read reports that it is very good.
Just past the Wi-Fi code machines, you will find a large luggage storage locker area. This is greatly appreciated as I was travelling carry-on only Although easy to carry around, it was nice to drop off my Osprey Porter for a while.
After checking my bags, I was drawn to the peculiar hourglass-shaped seats directly across from me. These pods offer some quiet in the very large lounge as the shape helps reduce the noise around you. They are equipped with power outlets and USB charging ports as well as a small table.
If you require a little more relaxation, next to the pods you will find a check-in desk for private rooms. To access these, you do need to meet the criteria of a layover over four hours and less than nine with connecting business class tickets. Had I known this I may have opted for an earlier flight to Tbilisi and saved on my Yotel Airport hotel room. My loss is your gain!
Shower Suite and Nap Rooms
Even if you don’t meet the private suite criteria, you can still access a shower suite or nap room. Again, I stayed in a hotel room the night prior so did check these out. I do have an early AM departure from Antalya and connecting in IST on the tail end of my trip so will circle back then.
Children’s Play Area
On the opposite end of the lounge (and a long way away from the quiet pods), you will find a kid’s play area. Near that, there is a great miniature version of Istanbul with a toy car track running around it. This is for kids of all ages to enjoy 😉
Turkish Airlines Lounge Entertainment
Moving into the lounge you’ll pass a large player piano, a wall of TVs, a quiet room, and a variety of seating options. Down the middle of the lounge are several cook stations where chefs prepare some excellent Turkish dishes. More to come on that.
There’s also a movie theatre however it was closed on my visit due to the pandemic. Last but not least there is a golf simulator and whatever the hell this is!
Turns out, this contraption is a flight simulator. Guests can strap in and take a virtual tour above Istanbul, passing its iconic sites along the way. How uniquely cool is that?!
If you prefer to take it a little easier than virtually flying or golfing 9 holes, the lounge also has an art gallery. Inside you will find several pieces showcasing Turkish artists which is a great local touch.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Food & drink
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the food and drink at the IST Turkish Airlines lounge. This is where the lounge truly shines.
On this visit, I enjoyed the morning service which included a freshly made simit (Turkish bagel) and one of the best omelettes I have had in my life. No joke.
There are plenty of premade snacks, salads, and sweets as well. I had (two) spicy wheat salads and some tzatziki before audibly saying “Oh my God!“ with my first spoonful of a coffee pannacotta. Later in my visit, I watched chefs make Turkish pizza however I was full up by then. Next time.
After my breakfast, I made my way to the barista area and had a flat white along with some delicious Turkish sweets. I followed all of that up with some Turkish tea. There is a great room dedicated to Turkish tea and coffee that overlooks the tarmac. This was my favourite spot to relax.
As for alcohol, this is actually limited but understandable given it is a Muslim country. There is Efes beer as well as a selection of spirits.
Still My Favourite Lounge?
From its abundance of space, on-site chefs, and entertainment options, the Turkish Airlines lounge truly is one of the best out there. It’s a destination on its own and I highly recommend tying in a visit if in the area. Considering the private suite rules, Istanbul airport and its Turkish Airlines lounge make for an attractive option when travelling between continents.
That said, as I would find in Muscat, Oman Air’s new lounge mirrors some of the services that Turkish Airlines has been offering for years. It’s a great thing to see as that bar has been set. We, as travellers, are better of for it.
So with other lounges catching up, is the Turkish Airlines lounge still my favourite? Absolutely.
I had once posted in a Facebook group about Istanbul’s Turkish Airlines lounge being my favourite and the response was mixed. This made me a bit sceptical about my visit but am happy to report that it still remains on top for me. The key separator is that I have a fondness for Turkish food and the lounge does a great job highlighting local flavours. I will continue to book travel through Istanbul just to visit again.Compare prices on flights to Istanbul with Skyscanner
What say you?
Thoughts on the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul?
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