Upon arrival in Zurich Airport, I set off to find the First Class lounge and while I did not immediately spot it, I noticed the large cover for the Swiss Business Lounge which was under renovation. The First Class lounge access is just a few more duty free shops after the Business Lounge with a discreet sign at the top of the entryway that leads to a nondescript corridor before finally opening into the lounge. For guests departing out of Zurich Airport itself, there is a separate direct entry into the lounge for First Class passengers and HON guests that comes with a separate security check and passport control. This is immediately visible from the atrium before entering the security area.
Swiss First Class Lounge at Concourse A
The first thing guests will encounter are 2 free-standing reception counters though they are not usually manned since the lounge does not see a large number of guests. A staff will shortly come over to check your credentials, however, and beside these there are small scanners that would scan your boarding pass and provide a slip of paper with the wifi passcode for your stay. Upon checking in, I was informed that since my flight is departing from Concourse E, I would get a special limousine transfer from this lounge and I was told to inform the staff whenever I am ready to proceed there.
Forming the centerpiece of the lounge is a prominent bar space with an end that holds a floral decoration with some highlighted bottles of wines and liquor. The bar hosts a barista that would gladly serve you coffee and espresso as well.
The back portion of the bar, guests can find a fridge that guests can get their own soft drinks and bottled juices. There was open bottles of red and white wines that guests can help themselves too.
On the right side of the bar is a magazine and newspaper shelf with plenty of selection to choose from; though majority of them are in German and French. However Swiss and Lufthansa has moved towards providing passengers with downloadable digital copies of newspapers and magazines.
Behind the shelving unit, there are 2 L-shaped black sofas in what is probably the most private open seating spaces in the lounge. This space is also the most quiet one if one wants a secluded space to sit down and do some reading. Anyway, the low guest count inside the lounge make the whole lounge ambience to be very serene and there is little to no noise at all.
Moving to the rest of the lounge, there are more seating spaces with armchairs facing each other for couples to sit down and have a chat in the open spaces. Across from these couple armchairs are larger segmented seating spaces with a TV that can seat up to 4 guests. Wooden slats separate the space giving it an airy yet private space for each group. The choice of wood also gives it a warm touch to the black leather upholstery gracing the armchairs.
At the end of the lounge space, guests will reach the back of the bar where there are several dining tables with the setup geared for guests dining individually or in couples.
Here, guests are seated and order from a menu like in a proper restaurant. The menu is split up into 3 segments with a breakfast menu, a menu for smaller plates and in-between meals and an a-la-carte menu.
There was several daily specials listed on the chalkboard nearer to the open kitchen as well as several cold cuts, cheeses and desserts to choose from in the bar area.
Since I was not hungry yet after a nice lunch onboard my arriving flight, I just requested for some berries from the bar with a selection of bar snacks and pralines. I requested for a nice dessert wine to go with the sweet snacks and found a space to sit down.
At the start of my visit to this lounge, I had requested for a shower room since I wanted to refresh myself. There are up to 4 private bathrooms all fitted with a shower and named after Swiss cities.
Inside the bathroom it was a standard sized bathroom like in most hotels with a vanity counter that has enough space to hold the bathrobe, and an amenity kit that will be provided to guests requesting for a shower room. On the counter, guests could also find a hand soap and dental kit with a glass while a wall clock showing off Swiss’ tie-up with Breitling informs guests of the time.
Besides the countertop, there was a toilet and a shower area with a transparent glass door. The sleek shower cubicle features both a hand held and rain shower which is all that is needed for a quick refreshing shower.
Next to the area for the bathroom and restrooms, guests will find a row of 4 private work cubicles. Each cubicle has a wooden ledge with power outlets and a desk lamp with a swivelling chair and a sliding glass door to provide more privacy when working, as well as to prevent from disturbing other guests when using the phone.
The other facilities inside this lounge can be found a staircase away as the floor space is split up into a mezzanine area. This space is accessed from the side of the bar area and also leads to the limo transfer for guests departing out of Concourse E.
Up there, guests can find a smoker’s lounge with several sofas and armchairs.
A nice piece of aviation artwork featuring Swiss livery is displayed with a chaise lounge to occupy the walkway space here and it was a nice touch.
There was also a medium sized room that seems setup for a meeting or conference room for business groups. There was several chairs grouped around an elliptical table with an Eames lounge chair at the back to make a comfortable yet stylish meeting space.
And since the mezzanine floor has even less people than the main lounge floor, there was a couple of cubicles with recliner chairs that guests could use for a short nap.
After spending about an hour or so in this lounge, I decided to move to the First Class Lounge at Concourse E which is supposed to be larger and even better. That was when I informed the lounge staff and she arranged for me to head to the transfer area where a driver awaited me. As I passed the walkway, there was a conveniently located cabinet filled with bottled water. This was convenient for travellers that needs to get hydrated on the go as I find myself requiring this often.
While Swiss does not actively promote this shuttle, the airline actively does this for premium passengers with a tight connection as well as I have written before when I have a connection in under 50 minutes, and that was when I travelled in Business Class. This time around, there was 1 staff member coming with me on the ride on the Mercedes van.
Swiss First Class Lounge at Concourse E
I was dropped off at the ground floor and took the elevator with the staff member escorting me to the lounge. At the foyer to the lounge, there was yet another set of reception area though this time there was really no need to check for my credentials and the first thing I asked for was one of their private rooms for guests.
Turns out there was no need to rush since I was the only guest in the lounge in the afternoon on this slow day. I was assigned the room ‘Montreux’ and the private rooms are again named after notable Swiss cities. First thing inside the room guests will notice is a bench with the bathrobes neatly folded and placed on it. There was again hangers on top which is useful for hanging your coats.
Next to the bench was a transparent glass covered bathroom. The whole layout is reminiscent of an airport hotel except there are no overnighting guests here. For those sharing the day rooms, there are fortunately curtains that can cover the space and the room as it overlooks the tarmac.
Inside the bathroom which is designed for disabled guests, there was a white vanity counter with built-in sinks. There was 2 sets of glasses with dental kits and amenity kits inside which meant the day room was designed for couples in mind. There was also a hand soap like in the shower rooms at the First Class lounge in Concourse A.
The shower area here has a glass partition and no doors with the toilet placed beside it. This design certainly made for more water splash but given the design for accessibility in mind, I figured it is understandable.
And the main feature of this room would be the double bed that is so comfortable that I could probably do not mind staying here overnight. There is an armchair as well at the corner if you want to sit down and read with a TV hanging from the wall across from the bed.
On the ledge above the bed, there was reading lights and a tray containing a bottle of still and sparkling water with can openers, glasses and Swiss chocolates. Eyeshades are also provided since the all glass design of this room provides plenty of natural light entering the room.
Occupying the top floor of the Airport Concourse, there was a nice view of the planes docked here since they are mainly larger wide-body jets like the Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s and A380s.
After securing my private room and placing my hand luggage inside the room, I went on to explore the rest of the lounge. Like the other lounge, there was a champagne bar featured in the center of the lounge.
Lining the whole wall on the left of the entryway was a wine rack and this adds to a nice grand entrance like that to a luxury restaurant and lounge.
Towards the left section of the lounge, there are dining booths which can easily seat families travelling together. The back of the dining booths is a wooden slat partition that splits up the restaurant section. At the other end lies more traditional dining section with a long bench by the partition and tables setup for 2 people, though the tables could be easily moved to seat groups of 4 or more. Power outlets in the various international configurations were placed at the top of the bench so it makes it easy for business travellers to get their laptop charged while having a meal here.
As I got seated in the restaurant, I was offered another menu. This menu was different from the one in Concourse A and featured different dishes and has a special theme menu. During my visit there was special dishes from the canton of Ticino.
The other 2 sections are a breakfast menu and an a-la-carte menu. On top of these, the server mentioned the soup of the day and Chef’s choice special that they have. Soup of the day was carrot soup with ravioli while the main course Chef’s special was beef stroganoff with pasta on the side.
After taking my orders, the server came back and poured me my water and handed out a small amuse bouche which was sliced octopus with tuna topped with cheese.
Then it was followed with the carrot soup and fried ravioli akin to spring rolls served on the sides. The soup was tasty and it was presented very well with a dash of cream. The sides of ravioli was enjoyable too as it was served with a blob of horseradish dip that fit well with the taste of the duck in the ravioli. Definitely a starter worthy of being in a restaurant.
For the main course, I ordered the Chef’s special since I was reminiscing one of my favourite foods I had in Switzerland which was a beef stroganoff dish. The dish turned out well and the taste of the beef stroganoff was a bit salty but the meat was tender and had plenty of flavour. If I was nitpicking, perhaps the pasta was a bit underwhelming since I think it just lacked a bit of butter.
To end the meal, I was provided with another menu showing the range of ice cream flavours available. While they did not have my initial choice of maple walnut, I was happy enough with the chocolate and coffee flavoured ice cream that I asked for second helpings. After all who says no to second servings of ice cream?
And if one has more stomach for desserts, there was an open tray from the magazine shelf beside the bar area that consisted of small servings of mousse, tarts and pastries.
From the bar itself, there was a wide range of beverages that guests could order including champagne and fine wines. Soft drinks, juices and liquors are available as well, along with coffee and tea. Some of the highlights have got to be a nice range of whisky such that guests could have a tasting at the bar if they have the time.
On the other side of the bar, there are segmented seating spaces, some with a TV setup and there are more of the same wooden partition that demarcates the space so as to give more privacy.
In addition, there are more informal seating spaces in the lounge like a chaise lounge for reclining and reading a book, and some stool chairs with a telescope setup for the airplane spotting since the vantage position of the lounge gave plenty of opportunities to view landings and take-offs in the airport. Basically it felt like being in one’s own living room so if that was the design criterion, it worked!
At the end of the lounge seating space, there is a wall that creates a long meeting room with a long wooden table and power outlets in the middle with armchairs around it. This provides the space for co-workers to sit down and do some work if required. Located in the corner and shielded by walls, the space is private enough for working though it would have been better should doors were installed.
With all the space inside, it might be adequate for an airport lounge, though what made the space even more stunning was the outdoor deck that are accessible from several doors around the lounge. This outdoor terrace wraps around the whole lounge even though if not all the space is open to guests, but most of the open spaces are adequate for guests to obtain a vantage viewpoint of the landing and take-off from this airport. Armed with a tele-photo lens, this outdoor deck is a plane-spotter’s heaven.
Needless to say, I spent some time outside in this deck taking photos of planes taking off and landing in the sunset. Below are some of the shots I took.
There are even outdoor seating spaces here for guests to unwind and enjoy the fresh air in Switzerland before departing. In the summer this would be a nice space, even though the winter might see this space under-utilized. On the sides, there are benches which is slightly more sheltered from the winds so they might be a spot to get some outdoor air in the winter.
As someone who enjoys good food, likes planes and can get comfortable at home, the Swiss First Class lounges are one of the finest to grace any airport. The choice of furnishings and the selection of food and beverages provided are above average while the amenities all provide comfort and convenience and many more. The only thing I noticed was that as I prepared for boarding, there was just a cursory good-bye and have a safe flight along with some Swiss chocolates to send me off. There was no private transfer to the plane or an escort because as I left the lounge, I was just another premium passenger.
In this case, while the First Class lounge was faultless as an airport lounge, it was not comparable to the full range of services that the Lufthansa First Class Terminal provides since it provides chauffeured service to your next flight. This, though, just shows the barrier there is to creating a First Class lounge, and while the day rooms in Swiss are nicer, I cannot help but think the seamless transition to the next flight is as important for a lounge. Even though my departing gate is just a mere elevator ride and a minute walk away from the lounge and I certainly did not need the chauffeur service but perhaps an escort to get me to the front of the line would be nice to have.