Introduction: A Rare First Class Opportunity
Review: Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340 Los Angeles To Paris
Review: Hilton Zurich Airport
Review: New Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich Airport
Review: Swiss First Class 777 Zurich To Los Angeles
My flight from Zurich to Los Angeles was departing at 1:10PM, though I got to the airport at around 5:30AM, about eight hours before departure. Why on earth would I do that?
- I had heard great things about the new Swiss lounge, so wanted to be sure I could photograph it as much as possible before there were other guests; arriving right when the lounge opens is one of the best ways to do that
- Possibly the greatest amenity in the Swiss first class lounge is that it has private bedrooms you can sleep in, which looked so cool; since I didn’t sleep well at the Hilton, I figured I’d instead sleep in one of those rooms, so I could truly experience what the lounge had to offer
I arrived at Zurich Airport right at around 5:30AM, when it was basically still deserted. Clearing security took only a couple of minutes, and from there I followed the signage towards the E Concourse, which is where most of Swiss’ longhaul flights depart from, and also where their new first class lounge is located.
This required taking the train that goes between terminals, which is always rather enjoyable, given the sound effects in the train — there are cows mooing and also yodeling.
On the other end I found myself in a deserted concourse. It was almost creepy, as I was the only person there, and you could have heard a pin drop. The first class lounge only opened at 6AM, so I sat in the gate area for about 15 minutes until it was time.
The lounge was located about halfway down the concourse, with limited signage. The Swiss First Lounge is one level above the main terminal, so you can go up by stairs or elevator.
At the entrance I was greeted by a really friendly guy who almost seemed surprised that they had a guest already. After scanning my boarding pass he commented on how I was early, and explained that they had nap rooms available. I asked if I could have breakfast and then get a nap room, which he agreed to, as he said he’d reserve one for me. I appreciated how proactive he was.
He also asked if I needed wifi, and then printed me out a customized wifi code — it’s odd that they print these out, rather than just having a universal password for the wifi.
He walked me past the double doors into the lounge, where I was greeted by a guy in a suit who I assume was the lounge manager, who gave me a brief tour of the lounge.
The new Swiss First Lounge isn’t huge, but it’s stunning. Near the entrance is a gorgeous wine display, as well as a table that acts as a champagne bar.
I’ll talk more about the champagne selection in a bit, but as you can see, they had several options.
Next to that was a rack with magazines and newspapers.
Past the champagne bar was the main bar, which sort of acted as the centerpiece of the lounge.
On one side of the bar was part of the dining area.
Then on the opposite side of the wooden partition was the main dining area, which featured almost a dozen tables. I loved how stylish the lounge was, and in particular the thoughtful finishes.
On the opposite side of the lounge was the area intended for lounging around. The seating was all along one main walkway, though there was plenty of privacy thanks to the number of partitions between sections, which basically meant everyone had a semi-private area to sit.
Several of the areas had couches and a TV, and almost felt like a living room.
As you’ll later see with my daylight pictures, the lounge has an incredible view of the runway, so there’s a telescope near the window, which is a cute touch.
At the very end of this area of seating was a communal table. I’m not sure if this was intended as a meeting room, for big groups traveling together, or what.
Before having breakfast I wanted to get a bit more work done, so I had a seat on one of the couches, and was quickly offered drinks. I ordered a still water and a cappuccino. The cappuccino was incredible, and they had Acqua Panna water, which I love. I was also served a cookie and two Lindt chocolates, which I skipped.
After working for about 20 minutes I headed to the restaurant for breakfast. The server proactively asked if I wanted another cappuccino, and offered me a choice of freshly squeezed juice. I ordered an orange juice, and both were served within minutes.
I was presented with the menu for the lounge, which was in a beautiful book with an airplane on the cover.
The breakfast menu read as follows:
I ordered the bircher muesli to start, which was delicious.
For the main I ordered a veggie and cheese omelet, which was fantastic.
I was also offered a selection of bread from a basket. I chose a roll. Initially I just selected it for the picture, but the roll was so fresh that I ate the whole thing without anything on it.
Around this time, the lounge attendant came up to me with the key for the bedroom I had reserved. There are two bedrooms available on a first come first serve basis, and I had the “St. Moritz” bedroom.
After finishing up breakfast I headed to the bedroom, located on the opposite side of the lounge.
Up until now the nicest lounge nap room I’ve been in has been at the Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge in Doha, which has private bedrooms. Well, the two bedrooms at the Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich are on a different level — wow! The room featured an extremely comfortable bed. This isn’t just some day bed or college dorm mattress, but rather it’s one of the most comfortable beds I’ve slept in, with incredible bedding.
The bedroom also had a luggage rack and TV across from the bed.
On the bedside were bottles of still and sparkling water, chocolate, a refreshing tissue, earplugs, and eyeshades.
Also next to the bed were international outlets, and even USB outlets.
There was a bathroom separated from the bedroom by a glass partition, which had a curtain you could pull for privacy.
The bathroom was beautiful, and featured a sink, toilet, and huge shower.
Toiletries in the bathroom were provided by Hammam Spa.
But as an aviation geek there’s an extra special treat in this lounge — the views. Where else do you get a bedroom in a lounge with a view of the gates and runway? The view was incredible.
I was so happy to have a comfortable place to rest, and managed to sleep for almost three solid hours. As someone who needs some sort of white noise when sleeping, the faint sound of jet engines put me right to sleep.
When I woke up I had even better views, given that it was now light outside. I was going to leave the bedroom right away, but had to stay for a bit longer and just watch planes. Two Swiss A330s pulled into gates right underneath my bedroom just minutes apart.
On top of that I had incredible views of the runway, as the lounge is right near the point where many planes start to rotate. This is aviation geek heaven!
After freshening up I headed back into the lounge. While on that side of the lounge, I also checked out the main restrooms, which still had great airport views.
Next to the restroom was a massive bowl of Lindt chocolate.
Back on the other side of the lounge I discovered one of the other cool amenities — a terrace.
Unfortunately it was quite cold (around the freezing point), so I only stayed out there briefly. There’s a long stretch you can walk around to look at planes.
Then along the side of the lounge is a ton of outdoor seating.
On a warm summer day I could imagine coming out here and just watching planes for hours.
After staying outside for as long as my warm-blooded self could handle (about two minutes), I headed back inside for a coffee and sparkling water. At this point the lounge was packed, as I was expecting, given the number of longhaul flights arriving and departing around this hour. I was so happy I arrived earlier, because I would have struggled to take pictures at that point.
While I wasn’t terribly hungry, I figured I’d have a light lunch in the restaurant. Even though the breakfast was great, a lunch or dinner does a much better job of highlighting the quality of lounge food. While I was the only guest in the restaurant area when I had breakfast, every table was taken this time around.
The all day dining menu read as follows:
As you can probably tell, the menu in the Swiss lounge consisted mostly of extravagant, carnivorous options — duck liver, tongue of veal, goose shanks, etc.
I had a caesar salad to start, which was perfectly portioned and incredibly flavorful.
I was also offered a selection from the breadbasket, and selected some pretzel bread.
Then I ordered the sautéed scallop, which was literally one scallop. It was excellent, and I was happy it was such a small portion, as the meal didn’t spoil my appetite for onboard.
I didn’t really feel like drinking, though took a look at the wine list anyway (since I figured some of you would want to know the selection, which was extensive).
The wine list read as follows:
I just ordered a glass of the Spanish sauvignon blanc, which was nice.
I wanted to briefly comment on the service in the restaurant, which applied for both breakfast and lunch. The service was precise, but at the same time felt very distant, without smiles or over the top friendliness you might find elsewhere. That sort of matches my general experience with service in Switzerland, so didn’t come as a surprise.
My flight was scheduled to board at 12:30PM, so at around 12:15PM I headed down to my departure gate, which was E19.
That was just a short walk away, at the end of the concourse. When I saw the signage indicating that gates E18-19 were down one level, I was concerned we were leaving from a remote stand.
Fortunately when I arrived on the lower level I found that these were actual gates, and weren’t remote, which was good.
The gate area was fairly crowded, and finally at 12:35PM boarding began, starting with first & business class.
The one thing I was sad about was the distance of the terminal to the plane, along with the frosted windows, which meant I couldn’t get a good picture of the exterior of the gorgeous plane from the window.
Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich bottom line
While I had visited the old Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich, the new one is in a completely different league. The lounge has a stunning design, with incredible dining and equally great amenities. The bedrooms in this lounge are hands down the nicest sleeping area you’ll find at any lounge in the world. On top of that, I loved the outdoor terrace, which seems like it could be awesome on a summer day.
On top of that, the attention to detail in the lounge was excellent. The cappuccino was among the best I’ve had anywhere, and it’s nice they always proactively offered water and chocolate with everything.
In the past I’ve created a list of the world’s best first class lounges, and I think it might be time for me to revisit that soon, because I think this lounge deserves a spot on the list.
This lounge is open to HON Circle members, as well as passengers traveling same day in Lufthansa or Swiss first class. Given that it’s normally not possible to redeem partner miles for Swiss first class, it could very well be worth routing through Zurich the next time you fly Lufthansa first class so you can experience this lounge (for example, if you’re flying from Vienna to New York, consider routing Vienna to Zurich to Frankfurt to New York, rather than just Vienna to Frankfurt to New York).
At the same time, there’s one area where I think Swiss drops the ball with their first class ground experience. While the lounge is spectacular, their ground services for first class passengers are otherwise limited. They don’t escort you from check-in to the lounge, or from the lounge to the gate. That’s fine.
However, what’s more annoying is that if you’re leaving from a different concourse they’ll drive you to that concourse in a car, but just to the central part of the terminal, rather than the gate. So the overall ground experiences don’t really compare the best in the world.
Still, the Swiss First Class Lounge itself is incredible, and well worth a visit for any lounge enthusiast.