Review: Marhaba Lounge Dubai Airport

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A friend dropped me off at Dubai Airport Terminal 1 shortly after 11AM, plenty early for my 3:10PM flight to Mumbai. I had a bit of work to catch up on and also wanted to review a couple of lounges, so I left plenty of time.


Dubai Airport Terminal 1 check-in hall

Unfortunately this turned into a bit of an issue at check-in. Even though the Jet Airways check-in counter was open, they insisted I couldn’t yet check-in for my flight (and for whatever reason I couldn’t check-in online). However, after asking again and explaining I only had hand baggage, they eventually let me check-in, after a roughly 20 minute wait.


Jet Airways check-in Dubai Airport

Dubai’s Terminal 1 is quite empty during the day, so there were no queues at immigration or security. I found myself airside within five minutes of when my boarding pass was issued. Once airside I had to take a train to get to the part of the terminal where the lounges and gates are located.


Dubai Airport Terminal 1 airside

I followed the signage in the direction of the lounges, which are all located in one area on the second level of the terminal.


Dubai Airport Terminal 1 lounges

I was amused by the solution the airport had for pretending that the Qatar Airways lounge never existed on the lounge directory — that’s quite an interesting situation.


Dubai Airport Terminal 1 lounges

Jet Airways uses the Marhaba Lounge for their premium cabin passengers, which is also a Priority Pass lounge. As a reminder, here’s a table with some of the major credit cards offering Priority Pass memberships, as well as their respective guesting rules:

Card# Of Guests Who Get Free AccessAuthorized User AccessCost To Add Authorized User
The Platinum Card® from American Express2Yes$175 For Up To 3 People, $175 For Each Additional Person Beyond That
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN2Yes$300 Per Person
Citi Prestige® Card2 Guests Or Immediate Family MembersYes$50 Per Person
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit CardUnlimited GuestsYes$0
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ CardUnlimited GuestsYes$75 Per Person

At the entrance I presented my boarding pass and invitation, and was promptly admitted.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge Terminal 1 exterior

The lounge itself was reasonably decent, at least compared to some of the other outdated lounges I’ve visited in the Middle East in the past. The furniture was at least reasonably modern and in good condition.

Near the entrance was a small seating area with maybe a couple of dozens seats.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating

Past that was the biggest part of the lounge, which consisted of dozens upon dozens of seats. Most were arranged as small dining tables with two seats each.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating

Then off to the side were some padded leather chairs for relaxing.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating

In the back of the lounge was yet another small room with maybe a couple of dozen seats.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating

The weirdest part of the lounge was what was past that. There was a glass door leading to another room with no signage, which had plenty of seating.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating

That led to yet another room. However, as I got there an associate came running up to me to ask which airline I was flying. When I told her Jet Airways, she said I wasn’t allowed to use this lounge. Very odd, as there seemed to be a lounge within a lounge, though there’s not actually any signage as to where one lounge ends and the next one starts.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge seating

When I first arrived the lounge was fairly full, but it emptied out quite a bit by 1PM.

Back towards the entrance of the lounge was a self serve buffet. There was a selection of liquor, water, soft drinks, and wine.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge drink selection


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge drink selection


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge drink selection

Then there was a reasonably decent food selection.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet

There was salad, pasta, finger sandwiches, wraps, yogurt, sweets, whole fruit, etc.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet

There was also a selection of about half a dozen hot dishes. I generally try not to eat hot food in contract lounges, so I only took a few pictures — the food for the most part wasn’t my taste, but didn’t look bad.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet

Then there was a selection of Arabic coffee, juice, and packaged carbs.


Dubai Airport Marhaba Lounge buffet

I spent about an hour in the lounge getting caught up on work, and then headed over to the nearby SkyTeam lounge so I could review that, given that it’s also part of Priority Pass.

With my flight scheduled to depart at 3:10PM, I headed to my departure gate at around 2PM. My flight was departing from gate D18, which was a ways from the lounges. It was about a 10 minute walk, and that’s with walking at a very fast pace.


Dubai Airport Terminal 1 Concourse D


Dubai Airport Terminal 1 Concourse D

There were two Jet Airways flights departing just minutes apart (one to Delhi and one to Mumbai) from adjacent gates, which caused a bit of confusion among passengers. At 2:15PM boarding began, a full 55 minutes before departure. There wasn’t an announcement, but rather they just started letting people onboard, so I quickly followed, in hopes of snagging some cabin pictures.


Dubai Airport departure gate

Marhaba Lounge Dubai bottom line

There are Marhaba Lounges in Terminals 1, 2, and 3, which I believe makes them the largest operator of contract lounges at the airport. Ultimately this was a perfectly fine contract lounge. I’ve certainly been to nicer contract lounges, though I’ve also been to much worse ones. At least this lounge had reasonably modern furniture, was clean and spacious, and had functioning wifi. I wouldn’t arrive early to spend any time in the lounge, though it’s also not a bad place to kill some time.

Stay tuned for the next installment, to see how the SkyTeam lounge compares.

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Comments

  1. Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the check-in staff to explain which areas are accessible for your pass and which are off limits? Expecting visitors to guess doesn’t say marhaba to them. How clean were the restrooms?

  2. Hey Lucky, Long time Lurker here. What’s up with the “Reguarding Comments” comments. It seems new or am I wrong?Have you been getting hassled?

  3. That ‘lounge-within-a-lounge’ is nice, and a fair bit quieter than the main one. I was escorted to that lounge a couple of weeks ago when I was J on Oman Air to Muscat.

  4. “Expecting visitors to guess doesn’t say marhaba to them”

    That doesn’t make sense…since you are saying “Expecting visitors to guess doesn’t say hello to them”. Hello isn’t an explanation lol

  5. Jacinda, I think he meant that it wasn’t very welcoming of the staff to not explain (which is ironic considering the very welcoming name of the lounge).

  6. Hey Lucky. I was travelling VA Upper Class from Dubai to LHR, and was led through the main lounge towards the other one at the back. In the other lounge – they had Virgin uniforms and signs, but food/drink selection looked like the same. Quite odd.

  7. @Lucky Why do you “generally not try to eat hot food in contract lounges”? I know what you are trying to say but what is the difference really between hot food in contract lounges and ones in an airline specific lounge? Chances are they are made in the same kitchen with similar ingredients. Is the thought that actual airline lounges invest more money into better food than the contract lounges?

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