Review: The GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport

Introduction: A Quick Jaunt On Saudia, Jet, And Tunisair
Review: Korean Air First Class Lounge New York JFK Airport
Review: Saudia First Class 777-300ER New York To Riyadh
Review: Saudia First Class Lounge Riyadh Airport
Review: Saudia First Class 777-300ER Riyadh To Dubai
Review: Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights
Review: Marhaba Lounge Dubai Airport
Review: SkyTeam Lounge Dubai Airport
Review: Jet Airways Business Class 737 Dubai To Mumbai
Review: GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport
Review: Jet Airways First Class 777-300ER Mumbai To London
Review: Yotel London Heathrow Terminal 4
Review: SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Tunisair A320 Business Class London To Tunis
Review: Sheraton Tunis
Review: Tunis Airport Lounge
Review: Tunisair Business Class A330 Tunis To Montreal


My flight from Dubai arrived shortly before 8PM, while my connecting flight to London was departing at 1:45AM. At the door of the plane I was met by two Jet Airways representatives, who would be escorting me to the departures area. This is an area where Air India also excelled, when I connected with them in first class at Delhi Airport.

A porter carried my bags, while another person escorted me. It was a long walk from the arrival gate to transit security, and even walking at a fast pace it took over 10 minutes. On the plus side, there was no queue at the security checkpoint. I suppose perhaps it would have been more interesting if there were, to see if they could offer a line cut.

Eventually I was through security (which was thorough), and found myself in the gorgeous Terminal 2 departures area.


Mumbai Airport Terminal 2


Mumbai Airport Terminal 2

At this point the escort said “you can use the GVK Lounge, but only four hours before departure. We will pick you up again when it is time to board for London” Okay, so on one hand I guess I can’t blame Jet Airways for that, since they’re using a contract lounge that presumably has rules they have to comply with. At the same time, being picked up planeside by two people and then being told you don’t have lounge access yet is a bit unusual.

So I briefly used a Priority Pass lounge to get caught up on work, and then at 9PM headed over to the GVK Lounge. Technically this was 4hr45min before departure, but ultimately I’d be in the lounge for less than four hours, so…

As I hinted at above, Mumbai Airport has an interesting lounge setup. Rather than having each airline operate their own first & business class lounge, they have a shared lounge for all passengers. Typically I find contract lounges to be underwhelming, since the lounge operator doesn’t have all that much of an incentive to provide a great experience. However, this was very different.

The lounge had a grand entrance, with the reception desk located immediately inside the entrance. The associate checking me in didn’t bat an eyelid at my arrival time, and as I was in first class, she walked me into the lounge, provided me a brief explanation of the services, etc.


GVK Lounge entrance Mumbai Airport

She also stamped my boarding pass to indicate that I was in first class. In a bit I’ll talk more about what special privileges first class passengers get, but in the meantime everything I’ll share is open to both business and first class passengers.


GVK Lounge first class stamp Mumbai Airport

The lounge had a lovely design for a variety of reasons:

  • There were many different seating zones, depending on what you prefer
  • The lounge had a bunch of partitions between zones to add a sense of privacy
  • The decor was gorgeous and had a sense of place

Inside the entrance was the main room of the lounge.


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport

There were several more seating areas. I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves.


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge seating Mumbai Airport

The lounge also had several massage chairs, which looked inviting, except for how disgusting the area was where you place your head, as it was discolored — you’d think they’d place disposable covers there, like they do on airplanes.


GVK Lounge relaxation chairs Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge recliner seats Mumbai Airport

Then there was a small business center with some iMacs and a printer.


GVK Lounge business center Mumbai Airport

There was also a gorgeous bar, with alcoholic drinks, freshly made coffee drinks, etc.


GVK Lounge bar Mumbai Airport

The bathrooms in the lounge were very well maintained, probably thanks to the full time bathroom attendant stationed inside the bathroom. While I appreciate a clean bathroom, I always find it a bit awkward when there’s someone “stationed” in there.


GVK Lounge bathroom Mumbai Airport

I figured I’d get a shower in shortly after arriving in the lounge, and fortunately that was available.

The shower room was large and well designed, and the shower had good temperature control and water pressure.


GVK Lounge shower room Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge shower room Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge shower room Mumbai Airport

There were individual bottles of shampoo and shower gel, as well as body lotion.


GVK Lounge toiletries Mumbai Airport

In terms of food, the lounge had a buffet that all passengers had access to, which looked solid.


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge buffet Mumbai Airport

You could either grab food at the buffet and go into the rest of the lounge, or else there was a dedicated dining area.

GVK Lounge dining area Mumbai Airport

If you’re traveling in first class, you have access to a dedicated sit-down restaurant, located at the far end of the lounge. To get in you have to show your stamped boarding pass.


GVK Lounge first class dining area Mumbai Airport

The dining area had about a dozen tables, along with about half a dozen seats for relaxing. This area was also quieter than the rest of the lounge, and for the entire time I was there, I was the only passenger.


GVK Lounge first class dining area Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge first class dining area Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge first class dining area Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge first class section Mumbai Airport

I was quickly greeted by a very nice server who presented me with a menu. He asked if he could get me something to drink, and I ordered a glass of champagne. They serve Moet & Chandon, which is pretty nice for a contract lounge.


GVK Lounge Moet & Chandon display Mumbai Airport


GVK Lounge first class dining — Moet & Chandon champagne

I was also asked if I wanted a fresh coconut. How cool is that?!


GVK Lounge first class dining — fresh coconut

I was presented with the super extensive menu, which read as follows:

I asked the server for recommendations (stating my general preference for Indian food) about what to order, which may have been a mistake. I’m excited about Indian food when I’m in India, though I realize he may be more excited about Western food, given that he probably eats Indian food all the time.

So I figured I’d split the difference to really test the quality of the food, and ordered a Western starter and Indian main.

For my starter I ordered the pan fried sage and ricotta gnocchi. The dish was good, but it wasn’t amazing.


GVK Lounge first class dining — pan fried sage and ricotta gnocchi

The same is true of the main course I ordered, which was the non-veg tandoori platter.


GVK Lounge first class dining — non-veg tandoori platter

I had a side of garlic naan to go along with it.


GVK Lounge first class dining — garlic naan

For dessert I ordered the signature chocolate molten cake, per the server’s recommendation. It was pretty good, though I regretted not getting an Indian dessert instead.


GVK Lounge first class dining — chocolate “molten” cake

The service in the restaurant was great. The guy serving me was so friendly, and clearly very proud of the service they provided, which was nice to see. However, he also said towards the end of the meal “if you want to give me something, that is fine too.” That’s not especially tactful, if you ask me…

He also asked if I could fill out a “feedback form,” which consisted of him handing me an iPad with a blank page in the “Notes” app.

His shift was over towards the end of the meal, and the lady replacing him was attentive as well. Three minutes later she asked if I could provide some feedback, and when I said I had already done so, service became a bit less attentive.

I know in India “feedback” in the service industry is important, but as a customer I found the whole thing a bit uncomfortable. Still, overall the service was great, and this is such a cool thing for them to offer in the first place.

One of the other cool features of this lounge is that it has a spa. Business class passengers get a complimentary 15 minute treatment, while first class passengers get a complimentary 30 minute treatment.


GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport spa

In addition to the complimentary treatments, you can pay for a longer treatment:


GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport spa pricing


GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport spa pricing

I asked about scheduling my 30 minute treatment, and the lady at reception tried quite aggressively to upsell me. “You still have time before flight, why don’t you get longer treatment?” “I still have work to do before the flight, I don’t have that much time.” “Oh c’mon you deserve to relax.”

Eventually she agreed to schedule me the 30 minute complimentary treatment. I asked for a foot massage, which was done in a shared area with several seats next to one another. Fortunately it was empty when I got my massage, because earlier I had seen people loudly talking on their phone while getting massages, which I would have found annoying.


GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport spa

The massage was great, though once again at the end of the treatment my therapist tried to upsell me again. “Do you want to extend?” “No that’s fine, thank you.” “Are you sure?”

After my massage I ordered an Americano and decided to work a bit longer.


GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport coffee

At around 12:45AM the Jet Airways porter and escort came back to fetch me and bring me to my departure gate. My flight was departing from gate 72, located at the far end of the concourse.


Walking to departure gate Mumbai Airport

It was about a 10 minute walk, and right as I arrived boarding began, at around 12:55AM.


Mumbai Airport departure gate

GVK Lounge Mumbai bottom line

This is easily the nicest contract lounge I’ve ever been to. Mumbai Airport did an incredible job with this lounge, as it’s a treat for both business and first class passengers. The complimentary massage for all passengers, as well as sit down dining area for first class passengers, is awesome.

The lounge has a few areas for improvement — I found the service to be pushy, the food quality could have been a bit better, etc. — but all around this is an awesome lounge.

If you’ve visited the GVK Lounge Mumbai, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Great review, again!

    Just a question, do you have any plans to fly domestic in the US anytime soon? Your Delta review for the 737 is pretty outdated (2011) and I was curious if you plan to fly with them again anytime soon.

  2. I always wonder when I read reviews like this: what is the rule about tipping? Sure in the restuarant and for the massage I’d tip – tho how do you decide how much ? And the porters and “escorts” who pick you up and drop you off – is it expected that you tip? Is it frowned upon? As a New Yorker I tip for all sorts of things, but as a first class passenger being provided a service that’s part of the ticket price… it just confuses me. At some point it get annoying to have to tip someone every time you turn around for setviesd that are ostensibly “included in the price”. So what is the correct protocol? What is expected? Thanks!

  3. @KyKatRo Well, Lucky flies domestically quite often but is there really anything worth writing about? Aside from transcons with premium service on AA,DL, UA, B6 and VA, it’s basically recliner seats and a short meal/snack service.

  4. Wow! They even served Nasi Goreng?

    Then again, rice and the spice is pretty abundant in India….

  5. GVK lounge jet airways uses for intl business class passengers is the east lounge. you were in the west lounge which it uses for first only. on the other hand, emirates uses the lounge you were in for both first and business class passengers. The reason this is important is because the east lounge has stopped the 15 min complimentary massage facilities and is just a tad bit less opulent (dont get me wrong, it is still really nice) than the west lounge. even ANA, etihad and a few others I think use the east lounge. The west lounge is the better one. passengers dont know about this and can feel cheated if they find out! jet airways – 3 star skytrax – I would expect them to do this but for ANA (5 star) to cheap out is SAD.

  6. I believe the lounge’s 4 hour rule is airline specific. When we tried to overnight in the lounge, the lounge attendant provisionally let us in, but then hunted us down and kicked us out after contacting Jet Airways to confirm that we were allowed to enter only 4 hours before our flight. Presumably then, the airline pays the lounge by the hour per passenger.

  7. Is there a reason why airlines don’t have or aren’t allowed to have individual loungers at this airport? Just curious.

  8. @Julia That’s because Mumbai Airport is owned by GVK. So they know that allowing airlines to set their own lounge would not be profitable for them. Thus they use a single lounge for all airlines.

  9. @julia @terminal48
    And another reason is Mumbai airport does not have space anymore, and it is congested. Imagine around 50 million passengers fly through one terminal T2 every year. So they try to conserve and optimize space, and keep everything simple and opulent at the same time.. which GVK has done brilliantly. Mumbai T2 is by far the most beautiful terminal I have ever seen!

  10. I have visited the Mumbai Airport Lounge as a First class passenger, twice. Once flying on Etihad and once on Jet Airways. For me this was the best experience I ever had at any First Class Lounge in the world, contract or not. It was simply superb. And the food was incredible. I think you just ordered the wrong food Lucky.

  11. Ugh I hate pushy service. Its like they look at me being a white traveller and expect me to make it rain money on them for services I dont want.

  12. Menu looks amazing – if you so wanted you could actually have lobster for soup, appetizer and mains!

  13. I hope you got to walk around the airport a bit because the art is superb! I’ve never seen art like this in any airport that’s for sure! I once took a flight that exited from Mumbai just so I could walk around and stare gobsmacked at the beautiful art on display. GVK Airport also maintains the premises quite well (but yes discoloured patches on the recliners are ugh); I currently live in India and find that while we have some of the best artisans and creative vision, our ability to maintain these treasures as time passes could be better! The art in the airport stopped me in my tracks. You have to see it to believe it–the scale, craftsmanship, colour, etc. Here’s a link:
    http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/oP1DXgYt63n6hMzJN0xBYK/The-museum-of-departure.html

  14. You appear to have been very lucky — as most of the “Long Haul” flights leave Mumbai early in the morning. When I passed at 1 – 30 AM there was nowhere to sit and the standing room was very full also — the people did warn me of the situation — but the situation did not improve until closer to 3 AM — after some of these LH flights were to or had left.
    An empty lounge would have been as you described.

  15. I concur with Rithwik – this is a top lounge, I have not tried anything like it either. I have travelled a lot in India, and from Indian standards, the food Quality in the lounge is superb. Talking about contract lounges: I tried the No 1 Lounge in Birmingham a month back, and it was a huge positive surprise. It featured a la carte dining and superbly served drinks. It may perhaps be the best business class lounge I’ve visited in Europe. I would love to see Luckys’ review of that lounge.

  16. So glad to see your thorough review Ben! I visit the domestic or international GVK lounges atleast 25 times a year. I mentioned your initial review to the lounge manager on the domestic side a couple of weeks ago. I am going to this lounge (on the international side) in a few hours – will show your review to the lounge manager. So exciting that you finally visited Mumbai! 🙂

  17. 1) Long walk on arrival – long walk at departure: the solution lies in using GVK Pranaam Services. It costs – but you get picked up in a buggy with a dedicated person who will bring you thru Immigration, Baggage Claim, Security, Transfer – whatever. Likewise on departure you can get the same personalized service. Why use this if you are flying First Class? Because F does not bring you a buggy and creates the kind of time limit you experienced (4 hour) at the lounge. I am sure with GVK Pranaam you would have gone straight into the lounge or another one of their private lounges (they have several!) which would have been better than the Priority Pass lounge

    2) if you fly SWISS or EMIRATES you get to access the dedicated F sitting area on the lounge if you are flying in F. But if you are flying Lufthansa – even in F – you only get to access the Business Class sitting area. Same group – diff. policies. Shame on LH.

    3) If a server “suggests” a tip…..its a recipe for INSURING that he/she does NOT get one. GVK should be made aware of your experience with both servers. As also they should be made aware of the disgusting “headrests” of the massage chairs. Its something that is so easy for them to fix.

    4) Protocol on tipping at a lounge: we have often had exceptional service at LH/LX lounges (their own dedicated ones) around the world where we have spontaneously tipped a server or attendant for exceptional service. Unless the spirit moves you – don’t tip!

    5) Food quality: fully agree with you. Good – but by no means exceptional.

  18. Small clarification. I’m at the business class side of the GVK lounge right now – flying economy but Star Gold. They do offer massages for everyone admitted to the lounge including economy passengers. On a side note, couple of staff were quite pumped to read your review.

  19. Where is the limit? Should you also tip a stewardess who does her job properly?! I guess that could happened on Jet. On the other hand, what could you do when you receive below-average service on the airplane?!

    And I also do mind with evaluation of the service on spot, hence pushy service. (for example I’m a member of AIr France programme to do evaluations of the flights, lounges and services – all is done through an app and nobody knows that they are being evaluated).

  20. @lucky If I arrive in First Class on Etihad and depart in Business Class on Jet. Will I have access to the First class lounge here?

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