The Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa at Abu Dhabi is one of the most beautiful lounges I have ever visited. With a design inspired by their “Facets of Abu Dhabi” branding, Etihad’s new flagship lounge epitomizes their re-imagined aesthetic with geometric design concepts, contrast materials and a sophisticated color palette that matches the Abu Dhabi landscape. The lounge is modern and elegant but still maintains the heritage of the Emirati culture.
Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa Access Policy
Located directly after the security checkpoint of the First Class Check-in lobby of Terminal 3, the 18,200 square feet Etihad First Class Spa and Lounge is open 24 hours a day. According to fellow UPGRD Editor, Matthew, access to the new Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa is limited to:
- Passengers departing Abu Dhabi on a first class Etihad flight.
- Passengers arriving in first class and continuing in business class have access if a first class tariff was paid for and the connecting flight does not offer a first class cabin.
- Passengers holding Etihad Guest Platinum Status (plus one guest).
- Passengers (plus one guest) in the following Etihad Airways Partner loyalty programs with top-tier status:
I will also add that Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum members are allowed access with one guest. Sorry American Airlines AAdvantage EP and oneworld elite members. You must be holding a first class ticket to enter. On this trip, I was traveling on an American Airlines award ticket from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne in Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment.
Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
The entryway of the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa is just stunning with its soft lighting and understated, chic design aesthetic. Inside, you’ll find the design theme continue through every corner of the lounge with warm colors, elegant materials and sophisticated finishes. But what makes the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa special isn’t just the decor, but rather it’s the service and hospitality of the dedicated staff that truly make this a 5-star experience.
Inside, there are 16 unique zones to provide guests with a variety of spaces to rest, relax and rejuvenate. You can relax in the TV room, share a drink with a colleague at the showcase bar or get a facial in the spa but there’s one thing Etihad really wants you to do and that’s eat.
Modeled after some of the finest dining establishments, there are three separate dining rooms that take up more than half the entire lounge space. The dining spaces are beautifully set with leather chairs, white linen and fine China and an open kitchen where dedicated chefs will prepare your meal with fresh, locally source ingredients. Instead of calling it the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa, it should have been named, the Etihad First Class Restaurant and Lounge.
The main seating area of the lounge is located after the dining area. The beautiful white leather armchairs look stunning against the contrast of wood, metal and glass and the large wall of floor-to-ceiling windows let in a ton of natural lighting to make the space feel open and inviting. There are views of the ramp and runway from here as well.
Along the back wall, there is a TV room with low armchairs for a more casual and social atmosphere. If you want to relax in a living room-like environment, this is the place for you.
And next to the TV room, there is an open rest area with several recliners and a large mood-lit video wall. This area is intended for rest and relaxation and the seats do recline but by no means is this a sleep area. The space is open to the rest of the lounge so noise will carry through here but the soft lighting and hypnotizing video wall actually created a calm and peaceful place to rest. Blankets and pillows are provided here if you want to get some shuteye. Note, I edited the photos below to add brightness and clarity to show detail in the space. The actual space is much more dim and conducive for rest.
Ironically, there are no day rooms or dedicated workspaces. You can technically sit down anywhere in the lounge to work but there is no business center or workspace to get any real work done. However, there are electrical outlets and USB ports by all the main seating areas and password protected WiFi is provided throughout the lounge. If you need to print anything out or conduct any other business functions, the lounge attendants can do that for you.
If you want a place to work, there is a small dining area located in the back of the lounge by the self-serve buffet area. Despite the lounge filling up with passengers, this area remained unused by anyone and was the quietest part of the lounge. I just used one of the tables as a desk for me to work on my laptop.
If you are a smoker, there is an air-filtered smoking room with TVs located in the back of the lounge. I walked in to take a picture and was amazed by how well the air filtration system worked. I’m very sensitive to the smell of cigarette smoke and I could not notice any lingering smell of smoke at all. I had to double check the sign outside to make sure this was a smoking room. If there’s no one smoking in here, I would almost recommend this as a quiet alternative to relax away from the noise of the main seating area.
If cigars are more your thing, there is an enclosed, air-filtered, cigar lounge with a complimentary selection of temperature and humidity controlled, Cuban cigars including brands such as Hoya de Monterray, Cohiba, Bolivar and Montecristo. Not a cigar aficionado like me? No worries. There is a dedicated cigar sommelier on hand to help you pick out the right cigar and alcoholic beverage to pair it with.
And speaking of alcoholic beverages, no alcohol was displayed in the lounge or served until 7:30 PM during Ramadan. However, you can eat and smoke anytime of the day. After 7:30 PM, the bottles of booze (75 different premium spirits, champagne and aperitifs) were proudly displayed against the showcase bar. At the bar, you can order from the main a la carte menu or a smaller bar menu with appetizers and canapes.
Etihad recently modified their spa services policy so first class passengers can now receive either a spa service (facial, massage, etc.) or style/shave service (manicure, haircut, etc.) but not both. There is a menu with prices if you would like to add any additional services but you can only receive one complimentary service.
Unlike the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Spa with their hour-long massages, the Etihad Six Senses Spa only provides complimentary 15-minute services. For an airline that provides top-notch offering, this seemed like an area where they really cheaped out on. I mean, British Airways First Class provides 15-minute spa services at their Elemis Spa and we all know how we feel about that!
If you traveling with kids, there is a separate kid’s play room for the kiddos and a nanny for the kids is included as well.
Inside the main lounge, there are two enclosed rooms that you can use if you want to have a little more privacy from the rest of your first class passengers. Those rooms are on a first come, first serve basis. Passengers flying in the Residence enjoy the exclusivity of their own private space located adjacent to the main lounge entrance. The secluded area boasts a private dining room, sitting area and shower room stocked with Acqua di Parma products. As a lowly First Class Apartment passenger, I was unable to get any pictures of that special space.
It may seem unnecessary to some people but I love that there is a small fitness center located in the lounge. It’s not much by any means but there are a few treadmills, elliptical machines and yoga mats here to get your heart pumping and muscles relaxed in between long-haul flights.
And as you would expect, there are private shower suites with wonderful rainfall shower heads.
There is a small buffet area set up in the back of the lounge with some bar stools but why would you eat there when there’s a dedicated dining area with a full a la carte menu? With a full menu of both traditional and Arabic cuisine curated by the famous Emirates Palace Hotel, I had to sit down and experience everything the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa had to offer. But as with all Etihad Lounges, you can order anything from anywhere in the lounge including any of the seating areas, relaxation rooms and bar areas.
Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa Dining
For my pre-flight meal, I chose a table in the main dining room and began with a foie gras starter.
This was followed by a mango sorbet, palette cleanser.
And then my main meal of red snapper with mashed potatoes.
For dessert, I had the camel’s milk panacota. I know the camel’s milk sounds weird but it was really delicious.
Service-wise, I was blown away by how friendly and attentive the international staff members were. Everyone I dealt with from the lounge attendants and bartenders to the massage therapists were all friendly, personable and helpful. No matter where I sat throughout my stay, there was a lounge attendant nearby to provide me with anything I wanted or needed. Nothing sat on the tables for longer than a few minutes and the space was immaculate. Flight announcements were made in the lounge but no escorts to the gate were provided.
Overall, I am in love with Etihad Airways and their brand new flagship lounge. The Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa at Abu Dhabi International is not perfect by any means but it does offer a fantastic pre-flight experience for their first class passengers. Sure there are no Lufthansa Porsche transfers to the gate or hour long Thai Airways massages but the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa still offers a truly competitive product and an overall aspirational experience. With its wonderful amenities, fine dining and attentive service, the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa was a joy to visit and an experience that I will not soon forget.
Other trip reports in this series include:
- Qantas oneworld Business Class Lounge
- American Airlines A321T Business Class, Los Angeles to New York
- Etihad Lounge at New York JFK
- Etihad A380 Business Class, New York to Abu Dhabi
- Etihad Arrivals Lounge at Abu Dhabi
- Hilton Abu Dhabi
- Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
- Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
- Qantas A330 Business Class, Melbourne to Perth to Sydney
- Qantas Business Class Lounge at Perth
- Qantas First Class Lounge and Spa at Sydney
- Qantas A380 First Class, Sydney to Los Angeles