I was looking forward to spending some time in the Istanbul lounge, and not just because I was already tired after my flight from Mt. Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. No, the lounge in Istanbul Atatürk Airport has a reputation, a very good one of being among the best in the world and I wanted to see for myself whether or not this was just hype or if it really is that amazing. Almost immediately I realized that the lounge earned that reputation and the architecture and the sheer size of it immediately bowled me over. To share what the experience of relaxing in the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul is really like, I thought I’d share these photos that show just how over the top amazing it really is.
The main lounge in Istanbul is more than 65,000 square feet across multiple levels and can accommodate thousands of people every day. That’s a far cry from the sometimes claustrophobic lounges I’ve experienced in all corners of the world. The lounge also has everything anyone could ever possibly need to while away the hours before your flight including: billiard hall, library, cinema, media walls, miniature model car and plane setups, virtual golf, private relaxation rooms, showers, on-call masseurs and enough food to feed a small city.
The first thing I noticed flying Business with Turkish Airlines was their strong commitment to food, and that certainly carries through to their lounge. Spread throughout the lounge are any number of stations, both large and small, with dedicated chefs all created some amazing dishes and snacks. Traditional Turkish meals, snacks and desserts are all on hand as is a great selection of international fare. A personal favorite was the baklava station, which, along with a cup of strong Turkish coffee, gave me more than enough energy to get through my layover.
Walking through the light and airy upstairs of the lounge I was suddenly met with a green and bright cafe, reminiscent of those fantastic tea gardens found throughout Istanbul. I couldn’t believe that I was still in the middle of an airport, and sitting down to enjoy a light snack transported me away from the confines of the industrial building to a much more calm and serene space. When is the last time you felt that way inside an airport?
My only regret with the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul was that I didn’t have enough time to enjoy it. It’s rare that an airport lounge makes such an impact, but it echoes what I observed throughout all of my flights onboard Turkish. This is an airline that takes pride in the small details and, when expertly executed, that creates a luxury experience very hard to find in today’s usually hectic world of travel.