When a business lounge is a destination

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If the dozens of newspapers on offer at the lounge aren't enough to keep customers informed, this 12-screen media area should.
If the dozens of newspapers on offer at the lounge aren't enough to keep customers informed, this 12-screen media area should. Photo Credit: TW photo by Robert Silk

ISTANBUL -- If your hotel offered amenities such as conference rooms, an art museum, a library, a tearoom, a golf simulator and a wide variety of outstanding food, you might think the place was off to a good start, right?

So that might be why I jokingly asked my guide during a recent tour of the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge at the new Istanbul Airport if it was possible to just stay there, rather than taking lodging in the city. After all, the lounge also offers 13 bedrooms for day rest and 12 private shower rooms.

More seriously, though, after seeing the lounge, I made a decision to get to the airport extra early for my flight the next day. Frankly, I didn't want to miss out on the breakfast.

A self-playing grand piano greets patrons as they enter the lounge.
A self-playing grand piano greets patrons as they enter the lounge. Photo Credit: TW photo by Robert Silk

The new Istanbul Airport, which went into full operation in April, is a hulking facility with a current capacity for 90 million passengers per year. Plans call for a capacity of as much as 200 million at the time of final build-out around 2028. At nearly 818 million square feet, the existing facility is already the largest single airport terminal in the world.

The duty-free areas alone measure 775,000 square feet. There are over 150 food and beverage locations. High-end retailers include Cartier, Armani, Louis Vuitton and many others. Getting from the gate to immigration required a walk of close to 20 minutes for me, though it could have been a bit quicker if I had used the conveyor belts. (The airport has no interior train system.)

In such an outsized environment, I found the also-outsized Turkish Airlines Business Lounge to be both a pleasant spot of respite and comprehensively the best airport lounge I've ever been in.

Mousaffa was among the outstanding items on offer at the lounge on a recent evening.
Mousaffa was among the outstanding items on offer at the lounge on a recent evening. Photo Credit: TW photo by Robert Silk

I especially enjoyed the food, which in a country of great food, still stood out.

Offerings at breakfast included a wide assortment of fresh breads, yogurts and salads. There were seven types of cheese and nine type of olives. There was an omelet station and an egg station, and a broad selection of juices.

The afternoon before, during my tour, I'd seen that the dinner offerings were just as extensive. I almost got left at the lounge, in fact, because I couldn't pull myself away from the outstanding moussaka.

One of the various dining areas in the lounge.
One of the various dining areas in the lounge. Photo Credit: TW photo by Robert Silk

The lounge's art gallery features a selection of eight works on loan from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. The library offers dozens of newspapers from Turkey and around the world. There's a media room with 12 side-by-side screens set into the wall. Along with the conference rooms, business travelers can take advantage of various cushioned desk cubicles. And the lounge even has separate prayer rooms for Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Ahead of my 11:30 a.m. flight that day, I had intended to try out the electric car track. It resides in the children's area of the lounge, but looked plenty fun for adults, too. Unfortunately, I ran out of time. But I did manage to get in some swings at the golf simulator -- not a bad way to loosen up for a long flight.

The Turkish Airlines Business Lounge at Istanbul Airport is open to those holding a business class ticket on Turkish or another Star Alliance carrier.

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