Swiss Senator Lounge - Zurich
Today we're looking at one of my favourite business-class lounges anywhere in the world, Swiss / Lufthansa Group's Senator Lounge in the International wing at Zurich Kloten Airport.
Whether for their early adoption of the Bombardier C-Series / Airbus A220 regional jet, or their solid award availability and lack of fuel surcharges on Aeroplan award bookings, or the ability to leave Montreal after work and land at London City - not Heathrow - showered and refreshed, in time for a morning meeting, I'm a big Swiss fan, and this lounge is just one more reason why.
Located above the "E" gates, the Swiss lounge is split into three sections;
the First Lounge, reserved for passengers flying First Class or holding Swiss/Lufthansa HON Circle status, which requires over 200,000 miles of *paid* Business- or First-class travel on Swiss or Lufthansa for each of two years in a row;
the Business Lounge, for anyone flying Business class on a Star Alliance airline, and;
the Senator Lounge, reserved for passengers with Lufthansa/Swiss Senator or Star Alliance Gold status.
Access to the Business lounge can be purchased at 49 CHF (about $70 CAD) per person, but the Senator and First Class lounges are available only to qualifying passengers.
We'll visit the Senator lounge today, using my Air Canada 75K / Star Alliance Gold status.
It's a bright, airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows down both sides, and a wide variety of lounge and workspace seating.
In addition to a remarkably complete buffet of hot and cold items that feel like they were selected by chefs, not airline accountants, during breakfast hours the lounge features a pair of sous-chefs making eggs and omelettes to order.
It's a good thing I only fly through Zurich a few times a year; I could easily gain a lot of weight, given regular access to bircher müesli, and fresh-baked Bavarian pretzels and butter.
I've spoken before about the solid job Swiss Air does with its in-flight catering, and the problem encountered here, but at few other lounges in the world, is the dilemma between enjoying the brilliant food in the lounge, or the brilliant food on the flight.
Moving away from the kitchen, the first highlight to this lounge is the enormous viewing deck, with a commanding 180-degree view of the apron and both runways. Really not the worst place to sit with a cup of tea, and this view alone has been enough to make me choose a longer layover on purpose.
The second highlight, unique here among all Senator lounges, is the whisky bar. Tucked away in a back corner is a small tasting bar with an absurdly complete collection of Scotch, bourbon, rye and mash whiskeys from all across the globe.
The bar is hosted by a dedicated... I don't want to diminish them by just saying "bartender", but to my knowledge there's no word for "whisky sommelier". These are trained experts who know every bottle on the bar by heart, and will be happy to curate a custom tasting flight based on each patron's tastes.
...or, if your connection to Singapore gets delayed, as long as you're behaving yourself, they'll quite happily upgrade your "flight" to a whole air force.
I'd like to make clear at this point that this was taster-sized glasses between two of us, over several hours, and remind my dear readers that getting hammered in an airport rarely works out well for anyone.
To sum up, whether having a quick bite and a shower before hopping up to London, or a long, leisurely plane-spotting breakfast, or tasting a rare vintage in the back bar, the Zurich Senator Lounge remains one of my favourite places for a long layover anywhere in the world.