I got off my memorable ANA First Class flight at about 4:45am local time, and headed straight for the lounges, only to find that they only open at 5am. The usually busy Haneda Airport was basically a ghost town at this early hour, so I spent 15 minutes loitering in front of the lounge and using the airport wifi before the doors opened at 5am sharp.
ANA offers two sets of lounges at Haneda, both of which feature a First Class section, known as the ANA Suite Lounge, and a business class section. To my knowledge, the two sets of lounges are altogether quite similar, so I spent the entirety of my four-hour stay at the lounges near Gate 110.
There was a bit of confusion at the front desk as to whether I’d be allowed access to the First Class lounge. The rules state that passengers connecting off a First Class flight can access the ANA Suite Lounge within 24 hours of their arrival – after all, many passengers (such as myself, in this case) fly into Tokyo on First Class before connecting onwards in business class.
However, the agents took a look at my boarding pass, which displayed a flight date of February 17, and assumed I had arrived in Tokyo at 4:45am on the 17th. Then, after examining the current date and time (5am on February 18), they denied me access, thinking it had been just a shade over 24 hours since my arrival.
I had to explain to them that my arrival was in fact only 15 minutes ago, at 4:45am on the 18th. They exchanged words before going to consult with their colleagues over at the business class lounge front desk. About a minute later, having brushed up on the finer aspects of how time zones work, they returned and welcomed me to the ANA Suite Lounge.
The lounge was completely deserted at this early hour, and I had the entire place to myself; in fact, I didn't see a single other passenger until about two and a half hours later at 7:30am. With all the lounge staff milling about getting ready for the day, it kind of felt as though I was living in my own private mansion with full kitchen staff and butler service.
The lounge carries an ultra-modern feel, and mainly consists of a relaxation area adorned with black leather and brushed metal accents at one end of the space, plus a bright dining area located at the opposite end, connected by a long hallway with ample seating space.
I found the aesthetics of the seating area to be extremely satisfying, and I loved the design of the seat cushions and the wood column screens that partitioned the area into smaller chunks. The coat rack located by each cluster of seats was another thoughtful feature.
Also located in the hallway is the lounge's concierge desk, a display stand for magazines and newspapers, and some private phone booths.
I picked a spot in the relaxation area to keep all my belongings and sit down for a bit. Within seconds, a lounge attendant approached me and offered a warm towel as well as something to drink. I ordered a cappuccino to help me perk up a bit.
Attentive service would be a mainstay throughout my time in the lounge. Whenever I sat down in a new spot, a lounge attendant would always show up quickly to offer me a warm towel and ask if I needed anything.
I got some pictures of the relaxation area after the sun had risen. The floor-to-ceiling windows fill the lounge with natural light, and the lounge attendants had to lower the blinds not long after sunrise to keep the light levels manageable.
There's a bank of individual seats facing the airport tarmac outside, as well as a few clusters of private pods that offer plenty of space inside for eating, working, and relaxing. Each pod has a small table, a set of headphones, a coat hanger, and power outlets within arm's reach.
I thought the arrangement of the pods was quite interesting, since it kind of reminded me of a business class cabin onboard an airplane.
There's also a smaller food spread setup located at this end of the lounge, where you'll find a dozen or so bistro-style dining tables. With the morning sunlight streaming in, the sleek black decor in this part of the lounge looked beautiful.
Over on the other end of the long hallway is the main dining area, which is brightly lit and visually appealing. I particularly loved the marble-and-frosted-glass mini-screens that sat atop the dining tables.
There's also some high-top tables located here with seating for four. I thought that the amount of seats available in the main dining area wasn't very plentiful, although as I was the only guest in the lounge for hours on end, it's not exactly a problem that materialized during my stay.
I decided to take a shower first before treating myself to breakfast, so I went up to the front desk to request a shower room. There are four shower rooms in total, located down a small corridor branching off from the main hallway near the concierge desk.
They're decently spacious, with all the amenities you'd expect: towels, toiletries, coat hanger, hairdryer, etc.
I also checked out the restrooms, which have a classy vibe to them thanks to the dark walls and dim lighting. The lounge had an all-gender restroom as well, which is very inclusive on ANA's part.
After washing up quickly, I headed to the dining room to break bread. On account of being the only passenger in sight, I felt totally comfortable leaving all my belongings – including my laptop, camera, etc. – unattended at my seat over at the opposite end of the lounge. Looking back, that was perhaps a little irresponsible of me, but there's also something about being in Japan that makes you feel a little more at ease with things like this.
The food spread is rather modest for a First Class lounge. A good mix of Japanese and Western breakfast items had been put out, while a large portion of the buffet spread was taken up by the extensive beverage selection, including juices, coffee & tea, and premium spirits.
The highlight of the dining area, and indeed the lounge itself, is the made-to-order Noodle Bar that's tucked in the far corner of the room. The menu consists of a variety of udon, soba, and ramen noodles, and you just give the chef your order and he notifies you via a buzzer once it's ready.
The udon noodles were simply exquisite, tasting even better than the ones that ANA serves aboard its First Class flights. I followed up the two bowls of kitsune udon (noodles with deep-fried tofu) I had enjoyed up in the air with another helping here on the ground.
I also really enjoyed the rice cakes, marinated squid, and the seaweed and kelp with wasabi. Overall, while the variety of the food here in the ANA Suite Lounge was slightly limited, I couldn't fault it for taste and quality.
There's something kind of funny about eating breakfast in a beautiful First Class lounge, picking items from a perfectly arranged buffet spread, with absolutely no one else in sight. Indeed, it was about 7am by the time I finished up my meal, meaning it would still be another 30 minutes before the first fellow passenger arrived. I fought boredom by going back to the Noodle Bar for yet another bowl of udon, this time some kakiage udon with vegetable tempura.
I sat at my spot near the windows catching up on some work as the lounge gradually got busier, the day's premium passengers trickling in before their flights. After a while, I decided to check out the neighbouring ANA Business Lounge to see what sort of comforts you'd enjoy as a Star Alliance business class passenger or Star Alliance Gold member flying out of Tokyo Haneda.
Naturally, the business class lounge is much more spacious and also much more crowded. The buffet area was packed, kids were running around – it was all a bit hectic.
Nevertheless, the lounge remains aesthetically appealing and relatively comfortable, applying the same colours and design elements as the ANA Suite Lounge across a much larger space.
A fun little quirk of the Business Lounge is that it goes to huge lengths to showcase ANA's partnership with the Star Wars franchise through a handful of Stormtrooper displays scattered throughout the lounge. Prior to this, I had no idea that ANA had a partnership with Star Wars, even fitting out some of their planes with Star Wars livery, similar to what EVA Air does with the Hello Kitty brand. I'd love to fly on one of those planes one day!
I sauntered back into the ANA Suite Lounge, only to find a lounge attendant who had been searching for me frantically. As it turns out, I had left my cell phone by my seat, and my 8am alarm clock had been ringing loudly for several minutes on end. I rushed back to my seat to turn it off, apologizing profusely to the Japanese man in the neighbouring seat staring daggers at me.
Mortified at having disturbed the peace, I decided it was time for a change of scenery, and opted to go browse the duty-free selection at Haneda Airport for a while before heading to the gate for my onward flight to Beijing.
I have similar thoughts on the ANA Suite Lounge as I do about the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge over at Narita. Overall, I think it falls short of the standard set by other First Class lounges around the world – ANA could definitely introduce things like à la carte dining, fancier shower rooms, or lounge-to-gate ground services in order to take the Suite Lounge to the next level.
Having said that, everything about the ANA Suite Lounge experience was perfectly enjoyable, with the satisfying decor and the made-to-order Noodle Bar among my personal highlights. I wouldn't hesitate to visit this lounge again in order to enjoy the high-quality food on offer and pass the time among its swanky interiors.