We arrived at Zurich Kloten airport at about 7pm, with three hours to spare before our 10pm departure to Hong Kong on Swiss business class. We made our way through Schengen border control and headed for the Senator Lounge at Pier E.
While Swiss has several business class lounges at Zurich Airport, the lounges at Pier E, serving the airline’s long-haul international flights, are generally the best and largest.
There’s a Business Lounge on your left and a Senator Lounge on your right– the former is available to all passengers departing in Star Alliance business class, while the latter is available to first class passengers flying on non-Lufthansa Group airlines, as well as Miles & More Senator, HON Circle, Frequent Traveller, and Star Alliance Gold members.
The check-in agent processed our entry into the Senator Lounge, courtesy of my Star Alliance Gold status. There’s many other lounge locations in the Lufthansa Group network (say, the ones at Frankfurt and London Heathrow) where there’s not much difference between the Senator and Business lounges. Boy was that absolutely not the case here.
Upon entering, the bulk of the Senator Lounge is situated on your right. We’ll get to the area on your left in a little bit.
Turn right and you’ll find a long hallway leading you to the rest of the lounge. Here you’ll find a newspaper stand, some chairs, and phone booths. As you walk down the hallway, you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the airport tarmac on your left. Meanwhile, the opposite wall is adorned with artistic decorations depicting the coat of arms of Switzerland’s 26 cantons as well as the country’s innumerable mountain ranges.
The hallway brings you to the main dining area, where rows upon rows of snacks, desserts, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages line the walls. The centrepiece of the dining area is the open-air kitchen, where a chef prepares hot food for you on demand.
Grab your food and go – around the corner from the kitchen, there’s a mix of “dining table” and high-top seats.
The main seating area is incredibly spacious and dominates the rest of the lounge. Pretty much the only seats you’ll find are sleek black upholstered chairs. End tables, generously fitted with power outlets, intersperse the seating. The whole space has a very modern and polished, yet understated look.
The lounge is decked out in Swiss International Air Line’s signature decor: sleek neutral colours against oak wood panelling. The Swiss are known for their moderate, minimalist design principles, which the country’s national airline reflects wholesomely in its brand identity.
At the very back of the lounge you’ll find the rest area. There are about a dozen individual reclining chairs that provide seclusion and privacy. It’s the perfect place to catch up on some sleep during a long layover, or even just to relax with a drink in your hand.
The computer workstations are located adjacent to the dining area, and are housed in one large wooden “box” (visible in some of the photos above). I really like this concept since it allows you to get some work done free of distractions, while still close enough to the kitchen to fill up your coffee or grab a quick snack.
The bathrooms in the lounge are located between the hallway and the dining area. They were both clean and well-maintained, with automatic doors providing access.
In terms of the food spread, there was a huge variety of finger food, snacks, and desserts on display.
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The made-to-order dinner menu consisted of a tasty risotto, Swiss quiche, a vegetarian farfalle pasta dish, with grilled pork escalope as the feature dish.
You could also pick up fruits or soup at the kitchen counter. I also loved how the kitchen area was decorated with fresh ingredients.
The drink selection is plentiful, with coffee and tea, soft drinks, juices, and a huge variety of liquor available. But if you’re looking to get your drink on, I’d advise against going gung ho, just yet. You’ll soon see why.
Alright, well so far everything in the lounge looks really nice. But there’s a few things I haven’t mentioned yet that really sets it apart. Take a look at the lounge map (which was conveniently printed on the wall) – see anything special?
Let’s head back towards the Senator Lounge entrance and turn to our left. We arrive at the Whisky Club 28/10, an in-house full-service bar with dozens of whiskies and fine spirits from all over the world for your sampling.
The interior design of the Whisky Club was just stunning. The “lounge-within-a-lounge” furniture imbues the whole place with a feeling of refined casualness.
The whisky selection was overwhelming to say the least. Apparently there’s over 220 different whiskies from around the world available here. If you’re a scotch connoisseur, you’re in for a good time.
As someone who’s far from being a scotch connoisseur, I was confounded by the huge selection and eventually just went with a glass of the bartender’s favourite, which was Amrut Cask Strength from India. He warned me that despite its flavourful taste, Amrut had an alcohol content of 61.8% and that I ought to sip slowly. I took my seat on the long, plushy couches in the back of the Whisky Club and duly obliged.
The variety of whisky available here is just stunning, and it’s hard to imagine that all those hundreds of high-end bottles are actually being consumed regularly. But massive props to Swiss for really putting in the effort to set its Senator Lounge apart, unlike many other lounges in the Lufthansa Group network.
Now, while the Whisky Club is impressive, the pièce de resistance of the Senator Lounge is undoubtedly the 10-meter long terrace that runs alongside the lounge, overlooking Zurich Airport’s Pier E.
You can access the terrace from doors in the Whisky Club as well as in the lounge proper, near the dining area. During times of inclement weather, the terrace may be closed. Thankfully, it was a perfect midsummer night when I visited.
The terrace has multiple chairs for you to relax while planespotting. How was sitting back and watching planes on the tarmac while sipping on a glass of premium whiskey, you ask? Well, it was truly a pleasure.
Avid planespotters will certainly enjoy the huge runway map printed on the wall of the Whisky Lounge, as well as binoculars attached to the terrace railings, allowing you to lock your sights onto incoming aircraft touching down on the tarmac in live action.
I spent quite a bit of time out on the terrace, watching the action taking place on the runway before catching a gorgeous sunset.
While the Senator Lounge is undoubtedly a stunning environment, I also went to check out the adjacent Business Lounge, which is for passengers departing in business class but don’t have Miles & More or Star Alliance Gold status.
The Business Lounge offerings were pretty much identical to the Senator Lounge, except the overall square footage of the lounge was smaller. Despite this, the lounge still felt extremely spacious.
Upon entering, you pass through a small seating area and a newspaper stand nearby.
Then you come to a large area with the kitchen and dining area on your right, where the dinner menu is the same as over in the Senator Lounge. There’s the usual spread of finger food, snacks, and alcoholic beverages.
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The dining area in the Business Lounge is a bit smaller, while the familiar black leather chairs are spread out across the back of the lounge.
Passengers in the Business Lounge also have access to the outdoor terrace, albeit a smaller section. I had a great view of the Boeing 777 that would be bringing us to Hong Kong.
The terrace section of the Swiss First Class Lounge, one of the world’s fanciest lounges, is right next door to the Business Lounge section – it was certainly tempting to hop the fence!
To access the First Class Lounge you need to be flying in First Class on either Swiss or Lufthansa, or you need to be a Miles & More HON Circle member. That’s a review for another day 😉
Lastly, I should mention that both Senator and Business Lounge patrons can use the showers, which are shared between the two lounges. To request a shower, you go up to the front desk, and they’ll either give you a shower room key and direct you to the showers opposite the front desk, or take down your name if the showers are full and call you over the intercom when it’s ready.
We stayed in the Whisky Club until about 9:50pm, at which time I downed the rest of my Amrut and made my way down to the gate.
The Senator and Business Lounges at Zurich Airport’s Pier E are some of the best business class lounges in the Star Alliance network. The food is varied and tasty, while the decor in the lounges perfectly embodies the Swiss spirit of understated perfection.
The most impressive aspect of the lounges is no doubt the outdoor terrace that runs alongside the indoor spaces, offering stunning views of the airport tarmac against a backdrop of the majestic Swiss Alps. The showpiece bar in the Senator Lounge, the Whisky Club 28/10, also blew away my expectations with its amazing ambience and the sheer variety of choice it offered. Overall, I loved spending time here and can’t wait to experience what the Swiss First Class Lounge has to offer sometime soon.