Upon arrival at Brussels Airport, we passed through the EU immigration checkpoint without a hitch and headed straight for the business class lounge. I had only slept for about three hours on the plane, but I was holding up alright. On the other hand, Jessica, who hadn't gotten any sleep at all, was in pretty dire need of a nap.
The Loft is Brussels Airlines's flagship business lounge, and is located in the zone for departures to other Schengen Area destinations (the "A" gates). If you're headed for a non-Schengen destination (such as Canada, the US, and the UK), you'll either have to visit The Loft prior to going through EU exit border control, or instead make use of The Suite, the secondary Brussels Airlines lounge located near the non-Schengen "B" gates.
The Loft is accessible to passengers travelling on a Star Alliance business class ticket, Star Alliance Gold members, as well as HON Circle, Senator, and Frequent Traveller members in the Miles & More program. It's located up a level from opposite Gate A42.
The lounge is in the shape of a large square room, with lots of circular elements, like food and drink stations and circular walls, filling up the room. Perhaps in keeping with the lounge's physical design, Brussels Airlines markets the lounge as having eight separate "hubs", all named "b.something".
The coolest feature of this lounge was that it's "powered by Microsoft". Once you enter the lounge (past the front desk, which is called b.welcome), you find a counter, b.connected, where you're able to rent a Surface tablet or laptop for the duration of your visit. You're able to use the tablets to book yourself a shower or a nap box in the lounge, which I thought was an awesome feature.
The seating options in the lounge were pretty varied. The majority of the lounge consisted of wooden "dining table" seats, which you could move around as needed for parties of two, four, etc. Every couple of seats had power plugs affixed underneath the table surface.
There was also "coffee table" seats and high-top seating overlooking the airport concourse.
Over in the back of the lounge, there was a little alcove area (b.inspired) with comfortable chairs ("iconic Belgian furniture" according to the airline).
Lastly, by far the coolest seats in the house were the swivel chairs located on a raised half-level, overlooking the tarmac.
If you're looking for more privacy, head over to the back of this half-level, where you'll find individual pod-style seating. Great for getting some work done quickly, or just taking in the airport traffic.
On the other side of this half-level, near the front, was b.exclusive, an area roped off exclusively for HON Circle and Senator members. I didn't see a single person in this area during my stay in the lounge.
Now, the centrepiece of the lounge is b.delighted, the food station in the middle of the lounge.
It was breakfast time when we were in the lounge, and there was no hot food, only a charcuterie spread and other cold breakfast items. I'm not sure if the lounge serves hot food later in the day, though I had expected better from a flagship business class lounge at a major airline's hub.
The bar is located closer to the back of the lounge, and is designed similarly. I must say I loved the circular design in this lounge.
There were also self-serve coffee and tea stations in little alcoves on both the front and back walls of the lounge.
Jessica and I had a quick breakfast before she went off to grab a nap box and snooze for a few hours. The nap room, bathrooms, showers, and lockers (b.refreshed and b.relaxed) are located down a hallway at the back of the lounge.
The sign outside the nap room lets you know how many nap boxes are occupied, and there's lighting on the nap boxes themselves serving the same purpose. As far as I could tell, the lighting was automated, turning from green to red if it detected that someone had put their weight on the mattress, which is very cool.
The lounge also provides a blanket and pillow for its sleepy guests.
The last "hub" of the lounge is b.productive, the area for getting your work done. It's also located in the back. There's a TV screen on the back wall that cycles through weather, news, and flight information.
There were computer workstations with fast PCs, as well as regular desks with power plugs.
Remember how the lounge was "powered by Microsoft"? Well, that explains the giant Skype booths you'll find next to the workstations. It's like a phone booth, except instead of a phone on the inside, you get a Surface tablet and a keyboard so you can Skype your friends. Super innovative!
As the boarding time for our LOT Polish Airlines flight to Warsaw rolled around, I headed to the nap rooms to wake up Jessica from her peaceful slumber. We headed down to Gate A36, where we hopped on the exclusive shuttle bus for business class passengers to board our flight from a remote stand.
The Loft is a pretty awesome lounge. Brussels Airlines gets a lot of things right, including the contemporary design elements of the lounge, the availability and functionality of the nap boxes, and the sheer innovation of partnering with Microsoft and providing Surface tablet rentals and Skype booths.
I thought the lounge was a lovely space to spend a few hours, and had almost everything it needed to meet the needs of both originating and connecting passengers. The only thing I was slightly disappointed by was the lack of hot food options for breakfast, but that's a tiny complaint in the face of so many outstanding qualities. If you're passing through Brussels Airport anytime soon, The Loft is definitely worth checking out.