For a first time visitor, ZRH airport can be a little confusing. As you can see when zooming into the map above, there is one main terminal area, which contains gates beginning with letters A-D and then a separate elongated sliver of a building that contains the E gates.
These E gates sit like an island, surrounded by active runways, unconnected to the main terminal building. In order to access them you will have to pass through passport control and then take an underground monorail known affectionately as ‘The Heidi Train’.
First Class passengers on SWISS or Lufthansa have an alternative option though…
When the receptionist noticed that my flight was departing from the E gates she said that I was more than welcome to enjoy the A gate facilities however a limo transfer was available should I want to make my way directly to the lounge closest to my departing flight.
I thanked her for the offer and said I’d be interested in heading over once I’d had a quick coffee.
Moments after finishing my macchiato the receptionist came over and informed me that my limo was ready and introduced me to a driver dressed in a fluorescent yellow jacket bearing the SWISS logo. My driver escorted me through a private immigration lane (I was literally the only person using passing through) and on to my awaiting ‘limo’.
After a quick drive across the tarmac I was escorted to the First Class Lounge entrance within the E Terminal. From there I took the escalators up to a gleaming white reception area where my my boarding pass was quickly checked as I was warmly welcomed to the lounge.
The lounge doesn’t serve any prestige cuvee champagnes like the LPGS found in BA’s Concorde Room or the Dom Perignon served at the Private Room in Singapore, however the selection was impressive nonetheless and presented me with an opportunity to try a variety of more reasonably priced bottles from some interesting producers such as the Deutz Rosé or the Barons de Rothschild.
The bar is certainly well stocked but any whisky lovers would be well advised to head across to the SWISS Senator lounge to sample its superlative 28/10 whiskey bar. Not only a good bar for a lounge but quite legitimately one of the most impressively stocked whiskey bars on Earth (and it’s all free!)
There were a huge variety of a la carte options and I was advised that I could mix and match as I wanted. I spotted truffles on the menu in the fondue section, and asked if it would be possible to have some added to the scrambled eggs. The server was happy to oblige. “Of course!”, she said, returning five minutes later with my truffled scrambled eggs and another coffee.
After finishing my light breakfast I made way to the reception and eagerly enquired about the most exciting feature of this lounge. In fact it was the existence of this facility that made me first want to try SWISS First.
I’m talking of course about the private, runway view, hotel rooms.
The two rooms are supplied on a first come, first served basis and are unfortunately closed overnight. Otherwise I would absolutely have stayed here rather than the Radisson Blu landside.
I was handed a key and told to make my way down a corridor to the left of the reception desk. I opened the door and saw what looked like the lovechild of a cloud and a marshmallow in front of me.
I was pretty much delirious with excitement the second I stepped into the room. I’m not going to lie, immediately after taking these pics I did a front flip right onto the bed and seamlessly transitioned into a starfish position, laughing the whole time.
The bathroom was bright, spacious and immaculately clean. The shower was easily large enough for two people and had excellent pressure too. The Hammam spa toiletries seemed fairly generic but the dental kit was easily the fanciest one I’ve ever seen. The toothbrush came in a waterproof case and was designed with an ergonomic handle and bristles that were sculpted into a wave-like shape.
Despite the fact that I’d consumed three double macchiatos and had a prime runway view outside, I managed to easily drift off for two hours of very deep sleep. I’m not sure if the bed is worth as much as a BMW 5 series but if money was no object this would 100% be the bed for me.
In fact, I would recommend planning an extended layover here just to enjoy its soporific embrace.
My main complaint with the room would be that the ‘luxurious’ Omega clock on the wall burns with the bright incandescence of a white dwarf star and cannot be switched off. The eye mask provided is no match for its unrelenting power.
The other is the fact that people on the lounge’s terrace can walk in front of your room and look right in. I’m sure there must be some fire regulation issue because otherwise this would be very easily solved by placing a large potted plant on the balcony, blocking off the little area in front of the room.
They could go one better and actually add a table and chairs to the terrace, adding a glass door to the outside… although then nobody would ever leave.
The wine list has something for everyone and if you have the time you can explore a number of different regions and grape varietals.
With my glass of wine in hand, I decided to venture out onto the terrace.
The SWISS First Class lounge is an elegant oasis of tranquility, like the Alpine lair of a bond villain made into reality. The service is discreet and exceptional. The food is excellent, with what amounts to an open a la carte kitchen willing to accommodate whatever a guest might desire.
The wine selection is thoughtful and deeply varied, with not only food suggestions but also glassware designed to perfectly match every drop that is served.
Add to this the complimentary hotel rooms replete with $40,000 beds and you have the makings of what may well be the best airport lounge on the planet.