Virgin Australia Perth Lounge Review
The Virgin Australia Lounge in Perth Airport's Terminal 1 is the perfect place to while away time before your flight with a drink and a bite to eat. What follows is my review of the Lounge and, more specifically, its breakfast service. On this particular visit, which was at the extremely uncivilised time of 6 am, my family and I were heading up to Broome for a winter escape to the Cable Beach Club (review available). As we were not travelling Business Class, and as I neither hold Gold or Platinum status with Virgin Australia, we would not normally be able to access the Lounge. However, thanks to my American Express Platinum Business Charge Card, we were able to visit without having to pay the $65 entry fee (per person).
A warm welcome
Once we had checked in our baggage at the self-service kiosks, we caught the escalators up to the departure gates. Having made it through security without too much trouble (and, for the first time ever, not having being selected for the "random" explosives check), we looked around to see that the Lounge was immediately to our left. So, top marks for location; not having to walk too far with a toddler is always much appreciated, as it turns out that their legs only work intermittently.
Passing through the frosted glass doors, we were warmly greeted at the front desk, and once my Amex Card had been verified, we were invited to go through into the Lounge and make ourselves comfortable. As far as the Amex / Virgin relationship goes, I assume that Virgin sends Amex a bill for every one of its eligible members who use the Lounge, as I cannot imagine that they let Amex cardholders into their lounges purely out of the goodness of their heart.
The first thing that strikes me about the Lounge is how contemporary the layout is, with lots of open-plan spaces and clean surfaces. The ceilings are high and crisp white light diffuses through an attractive latticework of wavy lines and wooden leaves. The second thing I notice is that it is busy; there are fluorescent vests in abundance, which hopefully means WA's mining sector is on the up. According to the friendly staff, early Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are the Lounge's peak periods, with FIFOs heading up north, and then by 7 am it quietens down until picking up again around 10 am, when the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne flights are due to depart.
First things first, Coffee!
We found ourselves some comfortable seats over by the windows before tag-teaming to go up and gather food and, most importantly, coffee! While I have gotten used to barista-made coffee from visits to the Perth Qantas Business Lounge (review available), I have never seen two separate coffee-making areas in a Lounge before. The Virgin Lounge offers precisely this; two baristas with two coffee machines, meaning even the most ardent caffeine-lovers will be more than satisfied.
The first coffee machine is set up at the end of the breakfast buffet and is where I met Josh, the wonderfully kind and thoughtful barista, who not only brought our coffees to our table but also made sure that the babyccino came with the all-important marshmallows. Josh's coffee was excellent; strong but not bitter, and the perfect temperature. While I hate lukewarm coffee, neither do I like having the roof of my mouth stripped off by molten milk.
The second coffee bar is set up in the middle of the Lounge and was a hive of activity when we first arrived. As you can see from the picture, things had quieted down significantly by the time it was taken, with the flights to Newman, Karratha and Kalgoorlie now departing. Once the caffeine cravings had been satisfied, it was time to look for something to eat.
The layout of the Lounge is such that both the food and drinks bar run down the entire length of the right-hand wall. The expansiveness of the counter helps to prevent traffic jams, as there is plenty of room for guests to work their way up and down without stepping on each other's toes.
The Lounge provides both hot and cold choices for breakfast. The first selection on the counter is what I would call the continental, as there is an excellent array of different cold options to choose from as well as toast and preserves.
The cold options include fruit and yogurt, as well as cereal and muesli with a selection of toppings. There is plenty of fruit to choose from: watermelon, peaches, blueberries, apples and pears. The Lounge also provides an assortment of different pre-cut cheeses, meats, tomatoes and lettuce for toasted sandwiches, which is an all-day option.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, there is an automated pancake maker which is practically idiot-proof. Push the OK button and two perfectly-cooked pancakes will pop out in 30 seconds. It's also good fun to watch, as you can see the whole cooking process.
Before I tell you about the hot option, however, I will give a quick shout out for the excellent croissants; they were freshly cooked and a proper size. I am something of a connoisseur of croissants and would happily live on them for breakfast if my doctor allowed.
The hot breakfast option this morning was scrambled eggs with chives on toasted ciabatta with cooked field mushrooms and pesto. I have to say that I have never thought of smearing pesto on bread before but, after this excellent breakfast, I have been converted. Now, much to my wife's chagrin, I have been raiding the pesto pot at home when making sandwiches (apparently it is only for her pasta).
Well, I think the picture pretty much sums of my breakfast (nothing remotely nutty): orange juice, excellent coffee and some delicious eggs on toast with a twist. It's safe to say I was one happy camper.
Room to breathe
The Lounge provides a fantastic vantage point, looking out along the length of the terminal, with views of the Virgin Australia planes lined up in front of their gates. Watching the loading and unloading of the aircraft, as well as the everyday hustle and bustle of the tarmac, was a great way to pass some time.
The floor to ceiling windows extend the whole length of one wall, which means that wherever you sit, you will be able to to get a good view. It also means that, during the daytime, the lounge is bathed in natural light. Just in case it gets too bright though, there are also retractable blinds.
There is a good selection of seating to choose from depending on what you are in the mood to do. By the windows, there are comfortable leather armchairs to relax in, while the centre of the Lounge is given over to long curved worktables, perfect if you need to pull out a laptop or charge your phone, as they come equipped with an abundance of handy USB / power charging points.
Towards the back of the Lounge, there are bar tables, and stools that face onto one of the many large flat screens dotted around. There is also a freestanding self-service bar from which you can help yourself to post-mix drinks, as well as a selection of canned or bottled soft drinks stored in fridges underneath.
That reminds me, the non-self service bar opens at 11 o'clock, at which time you will be able to enjoy the draft/bottle beers as well as the selection of wines. I promise to come back at a more reasonable time of the day and try some, so that I can update this review.
I have always considered one of the best benefits of an airport lounge to be their access to clean bathrooms and, if you are lucky, a private shower room. In this respect, the Perth Virgin Lounge delivers, as it is well equipped with both restrooms and showers. The bathrooms are immaculately clean, and a nice touch is the provision of Hunter Lab hand soap. According to its website, Hunter Lab is an Australian company that focuses on producing luxurious organic skin products that are not tested on animals.
If you would like a shower, it is probably best to give yourself a bit of extra time as there are a limited number of shower rooms available. As such, you may have to wait for one to free up. The good news is that the Lounge will also provide the fluffy white towels, so there is no need to bring your own.
The Perth Virgin Lounge is excellent. The Lounge itself is a good size, comfortably accommodating its guests even during busy times. As a place to sit and relax, it hits the mark; the high ceilings and large windows all help create a sense of space and light. The food and drink options have been well thought out, and they are delivered by friendly and efficient staff. On top of all this, the Lounge is kept immaculately clean; no sooner have you finished with a glass or plate before they are deftly whisked away.
While it can be argued the $65 per person for entry can buy you a lot of coffee in the main terminal, what it cannot buy you is the peace, quiet and access to immaculate amenities that the Lounge provides.
I have no hesitation in recommending the Virgin Lounge in Perth, as it delivers everything which I would expect from a quality airport lounge:
- Friendly Staff
- Excellent Coffee
- Tasty hot/cold breakfast
- Plenty of room
- Comfortable seating
- Clean toilets
- Spotlessly clean
- I'll let you know when I can think of one
As always please feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments section below, and I will do my best to answer them. You are also very welcome to leave your own insights into the Lounge, as I am very interested to know if the wine is any good.
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