Sometimes a lounge comes along that is so utterly stunning in its concept that it takes your breath away.
Swiss already has one of those for first-class passengers: its stunning rooftop lounge in Zürich, out at the new satellite, with its hotel-style bedrooms and outdoor Terrazza.
Now it also has one in business class.
The 500-square-meter Alpine Lounge is an absolute cracker of a lounge, designed both for beauty and for practicality.
It’s light, bright and airy, and the airline has really gone all-in on the Alpine theme but kept it incredibly classy.
There’s no kitsch here, just a beautifully crafted modern take on what a lounge needs.
Swiss says its lounge: “blends all the charm of a rustic yet contemporary mountain hut with the comforts and the style features of the familiar SWISS lounges.
“Of particular note are the light-wood elements and the bespoke furniture, much of it hand-made by Swiss craftsfolk. The quality alpine-style carpets and cushion covers are also hand-crafted and sourced from small Swiss manufacturers.
“Large communal wooden tables underscore the hut-like ambiance, while the high windows offer fabulous views of the apron area and its flight activities.”
If you happen to remember where the old Swiss first-class lounge was at gates A, before the airline moved its longhaul operations out to the satellite at gates E, this is the same space.
There’s so much to love in this lounge. For a start, it’s beautiful. The wow factor in a lounge can’t be overestimated — think of that massive fountain at the Qatar Airways al Safwa lounge in Doha, for example — but this is both the wow factor and the gemütlichkeit factor.
If you’re reaching for your German dictionary, gemütlichkeit is a sort of equivalent in German of the Danish hygge, that sense of coziness, welcome, and ease that you might get in either in a snowed-in chalet or by the crackling fire in a beer hall surrounded by gents in lederhosen and ladies in dirndls.
I love the furniture, from the low banquette seating with rustic cushions to the metal-and-wood armchairs that look very vintage Rhätische Bahn (that’s perhaps Switzerland’s most famous mountain railway, beloved for its sturdy, iconic red trains).
I also covet the stone sink that contains the water dispenser, sized equally for the glasses in the lounge or to refill a water bottle that a passenger might be bringing with them: what an absolutely stunning focal point for what is often a quick afterthought or a plumbed-in-later option.
I particularly love the rearrangeable low stump-like wooden seating, which can be either used at the large tables or at the smaller, window-side booth seating.
This kind of flexibility is very sensible, whether that’s for families traveling in a three or a four, colleagues spending time in the lounge together, or simply solo travelers looking to find a spot during a busy period.
Let’s also talk about the incredible, accessible, practically universal power strip in the booths. I have to say, this is the best I’ve seen in the world, and airlines should sit up and take note.
I spy with my little eye a US-style flat-pin socket, the UK-style square-pin socket, the usual two round Europlug and that special Swiss three-pin number that will also take the smaller style of oblong Europlug.
It looks like there’s also a pair of USB-A sockets (that’s the old, square type) and space to expand to, likely, USB-C once that latest type of connector really gets off the ground.
Swiss has done an absolutely superlative job with this lounge, and the other airlines in the Lufthansa Group should sit up, take note, and figure out how they can replicate it across the network.