Rosie Herdman visits The House Lounge at Melbourne International Airport, while flying with Virgin Australia.
Finding the lounge was a little challenging as airport signage points to “The House” with no mention of “Virgin Australia” (and I conveniently forgot that I’d been told the name of the lounge already), but I stopped a friendly Virgin staffer who pointed me in the right direction. Upon entry, a welcoming greeter inquired whether I had visited before, pointed out (without me having to ask) where everything was including bathrooms, offered a Wi-Fi password and — crucially — informed me that no boarding announcements are made in the lounge, so to keep an eye on the time.
First impression: Walking into The House is like walking into a calm, chic, members club. The main area is set up like a restaurant with white tablecloths, nicely designed lattice partitions breaking up the space and a geometrically designed bar running along the window.
What’s there: The House is part of British lounge specialist No1 Lounges’ new international brand, and is created in collaboration with Etihad Airways. It provides both self-service and a la carte dining throughout the day, a fully tended bar, bathroom with shower and secluded prayer rooms. It was the winner of “Lounge of the Year” at the Melbourne Airport Excellence Awards 2018, which is impressive given the presence of Qantas’ formidable First Class lounge.
Who’s there: The lounge was quiet when I was there, but I saw a young couple sharing a cheeseboard at one of the tables, businessmen, older couples and parents with their kids.
Anything for the kids: Not that I could see.
Tech stuff: Each chair-side table was equipped with a plug for chargers on an inside shelf, and there was free unlimited Wi-Fi.
Reading material: A lot. Art, fashion and design coffee table books were arranged on shelves around the lounge, and a great selection of brand new magazines including Time, Vogue Australia, and GQ lay on tables and on a wall-hung rack by the door.
The view: Looking out over a concrete taxi-ing area and several stationary planes.
Eating and drinking: When I was there in the afternoon, the small self-serve area had three salad options and three hot options: chicken tagine, lemon couscous and roasted spiced cauliflower. The a la carte menu included porcini gnocchi, a braised brisket burger and warm goat’s cheese crostini. On the drinks menu: mostly Victorian wines, along with Champagne, beer, cider and cocktails, fresh juice, smoothies and coffee.
Bathrooms: Beautiful, with marbled walls, L’Occitane handwash and handcream, and a large shower and adjoining grooming room with wall-mounted L’Occitane body products and a hair dryer.
Lounge atmosphere: Very calm, quiet and relaxed.
Bottom line: This is an enjoyable sanctuary in which to while away the time before a flight — even though mine was delayed, sitting in The House I didn’t mind.
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