[PICS] Turkish Airlines International CIP Lounge in Istanbul – possibly the best Star Alliance lounge there is!

Imagine walking into a plush bathroom with LED-lit rain-shower, which syncs with your mobile device’s Bluetooth so that you can listen to your favorite tunes through the surround sound speakers and not miss a phone call, while you take a shower. Imagine then stepping out and being attracted by the aroma of fresh Turkish Pide and kebabs on the grill. And as you help yourself to the lavish spread of delicacies and settle into a plush sofa, you are tempted by a pool table nestled in the middle a cozy library! Now, stop imagining.

This is not an imaginary seven star hotel, but the new Turkish Airlines International CIP Lounge in Istanbul that I’m talking about. And I lived every moment described above during my first visit there, as you can see from the photos shared below. You’ll also realize that these are amateur photos, taken by my point-and-shoot digital camera.

A complete transformation

I’ve been to Istanbul twice before, and both the times used the Turkish Airlines lounge, which is also open to Star Alliance Gold and Business Class travelers of other airlines in the alliance. It seemed large, yet congested and it was yet another “waiting hall” – just with nicer sofas and better food than what was available outside the lounge. Pretty much the same as most other Business lounges at airports around the world. Basically, nothing much to talk about.

This new lounge, which opened in mid-2011 has replaced to old one and comes complete with a theatre, a kid-zone (Curio City), PlayStation consoles, Study areas, library, pool table, Live flight tracking, showers and lots of food zones. The food is freshly cooked by Do&Co, the famous Austrian gourmet company that we have featured before, showcasing their in-flight catering skills.

All this, in the same space as the old lounge! And that’s the beauty of it all.

“It’s like a walk in the Apple store”

Imagine if Apple designed an airport lounge. That’s how being in the new Turkish Airlines lounge feels. The design is contemporary-chic with lots of white and glass everywhere. The curves of the walls hide very well any corners or right-angles and you feel very relaxed. Even the luggage-deposit area seems like a Gucci store! In the words of the gentleman I played pool for an hour with, “It’s like a walk in the Apple store.”

Just one thing that could have been improved – as an aviation geek, I couldn’t just sit in the lounge and watch planes. In fact, the lounge overlooks the carpark on one side and the entrance to the airport on the other – so the plane spotter in you might be a little disappointed.

But then, there are enough distractions to keep you busy – from a game of pool, to reading Ottoman empire’s history! All while you wait for the boarding announcement :)

All said and done, the new Turkish Airlines CIP lounge in Istanbul is by far the best Star Alliance lounge I’ve been in, ahead of the Singapore Airlines Silverkris lounge in Singapore, and the Continental Airlines lounge in Houston. In fact, I might even pay a premium to fly Turkish Airlines in order to visit the lounge again. Who wouldn’t?

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