Justine Tyerman is tempted to re-enact a scene from 'Pretty Woman' at Zurich Airport.
The crestfallen look on my tired face triggered a compassionate response from the woman behind the counter at Zurich Airport. I had just presented my lounge pass to her only to be told the Lufthansa lounge was closed for refurbishment until April 2018. After a month travelling in Switzerland with large numbers of people, I was ridiculously excited about the prospect of three hours to myself in a quiet oasis at the busy airport.
As I fought back tears of disappointment, the woman smiled and said:
"However, this brand new SWISS lounge is open . . . and I can guarantee it's lovely."
I nearly kissed the woman as she handed me the new pass and gave me directions. The scene from 'Pretty Woman' came to mind.
The SWISS Senator Lounge E was just beautiful . . . all the more so because of the near-miss. A long strip right beside the runway, the lounge was surprisingly large (1100 m2) but a map helped me to navigate to the places I desired the most – showers, a quiet zone, food and drinks.
The modern, minimalist design was soothing and tranquil, and the heavy rain pelting down outside as the autumn day turned to dusk made me feel as cosy as a kitten as I curled up on a secluded recliner. After a snooze, a long hot shower and a change of clothes in the luxurious, immaculately-clean and well-provisioned bathrooms, I was refreshed and keen to explore my environment.
I found my way to the dining area where a chef was cooking up gourmet dishes to order. I had not one but two delicious rosti burgers stuffed with bacon, tomato and salad along with a glass of bubbly while I watched huge jets rumble down the runway and thunder into the dark night sky.
In addition to the chef who is on duty round the clock, the large dining area had drink stations and a variety of tempting buffet food including breads, crackers, cheeses, dips, salads, soups, yoghurts, fruit, icecream, cakes and desserts.
Feeling even more lively and rejuvenated, I checked out the exclusive Whisky Club 28/10 which serves more than 220 different whisky varieties from all over the world. Not being a whisky drinker, I tried a gin-based Tom Collins just for fun . . . and to give me an excuse to sit on a stool at the super-cool long wooden bar and watch the impressive bartender mix cocktails for guests who knew their whiskies.
The seating options throughout the lounge were outstanding ranging from the row of snug, individually-partitioned recliners in the quiet zone where I had slept, to the elegant pale wood and black leather chairs and benches in the library 'boulevard' and the comfy couches and armchairs in the spacious open sitting area. The furniture was all top-quality Swiss-made by Vitra and de Sede.
I loved the 3D wooden profile of the Swiss Alps, lakes and cantons along the back wall of the boulevard where I could trace all the train trips I had done and the cities and villages I had visited in this extraordinarily-beautiful country over the past four weeks or so. I had recently travelled on the Bernina Express from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy on a pristine autumn day and the 'map' showed my route, past the magnificent Piz Bernina (4049m) and Piz Morteratsch (3751m) and stunning lakes Lago Bianco and Lago di Poschiavo in Graubünden. I would take that trip again in a heartbeat.
The selection of magazines, newspapers and other reading material there was also excellent.
The terrace, which runs the length of the lounge, was closed due to heavy rain but on a fine day, it would be a superb place to relax, watch the runway action and browse through a magazine or two.
For those who need or want to work, there's a separate area with all the necessary connections and free high-speed Internet. A series of phone booths provide privacy for telephone conversations.
The lounge is quiet, refined, sophisticated and above all supremely comfortable and relaxing, meeting all the needs of its travelling clientele but also providing delightful surprises like the Whisky Bar, personal chef, partitioned recliners and the woody map of Switzerland. Meticulous care has gone into the design and decor of the space, the hallmark of anything created in Switzerland. When I checked the departure board and saw my plane was boarding, I was reluctant to go. I'm sure the refurbished Lufthansa lounge will be superb but the SWISS Senator was just the ticket for me.