The Qantas International First lounge in Sydney is a place I have always aspired to visit. When I received my British Airways Gold card I knew I had the key to some seriously nice lounges. High on my list was Cathay Pacific’s The Pier in Hong Kong; however, top of my list was the Qantas International First lounge in Sydney. This is the flagship Qantas lounge located in the city I grew up in and as a proud Sydney-sider I was curious to find out what it was like.
The entrance to the International First lounge is on the same level as the International Business lounge. An attendant greets you at a podium and you enter a space featuring a living plant wall. There are further escalators up to the lounge itself.
The space is an astonishingly intelligent design. Floor to ceiling windows flood the space with light and overlook the apron to the Sydney skyline. Large wooden decorative supports divide the lounge into multiple spaces without using actual walls, which makes the lounge feel spacious yet intimate.
Some of the spaces are set up with couches and large chairs for sitting and relaxing while others feature tables for dining. Red service areas and cabinets flank the furniture and are used to further divide the space.
There is a nicely appointed library at one end of the lounge which is inexplicably located directly across from the children’s play area. There is a matter of metres between the two and I doubt someone would be able to quietly read with children playing nearby.
A fantastic retro feature inside the lounge is the provision of old school split-flap display departure boards. It is a shame the codeshare flights restrict the amount of destinations on show at once, but it is still wonderful to see these boards again.
Carpet features a hexagonal design in grey and white, and this pattern also appears on the door to the spa.
Champagnes and wines are available from the various servers who are very efficient in looking after you.
The Qantas International First lounge offers a range of 20 minute spa treatments, which you reserve at the desk at the top of the escalators. Qantas First Class passengers are contacted a day prior to their flight and offered their pick of appointment times while everyone else is seen on a first come, first served basis. The Sydney and Melbourne lounges each have their own signature treatment and as a first time visitor, I settled on the Sydney signature.
The spa entrance is located at one end of the lounge and upon entry you are greeted by another living wall.
Once inside, you fill in the usual spa paperwork at a desk. There is also a seat in the entrance with a tea and moisturiser station.
Your treatment room also features a living wall- a pleasant surprise. Your masseuse instructs you to change and to place your belongings into a closet.
There is also a small table which sports a carafe of water and some glasses.
The environment is exceptionally relaxing especially with the low lighting. The treatment was quite professional and very good and despite the relatively short period of time it felt quite fulfilling.
There is self-service food available throughout the day. Mornings feature breakfast items while the remainder of the day features all day dining options. Breakfast items included Bircher muesli, yoghurt, fruit salad, vegetable and bacon frittata, muffins, banana bread, Pain au Chocolate and croissants.
All day dining self-service options include a variety of wholegrain and brioche rolls with fillings such as egg, chive and aioli, chicken and chervil, and leg ham and roasted vegetables. In addition, there are assorted cakes, roasted nuts and marinated olives.
These self-service options are in addition to the restaurant menu.
The toilet facilities are comprised of large individual cubicles with marble tiled walls. The space would be appreciated if you were dragging along your cabin bag with you.
Inside, there is a counter with drawers and a nice sink with a decent sized mirror.
Naturally there is the toilet itself and the Qantas International First lounge has its own Aspar branded products.
The facilities are clean, modern and fit for purpose which is excellent.
The highlight of the Sydney International First lounge is the restaurant dining experience, so I timed my visit to experience both the Breakfast Menu and the All Day Dining Menu. Menus are changed seasonally to take advantage of different produce and to deliver variety to guests.
Research prior to my visit had provided me with information on dishes not to be missed so at breakfast I chose the Shaw River buffalo milk yoghurt with honey, apple, lemon and hazelnuts. Amazing!
The second dish was Buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon poached plums and mascarpone. Nom nom nom!
The lounge has an excellent variety of drinks. At breakfast I indulged in a fruit energizer smoothie while at lunch I treated myself to a Kingston Punch cocktail. Delicious!
The All Day Dining menu is a treat for the taste buds. Salt and pepper squid with green chili dipping sauce and aioli opened the meal. The Qantas International First lounge is famous for this dish and it exceeded even my wildest expectations.
Next was grass-fed minute steak with soy, lime and horseradish butter and chips. I was dubious about this as I expected there to be an issue with the meat or the way it was cooked. I was delighted to be proved wrong as the steak was succulent, bursting with flavour, and utterly delectable.
I almost declined dessert. When I saw the signature pavlova with passionfruit and strawberry, I was reminded that the “deconstructed pavlova” was a major highlight. When my waiter brought it over I exclaimed in delight at how beautiful it looked. It’s astonishing!
It is a little difficult to eat as the pieces want to fly out, but trust me, it is worth it- tasty and very cool to look at!
The Qantas International First lounge is a spectacular environment to wile away the hours before a flight. The restaurant dining is, hands down, the best I have experienced. The spa menu offers a decent selection of treatments, and the spa rooms themselves with their living walls definitely enhance the experience. In these two areas, I believe the Qantas lounge is far superior to Cathay Pacific’s The Pier in Hong Kong.
Service is very efficient and very friendly. Staff seem to be genuinely happy you’re visiting and they are superbly trained to read a person and deliver the service that is desired – a notable skill. The aspect of the lounge looking over the airport towards the Sydney skyline is well thought out and the lounge design itself is quite impressive. This is a world class lounge operated by a world class airline and you are guaranteed to enjoy spending time here. Kudos to Qantas for doing Australia proud!
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.