Australia's best business class lounges

One of the best perks of being a business traveller is being able to spend time before your flight, and between connecting flights, relaxing in a airport lounge.

The best lounges serve up delicious food and drink, offer plenty of seating in a variety of areas and put AC and USB power sockets right where you need them.

But which lounges are the best?

I've visited just about every airport lounge in Australia, and here's my shortlist of the top six.

This tally focuses on lounges for business class travellers and their frequent flyer card-holding equivalents, rather than first class lounges.

1. Etihad Airways Premium Lounge, Melbourne

One of Australia's newest lounges, the Etihad Airways Premium Lounge at Melbourne Airport's international terminal adopts the same slick design as its recently-opened flagship counterparts in Abu Dhabi.

This includes touches of the unique 'Facets of Abu Dhabi' visual language seen aboard the airline's Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 jets.

A centrepiece of the spacious lounge is an inviting and well-stocked tended bar with an extensive selection of bespoke cocktails and mocktails developed in partnership with drinks consultancy Fluid Movement.

Travellers can enjoy a full a la carte menu at the in-lounge restaurant or help themselves to the buffet for a quick bite.

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Of course, Etihad's staples of Arabic coffee and dates also make an appearance – as do expansive views over the tarmac through floor-to-ceiling glass.

2. Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Sydney

This is the first in a series of new-look lounges for the Singaporean flag carrier with a soft contemporary 'residential' theme rather than a slickly high-tech high-touch look.

It offers a much wider range of dishes than the neighbouring Air New Zealand lounge, which sits at third on this list – although I recommend ducking into the AirNZ lounge for an excellent barista-pulled coffee.

If you need to get some work done before your flight, or just want a little more of your own space than the regular seating provides, a series of high-walled booths provide privacy along with room for your laptop and handy AC/USB sockets.

A close runner-up to this is Singapore Airlines' Brisbane lounge, which is built in the same style as Sydney.

3. Air New Zealand Lounge, Sydney

The Kiwi carrier is on a roll when it comes to lounges.

Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane all boast business class lounges in the same sharp contemporary design, its Melbourne to follow in early 2017.

And if you've visited the excellent Star Alliance lounge at LAX, this is also Air New Zealand's handiwork.

Like its siblings, the Sydney lounge is a sprawling open plan design with plenty of natural light and great views, a tended bar and a 'food theatre' station where chefs prepare daily specials to go with the hot and cold dishes available at the buffet.

Like the best lounges these days there's a variety of seating areas: some casual and relaxing, others for solo or couple dining, plus longer benches, a 'business zone' and quiet zone.

And AC/USB sockets are everywhere and built into everything, from laptop benches to cocktail tables.

4. Emirates Lounge, Melbourne

The Emirates Lounge doesn't wow you with cutting-edge design – and given the airline's propensity for bling, that could be a good thing.

What does surprise travellers is the variety and quality of food and drink on offer.

There may be no a la carte dining room but the buffet is among the best you'll find in any airport lounge, and constantly re-stocked with a tasty selection of international dishes.

As for the champers, no traveller should complain about the choice between chilled Moet and Veueve.

Qantas business class passengers and Gold-grade frequent flyers are permitted to use the Emirates lounge under the Qantas/Emirates alliance, and we suggest they do so – this is a far superior lounge to Melbourne's Qantas international business lounge.

5. Qantas Business Lounge, Perth

Perth Airport's Terminal 4 plays host to the newest lounge in Qantas' domestic network, which I rate as Australia's best domestic lounge.

It introduces a fresh design which draws on elements of the airline's Singapore and Hong Kong lounges, infused with a solid West Australian flavour.

This design will be carried over to the new Qantas Business Lounge in Brisbane when that facility opens in early 2017, and I can only hope the airline's flagship business lounges in Sydney and Melbourne are in line for a similar make-over.

There are distinct zones for working, relaxing, eating and socialising over a drink at one of the two wine, cocktail and coffee bars.

A standout is the pizza bar, complemented by an extensive buffet and 'plate of the day' selection.

It's all made right there in the lounge's kitchen using fresh produce sourced each morning from the local markets.

6. American Express Lounge, Sydney

No list of Australia's best airport lounges would be complete without a nod to the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport's T1 International Terminal.

This compact lounge is ideal for travellers who don't have access to an airline lounge, with free entry for many American Express cardholders (the full list can be found at www.goodgoing.com.au).

While it can get quite busy during peak travel periods there's still an air of exclusivity in this cosy and well-appointed nook.

There's a decent spread of food and snacks, barista-pulled coffee and a pleasing selection of drinks at the bar.

The only think wrong with the American Express lounge is that there aren't more of them dotted around the Australian airport map.

What are your favourite airport lounges in Australia? Let David know in the Comments section.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.

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