Those familiar with Turkish Airlines' lounge at the old Ataturk Airport may recall that in recent years it became woefully overcrowded and though the food was good, you were often left scrambling for crumbs when a new batch of fresh pideflatbread came out of the oven. And good luck finding a place to sit.
The new Turkish Airlines business class lounge alleviates those concerns and is even nicer than before. The business class lounge is separate from the Miles&Smiles lounge, which all Star Alliance Gold members can access even when flying economy. Both lounges seat up to 765 people, and in my experiences, even at peak travel times there's plenty of room for everyone.
Once you enter, don't forget to swipe your boarding pass again at the kiosk for a WiFi code before checking any bags you don't want to lug around in the clear lockers. Then get ready to feast and relax.
Cooked-to-order Turkish delicacies
At breakfast, the menemen tomato scrambled eggs is my favorite dish, but the gözlemespinach and feta stuffed savory crepes are delicious as well.
By lunchtime, you'll find ladies pinching bite-sized manti ground lamb dumplings and men rapidly making pide flatbreads stuffed with ground meat, eggplant or cheese as quickly as they can. These tend to be snapped up as soon as they're out of the oven, so keep an eye out for first dibs.
I also recommend the ayran yogurt drink, and the homemade one from the big wooden barrel is creamier and tastier than the pre-bottled version. Flavor it yourself with a little honey if it's too sour for your taste on its own.
Excellent vegetarian and vegan options
There's a bountiful salad bar even at breakfast, but the veggie selection gets even more interesting after 11 am for lunch. Fava bean purée squares, wild nettles marinated in olive oil and grilled cauliflower and artichokes are a few highlights. Not to mention a dozen different Turkish olives.
Simit sesame seed encrusted Turkish bagelsare the best bread option, and the bigger ones are better than the miniature ones. Vegans will want to skip the butter from the Trabzon countryside, although it's very good. This is the same region on the Black Sea that makes all the great yogurt and Turkish cheese. Turkey might not have the same reputation for great butter as Ireland and New Zeland, but it should.
Spacious and comfortable
To my dismay, I was not eligible to use one of the 13 private suites that have their own shower. Those are reserved for business class passengers connecting between two international flights with a layover of more than 5 hours. But, I was able to find a a cozy leather lounge chair to recline on that suited me just fine. If you're looking for more privacy, head away from the food and flat screen TVs towards the ledge overlooking the airport. That's where you'll find these lounge chairs as well as a dozen or so daybeds set further in like you might find in a spa relaxation area, separated by thick curtains for privacy and to help block out the light.
In partnership with the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, a collection of 38 works by 16 modern and contemporary Turkish artists is on display in the lounge. It's a nice refuge and opportunity to do something thoughtful and culturally enriching rather than go straight to your laptop and get to work. If you don't have time to visit a museum during a short layover, it's pretty cool to have the museum come to you instead. The selection of artwork will rotate three time annually and range from landscapes to abstract paintings and much more yet to come.
Extra complimentary amenities
Discreetly tucked away on the way to the bathrooms there's an on-demand ironing service. I have not noticed this in other airline lounges and although I did not have occasion to make use of it during my recent travels, I think it's super useful and I'll make a mental note to pack accordingly next time I'm passing through.
There are also roaming massage therapists wearing shirts indicating their profession. I managed to flag one down for an excellent 15-minute chair massage that almost worked out the ever-present knots in my neck. Overall, the new Turkish Airlines business class lounge is certainly a pleasant place to spend a few hours during a layover. If I could make a couple of suggestions, it would be great to have complimentary manicures like some Centurion Lounges offer, and dondurmaTurkish stretchy ice cream for dessert.