It’s not beer and wine, it’s an experience…
Iberia opened their “newest” Madrid Barajas “Sala Velasquez T4S lounge at the end of 2017 to much praise. With accommodation for up to 500 guests, it’s a vast space with excellent views overlooking the runway, and that information means absolutely nothing to anyone reading this. What matters in a lounge is creating a space that responds to customer wants and needs, without effort, putting them in the perfect mood for a flight. We gave “Sala Velasquez” a spin on a ride out of Madrid, and it couldn’t have been much better.
You’ll be excused if you walk right past the lounge on your first attempt. The lounge entrance almost feels like a secret door, set in the middle of the duty free. If you’re following the signs, stay left upon arrival to the land of Toblerone, alcohol and perfume, otherwise you’ll likely walk right past the shiny red entrance. It’s about halfway through duty free, just FYI. Upon entering the lounge the size is impressive, mostly because even during peak times, you’ve got options. The lounge is essentially mirrored, so whether you “turn left” or “turn right” you’ll find virtually identical offerings.
High ceilings and abundant natural light set the mood right from the outset, and clean, modern furniture give things a further lift. Lots of cream, lots of red gloss and some nice wood make the lounge feel very contemporary and sleek, almost like a lovely museum cafe. The varied seating options in the lounge are a hit, offering everything from comfortable reclining chairs to functional desk space and dining tables – and for anyone with kids, there’s a very private play area as well.
We parked ourselves at what can best be described as “one foot” tables. One foot towards the buffet and bar, the other foot focused on power ports, work and a swift exit. These seats just before the dedicated dining seats, and just after cozy lounge chairs offered ample table space and great power connectivity. Sadly, the one thing which no spot seemed to offer was strong wifi signal. In 2018, there’s just no excuse.
Call me crazy, but after enduring a hot cab ride, stripping for security and riding the tram to the terminal, a shower always feels like the right thing to do. The new lounge features exceptionally good showers. To enjoy one yourself, you’ll need to visit the front desk with your boarding pass. You’ll then be given a code which allows you to unlock one of the five shower rooms, with sink, toilet and separate shower. Nice shower products are available inside, and towels are generously supplied. There are even orchids, which are a genuine delight in what would usually be a very stale space.
We put the word entertaining in the review title, and in case you’ve been hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for the entertainment, the wait is over. Rather than have a boring, run of the mill “house red”, “house white” each far wing of the lounge offers a beverage experience station. I was thrilled to find over 6 local varietals of white wine, and the same, and perhaps even more for the reds. Taking a free wine tasting (and pouring it yourself) was a great way to interact further with the local juice and expand the ole’ palate. In addition, you’ll find a refined G&T station, choice of beers and other thirst quenching favorites.
While many business class lounges seem resigned and begrudged to serve decent food, that’s absolutely not the case here. Beautifully pan fried fish was on offer, in addition to paella, tea sandwiches, salads, tapas, a variety of cakes and other delights. If you’re not much for plane food (who is?), you really can load up pre flight and rest up in flight. If you’re hungry, it’s a great place to be.
Still not entertained? Though we didn’t manage to partake, we ran into some new friends who couldn’t say enough positives about the Iberia Sala Velasquez T4S entertainment selection, including multiple video game consoles. It’s absolutely ok to down a few great glasses of wine, and then go play FIFA with your colleagues, friends, loved ones.
This is a business class lounge, and by business class lounge standards it offers everything you could possibly ask for. The experience is made fun by native touches celebrating the Madrid experience and the functionality of ample power ports, hot food and video games makes it a real winner. If only they could get the wifi on point, it’d be way up there.