Airports and airline lounges aren’t exactly known for their high design qualities and wellness-inspired features.
In a world where plane travel is as common as hopping on the bus, we expect to have a less-than-ideal airport experience. We hardly bat an eye with extreme lines, hordes of travelers hovering over charging stations, and brown water being passed off as coffee. So when a luxurious and relaxing experience manifests, it’s impossible to forget—in fact, you may consider booking a flight just to check it out IRL.
This is exactly what happened the moment we laid eyes upon the brand new Air France business lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. We need to talk about this extraordinary space.
Perhaps the most show-stopping part of the lounge is the 160-square-meter Le Balcon bar. Leave it to the French to make an airport lounge bar one of the chicest we’ve ever seen.
Air France entrusted this heady design endeavor to another world-renowned French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, who created a jaw-dropping scene: a central bar with a succession of blue velvet and embroidered box seats under an immense gold mirrored ceiling. Timeless touches of pedestal tables, marbled surfaces, and minimalist golden lights are mixed with high-tech features, like floor to ceiling LED screens, which mimic the exact weather outside.
Perhaps the even more unique aspect of the 3,200-square-meter (roughly 34,400 square feet) lounge is the forward-minded, 550-square-meter wellness-dedicated space.
This is far beyond your standard airport spa, with a few massage chairs and manicure tables. How about the following: a jet lag-healing light therapy room, an organic detox juice bar from the Palais des Thés, not one but two Finnish saunas, stone-tiled showers, and a Clarins spa for quick facial treatments—a lifesaver for tired, dehydrated skin.
You can expect a Clarins-trained expert to analyze your skin, then accordingly cleanse, tone, and hydrate (with all Clarins products, but of course). But it’s more complex than that—with each product application, that expert masterfully massages the products into skin for nothing short of a full-on glow after 20 minutes—a much-needed reprieve from that treacherous mid-travel oily/dry skin (treatments can of course last longer if you have more time).
Beyond just spa’ing, Air France takes your sleeping needs very seriously. Fifty percent of travelers visiting the business lounge have connecting flights, says Anne Rigail, Executive Vice President Customer for Air France. “That is why we dedicated different areas for this purpose: the relaxation area and its soothing atmosphere, and a detox bar that fits in with the healthy trends around tea and detox beverages,” says Rigail. “This really helps to minimize some of the effects of jet lag.”
So what does a “relaxation area” look like in a super luxe airport lounge? Get ready for this: actual napping suites. Described as “mini suites,” the lounge nooks have entirely privatized curtains, customized flight notification details, and guided meditation sessions.
Part of fighting that jet lag also comes with warm showers, a customized facial, a sauna steam, and, of course, gourmet meals (there is a giant food hall that allows for constant grazing, from local delicacies to a variety of exotic, hearty dishes).
Speaking of detox, should we retox? Great, let’s head back to the bar, because the cocktails are really good. Alcohol is available all day, but from 7 pm to 9 pm, the bar has speciality cocktails (created by the Hotel Lancaster in Paris). Try the “Un air de Paris,” a cocktail that sparkles like the Eiffel Tower with Cointreau, cognac, and lemon, or the mocktail options created with a famous ingredient from a different French region, renewed every month.
The entire experience is almost worth the flight to Paris in itself—almost.