Trip Report: Easter in the SWISS Senator Lounge, Zurich E Gates
After my rather disappointing flight from Newark to Zurich in SWISS Economy, an extended 5-hour stay in the SWISS Senator Lounge at Zurich's E Gates lifted my spirits!
The lounge in the E Gates, where intercontinental flights land at and depart from, is a cut above the other lounges in Zurich (though SWISS is currently renovating the lounge for the A/B Gates, and I assume they would be bringing elements from this lounge to the renovation). Thankfully, when I arrived from Newark, I was deposited right at the departures level of the E Gates, meaning I could use the lounge here before going through immigration and my gate in the A/B area. It's not necessary to pass through security again, when arriving from the US and connecting to another flight.
One element that the airline introduced in the E Gates lounge is the "show cooking" concept. Now, in the afternoon, it really didn't mean much. There was a small amount of chicken and vegetables in a wok, and when I approached the cook asked if I wanted some, so he stirred it around a bit, put some in a small sauce pan, and heated it up before depositing the contents in a small bowl.
But for breakfast, here pictured from my outbound journey, they do make eggs and omelettes to order. I liked seeing the cook crack fresh eggs for my over-easy eggs - that's nice! (Not sure if the omelette eggs are pre-prepared; they were ladled out of a bowl.)
On this visit over lunch, there was a wonderful spread including spaetzle with the aforementioned chicken and vegetables, a delicious pastry roll stuffed with spinach and feta, and served with a saffron dip, an onion quiche, and falafel wrap. There was also a chocolate mousse on offer, and I particularly enjoyed a custardy tart. I had two of them before leaving the lounge, in fact!
This being Easter Monday, there were some extra festivec elements!
I thought this bunny-shaped roll was really amusing; unfortunately it was so dry, I couldn't eat more than a couple bites.
Later in the afternoon, these Lindt chocolate bunnies appeared! On my flight into Zurich, I saw that while we Economy class passengers got praline eggs, they were handing these bunnies out in Business. I must admit, I got a bit jealous!
So I took two, one for me and one for my roommate. And this "non-alcoholic Easter cocktail," which ended up seeming like orange juice with food coloring at the bottom.
One thing I most look forward to after an intercontinental flight is a hot shower. I signed up to use a shower suite as soon as I entered the lounge, around 11:30am, but didn't get paged to report to the front desk for the shower key until 5 minutes to 1pm, a nearly 1 hour 30 minute wait! And this was during a time when the lounge really emptied, out after the morning rush.
The fluffy towels were nice, but I was surprised how narrow the room was. There really wasn't a lot of space to put luggage, spread out toiletries, and also sit down to put on shoes. I also don't understand why the towel hooks are on the other side of the room. I saw that there was a towel rod inside of the shower stall, but given that the stall wasn't that big, I thought the towel would surely get wet there.
Another knock is that there is not a single attendant around in the shower area, so when I wanted to find someone to request a cup for brushing my teeth, I was left empty-handed.
Still, a hot shower is better than none.
A standout feature of the E Gates lounges, both the Senator side and the Business side, is the outdoor terrace.
The provide Leica binoculars and a map of the runways, but you really don't need the binoculars.
The views are just spectacular! Well, for an aviation geek like myself, that is!
The Swiss Alps provided a stunning backdrop to the aircraft movement.
Though it was a bit nippy, I spent a good hour or so admiring the view.
Now, my very most favorite part of the lounge was the relaxation area. Not only do they have a station with bottled water that they encourage you to take with you, they also have these lounger booths. They have surrounds for privacy, a place to put your baggage, and a shelf to put devices while they charge with the built-in outlets. No food or mobile phone conversations are allowed here, leading to a quiet environment.
I really could have this view forever!
When I booked my ticket with nearly a five-and-a-half hour layover in Zurich, I toyed with the thought of going into town to explore a bit. I had attempted another long layover in town a few years back, but the flight was late and my luggage was damaged, so I really only saw Zurich a couple hours in the dark. Still, that experience taught me how expensive Switzerland was, so I decided that between having a shower and eating the (free) food in the lounge, I would probably not have much time to explore town.
It turned out that this extended stay in the lounge was a much better choice, with the amazing views from the terrace and the relaxation area. I really could have stayed much longer, and would have been very happy with that!