Lounge Review: Adelaide’s new Virgin Australia lounge
The Virgin Australia lounge was set to open way back in mid 2020, but due to COVID-19, was delayed until 23 February 2021. The old lounge closed back in February 2020 and was replaced by a temporary lounge while the new lounge construction was completed.
Oh, and the airline went into administration, and then got sold to Bain Capital for AU$3.5 billion in between lounge closure and new lounge opening.
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The new lounge is designed by Brisbane’s WMK Architecture with a capacity of 283-seat, although much of it was roped off from the public during my visit.
One of the clear benefits of COVID-19 is the reversion to table service in some airport lounges. Qantas did it for a while, but you can now point and collect at Qantas instead of someone bringing it to your seat. However Virgin is maintaining its COVID-19 table service, for the moment, albeit with table side mobile ordering by QR code.
At the Airport
Virgin Australia has its facilities on the left hand side of the upper level of Adelaide Airport, with security facilities dividing it from Qantas/Jetstar. You can approach it from the ground, or from the walkway from the Parking station.
Once through security, you turn left. The old lounge was closer to security, but now it is a little further, but oh so worth the effort.
After the long corridor, you reach a kind of internal plaza with cafes, shops, and escalators down to the baggage hall. The Lounge is to the left and the gates are to the right.
If you are travelling on Virgin with only hand luggage and/or if you want to use the club, have your Uber head for the drop off for point at the Atura Adelaide Airport Hotel, you can then enter the airport at that end, and use the escalators in the picture below to head straight up to the Virgin Lounge, or the gates (to the right in the image below)
Turn left after the ‘G’day from Adelaide’ poster but before the lift downstairs and you are there.
Right off the cuff, I am going to say I love the old Virgin Lounge design. Not the dated Adelaide lounge version, but the diamond motif developed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer architects in 2011, and as displayed in the Sydney and Melbourne – particularly the Club lounges, with all that wood. I think it’s sensational.
This Besser brick wall version, I am not so in love with. It is contemporary, clean and elegant, but, I think a little souless. It feels more assembled than designed. Kit home rather than architects creation.
Virgin remains cheeky, and the signage reflects that, but it feels a bit down-market, with the font, colour and neon, although probably on-brand for the newly christened ‘value’ airline. Meaning something between full-service and a budget flyer.
The lounge is ‘L’ shaped, with some short stay seating close to the entrance, leading to a coffee bar area on the right, and workbenches to the left, with a communal area straight ahead.
Turn to your right after the coffee bar, and you will see a wine, beer and spirits bar, with a food area further along.
Seating is quite spaced out throughout the lounge, but I suspect this is for COVID purposes.
There are plenty of power outlets whether it be at the desks, or within the skirting board of the banquette.
At the far end of the lounge is a more comfortable ‘loungey’ area. Again, seating is quite spread out – I presume to meet COVID-19 restrictions. It was roped off on my visit. The lounge during my visit was sparsely populated, which was fine by me.
This area looks pretty comfortable, and would be great if you had a long layover.
Food & Drink
Due to COVID restrictions, there were no open food displays, which made the food service areas look a bit forelorn. But on the other hand, COVID-19 has lead to a great improvement in the level of service in most lounges.
Old fashioned Table Service
My first experience of table service in an airport lounge was in Mexico City, while travelling on several flights with Air Mexico. There, black trousered waiters, with short white jackets whipped around the lounge taking or delivering your order. It was like something out of a 1930’s Busby Berkley musical with its precision and grace – although you were expected to tip the wait staff, which as an Australian, always feels slightly uncomfortable, as I read it as meaning they don’t get a proper living wage.
New fashioned Table Service
In the interests of minimising movement and contact within the lounge in these days of COVID-19, Virgin Australia has adopted a QR Code ordering service. Here in Adelaide, each ‘position’ comes with its QR Code sticker and table number. You use the QR code to log into a menu and ordering system (Bopple), which includes providing a location/table number, and once your order is completed, staff deliver it to your seat.
First you order
Then you checkout
The service was incredibly prompt, and the food and beverage, very delicious – particularly that cheese and ham toastie!
The bathrooms were accessed from a corridor behind the entrance area, and were well signed. They include segregated bathrooms, baby change facilities and showers.
These bathrooms remind me of those in the Qantas Business Lounge in Melbourne. I like the curved mirrors and the large mirror intersected by a shelf. The tongue and groove stall doors are an element of beach shack shabby chic that I could have done without, although I do like the pale olive paint colour.
Hand wash is from Hunter Lab, with a pleasant tangerine, grapefruit and rum aroma.
The ‘hooks’ for hanging ‘man bags’ and satchels are a nice touch.
Unfortunately, I missed capturing an image of what lies behind the door in the image below, but it was ajar momentarily, and looks like a potential space for an extension to the lounge, or maybe a ‘The Club’, or perhaps it was just a staff recreation space space?
WiFi signal was good, strong and relatively fast, but given the emptiness of the lounge, and therefore the lack of users – so it should have been. Access details with the password of the day were displayed discreetly at various points in the lounge.
This is spacious – in fact, vast compared to the old space and comfortable lounge located adjacent to most of the Virgin Australia gates. I don’t think it is as lux as many of the eastern seaboard existing lounges, and hope that this new look and feel doesn’t replace the old ‘diamond’ design of most existing Virgin Australia lounges. I don’t think it is as refined as they are.
Having said that, this lounge is light and airy, with contemporary ‘thin’ furniture upholstered in synthetic velvets of rich dusky shades of maroon, blue, linen-look fabrics of grey, and bright brown leather. Tiles and floors are in subtle greys and ecru, with olive painted tongue & groove highlights in the bathrooms. There are small pot plants everywhere, which adds to the life of the space.
This space is a vast improvement on the old lounge both in space, style, food and service.
I’m not a fan of the red signs and the fonts. I know red along with purple is part of Virgin Australia’s brand palette, but I think it looks a little cheap rather than chic here.
The new Lounge is pretty central to the Virgin Australia gates at Adelaide Airport. It doesn’t take long to get to the gate you need.
The new Adelaide Airport Virgin Australia lounge is a triumph against the old tired, undersized lounge. It’s light and airy with currently superb food and beverage table service. It doesn’t have the design sense of the current lounges on the east coast – which are more befitting a full-service airline.
This plant-ridden, pale wooded, spindly furniture design fits the mid-range value airline brief that the resurrected Virgin Australia has given itself. Although not entirely to my taste, it is a vast improvement on the previous Adelaide Virgin Australia lounge.