This is the final post out of eleven posts on Istanbul. Check out our other posts here:
- Introduction to Istanbul
- 4 Nights at the Magnificent Park Hyatt Istanbul
- Hagia Sophia: Church, Mosque, and Now Museum
- Cheap Eats in Istanbul!
- Istanbul’s Magnificent Mosques
- Turkish Food is Quite a Delight!
- Suleymaniye Hamami: A Mixed Gender Turkish Bath
- Shopping at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
- Istanbul’s Other Sights: The Topkapi Palace & Basilica Cistern
- Crossing the Bosphorous Strait: A Day Trip from Europe to Asia
- Lounge Deathmatch: Turkish Airlines vs. Cathay Pacific
Ever since we got into the miles and points game, Mrs. Selfish and I have made it a personal goal to cash in all of our miles and points for experiences we would never pay cash for. Like staying in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora or flying Lufthansa first class home from Europe.
While these redemptions have been pretty awesome, we usually get the most value for our miles flying international business class. While your average international flight is expensive – international business class is ridiculously expensive.
Like $3000 one way expensive, if you’re doing it right. And while the flights themselves tend to be great, one side benefit of flying business that we rarely talk about here at the Selfish Years is the lounges.
In the States, airline lounges mean free wifi, edible food, a moderately clean bathroom, free(ish) booze, and a room packed to 70% of capacity. Outside of the States, however, it’s a whole other story.
Let me show you by comparing my two favorite business class lounges, the Turkish Airlines flagship lounge in Istanbul and Cathay Pacific’s “The Wing” in Hong Kong.
Decor & Features
Most international business class lounges are pretty similar. They tend to be swankily decorated. There’s free wifi. There’s usually a showering facility filled with amenities like shampoo, lotion, and tooth paste. There are often free magazines, computer stations, and TVs playing movies.
The Wing is a great example of this. Their showers are clean and way better than the majority of lounge showers in Europe and America (I’m looking at YOU Lufthansa business class lounge). They have free power adapters in case you need to charge your laptop. They have the latest magazines in Chinese, English, and a few other languages.
This used to be my favorite lounge (we’ve had the pleasure of coming here 3 times already)… until we saw Turkish Airline’s lounge.
First the lounge is big. Like crazy big – equally twice the size of any other lounge I’ve been to. There is tons and tons of seating across two floors and it is classy. Hell, they have at least one grand piano on the premises, if memory serves.
Run out of movies to watch on your iDevice? Turkish Airlines has you covered! They have a movie theater. They have a pool table. They even have a model race car track – who does that?!
After showering and relaxing, perhaps the most important benefit (at least to Mrs. Selfish and I) is the food!
Is it fresh? Is it delicious? Are there options??
For Cathay Pacific’s “The Wing,” they have the usual buffet, but then they go two steps further. First is the noodle bar, where you can get fresh peanut-noodles, ramen, and other options including my personal favorite, fresh char siew bao!
Second is the coffee bar, where you can order a fresh latte or Hong Kong milk tea from a skilled barista. You can also get ice cream – which goes down real easy at 8am when you’re jetlagged beyond all reason.
Haggen Das tastes even better in the morning!
Turkish Airlines goes one step further. It’s basically a whose-who of fresh Turkish food made on site. Ridiculous.
They make their own pides onsite. They make their own koftke (meatballs) onsite. They make their own simits and mantis onsite.
Fresh made pides… so… good…
Fresh made koftke – tasty!
Fresh simit – not pictured, massive barrel of Turkish butter to the right.
Homemade $#(*&$#$ Manti is pretty darn tasty!
If fresh food isn’t your thing, you can also try any number of other foods. Dessert? Fruit? Tea? Turkish Delight? Turkish Airlines has you covered!
They even had a barrel of Ayran, a Turkish buttermilk drink which tastes similar to yogurt, but is the consistency of milk.
Basically the food selection here is insane and you’d need more than our pitiful 2 hours in the lounge to try it all. I left in a slight food coma – filled with Turkish food and regret, knowing that there was so much more food I could eat if only I had the time.
While I love both lounges, I would pick the Turkish Airlines lounge every time. From seating, to entertainment, to services, to food this lounge has it all. To be fair, Cathay Pacific actually has 3 lounges in Hong Kong (4 if you count the Arrival lounge), while Turkish Airlines has one main lounge, but I think that’s just a good argument that CP needs to up their game and invest in a flagship lounge.
What do you guys think? Does anyone else have a favorite lounge?