Turkish Airlines Istanbul CIP Lounge review – 12 hours

About 5 years ago, I wrote a post about the Turkish Airlines Lounge being the best regular class lounge I’ve ever experienced. Nothing has changed … in fact, they’ve gotten better and Air Canada just barely got their flagship lounge in Montreal off the ground. I had the “misfortune” of bouncing through the Istanbul airport three times on this Easter European trip with one stop being about 7 hours. Turkish Airlines Istanbul CIP Lounge review – 12 hours

This lounge is truly an experience … over the 12 hours in here on this trip … the number of passengers I’ve seen with cameras documenting the lounge, taking pictures and just food touring in here is remarkable. The Turkish Air Lounge “CIP Lounge” is SO big they advertise that “it is bigger than some airports.”  How big? It is 5,900 square meters (or over 63,000 square feet). It feels like a nice hotel where everything was free.

Who Can Enter the Turkish Airlines Lounge?

Lounge entry is granted for all Star Alliance Gold members, Star Alliance business class passengers, and Turkish Airlines’ Elite and Elite Plus members. Turkish Classic Plus (Star Silver) members have access to domestic CIP lounges, but not this international CIP lounge.  Additionally, if you have a United Club membership and are traveling on any Star Alliance flight out of Istanbul, you will be granted access.

As a matter of perspective, here’s the SkyTrax listing of the best business class lounges in the world (the ones in RED, I’ve been a guest of)

  1. Qatar Airways : Doha HIA
  2. Turkish Airlines : Istanbul
  3. Cathay Pacific : Hong Kong
  4. Virgin Atlantic : London Heathrow
  5. Singapore Airlines : Singapore
  6. Qantas Airways : Sydney
  7. Etihad Airways : Abu Dhabi
  8. Emirates : Dubai
  9. Swiss : Zurich
  10. EVA Air : Taipei

Turkish Airlines Lounge Food

In the center of the lounge is food. A lot of delicious food. Breakfast includes omelets made to order, wonderful Turkish and Continental items like bircher muesli, fresh yogurt, and pastries, and even real honeycomb. Scrambled and fried eggs are also available and quickly replenished when depleted. Truly, skip your hotel breakfast — this is better.

Turkish Tea Trees

Turkey has an extensive history and culture of tea consumption, which is reflected in the numerous tea trees that are grown within the lounge. In the courtyard, located in the central atrium area, you can sit down, converse with fellow guests, and try out some of the different loose leaf teas that are offered, including jasmine, fennel, carnation, garnet, chamomile, and hibiscus tea. As an accompaniment to your tea, there is a cart in this area that holds a delicious Turkish bread called simit. These carts are ubiquitous throughout the city of Istanbul, and this circular bread is very popular throughout Turkey as a quick takeaway item.

Gourmet Food Galore

As mentioned in the first part of our feature, all of the catering for this lounge is provided by Turkish Do & Co, so there is no shortage of delicious culinary Turkish delights to try out. One signature item is pide, a Turkish flatbread dish that, with a number of toppings placed on it, is similar to thin crust pizza. Typically, pide contains numerous toppings stacked on top of a thin layer of pita bread. As the lounge features a transparent open kitchen, you can actually take a look at how your food is prepared by the Skychefs on hand. This is perfect if you want to try your hand at recreating pide for your extended family to try out once you get home.

Turkish Olive Station

In case the generic olive selection doesn’t do it for you, there’s an entire olive station in the center of the lounge (near the big staircase). There were at least 10 different type of olives to nibble on.

Stuff for the kids

Remote control car racetrack: The Toys R Us kid in me got excited when I saw this huge RC car racetrack.  I used to play with a much much much smaller version of this when I was a kid.

Golf simulation – looks very cool.  I’m terrible in golf but I’d love to give this a try.  But first I need to find the masseuse to sign up for a free massage. Yes, they have a masseuse walk around giving massages.  Does it get better? Yep.


  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Printers and computers
  • Meeting rooms
  • Teleconference room
  • Cinema
  • A wide range of food and beverages
  • A wide selection of local and international papers/magazines
  • Library
  • Media wall
  • Prayer room
  • Showers
  • Massages
  • Billiards room
  • Suit rooms
  • Playroom for children
  • Golf simulator
  • Electronic diversions

Turkish Airlines Istanbul Lounge Showers and Sleeping Rooms

The lounge does offer showers, available to all guests, and sleeping rooms. Sleeping room access is restricted to:

  • The following passengers:
    • Business Class passengers
    • Turkish Elite or ElitePlus members
    • Star Alliance Gold members
  • Under the following conditions:
    • 1.) departing on a long haul flight of more than eight (8) hours AND
    • 2.) in transit for more than 4 but less than 7 hours

Sleeping rooms are very nice — a private room with a twin bed, desk, TV, and bottled water:

As for overall design and pretty …

So in the end, 5 years later … still the best lounge in the world I’ve been to. I need to make a trip to Qatar for that Doha lounge!!!

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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