Before we arrived at the airport for our flight to Istanbul, I was unsure which lounge we would end up in. Turkish doesn’t have a lounge of its own in Hanoi, so they use one of the two contract lounges at the airport.
When we flew from Hanoi to Hong Kong last year, we had the choice of the VN Lounge or the NIA Lounge. We chose the VN Lounge, and I figured we would have the same choice this time. Interestingly enough, our lounge invitations this time only had the NIA Lounge on offer. This was fine by me as I wanted to review it anyway, but I’m curious if I asked if I would have been allowed in the VN Lounge. Oh well we’ll never know!
Overall, the lounge wasn’t too bad. Don’t expect something like Cathay Pacific’s The Pier or Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge in Istanbul (Which we’re reviewing soon!), but it certainly gets the job done. It’s almost identical to the VN Lounge in terms of service and amenities, but with a different design.
I personally like the style in the VN Lounge a little more because it has a little more personality, but others may disagree.
The lounge is very bright and airy, thanks to the glass on one side. This makes for lots of natural lighting, and is also a great spot to watch planes as they taxi around the terminal. I could sit there all day with a glass of wine and just look at the planes go by.
Unlike the VN Lounge, this one actually had hot food items other than pho! There was this slow cooked pork belly dish that was absolutely delicious, and I had more of it than I care to admit.
There was also a decent selection of cold items, such as small sandwiches and salad. For dessert there were brownies as well as local fruits. It’s not the best spread I’ve ever seen, but it’s a contract lounge at a small airport so don’t set your expectations too high.
The alcohol selection, like the food, will get the job done but it won’t blow you away. On one hand they have Johnny Walker Red Label. Can’t really complain with that, but then they also have Hanoi Vodka. I can’t stress just how disgusting Hanoi Vodka is. To put things into perspective, Hanoi Vodka was included in the list of booze I served when I worked at a bar that did all you can drink for $4.50. They also have Smirnoff right next to it. Why offer Hanoi if you also have Smirnoff, which is hands down better? Makes no sense. I actually think in this case, having variety is worse. Moral of the story : don’t drink Hanoi Vodka.
The wine was hit or miss. Breada had a decent white, but when I ordered a glass for myself the wine I got was vile. After that I stuck to iced tea. They had three different beers on offer : Tiger, 333, and Bia Hanoi. All three are pretty good as far as Vietnamese beers go (Tiger is from Singapore but it’s by far the most popular beer with Vietnamese locals), but I just wasn’t in the mood.
Besides the typical business section, which actually came in handy while we were there, the lounge had a couple nice extra features.
Like the VN Lounge, there were showers inside of the bathroom. Personally I don’t think they’re necessary because the airport isn’t a big hub, so there won’t be many people on long layovers or who came from long flights that need to freshen up. That being said, I was so happy they had them because I needed one. The power went out at our house the morning we left and it was stifling hot. That shower saved me from being the smelly backpacker in business class.
There was also a row of massage chairs to use. The VN Lounge also had massage chairs, but they were a little dated. These were quite modern and very comfortable. To be sure, I decided to test one out and was very happy with the results. The only thing I would change is the placement of them. You’re just staring at a wall while there is a TV behind you you can’t see. They should either mount a TV in front of the chairs, or move the chairs to face the TV.
There’s also a smoking room inside of the lounge. Don’t worry if you’re a nonsmoker; the ventilation is good and you cannot smell it outside of the room.
Overall the lounge will get the job done, but keep your expectations low. I’d say compared to the VN Lounge they are about even, but I would give a slight edge to this one because of the hot food and the updated massage chairs. What would make it better in my opinion is if it became a Priority Pass lounge. Hanoi doesn’t have a PP lounge, and as the airport gets busier it will be in need of one. I also don’t plan on flying business class regularly out of Hanoi and would like somewhere to hang out when I’m not.
Here’s to hoping!