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The La Premiere Lounge is the best first class lounge I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit. While it doesn’t have a bathtub or bedrooms like a few other first class lounges, its extraordinary food and top-notch service more than makes up.
The La Premiere Lounge is largely limited to passengers flying in Air France’s long-haul international first class, or “La Premiere,” cabin. Subject to lounge capacity, passengers with an Air France-issued (and operated) long haul business class ticket have the option of paying €500 to enter the lounge only if their flight doesn’t have a first class cabin AND if no Air France flights servicing their route have a first class cabin (e.g. Paris to Denver). La Première passengers are also able to bring in a guest who is travelling on the same flight in any class, again subject to lounge capacity. You can check out all the detailed conditions for entry to the La Premiere Lounge as a business class passenger here.
The lounge is open from 5:30 AM to 11:30 PM. I can’t seem to find any opening times posted online by Air France, by these were the hours given to me by the woman working the front desk.
Arrival & security
My La Premiere ground experience began when my flight from Frankfurt pulled up to its remote stand at Charles de Gaulle. Though the bus meant to carry passengers to the terminal was running late, my transportation, a black BMW 8-Series, was parked about 20 feet from the plane stairs.
I descended the stairs and was greeted by Jennifer, a staff member of the La Premiere ground service who took my bag and led me to the car. We drove about 5 minutes to the La Premiere Lounge and walked through a pair of glass sliding doors into a small room with a metal detector.
Travelers coming from certain places, including Europe and the US, I was explained, don’t have to re-clear security, so we walked on in. In the elevator, Jennifer asked me for my passport so she could check me in and returned it about 10 minutes later as I sat in the lounge.
If you’re not coming from an inbound flight, you will be escorted by an Air France employee through fast-track security and to the La Premiere Lounge after checking in at the dedicated La Premiere check-in area.
There are three seating areas in the La Premiere Lounge. The largest of the three is directly behind the dining area, separated by a white leather-upholstered partition. A few dining tables line the leather partition and the rest of the seating comprises red and white leather armchairs, as well as booth seating by the windows at the far end of the lounge.
The second seating area is next to the primary seating area and slightly quieter—though the whole lounge is so sparsely occupied that it’s generally silent. It features more booth seating and ottomans, as well as a series of hanging, backlit circular glass panes.
Finally, there’s a small seating area near the elevators and next to the dining area with a table and a few armchairs. Most strikingly, this area’s semicircular back wall is paneled in tufted red leather with white LEDs over the dimples and gives lounge goers the distinct feeling of sitting inside an enormous, expensive, red leather purse.
Bar & restaurant
The highlight of this lounge is its food and drink. Having woken up at 5 AM and at 10 AM not yet having eaten breakfast, I made a beeline for the restaurant upon entering the lounge.
Though I chose to sit in the dining area, food can be ordered and eaten anywhere in the lounge. After sitting at a table facing the gorgeous backlit food display, a waiter handed me a red leather-bound breakfast menu that read like that of a high-end French restaurant.
I also checked out the lunch and dinner menu, which can be ordered whenever the lounge is open.
I ordered tea and an omelet with mushrooms, Comte, and confit onions. When my tea arrived, I was given a plate of fresh bread, a pat of butter, and a cold bottle of Evian. I scarfed down a croissant that was up to standard for even the most discriminating French palate.
My omelet arrived and was prepared beautifully: runny in the middle, well-seasoned, and containing the perfect amount of filling.
I then ordered a plate of four French cheeses, which came room temperature—how I like it—with a small glass bowl of marmalade.
Finally, I ordered the Monte Carlo-style Baba: essentially a fluffy hybrid of brioche and sponge cake, cut in half, filled with cream, and covered in rum. It was plated tableside and served in a beautiful silver, domed tureen. I’m generally not a Baba fan but thoroughly enjoyed this dish.
Pictures and words don’t do this meal justice, but maybe a point of reference will help: the difference between this meal and one in a Polaris Lounge restaurant is like the difference between that same Polaris Lounge meal and the food you’d get at an Ambassador’s Lounge buffet.
After the meal, I got up and explored the wall across from my table: backlit shelves containing pastries, breads, yogurts, fruits, and chocolates backlit and displayed like a modern art installation.
Most amusingly (and surprisingly gorgeous) is a wall with no less than 12 different brands of bottled water.
Across from the dining area is a nook with a beautiful glass and metal bar. Given the early hour, I didn’t order anything but was tempted by the Lagavulin and Johnnie Walker Blue.
Off to the side of the main seating area towards the showers and spa is the relaxation room, which features about a dozen white leather loungers and end tables.
Each lounger is partitioned by what might best be described as a shoulder-height wall of white artificial reeds. Blankets are also offered.
Unlike the lounge’s sublime food, design, and service, this area doesn’t measure up to European competitors Swiss and Lufthansa which both offer full hotel-like bedrooms in their first class lounges.
The lounge contains three shower rooms, each generously appointed with Dyptique amenities, slippers, plush robes, and towels. The rooms themselves are beautiful. Their walls are paneled in white leather and illuminated by soft lights set into a gap between the wall and ceiling, and an oversized marble sink sits below a backlit vanity, out of which a chrome faucet is set.
I took a long shower and enjoyed the pleasantly fragrant Dyptique products but found that the rain showers’ water pressure could have been better.
There are several unisex bathrooms, and they are, truly, the most beautiful bathrooms I’ve ever seen. From the outside, they look like white cylinders that stretch from floor to ceiling.
A curved door opens to reveal 360 degrees of leather walls and tiled floors.
A chandelier made from a few dozen glass spheres hangs in the center of the room and casts mottled circles of light across the walls.
Lighting between the wall and ceiling bath the room in soft light. A toilet faces a cylindrical porcelain sink with chrome faucets that sits below a tall narrow mirror and next to a floating white countertop.
The La Premiere Lounge contains a spa sponsored by the beauty brand Sisley Paris, and guests are entitled to a complimentary 30-minute treatment.
When I enquired, all appointments were unfortunately booked so I couldn’t get one. If you’re interested, I recommend requesting an appointment when you first enter the lounge to maximize the odds of getting one. Keep in mind that the spa is opened 7:30 AM to 7:15 PM, so hours are slightly more restrictive than the lounge itself.
Car service to aircraft
After two hours luxuriating in the best lounge on earth, I was approached by Jennifer, my driver from earlier, and told that my flight had begun boarding. My departure from the lounge was made sweeter when Jennifer handed me a bag with a handwritten card and red leather La Premiere-branded luggage tag.
I reluctantly made my way to the back of the lounge and descended in the elevators to ground level where I showed my boarding pass to a member of lounge staff before walking through glass sliding doors to a DS7 luxury SUV which Jennifer would drive to my plane. Outside, there was another lounge attendant who loaded my bags in the trunk, opened the car door for me, and closed it behind me.
We drove for five minutes and parked next to gate M28. We exited the car, entered a building, took an elevator up two floors, and came upon passengers queuing at a jet bridge, as well as an entirely separate jet bridge, cordoned off with a red velvet rope. Jennifer unclipped the rope and we walked down the jet bridge towards the plane, where she boarded with me and introduced me to the two first class flight attendants before finally bidding me adieu.
This ground service was something else. The end-to-end contact with Jennifer, who was omnipresent from the moment I disembarked the inbound plane to the moment she introduced me to my flight attendants on the next one, is a level of luxury I haven’t experienced before. Service from the rest of the La Premiere Lounge staff was likewise next-level impressive: from the waiters to the shower attendants, everyone I interacted with was attentive but not overbearing. That’s partially thanks to the high ratio of staff to guests, which must be around 2:1, but it’s also due to the obvious care and attention paid by lounge employees to lounge guests.
I enjoyed every moment of my two hours in Air France’s La Premier Lounge, though it was the food that set it apart from any other first class lounge I’ve ever visited. Silly as it sounds, I was also struck by the sheer amount of leather used in this lounge—on walls, armchairs, benches, and menus—as emblematic of the no-expense-spared luxury in which Air France seeks to immerse its first class passengers. It’s an unmatched, over-the-top airport experience—one that, if finances allow, I hope to repeat again and again.