This is my review of the refurbished Iberia Velazquez lounge in Madrid Terminal 4S.
Iberia is in the process of refurbishing its two main lounges in Madrid. The Velazquez lounge in 4S, which is where you will often end up if flying British Airways, has now been completed as you will see below. The second lounge, Dali, closed on 30th July and is due to re-open in late October.
Iberia is – justifiably – pleased with what it has achieved with the new Valazquez lounge and has created a special page on its website which you will find here. The photos are far better than mine.
This is now one of the best oneworld lounges in Europe, and is a fitting flagship for Iberia at its home airport. I have issues over the use of space but overall I was impressed. I often think that IAG does not get enough credit for its turnaround of Iberia.
Anyone who has been to the modern Terminal 4 at Madrid knows that it is, basically, a monument to the folly of giving a famous architect (Richard Rogers in this case) all the space in the world to play with. The distances you need to cover are huge. In places there are signs indicating a 30 minute walk to your gate.
If you don’t know Madrid, there is a train stop at the town of Barajas between the stops for Terminals 1/2/3 and Terminal 4. That’s how far apart they are. The 4S satellite is also a fair trot from T4 itself – maps show it is almost as far away from T4 as it is from T1/2/3. If I had to travel through here every week it would drive me mad although I would end up 5kg lighter.
Once you’ve made it across to T4S, the entrance to the lounge is weird – it is literally in the middle of the duty free shop. Not just the duty free area …. the actual walk-through shop itself. Look at the reflection in the sign. It is easy to miss, which is saying something given that the entrance looks like this:
The new look is immediately apparent via this funky luggage storage area:
The Velazquez lounge is VERY long and very narrow. The upside is that you have a very long glass wall overlooking the tarmac. The downside is that it is a heck of a long walk from end to end.
Iberia deals with this by putting the reception desk – behind the red magazine and newspaper rack in the first image – in the centre. You have a choice of whether you go left or right, and in general most of the facilities are duplicated in both halves.
If you turn right, there are two unique areas which are not on the other side. The first is a kids area. This is not a separate room and it is not sound proofed:
Walk down to the end and the lounge gains a bit of extra width as it wraps around the corner. Iberia has used this to put in place a rather smart bar. It was operating as self service when I was there despite the traditional bar counter look.
What did impress me was the food, given that it was late afternoon. There was lots and lots of it, with plenty of options:
including this sushi wheel:
Here is a typical pair of seats. You’ll see that everything is new and you have power sockets built into every table in sight:
The magazine and newspaper area was a major letdown in terms of English language titles, apart from the FT, but it does look funky.
I wasn’t in the Velazquez lounge for long enough to get a proper grasp of, for example, the quality of alcohol available. The lounge website talks of a la carte table dining which I didn’t see in operation, so it is either not operating yet, is hidden away in a separate area or only operates at certain hours.
My biggest problem with the lounge is the same problem I had before it was refurbished – it has the unfortunate feel of being an airport terminal itself. If it was broken down into smaller zones with more variance in carpeting and seating then it might feel more intimate. Because it feels like you’re in the main terminal (albeit with free food and drink and far posher seating!) I didn’t get the same feeling of relaxation.
This is just a personal quirk though. If you are heading to Madrid and you qualify for lounge access via your British Airways status or having a Club Europe / Business Class ticket, I recommend making enough time in your day to spend an hour at the new Velazquez lounge. Remember to give yourself at least 30 minutes to get from the entrance to Terminal 4 to the lounge, given that you need to get over to the satellite.
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