Review: Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine business class lounge in Addis Ababa
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This is our review of the Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine lounge in Addis Ababa.
As you would expect for an airline that manages a lot of connecting passengers, Ethiopian Airlines operates a number of lounges at Addis Ababa airport.
The Cloud Nine lounge is the ‘top’ lounge on offer and caters to business class passengers. There is a separate lounge for Ethiopian and Star Alliance status holders, which is just next door. We have reviewed the Star Alliance lounge in another article today – click here to read that.
Access to the Cloud 9 lounge is restricted to those who are ticketed in business class on Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, EgyptAir or Turkish Airlines. You cannot get in via status alone.
You need to be flying business for your onward flight, so if you have just come from London in business but are connecting onto an economy flight then you would not be eligible. I believe there is also a third lounge for Sheba Miles Silver Card holders – ie. Ethiopian’s own mid-tier status holders.
Where is the Ethiopian Cloud Nine lounge?
Addis Ababa Bole Airport is a relatively modern airport with a new-ish main building (Terminal 2). It’s a fairly easy terminal to navigate with an open design.
Both lounges are close to gate A14, which is centrally located within the terminal building. It is very close to where you’ll exit secondary security after your arriving flight.
Fortunately it is well sign-posted so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the lounge!
Inside the Cloud Nine lounge at Addis Ababa Bole airport
You’ll be greeted by one of the lounge staff first, who will scan your boarding pass and check your eligibility for the lounge.
Once through, you enter into a series of rooms which stretch all the way to the other side of the terminal. It is a very big lounge, with capacity for 600 guests, and it needs to be. I was there during the morning rush and it was very busy, although you’ll still find seating available.
Immediately to the left of the lounge reception is a small Ethiopian coffee area. This was empty and unstaffed during my visit, and its location right by the door makes it feel very transitory.
Fortunately, the rest of the lounge is pretty bright, despite the lack of windows. This is achieved through a number of large skylights, like this one above a square bar in one of the first rooms:
The bar was unstaffed in the morning, although I assume it is staffed later in the day.
Following this you then have a small dining area next to a salad bar with cold cuts of meat and cheese (the hot food is elsewhere):
After is the main ‘room’ and by far the largest spot in the lounge. You can see how busy it was:
One end features full length windows and offers views across Addis Ababa:
On the left you can find a bar serving wine (this one was staffed, even at 9am, and serving alcohol) whilst on the right you’ll find the main buffet.
The hot food consisted mostly of various local curries with rice or injera, as well as western options such as eggs, frankfurter-style sausages and pancakes etc:
A selection of breads and pastries were available as well:
Power sockets are fairly widely available, although from my experience not all of them seem to work. Wi-fi was ok – not lightning fast but decent enough.
Showers and other lounge amenities
In addition to the large seating areas, the lounge also had a number of other seating areas. This included:
- A smoking room
- A large nap area suitable for 15 people or so
- A traditional Ethiopian coffee corner (although no coffee was being served!)
- Prayer rooms
Unfortunately the showers were fully booked whilst I was there so I didn’t manage to take a look.
Ethiopian’s Cloud Nine lounge isn’t going to win any international awards as the world’s best lounge, but it does offer a comfortable place whilst you wait for your connecting flight.
Addis Ababa Bole airport is a hive of activity in the mornings and the Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine lounge is no different. In fact, it could do with being even bigger in order to cope with the sheer volume of passengers.
That said there were still areas where you could find a quiet corner. I imagine it is a lot better later in the day – unfortunately, that’s just a consequence of Ethiopian’s business model with banks of arrivals and departures catering to connecting traffic.
I liked the style of the lounge with large skylights and sculptural light fittings, plus some traditional Ethiopian mandalas. I think they could have gone even bigger on the traditional Ethiopian elements, which give the lounge a sense of place which the modern interior otherwise lacks.
As you will see in our other review today (click here) the Star Alliance Gold Lounge is remarkably similar so it would be good to see the Cloud Nine lounge differentiated further with a more premium offering.
You can catch up on my review of flying Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine business class between London and Addis Ababa here.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2023)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.