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Review: KLM’s Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol airport (non-Schengen)

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This is our review of KLM’s non-Schengen Crown Lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

It may shock you to know that until this year, I had never been to Schiphol Airport. On previous trips to Amsterdam, I’ve always taken the Eurostar which – at 4 hours – takes roughly as long as the door-to-door journey you’d expect when flying. I had also never flown KLM.

I decided to rectify both of these on my recent trip to review the Conservatorium Hotel. I booked myself on one of KLM’s CityHopper services to London City Airport, which I thought was a good compromise.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Crucially, booking a KLM flight also meant I could use my Virgin Flying Club Gold card to access KLM’s non-Schengen Crown Lounge in Amsterdam. I wanted to see how another major European airline managed its flagship lounge at its home airport and how it might differ from what British Airways does at Heathrow.

The current lounge is relatively new and opened in 2019. You can find out more on KLM’s website here.

A quick word about Schengen

Even when the UK was in the European Union, it was not part of the Schengen area. This meant that you always needed to go through passport control when entering and leaving mainland Europe.

One upside of this arrangement, to make up for the queuing, is that flyers to the UK from Schengen countries generally end up in airport lounges aimed at long-haul travellers. Long-haul lounges are, in the main, superior to those used for Schengen flights because premium passengers pay far more for their tickets.

One example of this is Helsinki. The gap between the Schengen lounge (used for flights to, say, France) and the non-Schengen lounge (used for flights to the UK and all long-haul departures) is huge.

I’ve not been to KLM’s Schengen lounge in Amsterdam so I can’t compare the two. You won’t be using the lounge I am reviewing here if you are flying from Amsterdam to another Schengen country.

KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge access requirements

The KLM non-Schengen Crown Lounge is open to:

  • Business class passengers on KLM and other SkyTeam airlines
  • Flying Blue Platinum and Gold members plus one guest
  • Flying Blue Ultimate with up to 8 guests
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members plus one guest (including Virgin Flying Club Gold)

Note that business class light fares on KLM do not include lounge access.

It is also possible to pay for access to the KLM Crown Lounge, either online or on the door. It is currently €65 per person, although you’ll save €10 by paying in advance. Flying Blue Silver members get a further 25% discount when pre-booking.

KLM Crown Lounge Amsterdam location

The lounge is tucked away between Concourses E and F. KLM uses a slightly confusing lounge numbering system (similar to Heathrow Terminal 3) and the Crown Lounge is designated ‘Lounge 52’ on Terminal Signage.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

On leaving security you need to head down the escalators to the main terminal concourse, passing the new oneworld lounge which has just opened. It is a bit of a trot.

The giveaway that you have arrived is the bright LED lighting and ~5,000 KLM Delft houses adorning the escalators up, which makes for a fantastic entrance:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

(For those who don’t know, KLM gives out a porcelain Delft house, filled with Dutch gin, as a gift to all long haul business class passengers. They change annually – on 7th October – and many travellers are passionate about their collection. You will even see them for sale in some Dutch antique shops for people who want to complete the set. They have been offered since the 1950s.)

Your boarding pass is scanned in an impressive atrium at the top:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

The lounge is open from 4:45am until 10pm daily.

Inside the non-Schengen KLM Crown Lounge

The Crown Lounge is huge, set over two levels. At 6,800 square metres, and with over 1,000 seats, it would be impossible to review the whole thing.

Rather than try and cover every nook and cranny, I thought I’d put up a selection of images with some commentary.

The lounge is divided into five zones inspired by Dutch landscapes:

  • Sea – ‘recharge, refresh, sleep’
  • Polder – ‘eat and drink, work’
  • City – bar and buffet
  • Dutch Mountain – ‘entertainment’
  • Sky (upstairs) – ‘blue bar, blue restaurant, terrace’

The good news is that the lounge is a long, rectangular shape, which means that you’re never very far from the large floor-to-ceiling windows and teh natural light that comes with it. I arrived just as the sun was setting behind a thick layer of cloud, but I can imagine it being much brighter in the summer.

When you enter the lounge you either have the choice to stay on the first floor, with plentiful seating and free food and drink, or you can head upstairs to the second floor. Here you will find the Blue Bar and Blue Restaurant, both of which charge extra. More on that in a bit.

Seating in the KLM Crown Lounge

I spent most of my time on the right hand side of the lounge, in the ‘Polder’ area which features green carpets with red accents:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Unfortunately, this part of the lounge didn’t have great views thanks to an external jet bridge jutting along the window. It did have a variety of different chairs and seating options, although a lot of it in this section is quite low:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

In the middle of the space is an interesting, stepped seating area with stairs up towards ‘Sky’ and the Blue Bar. I believe this is meant to represent the Dutch Mountain, not that I knew there was such a thing! It did help to connect the two floors and open the space in more interesting way than a normal staircase.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Charging ports are located throughout the lounge and is built in to some of the seating.

At the back you’ll find what appears to be an empty buffet as well as a little exhibition of all 104 KLM Delft houses:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Further seating is available in other areas, including booths, large tables and individual armchairs.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Food and drink in the KLM Crown Lounge 52

‘City’ is where you’ll find the bar and buffet. There is a copper-walled Heineken-branded bar:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

A range of spirits and wines are available, albeit only from a staffed bar and not for self-pour. This includes a range of Bols genever (Dutch gin), Jim Beam bourbon, Teacher’s blended whisky, Rutte gin and vodka, Don Q Cristal rum, Baileys, Campari, Martini vermouth etc.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Wines included a single variety for red, white and rose from South African winery Sonnesken, with a Jaume Serra cava on offer and some tawny port. There is no champagne.

Around the back of the bar, which occupies half of a circular shaped space in the middle of the lounge, is the main buffet area.

When I was there, late afternoon/early evening, this was the only food available although there were various other closed food counters dotted around.

It is not the most inspiring offer in the world, and should put into some perspective BA’s offering at Heathrow. There are a range of salads:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Hot food wasn’t much better, with large cast iron pans featuring beef stew, roasted vegetables, chicken curry, vegan sweet and sour, rice, pasta and soups.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Ham and cheese was also on offer, although again nothing special:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Whilst the area is supposed to offer ‘live’ cooking, this was not happening during my visit and there were visibly empty areas. There is plenty of restaurant-style seating in this area:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

…. as well as large hot-desking tables:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Sleep pods and showers

In the ‘Sea’ area of the lounge are the sleep pods and showers. Sleep pods are chargeable and need to be booked with the lounge agents at the service desk. Prices are:

  • 3 hours: €49.50 or 12,400 Flying Blue miles
  • 5 hours: €75 or 18,800 Flying Blue miles
Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Showers are free. I thought I would try one but when I tried to book it via one of the self-service desks in the lounge it told me my boarding pass was not recognised, and I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of getting a ticket to see one of the lounge agents. I wasn’t the only one with a problem as another couple had the same issue.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Sky: Blue Bar and Blue Restaurant

On the upper floor you’ll find two additional spaces, both of which include chargeable extras that are not included in your standard lounge entry. Blue is open from 7am until 5pm.

KLM may be unique in this respect – I can’t think of another global flagship lounge where you need to pay extra for food and drinks in certain areas.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

If the costs are subsidised, it’s not by much: cocktails were available for between €9 and €12, or 2,250 – 3,000 Flying Blue miles. Mocktails were €7 whilst a Hendricks G&T was €12. Drinks that would be free downstairs are also free up here.

The Blue Bar food menu had a range of ‘Bar Bites’, from €8.50 for five black angus bitterballen to €17 for a Dutch charcuterie plate.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Does paying extra inside a lounge make sense as a concept? Whilst I can understand it for some services (such as spa treatments) it’s less compelling for food and beverage. After all, one of the perks of lounge access is that you don’t have to worry about getting your card out to pay. You can easily have a restaurant experience in the main terminal.

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

As you will see in some of the photos above, there is an outdoor terrace that runs along the length of the bar.

There is a further ‘Sky’ section with the restaurant at the rear, which was closed when I arrived:

Review: KLM's Crown Lounge 52 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Conclusion

This wasn’t meant to be a detailed guide to KLM’s Crown Lounge in Amsterdam. I simply wanted to show you that it is an attractive, and frankly enormous, facility.

How does it compare? Design-wise, it is obviously newer than the British Airways lounges at Heathrow. It also has a stronger and more colourful design, although it does sometimes veer into Ikea-core.

It was frustrating that the shower booking system did not work, and the food available is a reminder that BA’s lounge food isn’t as far from the norm as we think. It would have been good to have more drink and snack selections throughout the lounge, as currently it is all centralised in the ‘City’ section.

Fortunately, it was never hugely busy and there was plenty of seating throughout my visit. I also enjoyed how they integrated unique KLM elements such as the Delft houses, although I think they could have gone even further in the fit and finish of various areas to make it feel more luxurious.

The Crown Lounge is open from 4.45am to 10pm. You can find out more on the KLM website here.


How to earn Flying Blue miles from UK credit cards

How to earn Flying Blue miles from UK credit cards (May 2024)

Air France and KLM do not have a UK Flying Blue credit card.  However, you can earn Flying Blue miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.

These cards earn Membership Rewards points:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Flying Blue miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Flying Blue mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Comments (29)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Thomas says:

    What time did you go?

  • Travel Todi says:

    Last few times I was there (morning hours) the lounge was always so busy that I hardly could find a seat. The shower is minimal with Rituals cosmetics, but no hairdryer (you need to ask for that). I find really American having to pay for drinks and food. Not cool KLM, not cool! Otherwise liked the size of the lounge and decor. Terrace was always closed when visited.

  • His Holyness says:

    LH’s Munich lounges are a delight compared to this. I always look forward to those trips and I shake in terror at anything via FRA.

    KL is as crap as I remember. I gave up on Flying Blue circa 2012.

  • Ruralite says:

    I always hit it about 11.30am outward and around 0600 return when flying to the UAE. Lunchtime it’s not generally too full but often not all areas are open (at least when I’ve gone through) but I generally get a window seat. I never really eat other than a biscuit with my coffee. In the mornings I find it packed as there are a lot of early morning flight arrivals/departures and, whilst I’ve found there is a good selection of breakfast food, I always find the hot food lukewarm, overcooked and generally it doesn’t look very appetising. The area where food is served, at the back, is quite dark and dingy which doesn’t help either. It is easy to find the entrance as you walk along the concourse and I see it as somewhere to sit comfortably and read my book – I’m either flying Bus. or I use my KLM status for access, I wouldn’t pay for it as an extra if I didn’t have the status. Wasn’t aware of the rodent issue highlighted earlier but I guess they’re a problem anywhere there’s large amounts of people and food!

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    The rodent issue is really bad. The mice are flagrantly active once the evening lull sets in. Any flights after 20.30, if you’re still in the lounge they’re brave enough to run around the open areas; not just scurrying in the shadows.

  • Catalan says:

    I visited the Crown Lounge last year. I loved the whole concept and furnishings. The showers were ok but nothing special, though I did like the online booking process.
    The food wasn’t plentiful and what was there was dire. What is it about Northern European food!

  • eli says:

    food presentation looks gross
    Also no Kosher food available

  • Angela says:

    I like the KLM lounge as a good place for a longer layover. The lockers are great to use and so helpful if you want to run into town or just relieve yourself from lugging it around while you use the lounge. I don’t drink alcohol and wish they had more options or better service on non-alcoholic beverages. I have used their showers many times. You need to ask for a hairdryer and bring your own hair care amenities. The water often gets all over the floor and you most likely will need to ask for an additional towel. Also, they do ask for a 15 minute time limit. For most women this is a pretty harsh time limit. We HAVE HAIR, my dude. But, it is still a friendly welcome to a long red-eye weary traveler. The food is pretty bad. I do not even try to eat it anymore. I would rather go pay for something else in the main airport. Last few layovers I just didn’t even bother it is always disappointing.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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