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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.

  • Jan M says:

    Strangely the Schengen lounge does allow you to pour your own drinks. It’s much less stylish and smaller but the food offering is the same. It was closed for much the Covid period when KLM wanted you to go through passport control and back to use the non-Schengen one!

  • Throwawayname says:

    I would not eat at that lounge, it’s notorious for its rodents. Drinks options are horrible, not just in terms of quality (the white wine at my last visit was plainly undrinkable) but also in size (must be the only bar in the world serving vermouth in 25ml measures – and you can’t even ask for a double!).

    I understand that many/most people on this website will be comparing to BA’s underwhelming offering at LHR, but the reality is that a bog standard AENA lounge in e.g. Bilbao offers far, far better food and drink than this supposedly ‘flagship’ facility.

    • Rhys says:

      BA has better food to be honest!

      • LittleNick says:

        Aside from Breakfast, what’s better about it? This looks remarkably similar, do you have to go fishing for the chicken and beef in the curries like you do the BA ones?

    • Michael Jennings says:

      Yeah, I was in that Bilbao lounge on Monday. I like it that the AENA lounges have a decent selection of wines and a few local spirits as well as the international ones. The food was good. I was amused that when they brought out a seemingly freshly made tortilla, it was gone in about five minutes. Spanish people love a tortilla.

      There’s often a very limited selection of food in that lounge in the evening, however.

  • Kieran says:

    I would rank KLM’s crown lounge as one of the best business lounges in Europe. Food has always been much more impressive when I’ve visited. There is also an espresso bar which is a welcome change to standard machines.

    • Qrfan says:

      Really? The best, or the best you’ve visited? Qantas LHR. Cathay LHR. Qatar LHR. Finnair HEL. United LHR. Virgin LHR. Frankly if you want food even the Emirates Gatwick looks like it beats this. I haven’t visited this lounge since pre renovations but I just can’t see how it beats any of the lounges I just mentioned.

      • Rob says:

        In terms of sheer scale and facilities, you can’t knock it. Quality-wise there is obviously a limit to what you can achieve with 1,000 seats though – you could potentially have 5,000 people per day passing through and good luck serving exceptional food and high quality booze to that many.

        • Chris W says:

          They could add a live cooking station or two.

          Turkish Airlines would see even more guests each day in their IST lounge and they manage amazing food just fine!

        • Qrfan says:

          Much like BA, there needs to be a separate lounge for ticketed long haul business class so that people on £5k tickets aren’t getting the same experience as short haul economy mid tier status holders. The absence of short haul is why the T3 one world lounges are so good.

          • daveinitalia says:

            There’s lots of BA shorthaul from T3 often at very low prices

          • Throwawayname says:

            This is a false dichotomy, there are plenty of decent business class lounges covering all sorts of eligible passengers.

            With the exception of SQ, I can’t think of any non-oneworld airlines faffing about with multiple sorts of lounges, and it obviously happens because the alliance rules stipulate first class lounge access for status holders.

  • Stuart says:

    KLM is my main airline so I transit in AMS more than anywhere else and I have never had a problem booking a shower at different times if the day, even when I have had a shortish connection.
    I would not say that it is ‘tucked away’. The entrance with the Delft house lined escalator and lift is right at the concourse and obvious to see, it’s and not down a corridor like many others.

  • Nick says:

    In my experience even if the shower booking system does scan your boarding pass you usually have to wait over an hour for a shower. If you are arriving on a long haul flight best to book one as soon as you get in.

    • Travel Todi says:

      I usually book a shower immediately when arrive and depending on busyness of the lounge I got a shower within 20-30 mins. Until that I eat and drink.

  • Guy T says:

    Just travelled from Norwich to NZ to Norwich on 7 flights. Of the all the lounges including Norwich, this was far the most disappointing, and there is very little at Norwich! KLM flagship lounge, you must be joking!

    • Qrfan says:

      I would love to see a reader review of this with more details. Having spent a lot of time in that neck of the woods, the idea of retiring in Norfolk and travelling the world from Norwich international is appealing, but I’ve never actually flown from there. Is the pricing keen?

  • LittleNick says:

    They’ve certainly put a lot into the fixture, fittings and decor however seems the food offering is a bit disappointing. Hopefully the restaurant food in the lounge is a good offering, certainly should be if it’s extra.
    Any chance of an Air France Non-Schengen lounge review next for comparison?

  • NL says:

    Eligibility to this lounge has an interesting quirk when connecting between international KLM / SkyTeam flights. KLM don’t offer an arrivals lounge (unlike LHR), but If you arrive on business, but travel onwards in economy, you are eligible for entry. Flying last month without KLM / SkyTeam status, I arrived business from KUL, and connecting to MME (same day!), my boarding pass scanned with a green tick allowing access.
    see https://www.klm.co.uk/information/airport/crown-lounges “If you are a Business Class Standard or Flex passenger, a Flying Blue Ultimate, Platinum, or Gold member, or a SkyTeam Elite Plus passenger, you can enjoy all our lounge facilities before departure or during your transfer.”

    • lumma says:

      That’s the same rules as Oneworld. When doing an Iberia long haul I book an economy BA or Iberia flight back to London with a decent gap between flights and shower and relax in the Velázquez lounge. They do have to manually override it if it’s on a separate ticket

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