The World’s Best Contract Airport Lounge: The GVK Lounge Mumbai

Filed Under: Jet Airways, Travel

Early this morning I flew from Mumbai to London in Jet Airways first class. I was curious to see how the Jet Airways first class ground experience in Mumbai compared to the Air India first class ground experience in Delhi.

One thing that makes Mumbai Airport interesting is that airlines have a shared lounge for first and business class passengers. So regardless of whether you’re flying Air France, Air India, Jet Airways, Lufthansa, etc., all first & business class passengers have access to the same lounge.

In general an airline using a contract lounge is a recipe for disappointment. Contract lounges (those not run by the airlines themselves) are typically paid a fixed fee by the airline for their services, so they don’t have much of an incentive to create a great experience. After all, the lounge doesn’t represent the airline as such, so the lounge is trying to maximize revenue while keeping costs as low as possible.

I don’t remember ever being all that impressed by an airport lounge not being operated by an airline — sure, some are better than others, but none rank anywhere near the top 20 lounges in the world… except the GVK Lounge Mumbai Airport.

WOW! This lounge is legitimately gorgeous. While it won’t be everyone’s decor preference, the furnishings feel high end, and the lounge has tons of different zones so that there’s a sense of privacy.

The lounge has a beautiful bar with cocktails and an espresso machine.

Then there’s a dining area with a buffet that had food that actually looked good.

The lounge even has a spa, where business class passengers get a free 15 minute foot massage, while first class passengers get a free 30 minute foot massage. The treatment was excellent.

On top of that, the lounge has a roped off, a la carte dining area for first class passengers. The service in this section was fantastic, and I was the only person using it.

They had Moet champagne to drink. I was asked if I wanted some fresh coconut juice to go along with it, which I agreed to. Moments later there was an actual coconut on my table.

The lounge had a large selection of Asian (Indian, Thai, etc.) and Western dishes. I wanted to try different styles of food to get a better sense of the quality, so I ordered the pan fried sage and ricotta gnocchi to start.

Then for the main course I ordered the non-veg tandoori platter.

Lastly for dessert I ordered the molten chocolate cake, per the server’s recommendation (I would have ordered the ras malai, but he insisted this was better).

To be honest the food was decent/good(ish), but not incredible. It certainly wasn’t anywhere close to the quality you’d get in the Air France First Class Lounge Paris, not that I’d expect it to be. The fact that the lounge has a la carte dining and Moet champagne to begin with is great, so I can hardly complain.

Bottom line

The GVK Lounge Mumbai hugely exceeded my expectations. I had heard good things about it, but it was even better than that. I’d say it’s probably one of the top 20 lounges in the world. It’s great to see that even a contract lounge can be exceptional once in a while. It’s also nice the added features they have for first class passengers, including a la carte dining and an extended massage.

If you’ve visited the GVK Lounge Mumbai, what was your experience like?

  1. I was just there 3 days ago! In all honesty, i prefer the “downstairs” business lounge compared to the upstairs one. (It feels more spacious downstairs and there are these private rooms/dining booths with doors down there.). Everyone has always been welcoming everytime I’ve been there. I’m astounded by the decor and detail–i think I spent a few minutes looking at the floral carved grill surrounding the bar.

  2. Finally, so glad to have this review coming from you.
    I have used the lounge few times, and find it much better than say–Qatar Biz Lounge @ Doha.
    I felt the food quality has somewhat deteriorated recently compared to when it was newly opened, but the overall offerings are quite awesome nonetheless!

    Next time, please do stay-over in Mumbai. Some good global properties have opened up (like St. Regis, Four Seasons) in addition to a great local offering (Taj Mahal Palace – Heritage Wing, Oberoi @ Nariman Point)

    Looking forward to your 9W J report! 🙂

  3. Oh, and i hope you enjoyed the Art installations at the airport. A lot of it comes from the personal collection of owners of ‘GVK’

  4. Looks beautiful. Lucky, you might point out that this lounge is not accessible with Priority Pass. When I heard “contract lounge” I thought maybe “Priority Pass,” but I looked it up and see that it is not.

  5. That terminal at BOM has no airline lounges by design by the owner of the airport, GVK. The sell to the airlines (think SQ, CX, etc) was that they would provide a great experience to their customers. In my opinion, this is rather efficient and also likely rather profitable for GVK.

  6. Did you like the terminal too? For me BOM T2 ranks the top 3 of the airports I’ve visited, on par with SIN. It’s a huge show case of local-inspired modern art gallery. I agree that the service on GVK F Lounge is fantastic and very personal too. Oh the Moet & Chandon actually chilled in ice! Together with 30min massage (I had the full body massage) the overall experience for me was also very good.

  7. I was in BOM 2 months ago. As a OWE I wasn’t offered the first class lounge when flying club. The lounge I was I didn’t look like this so assume I wasnt offered the first class lounge despite it saying so on my lounge card

  8. Awesome to hear Lucky!!! So happy you finally got a chance to visit the GVK lounge. I visit the GVK domestic and international lounges in Mumbai around 35 times a year and they are among the best in the business. Sometimes they even have food festivals with authentic street food carts. If you are in Mumbai, please let your fans in Mumbai know with a meet and greet. 🙂

  9. @Gavin I have flown both J and Y from BOM on BA as BA Gold and was in this lounge both times and offered the first class dining section and offered massage…

  10. Agree with PM1 … Request a Meet & Greet with you in Mumbai next time.. also did you notice the Etihad A380 on ground in Mumbai. I flew in from DXB on 11th June on Spicejet and saw the EY A380 and was surprised. Best of my knowledge they stopped the service on A380 to Mumbai.. any insight?

  11. I visited the lounge in May 2015, when flying SQ suites, and could not believe how nice terminal 2 was. Granted, I had two other Air India flights that went into the old domestic terminal, so this terminal really blew me away. The lounge experience was excellent, from the food, to the massages, to the decor. Because the terminal was still quite new when I was there, they were even taking keepsake photos for the guests. While DEL airport is quite nice, this terminal at BOM is competitive with a lot of the airports in Asia, which is really saying something.

  12. Mumbai airport is designed by SOM so it’s nice and sleek with a gorgeous roof inspired by India’s national bird: peacock! I thought GVK lounge was nicely done. I had chance to try their business class lounge which has silver tone overall whereas first class lounge has gold tone. As a first class passenger on BA, GVK gave me free 30 minute foot massage. The massage was definitely better than the backrub I got in London’s Concorde Lounge.

  13. While flying out with Etihad business we got the Gold Tone GVK, whereas when I flew on Jet Airways business it was the Silver Tone one.
    The Gold one was a little better

  14. Agree it is a lovely lounge even for those of us travelling only in business class. But one word of warning – I picked up the worst ever food poisoning from a tap water ice cube served at the bar shown in the photo. Two days in bed from one ice cube.

  15. I agree with a few other commenters regarding how great of an airport BOM is and am fortunate that it is my primary business class destination.

  16. What makes this lounge work is that the only way you can get in is through the airlines. No credit card, no priority pass nothing. And since Jet is the only local airline with meaningful number of FF numbers the lounge really only hosts business and first class passengers which helps them charge the airlines a reasonable amount and provide a good product.

  17. It was a terrible lounge. We were transiting overnight on an AA award ticket coming in on Etihad Apts. and leaving on Jet Airways business. The lounge provisionally let us in, but called Jet Airways who told them that we only had access to the lounge 4 hours before our flight. So, the Lounge Dragon came and found us and kicked us out. Do not recommend.

    On the plus side, farther down the concourse the airport had some semi-reclined seating which helped a little with the long, unforgiving night . . .

  18. You are so right. The lounge at the Mumbai was the best so far. I was thoroughly impressed with it’s decor. Took quite a few pictures. The food was far better than the air India lounge at Heathrow or the United’s lounge at Newark.

  19. Lucky id love to see a post of the top 5 lounges in the world-based on unique experiences they provide, free services and amenities, decor, food, etc.

  20. Lounge sure did not look like that when we were there May 12/13 waiting 6 hours for CX 1:05am flight to depart. It eventually left after 5:00am. Someone made decision to allow everyone into the lounge.People sat on floor.Food was non existent and liquor other than beer also ran out.

  21. I used the lounge 2 years ago flying BA F and thought it was excellent. Probably better than BA Concorde Room in London. Liked the fact someone met me at the entrance to the airport and took me through check in.

  22. Lucky – were you there on 12th May around 9 PM IST? I was there too, and I think I saw you in a light sweatshirt. Wanted to say ‘hi’, but was not sure if it was you or not.

  23. I was at this lounge 2 weeks ago and was also wowed! They really did not spare any expense and the lounge was incredibly clean and takes care of. It did not feel like India at all (including the airport itself). Shame I did not know about the free foot massage. Next time!

  24. I lived in Bombay for a few years. Before, I used to have Star Alliance Gold Status with Aegean, and being able to sit in the GVK Business Class Lounge even when I had to fly economy to go home to the US was the biggest treat ever!! The free spa treatment was awesome, and it wasn’t insanely costly to bump it up to half an hour! So glad you went and checked it out! Also check out Vistara if you end up in India for a more extended period. It’s some of the best domestic airline service I’ve ever received!!

  25. Hi, I am flying through BOM end of the month, arriving UA from EWR and connecting Air Indi to COK. On both ways I have 9 hours in BOM ..

    I am a UA 1K (Star Alliance Gold), I am in Terminal 2 .. Which lounge can I use on a ECO ticket?

  26. @Lucky – interesting point regarding the food. I regard myself a gastrotourist and love to cook equally as much. The a-la-carte dining at the Air France First Class Lounge is good, but in no ways, better or worse than the one at GVK. This is especially true when considering that the dishes and the methods of preparation are different. Gone are the days when French cooking was the epitome of gastronomy. Even by normal food standards, both lounges would qualify at the same level of culinary excellence.

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