KLM Opens (Paid) Restaurant In Amsterdam Lounge

Filed Under: Air France/KLM

KLM has recently opened a restaurant in their new flagship lounge in Amsterdam, though if you want to eat there you’ll be expected to pay. Interesting…

Business class lounges are improving

Globally business class lounges are nicely improving. A la carte dining in business class lounges used to be incredibly rare, though it’s becoming more mainstream.

For example, United Polaris Lounges feature a la carte dining, and I’ve found the food to be quite good. Polaris Lounges are open to business class passengers on United and their Star Alliance partners.

I’d say the best a la carte dining experience you’ll find in a business class lounge is in Air Canada’s Signature Suite in Toronto, which feels a lot like a nice restaurant. While Air Canada doesn’t charge passengers to eat there, there’s a catch — it’s only open to those who booked business class tickets with cash, and not to those who booked award tickets or upgraded.

KLM Blue Restaurant Amsterdam

This brings us to KLM’s new concept. This year KLM has opened their new Crown Lounge in Amsterdam, which will be their biggest and best lounge yet, once complete. The lounge is open to both SkyTeam business class as well as SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers.

The lounge is huge, and overall has great design. They’ve been opening the lounge in stages — as of now most of the lounge is open, and it’s expected that the lounge will be fully operational this fall.

Well, in the past few weeks Blue Restaurant has opened in the KLM Crown Lounge, which is a paid restaurant within the lounge. Michelin-starred chef Joris Bijdendijk is behind the concept.

The restaurant is located on the second floor of the lounge, and is open daily from 7AM until 10PM. Eligible passengers can make reservations in advance, though you can only visit the restaurant if you’d otherwise have lounge access.

Here’s how the restaurant is described:

“Blue” restaurant and bar features the best The Netherlands has to offer in taste and hospitality, suited for everyone and guarded by KLM’s highest standards. Choose for a casual setting in the restaurant area, gather around the coveted Chef’s Table in the kitchen or retreat in one of the private dining rooms for a more intimate get-together or business meeting. Need some fresh air? Looming over Schiphol’s many airstrips, the large terrace outside offers a stunning view and a peaceful place, away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal. It’s the perfect spot to while away an afternoon or evening.

Of course, no visit to the Netherlands is complete without a tasty chunk of cheese. Complete your dinner with a visit to our unique cheese room and try the original Dutch cheeses. And while you’re at it, hop into the beverage room for the best Dutch liquors and wines or a non-alcoholic drink. Your taste buds will thank you.

KLM Blue Restaurant menu

So, how much will dining at this restaurant cost you? It’s not cheap. Here’s the menu:

My take on KLM’s paid restaurant

Not specific to this concept, but I like when airlines get creative and try something new.

More specific to this concept, an airline charging for food in their most premium lounge leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and sets a bad precedent.

But to be perfectly honest, I’m not actually sure I’m totally against this?

  • KLM isn’t making the food they offer for free any worse, and I don’t think there’s any risk of that, because they’re going really upmarket with this restaurant concept
  • Realistically I don’t think they’d offer a la carte dining to everyone; we could have a whole conversation about whether or not they should, but I feel confident that it’s not like they were trying to decide between paid or complimentary a la carte dining (that’s for competitive reasons — it’s not something British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France, etc., offer)
  • In general I’m not opposed to airlines giving passengers options to make their experience better, assuming it doesn’t take anything away

While I’d of course much rather see complimentary a la carte dining, it seems like they’re trying to create a top notch airport restaurant in the lounge, and I think there will be enough interest to make this work. This lounge tends to get really busy during peak hours, so if nothing else this space will be a nice escape.

The pricing is quite steep, though.

What do you make of Blue Restaurant? Would you consider dining there? Are you happy to have the option, or unhappy about the precedent it sets?

(Tip of the hat to AusBT)

Comments
  1. @ Ben — This will fail. People do not go the lounge to pay for food. I give it 6 months.

  2. Instead of investing in this, they should invest in the lounge in general. Despite the prices, I doubt the can recoup the operating costs.

    My best guess is that once this stops being a novelty, number of guests will drop, and it will be closed again and the space will become part of the normal lounge dining facilities.

    You will not find me as a paying guest in a lounge restaurant.

  3. The regulear food will stay there, this is an extra option that if you want to have ‘fancy’ food. Let’s be honest, it will be the best place on schiphol to eat…. ‍♂️

  4. They have also improved the food on both their lounges at AMS now. I went there this friday and had a great (buffe) dinner with salads, chicken, snacks, pizza etc

  5. I will be there next month so I’ll be sure to check it out. There might be quite a market for this with people travelling for business with an expense account. The KLM lounge food was never amazing to begin with.

  6. I fly JFK AMS in J about once or twice a month. The food is absolutely disgusting, the worst biz food I’ve ever had. Brought my own food on the plane the last couple of times. The lounge food isn’t much better. I wouldn’t trust this restaurant as far as I could throw it.

  7. “The pricing is quite steep, though.”

    Weren’t you saying that you tip 20-25% in the AA Flagship Dining lounge and assume that a meal there is approximately $100? How is this any different – I’d rather pay for food than tip unnecessarily for people doing their job.

  8. Normally I’d say this won’t work but given the very poor choice of restaurants at Schiphol, KLM might actually pull this off if they can serve good food.

  9. Although I see merit in everyone’s comments, I guess there will be an appeal from an exclusivity perspective to a Michelin Starred Restaurant only accessible to those flying in a premium cabin! Maybe also a membership perk down the line or a new redemption option?!?

  10. A data point: I was there a couple of weeks back. The rest of the lounge was heaving; the restaurant had one table occupied, staff easily outnumbering diners.

    Maybe it’ll take time to establish itself? I dunno. I was in transit, 110 minutes total between flights, so wasn’t interested in a slow dining experience. Maybe if I had 5 hours to wait or something I might be tempted, out of sheer boredom, to try it (though Schiphol also has the cute mini-Museum if you need to kill time).

    Which reminds me … aren’t we expecting some long-overdue KLM reviews? 😉

  11. Why make this inside the lounge at all? Im sure theyd get more action outside the lounge, and if you had lounge access and really wanted to eat there you would regardless of its location. Dumb concept imo.

  12. 3 weeks ago the restaurant was dead, even though the lounge was filled to the brim. Given the high prices and limited appeal of the menu to most people, I don’t think this concept will last.

  13. This makes a lot of sense to me. I would appreciate the option to have more elevated food available for a price. The prices on the menu seem reasonable to me. If you don’t want to pay for food in the lounge, then I imagine there will still be free food options, just as before. This just means that if you want a nice meal, you no longer need to leave the lounge. Not sure why anybody would have a problem with that.

    The question is will wine and cocktails be free in this restaurant? It seems goofy to charge people for something they could get for free by walking 10 feet away to the self service bar.

  14. The old guard elites want to keep everyone away from them as they (___________ _______). It’s going to be a bumpy road for them moving forward. Will leave it at that. 🙂

    I mean, only a few will get whats truly taking place all around us, and so expect to see more moves like this to keep the unwashed masses out. The shock horror that any old mess can now access THEIR lounges.

  15. Most airport restaurants are poor
    and a number struggle to make a profit so they bring in mediocre products and jack the prices up as they typically have a captive audience
    I love Amsterdam and many of the the Dutch Holland is awesome
    but with some rare exceptions it is one of the least desirable cities to dine in based on my personal taste and expectations
    Looking at the menu it wouldn’t interest me for free let alone pay for it .And I would be happy to pay if it was very good and a cuisine I enjoy

  16. – It’s not slow dining – KLM stated you could tell the waiter how much time you have and they promise to serve within that timeframce.
    – They will also open a cheese room (I guess paid)
    – They will also open snooze boxes (paid for sure)

    My take: it’s absurd to let your best paying customers pay for their meals/snooze.

  17. One of the worst lounges of any big European airlines. Food is terrible, way overcrowded and you literally need a GPS to find it in the airport and feel you walk over a mile to get there. I never bother even going. Prefer to have an amazing breakfast at Cafe Coco.

  18. Given the menu and prices in Holland, in general, I’d say those aren’t high prices at all. I mean, yes, they’re significantly higher than “free”, but they’re not crazy.

    All in, this reminds me more than a little of Classified at Newark.

  19. Recently visited this lounge and spent most of my time trying to find a place to the sit, though the staff was numerous and helpful. I didn’t see anyone in the restaurant.

    KLM simply doesn’t provide enough lounge space per premium passenger.

  20. It makes a lot of sense. They are providing an extra convenience to the customers they actually care about most – those traveling on an expense account. Those customers would have dined elsewhere in the airport (remember these customers often skip onboard meals to maximize sleep), and now they’ll spend their money in the lounge. and they don’t really care about the prices because their employer is covering it anyway.

  21. I’m not a business traveler, nor a foodie, plus I’m frugal, so this concept clearly does not appeal to me. However, did the participants in their market study really indicate that this was something that they would patronize? If so, did they get a representative sample of their lounge users? Perhaps the lounge is so crowded and the free food offerings so mediocre that lounge goers will eagerly pay up to escape the lounge? I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but I’d be quite surprised if it succeeds.

  22. @ santastico it’s very easy to find as the main entrance is now close to the Holland Boulevard on the main departure level

    The food is far better than it was before. I ate there recently and was entirely satisfied.

    It’s not completed yet and the last phase will open later this year. I believe it will include 30 shower suites.

    It does get pretty busy and is huge with a capacity of over 1500 but some people will never be satisfied

    I believe it’s the largest premium lounge in Europe

  23. J lounges around the world are mostly crap, so I am all for paying a few extra bucks to get real food.

  24. Was completely empty at lunchtime the other week I was there. Staff standing around looking bored. They would cast their gaze on any pax walking by in the hopes you’d be tempted in. I give it six months before they realise the error of their ways. They’ll probably just add a standard lounge buffet and open it up for all pax. They could definitely do with the room. Even after the renovation the Crown Lounge is still over capacity during the rush hours, you’re lucky if you get a seat.

  25. I can see the intention behind it to create an authentic fine dining experience but I somehow think it’s not going to work. For one business class primarily caters to business and corporate flyers. I somehow doubt that too many people will be in the mood for a fine dining experience at an airport before a long haul fight given the multitude of options. The menu although novel is something I could see myself indulging on a Saturday night versus before a red eye flight with a full work day ahead of me. I would instead crave comfort food or at best something that is mildly quirky and novel but not too unfamiliar- in other words surprising enough but not something which I would not be able to visualise whether I would like or not.
    The pricing is an issue too. Travel budgets are a constraint and I cannot see too many corporates funding an expensive paid meal in a lounge when there are ample complimentary options in the lounge and onboard.
    If KLM had to innovate I would have instead gone in for a high quality and differentiated dining experience at a mid range price point outside of the lounges targeting economy flyers who would be happy to pay a reasonable price point for a proper meal on the ground.
    It could even create a special sleepzone in the comfort economy sections and value bundle a meal at the restaurant (as an optional extra). I can see that having a far better uptake.

  26. Hi Lucky, thank you so much for your post! This is an interesting development with KLM. The menu seems good but slightly more expensive than normal for Dutch prices.

    I really like KLM as well as their soft and hard products. It is always decent/good and very consistent. I do the opposite of what business class is intended for: for my employer I only fly economy to save costs and for holidays / private travel I fly business class inside of Europe / internationally.

    If I am paying a premium for business with my boyfriend, it is always nice to have food in the lounge. I have to say that at those prices, we would probably eat in the terminal… it isn’t crazy prices for the Netherlands, but definitely like a sit-down restaurant in the middle of Amsterdam.

    Schiphol is generally a good airport to transfer in – sometimes the walk from the Southern part to the Northern part is a bit long but the Dutch are very efficient and for such a big airport the layout is good. Plus the food on KLM is normally decent in business, so I would probably grab a sandwich in the terminal, a glass of wine in the lounge and wait until getting on the plane to eat 🙂

    I hope that my two cents help your readers 🙂

  27. @Icarus: I fly through Schiphol once a month coming from the US on Delta. The KLM lounge is not close at all to the gates where the Delta planes land. I probably need to check it out again since it has been at least 4 months I gave up on it but all they served was cracker, cheese and bad coffee.

  28. There is a conceptual problem with gaining status (or paying more to fly J) just in order to obtain the ‘privilege’ of paying more for something.

    In this respect, the restaurant would have been better placed outside the lounge, as some have already said. It could even have been tied in with current J menus, as a showcase of KLM cuisine (previous initiatives of other airlines show there is a following for this kind of thing).

    Also, notice on the website that there is a further ‘dining in private’ (probably a separate room) option for EUR 350 which is steep. Incidentally it is close to what the VIP / Protocol service at AMS charges, which includes lounge, snacks and gate transfer by luxury car.

    Thus, overall, I do not think this will have too much success. I could see, however, with a bit of lateral thinking, the cheese place and the drinks place gaining a dedicated audience, if it is priced attractively and made more lively.

  29. @santastico the new entry point into the lounge does make it easier to get into from KLM/Delta US connections (I do it once a month like you).

    Will say this. Not interested in eating in the lounge if I have to pay for it – even on expenses those prices are not going to work.

  30. Sorry, let me clarify:

    1) There are a lot of food options that are cheaper at Schiphol in the terminal as the airport is very big.

    2) If I am paying for a premium service privately in business class with KLM, I expect food to be free.

    Outside of that KLM is a solid airline.

    🙂

  31. Well, the KLM lounge free food and drink isn’t exactly compelling. 52 and 25 have identical catering, although the non-Schengen lounge has been gussied up a bit (it does have some nice touches). Why, if their standard offering is relatively uncompetitive, would I pay more for something they think is”better”? Better as in “slightly less crappy”?

    Plus, once I’m on that escalator looking at the genever houses on the wall, I’ve entered the mindset of going to the lounge. “Oh wait… Maybe I’ll try a restaurant instead.” Huh?

  32. Prices look fair to me as there is no tipping nonsense in the Netherlands.
    Having said that as a FB Platinum I would not ever pay for food in a lounge.
    This concept is going to fail.

  33. This is absurd but partially expected since KLM gives lounge access away to anyone flying intra-Europe business-class. The lounges are overcrowded at AMS partly because of this and partly because of all the U.S.-bound passengers on Delta. Making a lounge bigger does not make it less crowded. It’s a proven fact. The same maxim applies for adding lanes to a highway. Traffic doesn’t get better. Only new lounges in different locations would ease the flow. KLM missed an opportunity here to have a separate, transcontinental lounge, which could have had complimentary dining in the restaurant.

    Oh yeah, KLM has the cheapest wine and cheapest food; even cheaper than sister airline Air France (despite being part of the same company) and partner airline Delta.

  34. Ah I can see CEO’s having dinner/supper dates with lovely ladies on the terrace..spotting planes. A special 1st class security clearance for IPs and VIPs..
    Or family gatherings where well behaved youngsters candle lit dine with their grand parents who are celebrating 50 years of marriage or their enterprise…before taking off to visit others in the family tree in the down out or yonder..not the kids of course..
    For the time being..

  35. Well let’s say that the prices are OK because dear US-readers, what you see is what you will pay … no 30-40 % to be added to the bill for taxes and tips
    Now is anyone willing to pay for a lounge meal … I doubt it considering the number of eateries outside the lounge and at the end of the day … we are in the NL where they say « do normal, that’s already crazy enough »
    Must admit I don’t like the new lounge, it is really a mix of everything and don’t think there is one comfortable seat in the room?!
    The « free » food improved a bit but that’s not hard considering the poor level of food on KLM fleet wide!

  36. An utterly bizarre idea that I’m sure is destined to fail. As a concept this would surely have worked better for the restauranteur’s bottom line, and the reputation of the airline, if they had located it elsewhere in the airport, available to all passengers.

  37. Tried it yesterday. The meals were small. Quality was so so. You could see that staff really wanted it to work, but unfortunately it didn’t. The most valuable thing was having a calm and quiet place to sit, as the rest of the lounge was overcrowded.
    Shocking discovery upon receiving the bill: drinks aren’t free. (the menu only mentions food options. I really expected drinks would be free of charge, as they are in the rest of the lounge.)
    This dining option could be quite special, but at the moment: it’s not.

  38. Before complaining KLM about how bad this move is, we all know what AMS lounge problem was.

    1. Overcrowded
    2. Bad food

    Well, they solved both the problem. 🙂
    The wrong way.

    The only issue is, the “free” side will get worse.
    1. Even more overcrowded from losing real estate.
    2. Bad food looks much worse when comparing to a yelp ‘$$$$’ restaurant food.

    To be fair, AMS doesn’t have a decent restaurant and KLM lounge food is meh. So ignoring the money side, it is a good addition.

    And while I’m at this. ADD MORE SHOWER ROOMS. My last visit there during the morning rush, the wait time for shower was 140 minutes!!!!! You would think a 3 hour connection in AMS would give you enough time to shower.

  39. Even though the head chef is supposedly a “stared” chef from the Rijksmuseum, I wouldn’t pay the prices in the restaurant. KLM deserves credit for making huge improvements in this lounge. It seats 1,500 (obviously a la carte dining for that many is impractical), has a second level connected to the first floor by a beautiful waterfall staircase, and they’ve added a deck. I visited before the restaurant opened, but the buffets looked to be much improved. And it is accessible from the main corridor of the terminal on the concourse level. No more taking a tiny elevator and walking down narrow, boring corridors to get to Crown Lounge 52.

  40. Crown Lounge offers great mountains of pasta, potato, bread and cheese. The free food couldn’t get any worse, so this is probably a good move ( and particularly because so many people use it for fly in/out meetings).

  41. I think it a good move and i bet it will work.Business Class passengers who are paying their tickets with cash can easily afford to “buy” a nice & quiet moment prior to their flights with gourmet or edible food for a few dozens of euros.
    Cash paying Business Class passengers who also crowd palaces& 5 stars hotels in the Netherlands & across the globe could not care less about whether a lounge meal is free/included or not.

    Same as Air Canada which restricts its Fine dining lounges which “only open to those who booked business class tickets with cash, and not to those who booked award tickets or upgraded.”

  42. It’s a wrong move from different perspectives:
    – There is already an entrance fee to get into the lounge, that fee isn’t settled in the restaurant prices. If so, the restaurant is just way too expensive. 45 euro for a 250gr rib eye is just plain steep. It should cost max 25-30 euro.
    – The reasoning of ‘the KLM lounge food is shitty so this a good idea’ is a BS reason. The KLM lounge food should be addressed and be invested in. Despite the new lounge, the level is just sad.
    – Lounge is in Non Schengen area so aiming for Long Haul flights departing in the evening. These are just a handful (OK 2 handful) of flights. So there is a group of let’s say 300 J pax to adress and maybe a similar amount of FF Y passengers. So a target group of 600 people. That is not a lot. Restaurants already have a tough time doing break even in A locations in cities!
    They should have opened this restaurant in the Schengen area outside of the lounge to maximize traffic. It also would have taken some traffic away from the regular lounge.
    – Who would like to invest hefty on a meal prior a Long Haul J flight where food is already included and paid for (in the ticket price?) What employer would say: I let my employees fly J (a rarity already) plus paying an expensive dinner for the employee in this restaurant? It is not realistic.

    Plus the opportunities could be many:
    -Offer a discount to compensate for the lounge entry. Lets say 20 euro per person with a minimum purchase of 50 euro per person.
    – Offer FB miles when purchasing at the loung (x5 points)
    – Offer possibilities to pay a meal with miles for attractive rates

    KLM needs to create added value for this idea.

    Like this, it will 100% fail.
    0,00% chance in succeeding.

  43. I might try it just to try it once, but I also think it is unlikely to succeed. Personally, my favorite items in both the Polaris lounge and Concorde Room are the gourmet burgers. Well, that and the high end champers.

  44. I guess this is KLM’s way of going Dutch? You know instead of splitting the bill, you pay the whole bill? I wouldn’t pay for this. I don’t think it will succeed either. If they offered an a la carte options, some premium up pay food, all over the lounge, that may do well. But this isn’t a good idea.

  45. the airport still reminds me of the inside of a garbage can
    ditto: Anyway KLM food service at their Amsterdam lounge is rubbish,yeah olive&cheese. ditto: You will not find me as a paying guest in a lounge restaurant.
    ditto: Even though the head chef is supposedly a “stared” chef from the Rijksmuseum, I wouldn’t pay the prices in the restaurant.
    ditto: An utterly bizarre idea that I’m sure is destined to fail

  46. If you are traveling economy with non-elite spouse, spouse cannot enter new AMS KLM lounge. Instead the give a voucher for Starbucks or a couple of other restaurants that are impossible to find. We went to wrong Starbucks and they would not accept. JFK T4 SkyClub tried pay-menu a couple of years ago and then abandoned. I appreciated the option, but you could not sit in pay area unless you ordered. I get the point but when club got crowded, the empty seats were not available to non- paying members.

  47. I’ve just eaten in the Blue restaurant. Food is fine enough as is the service but its not that special. It certainly doesn’t warrant the price. USD$90 for a nice, but fatty, steak and fries with a glass of Malbec and an espresso afterwards. Really…?
    I can see why I was the only customer when the lounge was heaving…

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