Review: GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo

Filed Under: Delta, Other Airlines

After a rather underwhelming visit to the American Express Centurion Lounge we figured we’d take a look at the lounges located airside. To our surprise security and immigration were really quick, and we were both through in a matter of minutes.

Delta uses the GOL Smiles Lounge for their BusinessElite customers in Sao Paulo. The lounge is located on the upper level of the terminal, right next to the American Airlines Admirals Club.

Sao Paulo Airport lounge corridor

At the entrance we presented our boarding passes and lounge invitations, and were then promptly admitted.

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo entrance

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo signage

In terms of suckiness the GOL Smiles Lounge gave the Centurion Lounge a run for its money. The lounge is fairly large and has plenty of seating, though was crowded and felt cluttered and dated.

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

I think they’d be hard pressed to find more kitschy looking furniture than what they have in this lounge. Plastic see-through chairs, really?!

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo seating

The food spread was more extensive than in the Centurion Lounge, though looked even less appetizing. There were packaged finger sandwiches, small salads, tarts, etc.

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo buffet

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo buffet

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo buffet

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo buffet

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo buffet

Then there was some unlabeled mystery soup, which was quite possibly the least appetizing looking thing in the lounge (and that includes the bathrooms… stay tuned!).

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo mystery soup

At least the lounge had alcohol…

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo buffet

That included Caipi One, which is some sort of “100% natural” fruity vodka ice gunk with “no wasted ingredients” — whatever that means!

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo frozen alcohol

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo frozen alcohol

This lounge also possibly has the most disgusting lounge bathroom I’ve ever seen.

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo bathroom

GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo bathroom

The Wi-Fi was unbearably slow, so after a few minutes we decided to head over to the American Airlines Admirals Club, which is also a Priority Pass Select Lounge. Thank goodness we have a credit card with lounge access, but in all honesty, we didn’t have high hopes at this point, and were ready to just hang out in the terminal.

The only part of the GOL Smiles Lounge that made me “Smile” was leaving…

  1. It’s hard to tell from the pics, but I think the chairs and stools are by Philippe Starck (called the Ghost Chair and Ghost Bar Stool). These are very famous designs – included in many museum collections – and generally cost around $400 each.

  2. @A Kimyai

    This is not Feijoada as we eat Feijoada with rice, farofa, orange slices and kale. I could be a Beans Soup (Caldo de Feijao) though.

  3. Yeah — pretty par for the course… Went to the UA lounge at GRU once — pretty much the same experience as you found at the Smiles lounge, except it was so crowded we barely found seats…. GRU is perhaps the worst airport I’ve visited in general…

  4. So if an ugly impractical chair is expensive it ceases to be an ugly impractical chair? Next we’ll be reading about how those stains in the bathroom are an improvement because they where left there by millionaires.

  5. Hmm. I spent an overnight connection once at the Gol lounge — I thought *theirs* was the Priority Pass lounge? I couldn’t go to the AA lounge because it was closed — we ended up heading over there in the AM once it reopened.

    Why on earth is GRU filled with the world’s crappiest lounges??

  6. @ TheBeerHunter — The GOL Lounge is a Priority Pass lounge as well. I think the Admirals Club was only recently added.

  7. @Dax – “So if an ugly impractical chair is expensive it ceases to be an ugly impractical chair?”

    Ugly is in the eye of the beholder; but I can assure you that they are comfortable, and – given that it’s almost impossible to destroy them – extremely practical in a high-trafficked area such as an airport.

    I can’t vouch for rich people’s bathroom stains, though.

  8. @Joe: I was referring to the ugly red stools. I’m hard pressed to describe a chair without a back as comfortable. The clear chairs would seem easy to accidentally kick or trip over. Maybe that’s just how they look in photos. I’d be surprised if a chair you could pick up and swing into the floor would be almost impossible to destroy. But maybe I have a different idea of what impossible means. What I see is a lot of form over function furniture molded out of 1970’s futuristic style acrylic. Personally I think most lounges are only worth it when the airport itself is a complete dump, which is often undone by the fact that dumpy airports tend to come with dumpy lounges.

  9. was there anyone brave enought to eat that soup? are you sure it’s not the bucket where they were washing the dishes?

  10. If the Centurion lounge is the DMV waiting room, this must be the dentist’s office. I swear a dental practice in my town has the exact same logo. Looks about as much fun as the dentist’s office, too. Thanks for throwing yourself on the sword, Lucky!

  11. Everybody knows that all lounges at GRU suck, so now you’re just kicking a man while he’s down, which is mean! 😉

  12. Yes, all lounges at GRU suck, and I believe that I’ve had the displeasure of visiting all of them. UA is probably the worst, doesn’t even have flight monitors(!).

    Hopefully we will have better lounges at the new T3 at GRU due in June, which will concentrate the intercontinental flights.

    BTW, Caipi One is actually pretty good!

  13. I *almost* skipped reading the rest of the review when you said to stay tuned to see what was in the bathroom that was less appetizing than the soup.

  14. That lounge has seen better days.. I dates back to the early 2000’s as it was VARIG’s lounge. You can still see VARIG’s logo on the entrance door.
    VARIG was the Brazilian flag carrier for about 75 years and a Star Alliance member. Their quality was comparable to Lufthansa. Really.
    GOL is a budget airline who bought VARIG when they went bankrupt, so they inherited their lounges and FFP “Smiles”.
    As GOL only flies B737 and they don’t have a business class, that’s why that’s the name of the lounge and that’s why so many airlines use it.
    DELTA now owns 3% of GOL and AF-KLM owns 1,5%, that’s why DELTA uses the Smiles lounge.
    VARIG’s HUB and base was Rio de Janeiro International (GIG) T2, so the lounge here (Rio) is a bit more opulent. Remember the VARIG’s logo? Here it is a marble mosaic on the reception floor.. It used to look like a five star hotel. First Class used to have a grand horizontal piano played live..
    Their business class section became the Smiles lounge (witch they sub-locate to other airlines, as GOL flies from T1) and the first class section became AA’s Admirals Club once AA moved from T1 to T2.
    AA brought to the club all of the fine oriental rugs, sculptures and paintings they had in T1 so it looks like an old five star hotel, but with “GOL-Smiles” catering.
    I wish GOL would join Skyteam. Smiles is still a great FFP but because GOL is non-aligned you don’t get the elite tiers benefits with the airline’s partners.
    Anyways, enough of the past. Now both GRU and GIG have been privatised. GRU has a shinning new T3 and GIG will be in Changi’s (Singapore’s airport administrator) hands for 25 years. So great things are coming (we expect)..

  15. @Lucky and others, a clarification: the fact that you all write the airline’s name as “GOL,” all in uppercase, suggests that you think it’s some sort of acronym, like “G.O.L.” It’s not. It’s an actual Portuguese word, albeit borrowed from English, and pronounced like “goal” – which happens to be precisely the borrowed word. It comes from “goal” in the sense of a scored point in soccer, which, as you know, is a national obsession in Brazil. So, it was a great marketing idea for a mostly domestic Brazilian airline. Brazilians all write it “Gol.”

    And actually, your experience boils down to the fact that, like most very large countries (including the U.S.), Brazil is very much closed unto itself and doesn’t have much of a globalized or international mentality. It’s a leading exporter of many things (including Embraer planes), but that comes from a niche of the population that doesn’t even begin to scratch the very self-centered national culture.

    In Brazil, everything is awkward and clumsy when it comes to dealing with foreigners and foreign countries, which is something people don’t think much of, aren’t really prepared to do, and will do the bare minimum necessary when needed. You should see how hard it is for me to receive payments from abroad, with the strict government regulations for forex. Lots of red tape and taxes, even for getting hard cash INTO the country, which should be welcomed (outbound it’s even worse). International airports and lounges are just no exceptions. I can’t tell about the lounges in the new T3, which was opened after your visit, but they should be better.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *