Lounge Spotlight: primeclass Lounge Muscat, an oasis of luxury and service

The democratization of travel and the success of pay-per-use airport lounges have sowed the seeds of a new industry. Independent airport clubs, which are not tied to a specific airline, have multiplied over the last ten years. The result is both an ever-expanding portfolio of options for travelers, and dizzying variance in terms of quality and amenities. Some lounges are mostly a place to sit with a free soda and perhaps a glass of wine, while a few aspire to be a destination.

The primeclass Lounge at Muscat International Airport, Oman has received praised from our readers and has received several awards, so we wanted to know what the hype was all about. We had a chance to visit the lounge a few weeks ago and meet with the management team.

Our verdict: a destination indeed, the primeclass Lounge Muscat is in a class of its own and might be the best independent airport lounge worldwide. Join us for a tour!

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Operated by TAV Operations, a global airport services provider and a subsidiary of TAV Airports Holding and Group ADP, the primeclass Lounge at Muscat airport is open 24 hours a day.

Muscat Airport is modern, compact, efficient, and easy to navigate. If you’re flying in Business or First class, be sure to use the dedicated premium check-in area, in order to go through fast track security and immigration.

The primeclass lounge is situated a short walk from the security checkpoint, above Duty Free, on the 5th floor, opposite the Aerotel in-terminal hotel.

primeclass Lounge Muscat design

The decor of the primeclass Lounge Muscat draws its inspiration from Oman’s architecture and landscapes. The designers have incorporated traditional Omani geometric patterns, artwork that reflects the local culture and heritage, and a color palette which evokes the country’s expansive desert and striking white monuments.

The opulent lobby isn’t just a reception area, but also an art gallery featuring a hand-painted portrait of Sultan Qaboos and a rotating collection of artworks by local artists. The most intriguing piece is a handcrafted sterling silver sculpture in the shape of Oman, with a palm tree at the center, and sculpted gemstones that represent the traditions of the sultanate.

On the opposite side of the reception area, patrons can wander through an interpretation of Oman’s landscapes. Soothing curves and an inviting sand-colored round sofa delineate a bed of frankincense, set against the backdrop of a living wall.

primeclass Lounge Muscat lobby

From the lobby, guests reach the spine of the lounge: a softly lit hallway in the shape of a pointed arch, inspired by Oman’s traditional architecture and Muscat’s celebrated opera house. Horse-shoe shaped arches act as gateways to the seating, dining, and relaxation areas while creating a sense of flow and continuity throughout the space.

The main hallway is inspired by traditional Omani architecture.

Walk through one of the arches and you’ll find yourself in the piece de resistance of the club: a striking, expansive seating area with slanted cathedral ceilings and a dramatic window wall. Spanning across almost the entire length of the lounge, the sprawling space effortlessly accommodates peak-time crowds.

The design blends world-class elegance and functionality with middle eastern and Omani cultural elements. The large windows allow natural light to flood the space, providing a sense of openness and airiness, while the soft neutral colors create a serene and calming atmosphere. The furniture hails from Italy, while the eye-catching light fixtures come from Turkey.

The seating arrangement offers both privacy and social interaction opportunities. The open floor plan does not sacrifice privacy: the seats are arranged in a spacious and airy layout, providing ample space for passengers to work or relax.

The seating area features dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows.

Guests have their choice of traditional lounge chairs, dining tables, shared work tables, and sofas, all with power and USB outlets at arm’s length. We particularly enjoyed the high-backed chairs by the windows, which offer a touch of extra privacy—if only the club offered tarmac views, we’d be in #avgeek heaven.

Indeed, in its current incarnation, the primeclass Lounge lacks any noteworthy views: the main seating area overlooks the roof of the terminal building. Down the road, though, the rooftop might be converted into an open-air deck, which would make the club a fantastic vintage point for aviation lovers—more on this below.

Walk past the buffet and bar (to the right of the lobby), and you’ll reach a secondary seating area that’s better suited for groups. It’s designated as a quiet zone, which feels somewhat at odds with the group seating concept, but when we visited, it was eerily quiet indeed, perhaps due to the slightly off-centered location.

The space is furnished with plush sofas and armchairs. There’s also secondary bar there, which closed at the onset of the COVID pandemic and is likely to remain shuttered for the foreseeable future, further contributing to the quiet character of the area.

Continue walking to the rear of the quiet area and you’ll stumble upon an alcove with four day beds. The location might be difficult to find, though that’s a blessing, as there is little foot traffic in the area.

primeclass Lounge Muscat relaxation room

primeclass Lounge Muscat food and beverages

The primeclass Lounge Muscat serves complimentary full meals, 24 hours a day.

The menu aims at satisfying a diverse clientele with varying tastes and dietary needs. From comfort foods to fresh and healthy fare, the primeclass Lounge has something for everyone.

Most visitors hail from GCC member states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman), so the culinary team places emphasis on local specialties, including hummus and Arabic bread.

Visitors from India form the second largest contingent, so the selection includes favorites such as butter chicken, chicken masala, biryani, and rice, as well as a remarkable array of spices and accoutrements.

Of course, guests will also find an assortment of international fare, with six hot dishes to satisfy a wide range of palates.

primeclass Lounge Muscat buffet area

All meals are prepared freshly on site, in the lounge’s 150 square meter full kitchen. 150 square meters is an enormous amount of space at an airport, where real estate is typically at a premium. For comparison’s sake, the kitchen at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at San Francisco airport spans over just a few square meters, and the staff is trained to coordinate movements so that they don’t bump into each other. Meanwhile the primeclass Lounge Muscat has a full cold storage room, separate doors and pathways for clean and dirty dishes, an industrial-size dishwasher, and a separate secure storage room for alcoholic beverages.

Speaking of alcoholic beverages, the primeclass Lounge boasts a full bar (which is not a given in the region—Muscat airport’s other independent club, the Majan Lounge, is dry.) To respect local sensibilities, alcoholic beverages are not ostensibly put on display, but ask and you shall receive. The club stocks a fine selection of medium and upper-shelf beers, wines, liquor, and spirits, and all drinks are complimentary.

primeclass Lounge Muscat bar area

Coffee lovers will probably spot the espresso machine in the picture above. The primeclass Lounge’s bartenders double as talented baristas and will craft any coffee drink of your choice. Our latte was elegantly served on a bespoke porcelain tray and accompanied by a bottle of water.

Bottles of water are also available for self-service near the buffet area, which is a simple feature that we wish was more widespread. We like to be able to bring a bottle of water onboard.

primeclass Lounge Muscat showers and spa

Guests who wish to freshen up will find shower suites outfitted with a rain shower, a toilet, a large sink, and a hairdryer. The facilities are not extravagant by any means, but they’re spacious, pristine, and well designed. Towels and bath amenities are naturally provided.

primeclass Lounge Muscat shower suite

The primeclass Lounge offers an array of spa treatments, including Swedish massages as well as calming head and reviving facial massages. Reflexology sessions start at OMR 10 ($26 USD), while a full 45-minute Swedish massage costs OMR 30 ($75 USD).

Unlike many airport “spas” which are often bright rooms at concourse level, the primeclass Lounge boasts spacious and quiet private rooms.

primeclass Lounge Muscat spa treatment room

If you could use a back rub but don’t feel like spending money on a professional massage, give one of the electric massage chairs a try. They’re free to use.

primeclass Lounge Muscat massage chairs

primeclass Lounge Muscat private bedrooms

The most remarkable amenity at the primeclass Lounge Muscat is undoubtedly the eight hotel-style private bedrooms.

Located near the quiet zone, each luxuriously-appointed room is outfitted with a double bed, two nightstands, an architectural table lamp, a dresser, a desk, a TV, and a full ensuite bathroom with a rain shower.

Decked in soothing Earth tones and natural materials, the suites sport sound-buffering wall paneling and a large window with blackout curtains. The rooms have individual temperature controls, which is welcome as the main lounge area tends to be on the warmer side.

Just like traditional hotel rooms, the private resting suites are stocked with grooming amenities including a toothbrush, dental kit, and a comb.

Upon request, the primeclass lounge can arrange special amenities for special occasions, such as a bottle of sparkling wine or a fruit basket.

The private rooms at the primeclass Lounge Muscat come with an en-suite bathroom with a shower
Who can book a private room at the primeclass Lounge Muscat?

The private rooms at the primeclass Muscat Lounge are available on a complimentary basis to all guests who stay in the club longer than three hours. Be sure to inquire early as the rooms are coveted, especially overnight. TAV gives priority to Meet&Greet customers, who are essentially guaranteed a room. All other patrons can request a room on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Technically, Priority Pass members can only use the lounge for three hours and thus are not eligible for a room. However, TAV tries to be as flexible as possible: guests are welcome to swipe their card multiple times for three-hour increments. Another creative option is to use multiple Priority Pass memberships.

Guests receive a key card, just like at a hotel, and have full in-and-out privileges for the duration of their stay.

primeclass Lounge Muscat entertainment options

A sizeable portion of the primeclass Lounge Muscat is dedicated to guest entertainment, with a plethora of options for all ages.

The sports lounge is the hub of the entertainment zone. A bright, bold, and cheesy but fun space sponsored by Pepsi, the sports lounge boasts a theater zone with six large flat-screen TVs, plush sofas, two foosball tables, and sports memorabilia.

To round up the experience, the adjacent buffet area features bar food favorites such as chicken wings and nuggets (to wash down with a Pepsi, of course.) The sports lounge was quiet when we visited, but it was the heartbeat of the primeclass Lounge just a few months prior, during the Qatar FIFA World Cup.

Just across from the sports lounge is the billiards room, a more subdued and elegant space with two pool tables, leather couches, and views of the tarmac—this is an airport, after all.

The primeclass Lounge Muscat has no less than two pool tables

The adjacent TV (“cinema”) room is a dimly-lit space outfitted with two flat screen TVs, comfortable armchairs, and ottomans. Headsets and remote controls are available at the reception desk.

primeclass Lounge Muscat TV room

Additional entertainment options come in the form of “surprise and delight” events, which have included white-cloth dinner service for Valentine’s, and dancing on New Year’s Eve. There is also live music at peak hours—the lounge has its own grand piano!

Concert hall or dance floor? Why not both?

primeclass Lounge Muscat family rooms

Grown-ups can’t have all the fun. Little ones have their own play space, too. Near the sports lounge is a colorful play area for kids outfitted with various toys and games.

Kid’s corner at the primeclass Lounge Muscat

Families who long for a bit of privacy can retire to one of six dedicated family rooms, which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Elegantly decorated with a touch of local flair, these private havens are outfitted with couches, pillows, a coffee table, a TV, as well as individual light and temperature controls.

While the family rooms do not have ensuite bathrooms or a bed (unlike the hotel-style rooms), they’re still remarkably private. Plus, they’re available to all guests regardless of the length of their stay.

primeclass Lounge Muscat business amenities

The primeclass Lounge Muscat features two conference rooms for up to 10 attendees, available both by reservation and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Usage is complimentary. Individual work carousels and computers have been phased out due to low usage, but printing facilities are still available upon request.

One of the two conference rooms at the primeclass Lounge Muscat

Naturally, the lounge offers fast and complimentary Wi-Fi service. Connecting is child’s play, which is notable as the airport’s public Wi-Fi service is basically off-limits to foreigners (a local phone number is required to log in, despite claims that international phone numbers are supported.)

primeclass Lounge Muscat smoking room and bag lockers

The spacious albeit somewhat bare smoking room features comfortable seats (egg chairs are a favorite of ours), along with side tables and TVs.

primeclass Lounge Muscat smoking room

If you have extra bags that you’d like to part with during your stay at the lounge, you’ll find electronic lockers of various sizes next to the lobby. The glass doors make it easy to find your belongings on your way out.

primeclass Lounge Muscat baggage lockers

Other amenities at the primeclass Lounge Muscat include men’s and women’s prayer rooms, as well as complimentary access to an online library of press and magazines.

Who has access to the primeclass Lounge at Muscat airport, Oman?

The primeclass Lounge Muscat is the main independent lounge at Oman airport.

  • The primeclass Lounge welcomes holders of popular membership cards, including Priority Pass and LoungeKey, as well as TAV’s own TAV Passport card.
  • The primeclass Lounge is available to all passengers, regardless of airline, destination, or class of service, on a pay-in basis. You can purchase access in advance for just $35 USD per person, or buy at the door for OMR 21 (approximately $55 USD.)
Visit the primeclass Lounge with TAV Meet&Greet

Access to the primeclass Lounge is a also benefit of TAV’s Meet&Greet Service. Meet&Greet customers have priority access to private rooms, regardless of the length of their stay.

The Meet&Greet service is an escort service available to both departing and arriving passengers. Meet&Greet customers are met by a concierge upon arrival at their airport, whisked through fast-track checkin, immigration, and security, then driven to their gate on a golf cart.

We had the opportunity to experience the service while departing Oman, and it was seamless. A friendly customer service representative and a porter were waiting for us in the parking garage as we returned our rental car. Minutes later, we were relaxing in our private room in the lounge, with the confidence that the Meet&Greet team would monitor our flight and pick us up at the right time!

Meet&Greet is an a-la-carte service available to all passengers. A few high-end local hotels (including the Ritz Carlton and the Shangri La), offer Meet&Greet to their guests as a courtesy.

primeclass Lounge Muscat past and future

The primeclass Lounge Muscat was the very first club to welcome customers at the new Muscat airport when it opened back in March 2018: TAV narrowly beat Oman Air, who unveiled two equally-impressive lounges shortly thereafter.

The construction effort was a tale of superlatives: 130 tons of marble and 16 tons of kitchen appliances were shipped from Turkey, while furniture and light fixtures were flown in from Italy, and 80 kilograms of local frankincense had to be collected to adorn the lobby. The primeclass Lounge occupies a space that was initially intended for seven separate airline clubs!

The designers had to fine-tune the design at the last minute to meet an evolving set of requirements. One planned feature didn’t make the cut: the original design incorporated an eye-catching Omani-style arch outside the lobby. Ultimately, the airport architect ruled in favor of a uniform design across all lounges, and TAV had to settle for a lower-key black façade.

primeclass Lounge Muscat lobby

Two years later, the COVID pandemic spelled the demise of the lounge’s extravagant amenities. The hair salon, tailor, and juice bar were phased out, and have yet to return.

Fortunately, travelers are back in the air. The primeclass Lounge Muscat recently welcomed its 1,100,000th guest, and looking at the pristine space, one wouldn’t guess it’s already five years old.

TAV is about to make minor renovations, starting with a refresh of the hardwood and marble floors. The smoking room will also receive a face lift—early plans call for a décor inspired by a library, and the addition of recliners. The children’s play area will expand slightly into adjacent space. The exhibition/advertising space near the lobby, which is currently underused, might also be repurposed. TAV is also considering adding a live chef station.

The footprint of the lounge might expand, too. The blueprint of the club incorporates an additional 700 square meters of space on the upper mezzanine, which is ready to build out should demand increase. There are also provisions for an outdoor space with a patio and a smoking area on the adjacent rooftop (which, in its current incarnation, obliterates tarmac views.) While COVID put a damper on the concepts, expansion plans are once again on the docket.

primeclass Lounge Muscat seating area

Bottom line

The primeclass Lounge at Muscat airport is the most impressive independent airport club that we’ve ever visited. Featuring an expansive and luminous seating area, an inspired decor with local touches, a well-rounded food and beverage offering, and polished service, the primeclass Lounge offers travelers a luxurious and comfortable experience that combines modern amenities with traditional Omani hospitality.

The extraordinary list of amenities and striking attention to detail leave a lasting impression. Despite its generous access policy, the primeclass Lounge Muscat boasts high-end amenities that would be at home at the world’s finer airline lounges. The family rooms remind us of the family resting spaces at the Qatar Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha, while the hotel-style rooms bear a striking resemblance with the private suites at Qatar Airways’ luxurious Al Safwa Lounge. While the Al Safwa Lounge is the exclusive territory of Qatar Airways First Class passengers, the primeclass Lounge Muscat is an affordable luxury, and many passengers enjoy complimentary access through Priority Pass.

Similarly, the theater room and bag lockers seem to come straight out of the Turkish Airlines playbook—which is perhaps no surprise as TAV is a close partner of Turkish Airlines—but the primeclass Lounge Muscat has more flair and is far less crowded.

Unlike other lounges that are designed to churn customers as fast and efficiently as possible, the primeclass Lounge Muscat aims to be a destination. Muscat airport and the lounge operator actually want guests to spend time at the airport. This approach is by design: the idea is that travelers who linger at the airport are more likely to purchase services and wander through the Duty Free and retail areas.

Whether the strategy is successful is a legitimate question: after enjoying our private room, a refreshing shower, a hearty breakfast, and a handcrafted espresso, shopping was the last item on our mind. We couldn’t escape the luxurious confines of the primeclass Lounge.

Well, we ultimately had to—our Meet&Greet concierge showed up with a golf cart and whisked us to the gate.

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