Open 24 hours a day, the spacious Middle East Airlines Cedar Lounge at Beirut airport occupies prime real estate on the upper level of the terminal, with expansive views on the tarmac and airport grounds.
Completely remodeled in 2018, the space is beautifully appointed, though hardly exclusive: the club welcomes elite and premium customers of a wide range of airlines, ranging from SkyTeam partners to most Middle Eastern carriers such as Etihad, Emirates, Royal Jordanian, Egyptair, Kuwait Airways, and Iraqi airways. In addition, members of popular lounge access program Priority Pass receive access no matter which airline they’re flying.
MEA Cedar Lounge BEY design
The remodel of the MEA Cedar Lounge at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International airport in 2018 is a tale of a giant leap into the future. Coming from the airport’s shady check-in hall, guests are likely to have low expectations. And just 100 meters away, MEA’s legacy Beirut Lounge is a time capsule with neon lights, marble floors, and a smoking room from the 70s. But step inside the newly-renovated Cedar Lounge, and you’ll find a sophisticated space with an edgy design, cathedral ceilings, expansive views, and world-class amenities.
The stylish lobby area opens unto a spectacular atrium flooded with natural light, with a sky dome and live cedar trees. It’s an enjoyable spot for a break away from the traditional airport environment, though MEA may have missed an opportunity to develop the “garden” concept further: save for a few benches, the area is mostly devoid of seating. Dining tables would be a welcome addition to a decidedly unique space.
At 33,000 square feet (3,000 square meters) and with seating for 300 guests, the Cedar Lounge stretches in every direction around the atrium. The floor plan is totally open, which may easily have been a pitfall, though smart furniture arrangements, low dividers, and a creative flow make the space feel intimate while expansive. The abundant daylight helps: two floor-to-ceiling window walls reveal the airport’s views: beyond the tarmac, the eye catches the southern part of Beirut in the background.
Stylish and sophisticated, the décor combines modern features with traditional elements. Bold lines and angles contrast with conservative undertones and a color palette dominated by Earth and black tones. Designer furniture and LED lights add a futuristic appeal, while a collection of genuine archaeological artifacts highlights Lebanon’s rich history. The ensemble is ultra-functional yet elegant and convivial.
Guests may choose within a wide variety of seating options including couches, traditional and designer chairs, dining tables, booths, and pod chairs (highly private seats with a high back and a built-in table.) Despite the open space concept, there’s plenty of nooks and relatively intimate areas that offer a comfortable sense of privacy.
Most seats are near power sources, with USB ports and power outlets in side consoles and in the ground.
Large flat television monitors dot the lounge, though they’re fortunately silent.
The MEA Cedar Lounge is stylish and welcoming—but despite its dimensions, it is busy. The club can be crowded at peak times, and the staff is occasionally slow to pick up plates and trash. Fortunately, the layout, abundant natural light, and spacious atrium make for a typically pleasant experience.
MEA Cedar Lounge BEY amenities
The MEA Cedar Lounge at Beirut airport features a world-class range of amenities for business and leisure travelers alike.
The club sports two staffed bars and two buffets, as well as several hydration stations. The main bar, located near the reception desk, is one of the focal points of the design, and the drink selection matches the impressive décor: Champagne, Grey Goose Vodka, local and international wines, and a wide range of liquor and spirits are all complimentary.
The food spread is less impressive, or at the very least hit or miss. When we visited, we had to contend with comfort food (pasta and potatoes), one meat dish, pastries, and fruit. At meal times, the offering is sometimes a bit more exciting, with local fare in addition to international classics. Overall, though, the Cedar Lounge is not a gastronomical destination, and the staff is slow to replenish the buffet.
Families will find a cozy kids’ room decorated with joyful splashes of color and outfitted with pouffes, toys, video games, and TVs with children’s programming. For business travelers, MEA provides fast Wi-Fi, and fax/copying/printing facilities.
The Cedar Lounge also features a full-service spa offering a wide array of massages and treatments, though the facility is only open during business hours and none of the services are complimentary.
Other amenities include male and female prayer and ablution rooms, a spacious smoking room, and a selection of newspapers and magazines.
At this time, the Cedar Lounge lacks showers, which is an unfortunate gap considering that real estate certainly isn’t lacking, and that the club operates 24 hours a day with many flights departing at the wee hours of the morning. At the unveiling of the remodeled lounge in 2018, MEA noted that “shower installations are set and ready to be operative for the use of transit passengers soon.” To this day, there are still no updates or visible signs of construction.
MEA Cedar Lounge BEY bottom line
Middle East Airlines’ flagship lounge is meant to impress. The Cedar Lounge at Beirut airport was designed to showcase the best of Lebanese hospitality, and the décor reflects both the home carrier’s ambitions on the world’s stage and their attachment to local traditions and culture, with an unlikely alliance of cutting-edge architecture and historical artifacts.
There’s plenty to love about the expansive tarmac views, upper-scale alcoholic beverage selection, abundant seating, and extra touches such as the family room and spa. MEA could step up the food offerings, though, and we hope that the elusive showers promised back in 2018 will ever materialize—especially since the lounge is open around the clock.
Ultimately, MEA doesn’t lead the pack: Qatar Airways’ Premium Lounge is quieter and more luxurious—but it’s also much, much more exclusive.
You may have access to MEA Cedar Lounge as a premium customer of one of the following airlines, or as an elite member of their frequent flyer program. Check the Access rules tab for more details.
Aeroflot (SU) Aerolineas Argentinas (AR) Aeromexico (AM) Air Europa (UX) Air France (AF) Air Serbia (JU) Alitalia (AZ) China Airlines (CI) China Eastern (MU) Czech Airlines (OK) Delta (DL) EGYPTAIR (MS) Emirates (EK) Etihad (EY) Garuda Indonesia (GA) Iraqi Airways (IA) KLM (KL) Kenya Airways (KQ) Korean Air (KE) Kuwait Airways (KU) LOT Polish Airlines (LO) MEA Middle East Airlines (ME) Royal Jordanian (RJ) Saudia (SV) TAROM (RO) Tunisair (TU) Vietnam Airlines (VN) Xiamen Airlines (MF)
MEA Cedar Lounge at Beirut - Rafic Hariri International (BEY) welcomes:
- MEA Cedar Class passengers departing on a same-day flight.
- MEA Cedar Miles Gold members departing on a same-day flight operated by Middle Eastern Airlines (+1 guest or immediate family)
- International First and Business Class passengers departing on or connecting to/from a same-day international flight operated by a SkyTeam member.
- SkyTeam Elite Plus members departing on or connecting to/from a same-day international flight operated by a SkyTeam member, in any class of service (+1 guest)
- MEA Cedar Miles Silver members may not use the Cedar Lounge but are invited to use the MEA Beirut Lounge.
- Guests must be traveling on any flight operated by a SkyTeam member airline. Member must remain with the guests at all times during the visit.
- Lounge access will be provided only at your departure airport and not on arrival, unless you are connecting to a domestic flight or other qualifying international flight.
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