Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul at Istanbul Ataturk airport in the International Terminal—also known as THY CIP Lounge or more formally and recently as the July 15 Heroes of Democracy Lounge— is widely considered as one of the best business class lounges in the world.
A showcase facility for Turkish Airlines, Lounge Istanbul features a unique and original design, gourmet food, and a stunning range of amenities—from the essentials to the unexpected. Join us for a tour!
Access and directions
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul serves as a Star Alliance Lounge at Istanbul Ataturk airport, welcoming premium passengers of all member airlines, as well as Star Alliance Gold members. The massive facility spreads across two floors on the far left of the terminal building. There are two entry points.
If you depart from Istanbul, skip the traditional check-in desks, and walk all the way to the left of the check-in area. At the very end of the concourse, you’ll notice check-in kiosks as well as a discreet private entrance for elite and premium passengers with a dedicated security checkpoint and immigration booth. You’ll find yourself in the lounge as soon as you go through immigration.
If you are already airside, walk to the far end of the terminal (left when facing the gates) and follow the signs to “THY CIP Lounge.” The lounge is on the opposite end of the food court. The closest gate is 220 though you don’t want to actually get all the way to the gate – from gate 220 you’ll want to backtrack and then turn right into the hallway away from the gates. When you reach the lounge, just scan your boarding pass at one of the turnstiles and you’ll be admitted. Staff is available should you require any assistance.
To leave the lounge, follow a sign to Gates – note that it might be a hike to your gate, so plan accordingly. The signs provide estimated walk times.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul ISL design
Lounge Istanbul features a unique, visually striking design. Arches carve out small dome like rooms or “bubbles” within the sprawling space. The décor incorporates both modern and traditional Turkish design elements, with different vibes throughout. The layout leads to exploration, so walk around to get your bearings and a sense of the incredible breadth of amenities. You will walk past a garden like zone, play areas, a library, and a restaurant – all with different ambiances that might make you literally forget that you are in an airport.
At the center of the lounge is a stunning atrium with a floating spiral staircase leading to new, the lower floor, which Turkish Airlines added in 2014, expanding the space to a massive 3,500 sq.m. and the capacity of the lounge to a whopping 1,030 customers at a time. The staircase that links the two floors passes through a wire globe adorned with Turkish Airlines’ logo. The design symbolizes the airlines’ truly global network.
The cavernous space has few windows and therefore limited natural light, and no notable views. Yet, the magic of the décor and the variety of amenities make the limitation hardly noticeable. Besides, indoor plants bring a touch of freshness and smart lighting helps create a soothing environment. With hardwood floors and beautiful finishes, the space is a feast for the eyes and feels smart and sophisticated.
The lounge offers a wide variety of seating options including comfortable lounge seats, dining tables, and more secluded spots. Power outlets are widely available, though unfortunately not at every seat.
On the downside, the lounge is constantly busy, even at odd hours—many flights depart around midnight. Despite the lack of audible announcements, the club can be noisy. The lower floor is typically less crowded.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul ISL amenities
The number and variety of amenities is second to none, and it would be challenging to describe them all in detail. We’ll take a stab at an overview. It’s worth noting that all amenities are complimentary.
The first order of things is to store your bags, because you’re going to be busy exploring. There are two storage rooms (one on each floor) with elegant digital glass lockers which are large enough to accommodate a full-size carry-on, a purse, and a jacket. In the back are also smaller lockers with built-in power outlets, which can accommodate laptops and small electronic devices. Availability is limited; check downstairs as most customers tend to use the upstairs facility.
The entertainment options are numerous. By the main entrance on the upper floor is a movie theater with a big screen, complete with reclining chairs and a popcorn machine. The theater doubles as an informal slumber room. Right across is a billiard room in an elegant library setting.
Young kids will enjoy the fun play room, while kids of all ages will appreciate the video game and arcade machines. There is even a miniature race track, as well as a full size golf simulator.
Should you wish to freshen up, walk to one of the Concierge desks and book a shower suite. There may be a wait, in which case you will be issued a buzzer. Again, check downstairs as lines may be shorter. The marble clad shower suites come with a beautiful designer sink, a toilet, and a rain shower. Fluffy towels, slippers and robes are provided, along with bath products. We had to find one flaw: there are no tissues! If you don’t need to shower, be sure to at least check out the bathrooms, which are a sight to behold.
A wide selection of newspapers and magazines is available, as well as several media rooms with multiple screens tuned to worldwide TV channels. A number of self-service computers and printers are also available. There is also, naturally, Wi-Fi throughout, although in our experience it is often slow and unreliable. While it may be a factor of the number of guests, we have experienced limited bandwidth even outside peak times. The slow Internet might just be the only real flaw of this stunning lounge.
Occasionally, a massage therapist walks the room and will offer a brief shoulder massage – sit back, relax and enjoy!
Other amenities include prayer rooms, meeting rooms, and a teleconference room (inquire with a Concierge for access.)
Food and beverages
Turkish Airlines uses gourmet caterer Do&Co, both on the ground and in the air, to offer a premium experience to their guests.
The lounge features a variety of stations offering a wide range of appetizers, salads, cold and hot entrees, and desserts. You may help yourself from one of the many buffet areas or order cooked-to-order dishes from one of the chefs. The selection includes omelets in the morning, grilled meats, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, soups, Turkish mezze, Turkish pide and börek, Turkish ravioli, and a great assortment of desserts including baklava.
Drink coolers throughout the lounge offer a selection of soft drinks and mineral water. All alcoholic beverages are self-service, with tables loaded with wines, liquor, and spirits. There are numerous espresso machines, coffee bars with baristas, and freshly squeezed juices.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul features several elegant private bedrooms for elite and business class passengers who are connecting from a long-haul flight on Turkish Airlines to another Turkish Airlines flight, with a layover between 4 and 7 hours imposed by the airline’s schedule.
The bedrooms are accessible on a first come, first serve basis, for a maximum of 6 hours. To request access to a suite, inquire with one of the Concierges within the lounge. The 4 to 7 hour layover time is calculated from scheduled landing time to scheduled take-off, regardless of actual arrival time and boarding time; and the access rules are extremely strict, given the high demand. Several flight pairs do not qualify as they’re just over seven hours. (For passengers with an even longer layover due to Turkish Airline’s schedule, the airline offers complimentary city tours as well as complimentary stays at the airport hotel though availability varies widely.)
Decked with fine hardwoods, the sleeping suites are equipped with a real bed, a desk, a coat hanger, a TV, an alarm clock, an iPhone dock, and several power outlets. Two bottles of water and a pair of slippers are provided.
At a first glance, the cozy and inviting suites are the perfect place to catch some shuteye—a luxurious, ultra-private haven with a vast array of amenities a stone’s throw away.
The reality is more nuanced. Unfortunately, the constant loud creaking of the hardwood floors in the hallway and the sound of conversations through the paper-thin walls are hardly conducive to sleep. Also, patrons do not get a key to their suite. Even a trip to the bathroom is not a simple endeavor, as it involves either leaving the door ajar, or lining up at the Concierge desk to ask the staff to unlock the suite.
If possible, ask for a room at the end of the hallway to minimize noise. Regardless, a few hours in a bed go a long way, and the opportunity to work or relax undisturbed is a real privilege.
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul ISL bottom line
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul at Istanbul Ataturk airport (also called THY CIP Lounge) is an outstanding facility with a unique design, delicious food and drinks, and a stunning range of amenities and entertainment options.
There are lounges worldwide that offer higher-end specialty services (for example British Airways offers spa services) but those are often token amenities that are difficult to use due to availability and demand, whereas the amenities offered by Turkish Airlines can be enjoyed by all. There are also lounges which offer a-la-carte meals with table service (such as the Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX) but those welcome top-tier frequent flyers only. Turkish Airlines is unique in offering a high-end blend of amenities and services to such a large and diverse group of customers – over 1,000 at a time.
And that might be the silver lining: the lounge is victim of its own success and often excessively busy. Your experience may vary widely depending on the time of the day, or day of the week. But it’s likely to be spectacular.
4.5 / 5, based on 90 reviews