My father and I had decided to travel halfway across the world in order to sample some of the best airline products out there, as well as to eat food from some of the most gastronomically interesting places in the world. Our adventure brought us to India, although for a very short time since we were connecting from an inbound Air India flight. We had a two hour layover in Mumbai before we were to continue our trip onwards on Etihad back to the US. While there, we had a chance at sampling the GVK First Class Lounge.
Arrival at Mumbai:
After our very pleasant trip on Air India, we were in the Mumbai Airport transit area. Given that we did not have our boarding passes with us for our continuing flight on Etihad, and only had the confirmation code from our online voucher, we had to make a very long line in order to get cleared to enter the terminal. The agents were very friendly and helpful, and in a matter of minutes after we reached the desk, they handed us temporary (read manually written) boarding passes that would allow us to pass through security. The security process was quick and easy.
The area between security and the terminal itself was beautifully decorated. The wall had images of traditional Hindu stories found in the Vedas, as well as very high ceilings. You could tell that the terminal had been built recently because of the architecture style, a sign of the burgeoning travel industry in India.
Soon after, we were in the main terminal trying to find our way to the Etihad Airways first class lounge. First Class passengers can use the GVK Lounge.
The lounge itself is divided into various parts. There is an area for GVK pass members, also open to Priority Pass members. Then there is the main Business Class lounge. That area is reserved for passengers trave
ling on certain airlines that have contracted with GVK. The lounge also has a separate area for First Class passengers, where they have a sit down meal service, as well as some extra seating and employees paying very close attention to anything you may need.
As soon as we were settled down, the area manager introduced himself and asked if we wanted to schedule our complimentary 20 minute massages. My father and I opted for consecutive spots, and I choose the back massage. Soon after, I went over to the sit down restaurant and decided to order some food, because it’s not every day that you are in India and get to try authentic Indian food.
As I was close to the restaurant area, an attendant came over and asked if I wanted to be seated and if I wanted to eat anything. I said yes, and he took me to a table by the window. He handed me the menu. It was a little beat up, but that’s a minor detail. The food options were vast, especially given that it was around 2:30am. They had a full set of appetizers and entrees available. I was tempted by so many, but I ended up selecting one of the soups (sorry, I can’t remember what it was, and the photo came out very blurry x_x) and the Lamb Biryani.
I might not be an expert on Indian cuisine, but I have to say that the food blew me away. Indian food is my favorite kind of food, and the Biryani was excellent. The soup was an explosion of flavor. Also, the salt and pepper lay out was a very original setting, with a slate plate and spoon to spread them with.
The (not so good) Massage:
Soon after I finished eating, it was my father’s turn to get a massage. While he was doing that, I was making sure that our connections were on time and that we would have enough time at Abu Dhabi to be able to explore the EY Lounge there. When it was my turn, the lounge manager came over and personally escorted me to the spa area. The spa area is open to all passengers, but if you are not in First Class you must pay a fee. Unfortunately, the massage ended up hurting my back and causing me more pain than what it fixed. My dad had a very similar experience.
After our (back breaking) massages, we walked over to the gate, which was about a 10-minute walk away. The Mumbai International Terminal is truly a work of architectural art. It is a marvel of modern buildings.
The GVK Lounge at Mumbai Airport is a very crowded lounge, if you are not traveling in First Class. Arriving, it was not very busy, but soon after the Business Class side was packed. When I walked to the spa, I could barely find any seats available. The First Class section, though, was mostly empty and staffed by wonderful employees. The food was amazing, probably the best lounge food I have ever had. The massages though, were not very helpful (if not going as far as saying that they did more damage). I would definitely come back to the lounge if I have a chance. It is one of the few lounges were I recommend arriving early in order to maximize your time there.