Lounges Reviews

Review: Premier Lounge – Denpasar Bali International

Packed to capacity, bad "brown" food, disgusting toilets, limited drinks

Cover Shot

Bali’s previous JAS Premier lounge in the old International Departures area was good. Not great, but a very acceptable place to spend a few hours with a bowl of Soto Ayam, some beer/wine and even an outdoor terrace with an excellent view of the apron and the runway approach path.

The terrible state of the main departure lounge area at the time probably made it seem better than it actually was.

Airport of Bali
Runway 09 approach before the new terminal was constructed. (Photo: Bali Tourism Board)

With the major building works of the new international terminal at Bali, which were completed in late 2013, came the promise of a new lounge. The problem was, it didn’t open until over a year later – on 15th January 2015. In the meantime they had a poorly partitioned off area near the gates that was hot, packed, served inedible food and warm beer. It was so bad we didn’t even take pictures.

So when the news that the new Premier Lounge had finally opened we breathed a sigh of relief and looked forward to familiar batik-covered furnishings, cold Bintang and a view of the arriving aircraft. The reality is, sadly, quite different.

Location

All three lounges (Premier, T/G and Garuda) are located on a mezzanine level above the main departure lounge area.

Outside View
Lounges at Bali International are located on the mezzanine level above the main departures concourse. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Proceed through immigration and security. You’ll then be forced into a long snaking path through duty-free, which is like an obstacle course of Daim bar and cuddly toy sales stands.

Duty Free + Lifts.jpg
(Photos: MainlyMiles)

In the corner, between two of the shops is a lift and stairs.

Traveller Tip: Take the stairs. You’ll need to burn off some calories if you want to attack the “brown food” buffet selection.

General Details

Opening Times: 24hr
Showers: Yes
Bar: Yes (wine and spirits limited to 2 per person)
Wi-Fi: Yes
Multi-standard Power Sockets: Yes
USB Charging Sockets: No

In Detail

Seating

Several different and quite uncoordinated seating areas have been rammed into a small space. All are showing intense wear and tear. Around the buffet is a small number of green wicker armchairs with side tables. Only a very small number have power sockets.

Lounge Overview.jpg
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

Past the buffet, into the lounge, are red circular sectional sofas. These have small side tables in between and are good for couples travelling together. They also have multi-standard power sockets in the ankle area.

Red Curvy Seats.jpg
Red circular sectional sofas equipped with multi-standard power sockets. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is a “business centre” with a printer and several PC terminals – sadly we have no pictures as a family had decided to camp out there for the duration of our stay.

There are several further smaller areas of seating including a vague attempt to provide a kids play area. Some of these had stand-alone air conditioning units to supplement the inadequate main system.

Other Seating
Other seating areas. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A glass door next to the buffet leads to an “outdoor” seating area on the mezzanine above the main terminal. Being nearer to the roof it was even warmer out here and noisy with the sounds from the departures area below echoing from the sculpted roof above. It was a little less crowded however.

Outdoor seating
“Outdoor” area. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Ambience

Two words – full and hot. This lounge serves an overwhelming number of customers (see the “Access” section) and as a result, is perpetually rammed. We didn’t think we’d see more people in one lounge than the regular evening rush at the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Singapore T3 lounge – we were wrong.

Lounge Overview 2
The seating area during a brief quieter moment as people rushed the buffet for ‘fresh’ brown food. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

On the evening we visited, the staff eventually stopped admitting more guests but it was too little too late.

With the sheer volume of bodies in a cramped space, combined with Denpasar Airport’s overall asthmatic air conditioning makes for unpleasant conditions. To be fair, they have done their best to improve this since our first visit with stand-alone air conditioners (as mentioned above) but really… it’s like dropping an ice-cube into a bucket.

Food

Brown. Very very brown. And that’s only if you can catch a glimpse of it in the first place. With the vast number of hungry, passengers who haven’t eaten since being ejected from their hotel at 12pm that afternoon – stocks at the small buffet don’t last long.

Be prepared to queue for the following delights:

Champagne

Don’t be silly…

Beverages

A large fridge contains a selection of soft drinks, mixers and Bali Hai beer. Sadly all are a bit warm – probably due to the replacement rate.

Drinks Fridge.jpg
Drinks fridge. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A very sad looking manned bar serves a small selection of spirits (not including gin) plus red and white local wines.

Spirits
Even the bartender of the year is going to struggle with this selection. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

When you hear “manned bar” you think – “sounds classy”… like a Cathay Pacific or Qantas lounge. Think again… the only reason for it to be manned is to strictly enforce the “2 drink rule” for each guest.

Bar 2.jpg
Bar area. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

I’ve seen such drink rules in other third-party lounges – but in a lounge that is the chosen option for Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Emirates business class passengers – it really isn’t acceptable or necessary.

Wine

One red and one white wine option are offered. They are both grown and made in Bali. Balinese wine is a little hit and miss for a number of reasons but certainly not all bad. Sadly Hatten isn’t one of the better brands. We tried the red – our tasting notes included nail polish remover! The white appears to be a far better option.

Wines
Wine selection. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
  • Hatten Aga Red – Bali – Indonesia – 2 stars on Vivino
  • Hatten Aga White – Bali – Indonesia – 3 stars on Vivino

Wi-Fi

There are 5 different networks associated with the lounge, shown at the entranceway and bar. In an effort to be as fair as possible we tried to connect with a number of different devices. We only ever managed a vaguely stable connection to one network.

Here are the speed test results (hold onto your hats!):

Lounge Speed Test
Lounge Wi-Fi Speed Test

For reference, downstairs in the ‘Hard Rock Cafe’, we tested the public airport Wi-Fi:

Public Area Speed Test
Public Wi-Fi Speed Test

Toilet and Showers

If you have a delicate constitution, look away now.

The shower is by far the worst we have ever seen in nearly 20 years of premium travel. Chunks of hair, scum, grime and off-brown towels.

Shower 3
Truly disgusting. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Amenities
Amenities (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Suspicious puddles and bad smells are the name of the game in the rest of the toilet. Avoid and use the public facilities.

Lounge access

Without wanting to sound overly sarcastic – almost everyone… and their travel companions.

Access
Access policy. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Possibly also more – the staff were unsure.

Conclusion

The above may sound very damning… and it is, but the fault lies squarely with the management. The staff in the lounge were extremely courteous and continuously working to try and keep up. I feel sorry for them, as they’ve been sold out.

Hardware-wise, it’s basic, functional and a little careless but would probably still be awarded a 2 to 3-star rating if it received <50% of the current foot-fall.

Our evening experience, combined with previous experiences in this lounge, was so bad we’d recommend you skip visiting altogether. Indeed, on this particular evening, we left after about 40 minutes and went to the Hard Rock Cafe downstairs, which is indeed a better option, albeit not free.

If this is the only lounge you are eligible to enter, our recommendation: try not to turn up too early, and then head to one of the main departure area restaurants/bars for sustenance and libations.

1star

Visited March 2018

In this terminal, see also: T/G Lounge, Garuda Lounge

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

One comment

  1. While this lounge looks bad, this was the best place to be when I was stranded at Bali Airport during the chaotic Mount Agung eruption.

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