It’s taken me a while to write this review as I have been hectically preparing for the launch of our Twitter account but here it goes.
In the many business trips I have done over the last few years, I have been to a number of places in Africa. And whether you like it or not, the fact is that when it comes to the comfort a typical business traveler is accustomed to elsewhere, you normally have to lower your expectations when it comes to airport lounges in this continent. The Aspire lounge at Jomo Keniatta airport, though, is at an entirely different level, as noticed instantly by the entrance next to Gate 10.
As you enter, this impression is confirmed when you walk along its brightly illuminated room. It is spotlessly clean, has modern furniture and very comfortable seats at the back.
There are essentially 3 sections to the Aspire Lounge. As you enter, there is a seating section on your right side with about 16 seats, facing a cabinet where you can find a selection of local and international newspapers and magazines.
At the back there are 32 very comfortable, individual sofas organized in groups of four with a small table separating each pair. Importantly, there are many power a view of the Aspire Lounge in Nairobi sockets next to each seat, both for UK plugs (the standard in Kenya) and International ones. This way I had no problem charging my two phones, my iPad and my laptop all at the same time 🙂
While the lounge itself is not very big, there is still room for a separate food section which, again, is very well kept and is spotlessly clean. Here you can find the typical options of waters, juices and sodas, plus a small selection of wines and spirits. The only disappointing thing for me as far as food, was that apart from a few different fruits, there weren’t really any other healthy options, not even a piece of bread. Just pastries. Don’t get me wrong, I love pastries and I have a very sweet tooth! However, I do need to watch what I eat and drink so I can stay healthy and travel more!
Rant aside, in this section, there is a couple of high tables and seats if you want to stay close to the coffee machine and all in all, I can imagine this lounge can get a bit crowded if there’s 2 or 3 flights departing around the same time.
The Wi-Fi network was fast and effective, and the best compliment I can give is that I could actually focus on working or playing and not once did I have to slow down or wait due to the connection speed, which is too common in some lounges, unfortunately.
The only advice I could give would be to the smart IT people. Please be conscious of us stressed people who just want to get instantly connected when we enter a lounge. Setting up long passwords with intermitting letters, words and symbols is just a pain when you have 3 or 4 devices you want to connect and have to change keyboards on touchscreens to enter a letter vs a number vs a symbol. Too much hassle and I had to enter passwords 4 times on one device due to typing errors because of this. Make it easier already, this is not the password to a bank safe.
With the obvious exception of South Africa, it is not easy to find Business Lounges in Africa which are at the standard of those you can find elsewhere. For those of us who travel to Africa frequently, we are all too used to dimly lighted, dated rooms (I wouldn’t call them lounges) with old and uncomfortable seats and little to no food.
The Aspire Lounge, though, is of a very good standard and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It sets the standard for lounges at NBO and when inside, you could be forgiven to think you were in a different continent altogether.
Have you stayed at this lounge before? What did you think? What other lounges in Africa are the best in your opinion?