As frequent flyers, on a short hop to Europe or exploring the far East and West of the Globe, we’re always in search of a bargain to travel in style! The joy of travelling should start from getting to the airport, and we got hooked on the trappings of business class travel and everything that comes with it; lounges, lie-flat beds, food & wine, and free-flowing champagne! We’ve come to realise that traveling in style doesn’t have to break the bank.

Neither of us are millionaires and we’re continually looking to achieve our flying dreams by spending as little cash as we can. Be it a seat sale or miles redemption for reward flights, we tend to let our wallets tell us where we’re going next rather than having a fixed agenda...

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There are two Iberia lounges in Terminal 4 at Madrid-Barajas, but the one you use will depend on whether your flight departs from the main terminal or satellite terminal 4S. With 4S being a maze of escalators and a train ride away, head to the Iberia Velázquez Premium Lounge before you settle, leaving you only a short walk to the aircraft. Here’s our honest opinion of what we found on our visit.

Reception

If you’ve visited Madrid Airport before, you’ll know the signage is a nightmare. You’re bombarded with signs and the arrows tend to send you in circles. The bad news is the signage for the Iberia Valázquez lounge is no different. What makes it funny is when you find the entrance to the lounge right in the middle of the duty free shop, hidden between the shelves. We struggle to believe they didn’t do it on purpose!!

You’ll find the lounge just behind the sweets

Check-in was efficient and the staff quickly worked through the short queue that formed in the doorway. There wasn’t much in the way of a welcome, advice on amenties available, or information on flight announcements. The lounge was exclusive for Iberia and Oneworld passengers; no paid or Priority Pass entry. A big plus with this lounge is it’s open 24-hours, which means no risk of being kicked-out on a long layover.

Score: 7/10 – Could’ve been 8 had it not been hidden in the duty free.

Comfort

Walking in, the vastness of the bright, long lounge is immediately apparent. Looking left and then right from the point of entry, you see each end of the lounge is a complete mirror image. Everything in the left wing is replicated in the right, so the first question you’ll ask yourselves is “left or right?” We went left, as we were attracted to the tail fins visible out of the large windows.

Floor-to-ceiling windows make for a great view of the tarmac

The lounge decor was modern, bright and airy, complemented by the huge windows looking out onto the aircraft stands and taxi-ways. We sat ourselves on a nice pair of seats in front of the windows.

There was ample seating throughout the two wings of the lounge (we estimate 300+), with a variety of loungers, coffee tables, dining areas, bench seats and recliners in quiet areas. It was a busy morning when we visited, but there were still plenty of places to sit. If you wanted to eat, there were plenty of places to dine, either alone or in a small group.

There were plenty of flight information screens around the lounge, so it was never more than a couple of steps to get sight of one.

Because of the bright Spanish sunshine shining through the windows, the temperature was a little too hight to be comfortable. Many people seemed flustered, breaking sweat, and consuming a lot of water. If the blinds couldn’t be lowered, perhaps the air-con should be cranked-up.

Score: 7/10 – although the temperature was too high, the bright and airy appointment of the lounge made it a nice space to escape to.

People traffic

The Iberia Velázquez Premium Lounge was busy when we arrived mid-morning. You can tell it gets high footfall, although the layout and amenities appear to have been designed to cope with a high level of traffic. Although busy, the lounge still had an appropriate level of calm and with no queues for food, drink, or restrooms.

Score: 8/10

Food Options

Perhaps we hit the lounge at an awkward time between breakfast and lunch, but the food offering was decidedly disappointing at 09:45. A few remaining egg omelettes, tomatoes, bacon, and mushrooms were the sum of the hot food available. To add insult, it wasn’t that warm.
Cold cuts, cheese, yoghurts, and a small selection of fruit were also offered.

The food got a lukewarm reception

Food labelling wasn’t particularly clear, neither was allergens or options for specialised diets. Staff were floating around, so would have been easy to get baby food warmed.

As a result of this show, Iberia’s Velázquez Premium Lounge got a low score on food.

Score: 5/10

Beverage Options

No alcohol had been put out by the time we left the lounge at 10:30. Despite us spying Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce on the food buffet, ice next to the soft drinks, and tomato juice in the fridge, no Bloody Mary’s could happen without vodka. Fail.

Freshly-squeezed orange juice, was provided alongside a range of chilled soft beverages in a fridge. Tea and machine coffee was also in ample supply, although the coffee didn’t taste at all good – surprising in a country that conventionally serves a great cup of coffee.

Score: 5/10 – It’s 5pm somewhere and if we want a Bloody Mary at 10am instead of foul coffee, we should be allowed.

Toilets and Showers

Toilets were clean although untidy, with paper towels on the floor and in the sinks. The strong smell of bleach and stark lighting gave them a very functional presence, rather than the “tranquil mountain-top yoga sanctuary” feel that some airport lounges try for. This does help in keeping them quiet. People get in, do their business and get out, so you shouldn’t have to queue. There were no fancy hand soaps or moisturisers to play with.

While we didn’t have time to use the showers, we stuck our head in and were pleasantly surprised. The 6 cubicles look newly refurbished, with a combination of marble tile and oak wood. Quite classy. To use them you have to request an access code a reception. During busy periods there could be a lengthy wait.

Score: 5/10

Wi-Fi, Power & Productivity

There’s no specific lounge Wi-Fi. Internet connectivity is provided through Aena airport Wi-Fi. The speed was a measly 1mb down and 500kbps up, so we switched back to 4G, which we must add worked extremely well throughout the city of Madrid.

For those needing to plug-in, the Iberia Velázquez Premium Lounge had this covered. From what we could see, almost every pair of seats had mains and USB charging between them – 2 mains sockets and 2 USB is plenty of power right at your seat.

Charging-up is not a problem in the Iberia Valázquez lounge

Those needing to work had plenty of options, with a variety of desk-height working solutions scattered around the lounge, as well as dedicated banks of desks for group working. There were plenty of areas to do calls and also to hold meetings.

Great working spaces

Score: 8/10 – We think Iberia have got this part of the lounge right. If you need to work, you can, although they should consider putting in some dedicated Wi-Fi.

Little Extras

There was little remarkable about this lounge other than the great view from the full-height windows. If gazing planes is your thing, you’ll enjoy Iberia’s Velázquez Premium Lounge a lot. If not, you might be underwhelmed.
Score 3/10

BG1 Verdict

As far as the space, decor and appointment of the lounge, we felt Iberia had done a great job. For us, it quickly unravelled with the let-down performance with food and beverages. The toilets were functional, but very terminal-like. The showers were well-equipped, but six is insufficient for a lounge of this size. Saying all that, the Iberia Velázquez Premium Lounge scores well and is well worth a visit.

Iberia Velázquez Premium Lounge
Total: 48/70 (68%)

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