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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The Pliska Sofia Airport Lounge is one of three lounges in Terminal 2 and is the smaller, upstairs cousin of the Preslav lounge. It’s closer to the shops and other terminal amenities, and generally feels less out-of-the-way than the Preslav Lounge. We visited on our way back to London flying with British Airways. Here’s what we thought.

Reception

The lounge is found airside on level 1 in Sofia Airport’s terminal 2. After passing through security, walk past all the little boutique shops and the Pliska lounge is found at the far end on the right.

There’s little in the way of a reception area, just a small counter near the door. The lounge was very quiet when we visited, so there was no wait to enter. The lady at the door checked our boarding pass then signalled us in.

The reception at Pliska Lounge
The reception at Pliska Lounge

As well as being used by a number of airlines as their business class lounge, the Pliska Sofia Airport Lounge also permits paid entry for €14.40 on the door.

Score: 5/10

Comfort

A view of Pliska lounge's seating area
A view of Pliska lounge’s seating area

Mmmm, violet. The colour schemes struck us right between the eyes as we first walked in. While definitely not our taste, it had a certain charm about it that made us smile. Moving past the colour, the layout screamed waiting room; Pliska is a basic lounge. We were also surprised by the size; the lounge seems disproportionately small compared to the spacious and almost cavernous terminal you enter through. It’s almost as though the room was meant for another purpose and the lounge was a mere afterthought in the airport design.

With the exception of a small number of stools under the high bench at the window, the seating was entirely low armchairs with coffee and side tables in between.

Owing to the lounge’s small size, there were no designated quiet areas or recliner seats.

Smoking rooms are a thing in Sofia Airport, but this lounge benefits from not having one! The larger Preslav Lounge downstairs has a lingering stench of cigarette smoke. We enjoyed the relatively clean air and leaving with fresh smelling clothes.

Pliska Sofia Airport Lounge was very well maintained and appeared immaculately clean when we visited.

Score: 5/10

People traffic

There were very few guests in the lounge when we arrived. The seats gradually filled as more BA passengers showed up. If there were two flights going out at the same time, we don’t think this lounge would have the capacity to handle it. There’s seating for about 25, then it would be standing room only.

Perhaps excess traffic would be diverted to the smoky Preslav lounge downstairs?

Score: 5/10

Food Options

A small selection of cold snacks were provided. A full-height fridge held a plate of “inside-out” ham and cheese sandwiches. Serving a pre-prepared sandwich with the filling on the outside for you to make yourself is common in Eastern European countries. All the food looked freshly prepared.

There were crisps and biscuits on the bar.

We didn’t see any hot food or anything that would serve as a meal, so be sure not to arrive hungry.

Score: 3/10

Beverage Options

There was an impressive range of hot, cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at Pliska Lounge.

In addition to the machine coffee (which was OK), the fridges were well-stocked with water, fizzy sodas and juices. There was also a kettle to boil water for the selection of teas.

The booze selection was great, with a good range of branded spirits and all the ingredients to make a good Bloody Mary lined-up together. Challenge passed.

There were four local wines on offer, a red Syrah, a rosé, a white, and a sparkling “Glera”.

Score: 7/10

Toilets and Showers

There were no toilets or showers in the lounge. The toilets are found out in terminal, a short walk from the lounge.

Score: 0/10

WiFi, Power & Productivity

Other than a bar top, by the window, at the far end of the room, there was little in the way of spaces you could work. The laptop would need to be on your lap.

The lounge was quiet and didn’t feel like a phone call or noisy hammering on keyboards would be very popular. Small, quiet lounges never seem to be great for productivity. If you’ve work to do, it might be better taking your chances at one of the bars or restaurants in the terminal – some have bistro-style patio chairs and tables.

For those hoping to power-up (like us), there were a handful of European 230v mains sockets dotted between the violet armchairs. If the lounge was busy, we’d have expected some jostling for the plugs. There were no USB power ports, so remember to bring your plug and adapter.

Score: 4/10 – unless it’s really quiet, you’re not going to be able to work or charge-up with ease.

Little Extras

There were a handful of newspapers offered on the stand by the door, although not much in the way of international press.

Pliska is another example of a lounge that’s well looked after. Despite lacking investment, the staff clearly work hard to keep it looking and feeling in good order.

Score: 3/10

BG1 Verdict

Pliska Sofia Airport Lounge is a small and functional lounge, but lacking a lot of the basics you’d hope to find in a lounge these days.

If you’re paying to enter, first check the lounge isn’t too busy. Saying that, at €14.40 you’ll easily get value for money at their well-stocked bar. The lounge has it’s own website, to allow you to view up-to-date pricing.

Sofia is a little off really beaten track when it comes to business travel. Perhaps as the airport grows in passenger numbers, the facilities for premium passengers will also receive further investment.

Total: 32/70 (45%)

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