Arriving at the airport a little later than planned, I didn’t anticipate having enough time to visit the Sala CIP Lounge Faro Airport. After posting a 2-hour delay, British Airways gate staff sent Club and BA Exec status passengers back to the lounge. Every cloud, hey? So, without further delay, here’s my honest review of what I saw.
Arriving in the main departure area, after security, the staircase to the lounge is found just before the shops on the left.
As you can imagine, there was a lengthy queue when I arrived because we’d all been sent back together to the lounge from the gate. Fortunately, the lounge staff were very quick to respond and simply waved everyone through. The ladies on the desk seemed empowered and acted like owners; no process-driven jobsworths here.
As well as accepting business class passengers on selected airlines, Sala CIP Lounge Faro also accepts Priority Pass. Other passengers can pay for entry at 30€ per adult and 15€ for children. Book online here.
The reception area itself looked like the foyer of a spa or swimming pool rather than a lounge. The impression was sanitary rather than “loungey” (I acknowledge that is not a word!) On balance, the black mosaic tiling seemed a little out-of-place, although very distinctive and no doubt expensive to install.
Beyond reception, the lounge was split into 3 distinct zones: a buffet area with standing tables, a dining area with 2 tables seating a total of 8 people, and finally a large lounge seating area. I sat myself on on of the lounge seats so I could charge my phone and enjoy a quick drink before a second attempt was made at boarding. The chair was comfortable to sit and wait on, but wouldn’t have been nice to slouch in for a few hours.
Aside from a couple of curved sofas, there was nowhere in the lounge to rest/sleep. There were no low-lit quiet areas or private cabanas.
The view from the large windows at the far end of the lounge offered sweeping views of… the terminal shops.
Entertainment was a limited to selection of magazines on a ledge, although no national or international newspapers. Rolling news was being screened on a number of wall-mounted TVs throughout the seating area.
Overall, this lounge felt more like a waiting room than an venue I wish I’d afforded more time to enjoy.
The lounge was operating at about 50% capacity when I visited. With the exception of the ruck at the door, it didn’t feel at all busy or congested. Ample seating was available, even to get an area on your own. There were no waits for the toilet, serve yourself drinks, or for food. Given its small size and how busy Faro Airport gets in the height of summer, it would be interesting to see what happens when the lounge hits capacity.
It was slim pickings on the food. Three covered cold buffet trays offered-up a mix of sub-style sandwiches in baguette bread, ham and cheese sandwiches on sliced white bread, sweet Portuguese eggs tarts – which are simply delicious and must be eaten anywhere you see them – and doughnuts. I had a baguette sub roll and a Portuguese tart; the bread was freshly soft and the tart was freshly baked. The parade along the buffet was concluded with a few packets of crisps. The staff made sure the food was kept topped-up.
All the fresh food was labelled, but didn’t clearly signal veggie, vegan, or allergen information.
Score: 3/10 – you aren’t going to gorge yourself in the Sala CIP Lounge Faro Airport, so don’t arrive hungry! The Portuguese tarts prevented a 2/10!
The self-service bar offered local beers, branded spirits, a good range of soft drinks, teas, and coffee from a machine. On the wine front, there was local white, red, sparkling white, and sparkling rosé.
I had a Super Bock beer from the large fridges and later tried a glass of the Fiuza Native red. No complaints on the quality.
The lounge passed the Bloody Mary test, having all the vital ingredients and powered by Eristoff vodka. Being Portugal, there was even a nice-looking tawny port on the sprits self.
While the local fizz looked nice enough, there wasn’t any Champagne or Prosecco. I could only see 1 beer brand (Super Bock), no cider, and Pepsi was the only cola.
Score: 6/10 – A wider wine selection and rather average machine coffee would’ve improved the score.
Toilets and Showers
Nothing to write home about here. Male, female, disabled and baby change facilities. Strangely, the male and female doors had transparent windows in them, allowing you to peer in.
The bathrooms were clean and functional, with a decorative flower and a scented diffuser by the sinks. The toilets smelt and looked very clean. The janitor was also regularly (almost obsessively) checking them – see my later comment in “Little extras” about this hardworking team member.
There were no showers in the lounge. If you wanted a wash, or to brush your teeth, you’d be doing it one of the two adjoining sinks.
Score: 4/10 – Toilets were present, clean and functional, but that was all.
Wi-Fi, Power & Productivity
The free lounge Wi-Fi was simple to join and was secure. 30 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. Enough to to most tasks, although a movie download will take a few minutes.
As I needed to charge my phone, I sat myself on the lounge seats, which each have mains 230v power socket (European adaptor required) under the coffee table. While I didn’t see any USB charging ports, the coverage of sockets across the lounge was very good.
Working might be a little harder. The majority of the lounge is comprised of low lounge seating with coffee tables. There are no designated working areas or co-working desks. There were 2 large dining tables with 4 chairs around them, along with 4 bar-height tables that would serve as good standing desks.
I had to take a few calls and stepped outside to do so – the hushed vibe made talking on the phone feel a bit awkward.
This is the section where lounges can pick-up bonus points for doing something a little different that improves the airport experience for passengers.
While the lounge itself is relatively basic and lacking the wow-factor, the staff were all working hard to maintain a high level of guest comfort. It would be remiss of me not to mention the janitor lady who wearing the cleaner’s tabard. One moment she was checking the restrooms, the next she was clearing tables, then she was checking the condition of the cups and glassware on the buffet. This lady was working hard and the results were clear to see – the place was spotless.
Overall, I came away with the impression the staff cared about keeping their lounge shipshape and really gave a damn about doing a good job.
As a waiting room away from the masses, this lounge is very nice. Faro Airport can be chaotic during peak holiday periods, making the Sala CIP Lounge Faro a relative oasis. The staff are very hardworking and very friendly. All that said, it’s not a “lounge.” The sanitary, albeit well cared for appearance, and dentist waiting room seating made it a rather functional and easily forgettable experience. Were it to cost me 30€, I’d probably give it a miss and spend that money downstairs in the terminal.
Total: 39/70 (56%)