The Premium Lounge Guangzhou holds a special place in my heart. It’s actually the very venue that got me interested in the points game. You see, the lounge is located in a particularly conspicuous spot in the terminal. Right after passport control, one passes by the large facility, shining, taunting those without access. It was on an earlier trip through Guangzhou on China Southern that this lounge became my first travel muse.
I was stuck in this cold, Wifi-less terminal while, by methods unknown to me, others were entering this glistening oasis. Knowing that I wasn’t likely to get status on any of the airlines whose logos were displayed outside, I started Googling other methods of entry. This of course lead me to Priority Pass, and further to the “Big 3” premium cards. Those of course being the Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
I doubt many in the points and miles community would go out of their way to visit Guangzhou Baiyoun International. Unless of course, their muse lived their. So, while planning a recent trip to Vietnam, I made an effort to fly through CAN. I wanted access, I wanted to gain entry to the forbidden temple that I’d first noticed some time ago.
After landing in Guangzhou, and passing through China Southern’s archaic international transfer desk, I was at the lounge’s front desk. It’s hard to miss, it’s literally the biggest thing in the terminal. Interestingly, the lounge is deceivingly small. From the outside, it looks huge. Easily several hundred feet long, the lounge ends up being more like a hallway than a grand ballroom. Nonetheless, it was well appointed, with quick service, a good drink selection and a surprising amount of food.
The Premium Lounge Guangzhou has all the typical lounge amenities, free WiFi, showers, boarding alerts, food and drink. In addition, they have a small room with about six recliners. A nice touch, and one I was disappointed I was unable to try out. From the time we arrived, until the time we departed, all the chairs were occupied by the same group. Well within their rights, but inconsiderate nonetheless.
Update: On my way back through, I was able to grab the shot above, when the room was empty.
Atypical for an airport lounge, was the quality of the Wifi. It was terrible, and that’s coming in on the generous side of useless. Truth be told, when accessing the net in China, one can never be sure if it’s the Wifi, ISP or The Great Firewall which is ruining your virtual life. I usually like to benchmark on Speedtest.net, accessed via Chrome on my Macbook. Not too scientific, but I try to keep it consistent. Unfortunately, I was never able to access the site in a full browser, but instead was relegated to the Ookla Speedtest iPhone app that I haven’t used in who knows how long. I registered 2.85 Mbps up and 1.01 up. This was a bit surprising, as I was expecting dial up speed based on my few minutes of experience. While no means quick, 2’ish Mbps should enable you to browse non-media-intensive sites at borderline tolerable speeds. I didn’t find this to be the case in practice.
As a practical matter, all I was really able to accomplish during my visit was a couple raids in Clash of Clans and a speed test. Facebook never loaded, Google timed out and Instagram was totally inaccessible.
Premium Lounge Guangzhou Food
The quality and quantity of food and drink were by far the best thing about the Premium Lounge Guangzhou. There was a hot-buffet with a options from both sides of the ocean. On the Chinese side, we had several soups, fried wontons, steamed dumplings and a “leaf-wrapped thing.” For Western choices, we had bacon(Canadian style), sausage and eggs.
Next up was a large drink cooler with a great variety of breakfast and alcoholic beverages as well as your typical selection of soft drinks. Nothing too fancy, but all the bases were covered. Of particular interest to me, was this vanilla soy drink that was just fantastic. I really don’t know what it was, as all characters were in Chinese other than the word soy. Definitely different than Western soy milk though.
Somewhat confusingly, there is a coffee shop style station that appeared distinct from the other food. It was confusing because the way in which it was arranged, almost looked like it wasn’t included with the standard admission. The “coffee shop” had cappuccinos, americanos and espresso available for order. Furthermore, a display case with assorted pastries and tarts was also available. It really was a baby Starbucks. Most guests passed right by this little gem. I can only assume it was because they thought wasn’t included. However, I’m glad I asked, because guess what? It was free! A very nice host whipped up a cappuccino and grabbed me a couple pastries and I was on my way.
On the other side, way down the “hallway”, is another food station with everyday type food. Udon noodles, chips, finger sandwiches, etc. I didn’t have anything from this area so all I can do is point out that it was there.
The Premium Lounge Guangzhou is a great place to spend your layover. It’s quiet, well appointed and has a great selection of food and beverage. Honestly, my only complaint while leaving was the quality of the Wifi. However, I genuinely don’t know if that was due to Chinese internet controls or just bad service. Oh, and one other thing: I wasn’t allowed to take pictures. Of course, I didn’t ask permission, but was scolded when I snapped the pic of the pastry display.
Truth be told, I’m really just excited I finally had a chance to be with my first lounge crush.