Rio de Janeiro’s airport (GIG) wasn’t always very luxurious. I first visited the airport in the mid-2000s, and I remember that there wasn’t much there but a large departure hall with some fast food restaurants serving pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread). However, the 2016 Olympics brought a lot of development to the city and to the airport in order to impress international visitors.
On my most recent trip to Rio de Janeiro in July, I was excited to see that a new Star Alliance Lounge had recently opened in December 2016. Since I was flying Avianca in business class, I had access to the lounge. Mine was a relatively early flight, so when I visited the lounge was fairly empty. It was so nice that I wished I had more time to hang out there.
Entrance to Lounge
The entrance to the lounge features an array of international newspapers and clocks showing the time in New York, Rio, and Paris. The white rocks are a local design feature used as pavers on Rio’s Ipanema Beach sidewalks and boardwalk. The instrument hanging under the clocks is a berimbau, which is used in the traditional music of Brazil.
The bar at the Star Alliance lounge is, like the rest of the lounge, very modern and fresh. There are attendants there to make drinks or coffee, including the local Brazilian style of coffee called cafezinho.
The seating areas are similarly fresh and decorated in a style of Brazilian modernism that never goes out of style. Breeze block walls create privacy and are a beautiful, modern touch. You also see the white paver rocks from the Ipanema boardwalk carried through on the walls of the lounge, with photographs of the beach to make you feel like you haven’t left Rio yet.
The food bar in the Star Alliance Rio lounge is on par for an international business class lounge. There was plenty of salad, some soup, and various freshly made snacks as well as heavier options on display.
While the rest of the lounge is beautiful, whomever designed the Star Alliance lounge in Rio really went to town on the bathroom. There are beautiful mosaic tiles, a huge marble trough sink, and even some greenery growing in the corners.
While I wasn’t expecting to see such a gorgeous lounge at Rio’s GIG airport, I was very impressed by the new Star Alliance lounge. Not only is it beautifully designed, it also makes fantastic use of local Rio de Janeiro design elements. So while no one ever wants to leave Rio, at least you can spend your last hours there in local luxury.