Blink and you may miss The House lounge in Melbourne International Airport. Nestled up an escalator among the flurry of departure gates, and retaining signage that may indicate otherwise, The House could easily fly under your radar.

But this airy space is worth seeking out, and not just if you’re travelling with one of its many partner airlines. Once operated by Etihad Airways for its premium passengers, today, The House welcomes a broader guestlist, including China Airlines and Cathay Pacific Business Class flyers, Priority Pass members, and walk-in guests.

With standout features including an extensive bar, sprawling tarmac views, a family room and à la carte dining, there’s lots to look forward to. I step into this sophisticated space for a peek at what you can expect at Melbourne’s The House lounge.

Lounge details and location

You’ll find The House lounge adjacent to gate 10 in Melbourne International Airport – look for the signage in front of the glass doors. Take the escalator up and you’ll be greeted with The Emirates Lounge on your left, and what appears to be an Etihad Airways Lounge on your right. Rest assured that you’re in the correct spot! Etihad Airways previously occupied this space, and at the time of my visit, the old signage remains. The lounge is currently owned by Swissport, and they haven’t forgotten to change the signage – it’s in the pipeline. But if you’re doubtful, the screen on the left will confirm you’ve arrived.

The House is open daily from 5:30 am to 12:45 am.

A number of airlines partner with The House lounge, including Etihad Airways, China Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Members of lounge programs like Priority Pass and DragonPass are also welcome, as well as walk-in guests. With such an extensive guestlist, it’s only fair that no boarding announcements are made – so keep an eye on the screens around the lounge.

Lounge layout and seating

Occupying arguably one of the best vantage points at Melbourne Airport, The House lounge’s corner position lends itself to sweeping views across the tarmac. Natural light floods in through the floor-to-ceiling windows at just the right amount. The space is bright, airy and inviting, with plenty of room to spread out.

Speaking of which, there’s an array of seating options. My visit begins with a seat at the long table, accompanied by a barista-made coffee and red velvet cake. This part of the lounge is an ideal workstation or collaborative space, with powerpoints within easy access. When it’s time for a quick nibble, I move to the tables in the dining area. And if you just need somewhere to kick back, there are couches to suit solo travellers or groups scattered throughout. My personal favourites are the ones by the window corner – it’s hard to say no to uninterrupted views.

And, fun fact: the leather used for the lounge seating is the same type that’s found in Ferrari vehicles. How’s that for a touch of luxury?

Food and beverage in the The House lounge, Melbourne

Front and centre of this lounge experience is the long bar set against the window. Here, you can request a range of alcoholic beverages, the selection of which differs between the Premium and Standard drinks packages. Whether your access includes either package or whether you need to pay to upgrade depends on how you access this lounge. We’ve covered all the access requirements and inclusions at the end of this review. But if your access doesn’t include the Premium drinks package, it’s absolutely worth the $20 to upgrade to this as it offers unlimited cocktails.

An oat cappuccino suffices during my late morning visit – it’s skillfully crafted by the barista behind the bar. However, if your palate requires a more instant fix, there’s a coffee machine in the buffet area, as well as a selection of Twinings tea bags. And you can help yourself to a can of soft drink or a bottle of water from the ice buckets opposite the bar.

All lounge guests can dig into the buffet selection. Approaching lunchtime during my visit, the options include pasta, lamb curry and an assortment of salad, bread and fruit. I’m told a refresh of the buffet options is on the way – so it could look a little different the next time you visit. All food in Melbourne’s The House is prepared halal.

An à la carte menu is available and complimentary for Etihad Airways and China Airlines passengers in premium cabins. Bookings made via Luxury Escapes also include one à la carte dish. All other lounge guests can pay $20 to upgrade from the buffet to à la carte. This includes a three-course meal that’s freshly prepared – you’d pay that much for fast food in the crowded terminal outside!

Amenities in the The House lounge, Melbourne

When flying in premium cabins – like many passengers who pass through airport lounges are – the service should start on the ground. This is something The House prides itself on. Regardless of how you access this lounge, there are ample amenities to make for a comfortable visit.

Upon entering the lounge, you’ll find the Family Room to your right. This space is small but well-equipped with books and toys, highchairs and beanbags, and even a colourful world map. During my visit, one of the families in the lounge mentions that the dedicated Family Room was a deciding factor when it came to selecting a lounge in Melbourne Airport – an amenity that not every lounge offers.

In the hallway, there are bathrooms, male and female prayer rooms and shower facilities. Showers are complimentary for almost all guests. If you’re a premium passenger or high-yield frequent flyer of one of the lounge’s partner airlines, you can enjoy a quick refresh. Also, if you’re a direct paying guest – that is, you’ve booked online or are a walk-in guest – you’ll have access.

But for guests entering The House with a lounge membership, like Priority Pass or DragonPass, you’ll need to pay $20 to access to the shower. This fee isn’t unreasonable, particularly if Melbourne Airport is a transit point and you have a long onward journey.

Reading material can be found on the shelf near the VIP Room. Luxury Escapes is a lounge partner, and you’ll find Luxury Escapes magazines scattered throughout the lounge for inspiration for your next getaway.

Powerpoints are aplenty, yet discreet. Look for them under the side tables, lounge chairs, or hidden along the centre of the long table.

VIP room

Another remnant of Etihad Airways’ former occupancy is the glitzy VIP Room. This area was once exclusive to Etihad Airways guests travelling in The Residence. But with its A380 no longer gracing the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi route – and, of course, the lounge no longer being operated by Etihad Airways – today, it serves as a private retreat in The House lounge.

The discreet entrance is to your left as you enter the lounge. But unless you’ve booked the room (anyone can do this), you can’t simply waltz in.

There are four chairs and a three-seater couch, making it ideal for an intimate gathering. The space has a TV screen if you’ve got a presentation to share, as well as its own bathroom so you don’t need to zip into the main area. Specks of luxury echo throughout the room – from the plush red carpet to the deep wood finishings.

The decor is kept to a minimum. Upon closer inspection of the carefully arranged books on the shelf, I spot various titles relating to Abu Dhabi and Emirati culture. Just another subtle nod to the lounge’s Etihad Airways days.

Lounge access options

The House lounge is open to all passengers regardless of travel class or airline. There are a few different ways to access this lounge.

  • By class of travel: 
    • Business Class passengers on Etihad Airways and China Airlines. Entry for these passengers includes complimentary shower access, complimentary à la carte dining, and the Premium drinks package.
    • Business Class passengers and high-yield frequent flyers travelling with Beijing Capital, Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines and Air Vanuatu. Entry for these passengers includes complimentary shower access and the Premium drinks package, but no à la carte dining.
  • By lounge membership: Priority Pass, DragonPass, LoungeKey and Dream Folks members. This includes lounge access only. There’s a $20 co-payment per service for the following: shower facilities, à la carte dining (when offered), or upgrade to the Premium drinks package.
  • By day pass:
    • $65 per adult, or $25 per child (aged 2-11) when booked online via Luxury Escapes. Includes shower access, one complimentary cocktail (adults only) and one complimentary à la carte dish.
    • $75 per adult, or $44 per child (aged 2-11) when booked online via Executive Lounges by Swissport. Includes shower access.
    • Walk-ins available, at a cost of $82.40 per adult or $51.33 per child (aged 2-11), with payment to be made at the door. Entry for walk-in passengers includes a three-hour stay, the Premium drinks package and access to shower facilities, but no à la carte dining.

Summing up

Overall, The House lounge in Melbourne’s International Airport offers an exceptional combination of adequate space and superior service. The open-plan area feels inviting, yet if you need a nook for privacy – whether for meetings, family time, or to catch up on some work – you can take your pick of spaces.

While I can’t comment on the à la carte selection, the current buffet choices are promising. I’m told the menu will be undergoing a revamp, so there’s lots to look forward to in the near future.

Those accessing the lounge with Priority Pass (complimentary for American Express Platinum cardholders) or other lounge memberships are required to pay $20 per service for access to the shower, Premium drinks package or à la carte dining. This is a very reasonable fee considering the price and quality of the food and drinks on offer in the terminal.

Top it all off with a touch of luxe – a nod to its Emirati origins – and The House is worth a visit. And it’s at my home airport – even better. I’ll be keeping this lounge in mind for my future departures from Melbourne.

Also read: The House lounge, Sydney

Photography by Victoria Kyriakopoulos, who accessed the lounge as a guest of The House.

The House Lounge, Melbourne was last modified: May 6th, 2024 by Victoria Kyriakopoulos