After a week in Sydney, it was time to head back to Singapore- and not a moment too soon. The new Omicron variant was getting everyone jittery, and with border measures tightening by the day, I figured that for the next month or so there was no place like home.
My flight to Singapore would be on SQ222, a B777-300ER equipped with the 2013 Business Class seat. Since I’ve reviewed that product numerous times already, I’m just going to focus on the lounge experience in Sydney.
|🦘 Journey to the Hermit Kingdom|
|🛫 tl;dr: SilverKris Lounge Sydney|
|The Sydney SilverKris Lounge punches above its weight for an outstation facility, though it’s still shaking off some cobwebs after a long shutdown.|
|The Good||The Bad|
Access and Operating Hours
The SilverKris Lounge at Sydney Airport operates according to the following schedule:
- Mon, Tue, Wed, Sun: 0530 to 0900 hours & 1200 to 1600 hours
- Thu, Fri and Sat: 0530 to 0900 hours & 1200 to 1900 hours
The extended operating hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday enable it to host passengers on the 3X weekly SQ242, which departs at 1910 hours.
The lounge has separate Business Class and First Class sections.
Access to the Business Class section is available to:
- Business Class passengers on Singapore Airlines or Star Alliance flights
- Premium Economy or Economy Class passengers on Singapore Airlines or Star Alliance flights with PPS Club, KrisFlyer Elite Gold or Star Gold status
- Premium Economy or Economy Class passengers on Singapore Airlines flights with Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum or Gold status
Access to the First Class section is available to:
- First Class/Suites passengers on Singapore Airlines or Star Alliance flights
- Business, Premium Economy or Economy Class passengers on Singapore Airlines with Solitaire PPS Club status
Solitaire PPS Club, PPS Club, and KrisFlyer Elite Gold members may bring one guest into the lounge, provided he/she is departing on a same-day Singapore Airlines flight.
Star Gold members may also bring one guest, but he/she must be travelling on the same flight as the member. This is in line with Star Alliance’s tightened lounge access rules that took effect from May 2021
The SilverKris Lounge at Sydney Airport is located after security at Pier C (near gates 50-63), and even at a fairly brisk pace, it probably took me close to eight minutes to walk over.
This lounge was the first to receive Singapore Airlines’ “home away from home” makeover in December 2013. Said Singapore Airlines’ SVP for Products & Services at the time:
“Our customers frequently tell us that they have a feeling of ‘home’ as soon as they board our aircraft, and our aim is to extend this experience to the ground. Through our new ‘home away from home’ concept, the intention is for our customers to experience the feeling of being taken care of at every step of their journey. Each space is thoughtfully designed to create the ambiance of home that is familiar and comforting, adding to the warm, authentic and personalised service that Singapore Airlines is well known for.”
This design concept by ONG&ONG was originally meant to be rolled out to all 15 SilverKris lounges including Singapore, but even though it came to Bangkok, Brisbane, Hong Kong, London, Manila and Seoul, it never reached Changi.
Why that happened, only Singapore Airlines knows. Its flagship lounge only just completed renovations last month (the first since Terminal 3’s opening in 2008) with a concept unrelated to home away from home.
Business Class Lounge
Immediately next to the reception desk is a small alcove that serves as a spillover area. It has seating for 12 guests, although current social distancing regulations cap it at six.
You could, in the past, find a dedicated drinks counter here with wines and champagne, but all F&B has been relocated to the main lounge.
Walk a little further in and you’ll reach the lounge proper. It’s styled like a giant living room with display shelves and magazine racks, temporarily emptied as part of the hygiene theatre that pervades everyday life now.
Excluding the alcove area near the entrance, the main lounge seats about 160 passengers (reduced to 80 at the moment). Congestion isn’t much of an issue right now, given how light Star Alliance traffic out of Sydney is.
Most of the lounge consists of armchair-style seating, but for those who need to get serious work done, ten productivity pods are arranged in two neat rows near the front. Each has high walls for privacy, plus power outlets and USB ports.
The far end of the lounge overlooks the tarmac, although the views are unfortunately obscured by an ugly overhang. It didn’t always use to be like this; the overhang was built by the airport after the lounge opened, and I don’t imagine SIA had much of a say in the matter.
Those who want to grab a meal can sit at the dining area, demarcated by a long grey settee. A mix of two and four-top tables are available, with striking red chairs.
Food & Beverage
While self-serve buffets have returned to hotels in Sydney, the SilverKris Lounge has yet to revert to the concept. Instead, the only items available at the counter are individually plated and wrapped cheeses, sandwiches and salads.
Two hot food items are available on demand: Dim sum, and chicken curry with potato and rice (see the First Class section below for photos).
Thankfully, the bar remains well-stocked with various types of beer, soft drinks and juices.
Guests can choose from a range of white and red wines including:
- MadFish Gold Turtle Chardonnay 2018
- Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2018
- The Stag Cool Climate Chardonnay 2021
- Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
- Cat Amongst the Pigeons Shiraz 2019
When I last visited the lounge in 2018, Business Class passengers enjoyed Champagne Aubert Et Fils, not vintage by any means but still a pleasant enough pour. Unfortunately, that’s been scaled back to a much less impressive Australian sparkling wine, Seppelt ‘The Drives’ Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV.
Various hard liquors, condiments and garnishes are offered to those who fancy whipping up their own concoction.
T2 teas and a WMF espresso machine provide a hit of caffeine for those who need it…
…but why settle for that when you can get barista-made coffee? At some point in 2019, the SilverKris Lounge added a barista station, which was always a curious omission given how seriously Australians take their coffee. Before this, it wasn’t uncommon for guests to hop over to the next-door Air New Zealand lounge which had a barista on call.
Beans are from Double Roasters, and if you order a latte, it comes with SilverKris foam art.
First Class Lounge
|Note: As a Business Class passenger with no Solitaire PPS status, I wouldn’t normally have access to the First Class lounge. The following impressions are based on a hosted tour by the station manager.|
The First Class section is accessed through a discreet sliding door behind the reception counter. Most passengers probably don’t even know it exists, and perhaps that’s the point. The receptionist needs to buzz you in, and since the lounge is self-contained (with its own toilets and showers), you probably won’t be heading in and out very often.
The First Class section is obviously a smaller area; I’d estimate the footprint to be maybe 50% of Business Class. Both sections are aesthetically similar, though First Class benefits from less dense seating.
The First Class lounge has eight productivity pods of its own, with yellow leather finishes.
Six high-backed throne seats and small coffee tables line the far end near the windows.
Just like the Business Class lounge, this area had a view once upon a time…before they paved paradise and put up a concrete overhang.
Food & Beverage
The First Class buffet area has been emptied out due to the current COVID situation. Instead, all dining is on-demand, with attentive waitstaff ready to take your orders. First Class passengers can choose from the following options:
To save you from having to scroll up, I can tell you that the only difference between the First and Business Class menus is the laksa (and fancier plates). From what I understand, the First Class menu will be expanded once the lounge kicks back into full gear, and guests visiting in the next couple of months can expect some upgrades (for an idea of what was offered pre-COVID, check out this post).
I tried all three hot items, and found the laksa to be particularly impressive. I was surprised at how they managed to get the broth and sambal just right, although this is a dish that could use an upgrade to more lux ingredients (slipper lobster, maybe).
Both desserts were nicely done too, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with the pavlova without a doubt.
Over lunch, I had an interesting chat with the Sydney station manager, who shared some insights about getting the lounge out of cold storage. As it turns out, it’s not as simple as switching on the lights. Staff need to be trained; provisions need to be purchased; menus need to be redesigned; Wi-Fi needs to be recontracted.
Not everything is available on short notice, and therefore guests can expect the F&B selection to be in flux for a while before stabilising. They were taste testing some proposed new menu items on the day I visited, and my itchy ears happened to pick up on “lobster congee”… let’s hope that really happens!
In terms of drinks, the non-alcoholic selection is largely similar to that in the Business Class lounge. While there isn’t a dedicated barista, guests can of course request for a coffee to be brewed and brought over.
The wine selection has some notable upgrades, including proper champagne. Before the pandemic, the pour was Veuve Clicquot, now it’s GH Mumm. I personally prefer Mumm, although it must be said that both champagnes are more Business Class offerings than First (it’s not the Piper Heidsieck Rare 2006 you’ll find in the First Class lounge in Singapore, that’s for sure!).
First Class guests can also enjoy the following red and white wines:
- Catalina Sounds 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
- Shaw + Smith M3 2018 Chardonnay
- Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Valdadige 2018
- Parker Coonawarra Estate Terra Rosa Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
- Yarnbomb Shiraz 2018
- Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir 2018
All in all, it’s a fairly extensive wine selection for an outstation lounge.
Wi-Fi & Productivity
The complimentary Wi-Fi network offered very quick speeds of 68 Mbps down and 31 Mbps up. It handled everything I threw at it, whether HD streaming, Whatsapp voice calls or a Zoom video call.
Throughout the lounge are USB Type-A ports and Australian Type I outlets- it’s a shame they didn’t spring for universal ones because the vast majority of travellers would need an adapter.
The Business Class and First Class lounges each have two showers, which are more or less similar in terms of layout and fittings.
Where they do differ is amenities, with First Class passengers enjoying the same Lalique Neroli range that can be found onboard, and Business Class passengers getting Penhaligon’s Quercus range.
Shampoo, conditioner and body wash were from the Raw by Romy range, which I can’t say I’ve heard of before.
Both lounges also have their own toilets, which were kept very clean during my visit.
The SilverKris Lounge in Sydney is rather impressive for an outstation facility, finding the space for separate working, lounging and dining areas. I love that there are productivity pods for getting serious work done, and it feels like a pleasant place to catch your breath before flying.
That said, the dining experience is not quite the same compared to pre-COVID days, and First Class passengers will certainly note the scaled-back menu.
On the bright side, the F&B selection should improve over time as the lounge finds its footing, and I’d be interested to hear how that’s evolving from anyone visiting in the next few weeks/months.