Review: AviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore Rome (Qatar Airways & Priority Pass)

a room with red chairs and tables

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As I mentioned in my introduction, to connect to my Qatar Airways Business Class flight I took a British Airways positioning flight from London Heathrow to Rome where I had quite a few hours to kill (I’ve reviewed the BA A320 Economy class cabin relatively recently so I’m not going to review it here again) – I spent those hours at the AviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – a their party lounge used by Qatar Airways for its Business Class passengers.

London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle are the only two European Airports in which Qatar Airways manages its own lounges – in all other European cities the airline uses 3rd party lounges of the kind you normally associate with the Priority Pass and Lounge Key programs. In my experience this one of the weaknesses of Qatar’s premium offering.

Location

The AviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore is the Qatar Airways lounge in Rome and is located between gates E40 and E41 at Rome’s Fiumicino airport:

people walking in an airportAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

The high-numbered E-gates are accessed via a train transfer from the main Terminal 3 area of the airport and this is where airlines like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways depart from. I even spotted a Royal Jordanian A319 parked up at one of the gates:

an airplane on the runwayRoyal Jordanian A319

The way to the AviaPartner VIP Lounge is well signed…..

a sign on a wallAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

…..and one of the very first things you see as you pass by the first sign is another sign showing just how many airlines use this lounge:

a sign with a group of logosAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

As well as serving all these airlines this is also a Priority Pass lounge (as you can see from the sign on the right).

The lounge itself is one level below the gates and can be accessed via a staircase or an elevator:

an elevator with a vase on the sideAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

The lounge sits to the left of the Etihad/Alitalia facility but, while this is very obvious if you use the elevator, if you use the stairs the entrance is completely hidden around a corner and it can seem like you’ve ended up in the wrong place (all you can see is the entrance to the Etihad/Alitalia lounge) – you have been warned! 🙂

a room with a door and glass doorsAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

The Lounge

Once through the automatic sliding doors the lounge opens up into a large open plan area with quite a bit of seating:

a room with tables and chairsAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

To the left of the entrance is the check-in desk (it was permanently busy so I didn’t take any pictures) and just past that, in a small corner of the lounge, is what passes for a business area:

a group of chairs in a roomAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

It’s not exactly high tech and, if you’re not from Europe, be sure to bring an adapter for your electronic devices as all the power outlets are of the 2-pin European variety:

a black electrical outlet on a wood surface

AviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

As uninviting as this area looks it’s one of the better areas to get some work done as power outlets are at a premium in the rest of the lounge.

Straight ahead of the entrance to the lounge is a seating area with armchairs….

a room with chairs and a televisionAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

….while to the right are more armchairs and tables…..

a room with red chairs and tablesAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

…and a few sets of regular table and chairs more suited to dining than relaxing:

a room with tables and chairsAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

To the right of the entrance is also where the lounge staff lay out the food options for guests (I’ll come on to those in a moment)…..

a buffet with food on the counterAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

…and where you’ll find the staffed bar (it’s not self-serve) where even the coffee is made for you:

a counter with food on itAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

At the far end of this part of the lounge is another seating area that is supposedly set up for Qatar Airways customers (when there’s a Qatar Airways flight due to depart)…..

a lounge area with chairs and a televisionAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

a room with many chairs and a person sitting in the backgroundAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

….but when I arrived (early) the Qatar Airways sign hasn’t yet been put in place and there was nothing stopping passengers from other airlines using the space. In fact, even after the sign had been put up, there still wasn’t any visible control over who used this space so I’m not really sure why they bother…unless it’s just for show 🙂

WiFi is free for everyone in the lounge and the password is dotted around on signs stuck to the walls:

a sticker on a wallAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

The Food

The food offering wasn’t exactly spectacular….but then this is a 3rd party lounge so I really shouldn’t have expected much.

There was a selection of fresh bread….which was actually ok:

two bags of bread on a counterAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

And, also on offer per the lounge signs:

  • Small sandwich with grilled vegetables and aromatic garlic oil (sounds ok but were surprisingly dry)
  • Small sandwich with mozzarella and basil
  •  Roasted turkey
  • Sweet provolone

food in a tray on a tableAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

  • Trofie with fried eggplant, tomato and salad ricotta cheese
  • Pearl barley with swordfish, with green asparagus and olives

food in a container on a shelfAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

  • Pocket pastry with zucchini
  • Pocket pastry with cooked ham and cheese
  • Mixed salad

food in containers on a tableAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

  • Ham sandwiches
  • Various pastries

a trays of pastries on a counterAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

The desserts were on offer at the bar and included a selection of cakes:

a plate of pastries on a counterAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

Donuts:

a plate of food on a counterAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

Biscotti and muffins:

a plate of muffins and cookies on a counterAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

While the desserts were ok (the biscotti went well with the espresso from the bar) don’t be fooled by the names given to some of the food – some of it sounds a lot nicer than it actually tasted.

None of it tasted bad…it was just that it really wasn’t very flavorful and it was very carb heavy which isn’t what you necessarily want as you embark on a long flight (although it’s not exactly surprising to find carb heavy food in Italy!).

The Shower Facility

The lounge offers one shower and it must be one of the least enticing showers I’ve seen in a lounge (and I’ve been in the Hugo Junkers lounge in Düsseldorf!)

If you ask to use the shower you’re given a pair of slippers, a dental kit, a shower cap and a sachet of shampoo – yes, a sachet:

a white slipper and some packages of white paperAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

And I’ll let the pictures of the surroundings the their own story:

a bathroom with a sink and a mirrorAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

a sink and a bench in a bathroomAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

a shower door in a bathroomAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

a shower head and hose in a red bathroomAviaPartner VIP Lounge Le Anfore – Rome

There’s noting upscale or “business class” about this and, while the facilities weren’t overtly dirty they gave off a feel that I didn’t like…I can’t really explain it any better than that. “I wasn’t comfortable” is probably the best way of putting it.

The Staff

The staff were easily the best part of the lounge. They were all friendly, smiley and extremely helpful.

I had a small issue when trying to check-in for my flight to Doha and the ladies behind the desk could not have done more to help – they were fantastic and helped get the issue resolved pretty quickly.

Bottom Line

Not the most positive experience I’ve had in an airport lounge:

Pros:

  • Amazingly helpful staff
  • The wi-fi speed was good

Cons:

  • The food on offer is mediocre at best
  • The lounge has no natural light
  • The decor reminded me of a doctor’s waiting room
  • Shower facilities are poor
  • Limited number of power outlets

Qatar Airways has some of the very best Business Class cabins out there and the cabin crew vary from “good” to “fantastic”…..but these types of lounges don’t exactly get a trip off to a premium-feeling start. Still, if having cheap lounges is a trade-off in exchange for cheap Business Class fares then it’s a trade-off I’ll gladly take…..but passengers need to have their expectations set appropriately if they’re not to be disappointed.

Up Next: Review of the Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner Business Class Product

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