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Aspire Lounge at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport [Review]

Keri Stooksbury's image
Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3236 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...
Edited by: Nick Ellis
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Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

156 Published Articles 771 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 35U.S. States Visited: 25

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...

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As I wrapped an extended weekend girls’ trip to Nairobi, Kenya, I headed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) for my Qatar Airways flight to my home in Doha, Qatar. Check-in and security were a breeze, so my friend and I headed to the lounge closest to our gate that we had access to: Aspire Lounge.

This lounge had a decent food selection, including wraps, hot food, and bar snacks. It even had a variety of nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages — with 1 exception. Read on to see why my visit was cut short and whether this lounge is worth a stop when departing Nairobi.

Aspire Lounge Location

The lounge is located in Terminal 1B of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (known as JKIA), where my Qatar Airways flight was departing from.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport map
Image Credit: Kenya Airports Authority

Once you pass through immigration and security, you’ll ascend the escalators and turn left; the gate numbers will increase as you walk.

Aspire Lounge NBO terminal
Head left after ascending the escalator.

The entrance to the Aspire Lounge is well-marked and is opposite gate 11.

Aspire Lounge NBO entrance
The lounge is easily identifiable.

Gaining Entry to the Aspire Lounge

The Aspire Lounge is open 24 hours a day and is only accessible to passengers on international flights. Guests are allowed in the lounge for 3 hours before their flight.

Aspire Lounge NBO check in
The small check-in area was welcoming.

My friend was granted access to the Aspire Lounge with her Qatar Airways Privilege Club Gold status, but the lounge also accepts Priority Pass and Dragon Pass. Day rates are £26.92 (~$34), and children under 2 are free.

I was able to enter the lounge using the Priority Pass Select membership via my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

First Impressions

After turning left from reception, the lounge stretches through a seating area suitable for working, the food and beverage areas, and the club seating area, ending in the door to the restrooms.

Overall, the lounge felt relatively narrow and small, though it was not crowded during my March 2024 visit. There were no tarmac views, but daylight peeked in from frosted windows along the top of the right wall.

Seating

The first seating area had several high tables with barstools readily accessible power outlets. These faced a wall with a variety of periodicals and a TV.

Aspire Lounge NBO front section
Periodicals and high tables with barstools were at the front of the lounge.

The power hubs had universal outlets with USB-A, USB-C, Ethernet, and HDMI inputs.

Aspire Lounge NBO outlets
The high tables had universal outlets.

The rear of the lounge, past the central food and beverage area, had club seating in groups of 4.

Aspire Lounge NBO rear section
Club seating was at the rear of the lounge.

The pairs of seats had a table between them with universal power outlets and a small lamp. There were no USB inputs for charging in this area.

Aspire Lounge NBO club chair
These seats were firm and comfortable.

Food and Beverage

The lounge had 2 central food and beverage stations between the 2 seating areas. The left side had various hot and cold food options, and the right side had beverages.

Buffet

The buffet started with room-temperature beef samosas with tamarind sauce, chicken tortilla wraps, baked chicken sausage and red onion jam rolls, and Italian pinwheels.

Aspire Lounge NBO savory snacks
Savory wraps and samosas were at room temp.

Several hot items were offered, starting with beef ragout with root vegetables and braised red cabbage.

Aspire Lounge NBO beef cabbage
Beef ragout and cabbage.

The next container had pan-seared chicken in a mild green curry sauce and roast potato wedges.

Aspire Lounge NBO curry chicken potatoes
Chicken curry and potatoes.

Vegetarian options included dal tadka and vegetable fried rice.

Aspire Lounge NBO dal rice
Dal and fried rice.

Salads options were coleslaw, Greek salad, and kachumbari (a fresh tomato and onion salad).

Aspire Lounge NBO salad
Salads and dressings.

Featured desserts were orange cake and chocolate brownie.

Aspire Lounge NBO desserts
Desserts.

The beverage side of the buffet had apples and espresso rye cookies. These cookies looked inviting but were a bit crisp and crunchy.

Aspire Lounge NBO cookies
Fresh fruit and cookies.

I liked the option to make a small bowl of salted pumpkin or sunflower seeds and spiced nuts.

Aspire Lounge NBO snacks
Seeds and nuts.
Bottom Line:

My 3 p.m. visit meant I was between meals, but I was impressed with the variety of foods offered at the Aspire Lounge.

Drinks

The opposite side of the dining area had drink coolers, wine, and an espresso machine.

Aspire Lounge NBO drink area
Drink area and snacks.

By the looks of this espresso machine, I assumed you would need to request your coffee from a staff member.

Aspire Lounge NBO coffee machine
Espresso machine.

Red wines on offer included Angelo Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and Pé Tinto.

Aspire Lounge NBO wines
Wine selection.

The self-serve cooler offered beer options such as Tusker Cider, Tusker Lager, Tusker Malt, and Heineken. Chilled white wines included Lunetta Prosecco and Pé Branco. Tonic and sparkling water were also available.

Aspire Lounge NBO left cooler
Beer options in the cooler.

Juices, sodas, milk, and still water were also available.

Unfortunately, Aspire Lounge did not carry diet sodas. Ultimately, this led to a premature end to our visit — the heart wants what it wants, and I was ready to kick back ahead of my flight with a Coke Zero. NBO has several lounges participating in Priority Pass, and I was confident I’d be able to find a diet soda at another lounge.

Aspire Lounge NBO right cooler
Nonalcoholic beverages.

Amenities

Wi-Fi

I did not use the Wi-Fi as I still had an eSIM card from my stay in Kenya, but the QR code, network name, and password were displayed throughout the lounge. The lounge had its own dedicated network.

Restrooms

The restrooms were located toward the rear of the lounge. The female restrooms had 2 toilet stalls and 1 shower. A hairdryer was located near the sink area.

Aspire Lounge NBO shower and toilets
Shower stall with 2 toilets.

Showers

The shower area was quite small and had a divided glass partition. Bath amenities were mounted to the wall.

Aspire Lounge NBO shower
Shower stall.

Staff and Service

My interactions with the staff were brief. I was efficiently checked in, and the staff tending to the buffet and cleaning the seating area were unobtrusive.

Final Thoughts

My friend and I spent enough time in Nairobi’s Aspire Lounge to grab a few bites and a quick drink. She was excited to try the Tusker Cider, a Kenyan brew she hadn’t tried on our brief vacation. I was disappointed that the lounge didn’t have any diet sodas, and ultimately, my desire for a Coke Zero led us to the Plaza Premium Lounge (review to come!).

If your flight departs from Terminal 1B, the Aspire Lounge is likely the option closest to your gate. However, due to Terminal 1’s circular layout, you’re not too far from another lounge if you have access!

The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use Aspire Lounge?

The Aspire Lounge at NBO is only accessible to passengers on international flights. Qatar Airways Privilege Club elites with lounge access and those with Priority Pass and Dragon Pass can enter the lounge. Day rates are available for £26.92 (~$34), and children under 2 are free.

Does Nairobi International Airport have a lounge?

Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) has several lounges:

  • Terminal 1A — Kenya Airways Pride Lounge, Kenya Airways Simba Lounge
  • Terminal 1B — Aspire Lounge
  • Terminal 1C — Kenya Airways Simba Lounge
  • Terminal 1D — Kenya Airways Msafiri Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge
  • Terminal 1E — Turkish Airlines Star Alliance Lounge
  • Terminal 2 — Tradewinds Aviation Mara Lounge, Tradewinds Aviation Mt. Kenya Lounge

How long can you stay in Aspire Lounge?

Guests are allowed in the Aspire Lounge at NBO for 3 hours before their flight.

How much does Aspire Lounge cost?

Day rates at Nairobi’s Aspire Lounge are available for £26.92 (~$34), and children under 2 are free.

Keri Stooksbury's image

About Keri Stooksbury

With years of experience in corporate marketing and with a nonprofit, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and reviewing thousands of UP articles in the process.

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