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Bidvest Premier Lounge at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg [Review]

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Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

31 Published Articles 3100 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.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...
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Jessica Merritt

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A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little ca...

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Priority Pass members are flush with choices at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ahead of our 10:50 a.m. flight from Johannesburg (JNB) to Victoria Falls (VFA) in Terminal A, I was faced with 4 available lounge options: Aspire Lounge, Bidvest Premier Lounge, Mashonzha Lounge, or Shongololo Lounge.

Wanting to check out Aspire Lounge, a familiar name, my family and I made the trek toward its location at gate A7. The initial sign when entering the terminal indicated a 6-minute trek, but after a brief walk, we were faced with a new sign indicating that the walk would be another 6 minutes.

Not wanting to spend 25 minutes round-trip walking from our gate to the lounge with bags and kids in tow, we decided to stop this adventure before it began and headed to the closest lounge to our gate (A1): Bidvest Premier Lounge. And boy, are we glad we did. Its spacious and plentiful seating options and a wide assortment of food options make this lounge a must-visit the next time you’re in Johannesburg.

Location

The Bidvest Premier Lounge is in the international Terminal A of O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB). It is closest to gates A0 to A4 at the terminal’s south end.

Once you see Jo Coffee, a sign above directs you to the lounge, which is to the left up an escalator on the mezzanine level.

Bidvest Premier Lounge sign
Turn left past Jo Coffee and go up the escalator.

You’ll see the lounge just after VAT refunds and before the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Bidvest Premier Lounge entrance
A lot of airline and lounge network passengers are accommodated.

Gaining Entry

The lounge is open 24 hours a day. You can gain access through eligible bank partners, lounge networks, or airlines or purchase a day pass.

Bidvest Premier Lounge check in desk
The check-in desk is located immediately after you enter.

Priority Pass

I gained access via the Priority Pass membership through my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. This is one of my favorite credit cards for Priority Pass access as it allows complimentary authorized users who also can enroll in their own Priority Pass membership. Armed with 2 Capital One Venture X cards, my husband and I could guest in our 3 children without issue.

Bank Access, Other Lounge Networks, or Airline Passengers

There are a variety of bank partners and lounge networks that offer access to Bidvest Premier Lounge to eligible cardholders.

Eligible passengers of Air Austral, Condor, LATAM, Malawian Airlines, RwandAir, and Uganda Airlines may also receive access.

Day Rates

Bidvest Premier Lounge check in details
The day rates can be found when you enter the lounge.

If you don’t have access via one of the aforementioned methods, you’ll save around $3 by booking online vs. paying the walk-in rate.

SCROLL FOR MORE
Type of RateConditionsRate
ChildrenChildren younger than 2 are free; children older than 2 are charged at the adult walk-in rateR475 (~$26)
OnlineValid for 4 hours before wheels upR428 (~$23)
Walk-inValid for 4 hours before wheels upR475 (~$26)
Early Check-inCharged in 15-minute incrementsR35 (~$2)

First Impressions

Bidvest Premier Lounge seating at right entrance
There was ample seating to the right of the entrance.

I was immediately struck by 2 things when we transited through in April 2023:

  1. How empty the lounge was at our 8:40 a.m. arrival
  2. How many seating areas, dining areas, and work areas were there

Finding lounge seating for a group of 5 is not the easiest of feats, so I was immediately relieved to see that we had plenty of options for our family to choose from ahead of our flight.

Seating

Various blue and brown patterned wingback chairs, perfect for solo travelers or couples, were found throughout the lounge. These were generally paired with small, circular side tables.

Bidvest Premier Lounge entrance to right
Large, blue wingback chairs dotted the lounge in clusters.

In larger groupings were camel-colored cushioned chairs that often had an outlet next to them on the rectangular side table.

Bidvest Premier Lounge seating variety
Banks of camel-colored chairs were lined in rows.

The right rear of the lounge housed a small bar with (mostly empty) drink coolers, dining-style tables, and a long conference table with outlets.

Bidvest Premier Lounge seating with conference table
The right rear of the lounge had a small bar, dining tables, and a work table.

The outlets generally had 2 USB ports, a Type M outlet, and a smaller Type N outlet that accepted the Type C plug (2 circular prongs common in Europe and Asia) from my travel adapter.

Bidvest Premier Lounge outlet
Shown on the left is the Type N outlet, with the larger Type M at the right. Make sure your outlet is turned on with the button showing red.

The right rear corner of the lounge seemed to be more of a quiet area to kick your feet up. The chairs in this area had plenty of ottomans.

Bidvest Premier Lounge seats with ottomans wingbacks
Many chairs in the right rear corner had ottomans.

The left side of the lounge was geared a bit more towards dining, and instead of spacious, open seating areas as on the other side of the lounge, this area was divided into 3 narrow, long sections and felt a bit cramped.

Bidvest Premier Lounge dining seating from smoking lounge
This area past the buffet was narrow and cramped.

The main dining area had views over the terminal, but otherwise, there were no exterior windows or apron views.

There was also an enclosed smoking section at the far rear of this area. The non-smoking seating closest to this area did smell of lingering smoke, but the scent did not carry elsewhere into the lounge.

Bidvest Premier Lounge dining seating
The main dining area had restaurant-style tables and an enclosed smoking section at the rear.
Bottom Line:

No matter your group size, there was a plethora of available seating, from loungers and wingbacks ideal for snacking to table and chair sets perfect for dining. Those that need a desk-type environment to catch up on work also have a few options.

Food and Beverage

I visited during breakfast service, and there was a wide spread of options to please any palate.

Buffet

The initial breakfast buffet area featured predominantly cold items, starting with bottled juices, gouda cheese, and the cold cut of the day.

Bidvest Premier Lounge tumeric shots cheese cold cuts
Bottled turmeric juice shots with cheese and meats greeted guests first.

Next to the meats and cheeses was smoked snoek (mackerel) pate and melba, and a small selection of labneh and cereals (with just 1 milk option) with assorted toppings. Hard-boiled eggs were also available here.

Bidvest Premier Lounge smoked snoek pate labneh
Smoked snoek pate, labneh, and cereals were set out.

My kids immediately went for the croissant sandwiches and muffin options.

Bidvest Premier Lounge croissants muffins
Croissant sandwiches and several varieties of muffins were available.

And another kid-favorite station was the fresh fruit, featuring strawberries, grapes, melon, papaya, and watermelon. There was also fruit puree available. I assumed this would be for a yogurt topping or for making a smoothie bowl.

Bidvest Premier Lounge cut fruit
Cut fruits and fruit purées were freshly stocked.

The second buffet area near the left rear of the lounge featured hot items, though none were very visually appetizing. The first steam container held mushrooms and sausages.

Bidvest Premier Lounge mushrooms sausages
Mushrooms and sausages.

Roasted cherry tomatoes were paired with a missing mystery item … maybe hashbrowns?

Bidvest Premier Lounge tomatoes
Roasted tomatoes.

The scrambled eggs were plentiful and appeared to have been freshly refilled.

Bidvest Premier Lounge eggs
Scrambled eggs.

A Mexican bean and corn ragout looked like it desperately needed some rice.

Bidvest Premier Lounge Mexican bean corn ragout
Mexican bean and corn ragout.

And finally, there was a savory offering of salmon with dill and potatoes.

Bidvest Premier Lounge salmon potato dill
Salmon with dill and potatoes.

I assembled a breakfast plate from a few of the stations. The hot items were not much to write home about but they served their purpose. The strawberries were fresh and firm, and the lemon poppyseed muffin was tasty. The gem of the show was the croissant. While I pulled out the limp lettuce and tomato, the croissant had a wonderfully buttery flavor and was quite hearty.

Bidvest Premier Lounge breakfast
A bit of everything.
Hot Tip:

We passed through the lounge during dinner service 3 days later, and the food options were similarly varied and plentiful. My family stuck mainly with the cold options, and we enjoyed the guacamole, chicken tenders, and an Asian noodle salad (and muffins … all the muffins).

Drinks

There were several drink stations dotted around the lounge. You’d find 2 Carimali coffee machines in the main dining area and an orange juice dispenser. You could order an Americano, cappuccino, latte, hot chocolate, or espresso from the coffee machine.

Bidvest Premier Lounge main coffee station juice
There were 2 main coffee machines and 1 orange juice dispenser.

Glasses were available to use with the still or sparkling water dispenser.

Bidvest Premier Lounge water dispenser
There were no bottled water options at the time, so this dispenser was perfect for water drinkers.

I grabbed the lounge’s last Diet Coke in the blink of an eye. Non-alcoholic drink coolers clearly had not been restocked for the day, though when we passed through the lounge in the evening 3 days later, they were fully stocked.

Bidvest Premier Lounge bare fridge
Sodas were in desperate need of a restock.

The beer coolers were more sufficiently stocked but appeared locked with signage indicating that alcohol was only available between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Bidvest Premier Lounge beer fridge
Beers were more stocked but off-limits in the morning.

A secondary bar area behind the check-in desk told a similar sad story of limited beverage stock.

Bidvest Premier Lounge bare rear bar
The secondary coolers were also bare.

There was also a secondary coffee area to the right of the check-in desk. We grabbed a few of the pre-packaged cookies to take with us.

Bidvest Premier Lounge secondary coffee station
A secondary coffee station serviced the right side of the lounge.

Amenities

Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi password was broadcast via signage throughout the lounge, and we could log on to work, check socials, and stream Netflix without issue. A Speedtest indicated a download speed of 21.73 Mbps.

Bidvest Premier Lounge Speedtest
There was strong Wi-Fi.

Bathrooms

The unisex bathroom featured individual water closets, and an “Oriental WC,” which I assumed to have squat toilets, was located to the right.

Bidvest Premier Lounge restrooms exterior
The entrance to unisex bathrooms was at the right of the lounge entry.

The bathrooms were immaculately clean and stylish.

Bidvest Premier Lounge bathroom
The single units were spacious.

Showers

The showers, including a handicapped-accessible roll-in shower, were to the left of the unisex bathrooms.

Bidvest Premier Lounge shower signage
Showers were to the left of the bathrooms.

Towels were available at reception, and I suspect no reservations were required as available showers were left unlocked.

The shower room featured a toilet, a vanity with a ledge (ideal for supporting a carry-on bag), and an enclosed shower.

Bidvest Premier Lounge shower and toilet
The shower was enclosed and generously sized.

The shower had a rainfall showerhead and a dispenser of (what I assumed to be) an all-in-one soap on the wall.

Bidvest Premier Lounge shower interior
There was a rainfall showerhead with a soap dispenser.

A separate shower room was handicapped-accessible with a shower curtain, shower chair, grab bars, and the option to roll-in for a wheelchair transfer. This bathroom also had a baby-changing table.

Bidvest Premier Lounge handicapped shower
Handicapped-accessible shower.

Periodicals

Surely a return to pre-pandemic amenities, English-language magazines and newspapers were available for the taking.

Bidvest Premier Lounge reading materials
Periodical stand to the left of check-in.

Staff and Service

I realized upon check-in that my Priority Pass in my Apple Wallet had expired. As I needed to download the updated card to access the lounge, the check-in agent quickly got me on the lounge’s Wi-Fi to do so, and she patiently waited while I sorted myself out.

Upon our second visit 3 days later, another check-in agent explained to me that we were 56 minutes early for the 4-hour window of time we were allotted. Still, she was able to scan my Priority Pass for “2 visits” to allow us to enter early. I appreciated that she arrived at a solution that allowed us to relax right away versus watching the clock while waiting in the terminal.

The lounge cleaning staff was also very proactive, and plates and trash were not disregarded for long before they were whisked away.

Final Thoughts

My family could not have been happier that we detoured to the lounge we should have first started with due to its convenient location at the entrance to Terminal A: Bidvest Premier Lounge. Thanks to our Priority Pass memberships, we had our choice from an abundance of seating options, convenient access to outlets, and food options with something to please everyone. While I think the afternoon/evening day parts might be better stocked with drink options, we could still grab the sodas we wanted before our flight. We left the lounge excited to visit again when we transited back through the airport a few days later, and our next experience was equally as pleasant as the first.

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 is allowed in the Bidvest lounge?

There are a variety of bank partners and lounge networks (including Priority Pass) that offer access to Bidvest Premier Lounge to eligible cardholders.

Eligible passengers of Air Austral, Condor, LATAM, Malawian Airlines, RwandAir, and Uganda Airlines may also receive access.

Day rates are also available if you do not have access through one of these methods.

Do you pay for food at Bidvest lounge?

Food and beverages are complimentary at the Bidvest Premier Lounge.

Which international airports have Bidvest lounges?

Where is the Bidvest Premier Lounge in Johannesburg?

There is 1 Bidvest Premier Lounge located in International Terminal A of O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) and a Bidvest Premier Lounge and Bidvest Sky Lounge located in Domestic Terminal B.

The Terminal A Bidvest Premier Lounge is airside on the mezzanine level. After passing security and duty-free shopping, take the escalators to the left of Jo Coffee. 

The Terminal B Bidvest Premier Lounge is located airside. After passing security, take the escalators behind the Sweet Shop down to the next level.

The Terminal B Bidvest Sky Lounge is also airside. After passing security, take the stairs or elevators immediately to your right up 1 level to the fourth floor, and the lounge will be on your left.

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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