Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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If you’re flying somewhere in Europe via a transfer onto an Iberia flight from Madrid, then the Iberia Dalí Premium Lounge will be where you spend your time between flights.
You can expect a far better experience than your average Admiral’s Club, but nothing quite like the premium experience you find in business class lounges of Asian carriers like Cathay Pacific.
It’s a lounge I pass through frequently as Spain is one of my favorite countries to visit.
That, plus Madrid seems to be the airport of choice for carriers to operate their long-haul jets to from London, so naturally, I end up flying through frequently.
The Iberia Dalí Premium Lounge is a real dark horse. For me, it has everything you could ask for from a business class lounge.
This is what I experienced on my visit in late September 2021.
What Is the Iberia Dalí Premium Lounge?
The Dalí Premium Lounge — or Premium Lounge Dalí — is 1 of Iberia’s 2 premium lounge offerings in Terminal 4 of its hub airport, Madrid-Barajas (MAD), and is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
It’s located in the main part of Terminal 4 where domestic flights and flights to Schengen countries operate (the Schengen area includes a group of countries in Europe who agreed that citizens of such countries could travel freely between member states without having to clear passport control).
Over in the satellite terminal, T4S, you’ll find the second lounge — the Velázquez Premium Lounge. From this part of the terminal, Iberia flights to international and non-Schengen countries operate, as well as flights to London with British Airways.
I visited the Dalí Premium Lounge because I was catching a domestic flight from Madrid to Barcelona (BCN).
Iberia’s Dalí Premium Lounge at Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD)
The entrance to the lounge is purposely located as close as possible to the check-in for Puente Aeréo — the name for Iberia’s frequent shuttle service between Madrid and Barcelona.
Despite the signage, I somehow ended up doing a lap of the terminal and asking a member of staff where the lounge was. On a visit since, I realized just how close the Dalí Premium Lounge is to security, especially if you’re coming through Fast Track.
It’s so close, you can see security from the entrance to the lounge.
Access to both Iberia’s Premium Lounges in Madrid is granted to those passengers flying any Oneworld airline (American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, etc.) in business or first class. It’s also open to those with airline equivalents of Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status, no matter which cabin class they’re flying.
However, visitors of the Dalí Premium Lounge will likely be flying Iberia, given the part of the terminal it’s in.
On the subject of gaining entry, you don’t even have to speak to a member of staff to enter, thanks to these eGates. I can’t recall this being the situation in any of the other lounges I’ve visited.
It’s great for speed, but as I’ve said before, I’m old school and prefer to have face-to-face interactions.
I’ve always enjoyed the bright and airy feel of Iberia’s Dalí Premium Lounge, and this visit was no exception.
The bold reds and bright yellows give the place a warmer feel than many airport lounges — especially some airline-owned lounges that can often have a drab and boring corporate vibe.
It seems like Iberia got the memo that business class lounges are no longer just a place for middle-aged white men wearing ill-fitting suits.
I thought that the lounge was also on the quiet side for a Thursday at lunchtime.
The lounge is pretty vast and is comprised of several different seating areas.
On entering the lounge, the first area you come to is a zone of comfy, office-style chairs.
Each pod of 4 chairs is well-separated. Between each of the chairs facing the same way is a table with a lamp and power outlets.
The zone stretches from the entrance of the lounge right to the windows at the end.
My favorite spot when visiting this lounge is one of the desk areas in the first main room, just to the right of the comfy office chair seating zone.
It’s close to the food service area and has the best views of the apron.
Some seats face the windows, and some face away. Each table is separated by a partition for privacy, which doubles up as extra COVID-19 protection.
A little further round to the right is a small area with high desks and stools, complete with power outlets.
There are more tables just like it towards the far right of the room, before entering the bar area. These don’t have power outlets, though.
Separating the 2 main rooms is a window-less bar area. I don’t know why exactly, but this area feels like a proper authentic Spanish hangout.
There are a few casual booth seating areas. These would be great for a group of friends who want to have a couple of drinks before a flight.
Again, I loved the bright red upholstery.
On the opposite side of the room to the physical bar is a wall-mounted TV that usually displays the news.
Following on from the bar area, past the huge map on the wall marking out each of Iberia’s 130 destinations around the world, is the second main room of the lounge.
This second seating area has all the same seating areas as the other side, as well as a food service area and drink machines.
There is also a similar comfy office chair zone.
A cozier, bright red booth zone adds privacy and comfort. This would be a great place to grab 40 winks.
Hot Tip: There are no power outlets by these booths.
Food and Beverage
As far as business class lounge food and drink goes, I rate Iberia’s offering highly.
Business class lounges can feel a bit soulless, and often lose their connection to the city or country they’re in — not Iberia’s lounges.
Let’s start easy with the non-alcoholic options.
It’s always a welcome sight to see a proper coffee machine that grinds fresh beans for your caffeine fix.
Not to mention that the coffee beans are supplied by Illy — one of my favorite coffee companies.
Remember what I was saying about keeping the Spanish connection? Well, you don’t get more Spanish than Cacaolat and Don Simon tomato juice.
There were also fridges full of soft drinks in glass bottles. And, you can get all varieties of Coke, including the hard-to-find gold-capped, zero sugar, zero calories, and zero caffeine variety.
There’s no chance of getting dehydrated with the copious amount of bottled still and canned sparkling water. If they can can the sparkling water, why do they put the still water in plastic?
There was also room temperature water on offer by the food service area.
For a little more flavor and less fizz, there was fresh orange and apple juice.
There was also a fridge dedicated solely to cerveza — another Spanish favorite.
Choose from a world’s worth of beer, including Spanish classics like San Miguel and Mahou, or Budweiser if you’re feeling a little homesick.
Perhaps the best discovery of all is this help yourself wine unit.
Grab a glass, select your tipple, and then choose between a small, medium, or large serving…
One thing I’m not sure of is whether or not there’s a sparkling wine or Champagne option available in the lounge. If flying business class with Iberia is anything to go by, I’d guess that there’d be Cava — I’ll check next time I pass through and update the article.
Behind the bar in the main bar area is a mixture of top-shelf liquors. I can’t confirm for sure whether all of these options were included, but I didn’t see a price list anywhere, so I would guess so.
During my visit at the end of September 2021, hot food was served by a member of staff behind a screen from this central part of the first main room of the lounge.
However, on my latest visit to the lounge in November, the set-up had reverted to a self-service hot buffet.
There were 3 options: rigatoni pasta, chickpea and lentil dahl, and a third option that escapes me (but I think it was some kind of minced meat dish).
Naturally, I tried more than 1 dish.
First up was the rigatoni, which, despite being pasta, had a distinctly Spanish taste thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes and flavorsome sauce.
Next up, after being promised that it wouldn’t be too spicy, was the rice-accompanied dahl.
There were no complaints here, either. It packed just the right amount of spice and was full of flavor.
For a lighter snack, there were prepacked options in the form of salads…
…boxed sandwiches (great to see reduced use of plastic here)…
…and an assortment of fruit. The oranges and the bananas were loose…
…but the plums and apples were wrapped in a paper/plastic hybrid packaging.
I hope this is only while COVID-19 is still rife and that it’s to stop contamination, given that we eat the skin of apples and plums but not bananas and oranges.
Other snack options available were flavored yogurts and Actimel…
…and packaged goodies like roasted almonds…
…and potato chips.
Close to the entrance of the lounge is this signage pointing out each of the different amenities of the lounge.
At the far end of the lounge is the shower area.
It’s not the most obvious to find as it’s hidden behind a partition and appears to be a staff area.
It’s only when I noticed the tiny sign high above that I knew was in the right place.
There was no queue given how quiet the lounge was. I simply asked reception which to use and they told me I had access to number 2.
I liked the simple and clean design and the fact that it was spotless.
I also liked that there was a luggage rack/bench, which makes getting changed and finding clothes far easier than using the floor.
Fresh towels (wrapped in plastic…) were ready and waiting.
There were also all of the classic bathroom amenities that you’d expect to find: shaving set, shower cap, body wash, shampoo, and dental kit.
The men’s room was equally as spotless as the shower room.
For gamers, tucked away at the farthest right corner of the lounge was this gaming area with a PlayStation and an Xbox. Not being a gamer myself, I couldn’t tell you which versions they were.
A common sight these days was this empty reading shelf, once filled with magazines and papers. The ongoing pandemic means that all reading material is now only accessible via a QR code.
Last, but not least, let’s talk about power outlets. This lounge does electrical connectivity well. Most sockets have both a regular European socket and USB port. Just remember your adapter.
Staff and Service
I don’t have much to report on the staff and service.
The only interaction I had with the staff in the lounge was with the lovely lady who plated up my 2 portions of food. She was both polite and professional, and even indulged in my banter about not being able to handle spicy food and blaming her if I got an upset stomach.
I did notice that there was a small but mighty team of cleaning staff who made sure to keep on top of the clearing and cleaning around the lounge.
Assuming the unnecessarily wrapped up fruit was a COVID-19 protocol, the only other main protocol I noticed were these signs placed over some of the seats to remind guests to keep as separate as possible.
I can imagine this is important for social distancing, if and when the lounge gets busy, but my visit was very quiet and these signs were rather redundant.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Iberia’s Dalí Premium Lounge at Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD).
It was welcoming, comfy, and had a plentiful and delicious selection of food and drinks.
Since this trip, I flew through Madrid again and booked my next flight with Iberia (even though their Intra-European economy is about as basic as EasyJet), just so I could spend time in this lounge before my flight.
Honestly, I’d be hard-pressed to think of something that I’d say needs improving or adding to this lounge.
I know this airport (and likely the lounges in it) get a bad rap from some, but in my personal opinion, it’s up there as one of my favorite airports in Europe to fly through — partly down to this lounge.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Ross
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Iberia has 2 lounges in Madrid: the Dalí Premium Lounge in Terminal 4 and the Velázquez Premium Lounge in Terminal 4S.
Yes. If you’re flying a premium cabin or have elite status, you can use British Airways lounges when flying Iberia.
Iberia passengers can use the Alaska or British Airways lounges at JFK Terminal 7.
No. You can neither pay nor use Avios to enter an Iberia lounge. The only way to access is with a valid premium ticket or elite status.
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