Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
This is a review of the ‘Ses’fikile Arrivals Lounge, which has now closed permanently. Arrivals Lounges offer a chance to arriving passengers to freshen up with a shower and enjoy a drink or a snack before leaving the airport and moving on with your day. To be honest, they are a pretty new concept to me. Last year (2016), I got to try the Virgin Atlantic ‘Revivals’ Lounge at Heathrow and thought it was a great idea, especially as they offer a full breakfast, excellent showers and an (included) ironing service.
‘Ses’fikile Lounge Access
For this trip, I had bought a Priority Pass, which is one access route to airport lounges. I had noticed there was an arrivals lounge called the ‘ses’fikile Lounge at Johannesburg Airport OR Tambo (JNB). For once, I had slept on board my 10.5 hour flight from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic. However, I had hours to kill before the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton would let me check in and I knew the chance to freshen up would be very welcome.
where can i stay?
I stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton. While Joburg has lots of great areas to stay, the Sandton area is an upscale area that you may like as a visitor to Johannesburg, with access to a mall and restaurants in the area.
The JNB Welcome Floor
The beautiful colours from the South African flag are clear at the start of the ‘welcome’ floor at the JNB airport, which leads new arrivals towards the luggage carousels!
Finding the ‘Ses’fikile Lounge
To be honest, finding the lounge is the challenge.
I did ask for directions at the Information Desk after Customs but the woman there had never heard of it. Luckily, she called over a colleague and she knew it was “near the Virgin Mobile ladies”! The “Virgin Mobile ladies” are a small group of people who were advertising cheap SIM cards for Virgin Mobile just before you leave Customs and pass through Arrivals. For the lounge, there was a sign, down a side corridor. If you don’t keep your eyes WIDE open for it, you’ll be out through the sliding doors into Arrivals and unable to get back in!
The South African Welcome
The receptionist was waiting to welcome me at the door – I assume they have a camera in the lift up to the Arrivals Lounge floor (the SAS lounge is in the same location). She assumed right away (correctly!) that I’d want a shower and she checked me in quickly. With Priority Pass, it’s easy because there is an electronic card that the receptionist simply swipes.
Shower Facilities in the ‘Ses’fikile Lounge
The receptionist set me up with access to a shower. It was very clean with room for my bag and fresh towels. The shower had good pressure and lots of warm water, perfect after a long overnight flight into Johannesburg.
This may be an odd thing to notice, but the shower gel colour didn’t match the stated ‘flavour’! However, it was just fine! It’s always sensible to recycle.
There is a large sink, toilet, feminine hygiene unit, hair dryer and washing products. There’s also a chair and hooks for your clothes. Unlike the Virgin Revivals, there is no ironing service! But who ever had that anywhere else?! So that’s no complaint at all!
‘Ses’fikile Lounge Food & Drink
Refreshed and freshly changed, it was back into the ‘Ses’fikile Lounge to explore what was on offer. There was a good coffee machine with lots of options, both espresso/machiatto style drinks or latte/cappucino options.
There are ample cold drinks in small cans. Can’t complain – it had everything I like and lots of options I’d never seen before. I am fascinated by brands of drinks and snacks that I find in other countries.
As this was early morning, I wasn’t interested in alcohol, but you can see all the spirit bottles and wine laid out in the ‘Ses’fikile Arrivals Lounge. There is also beer in the fridge. There were quite a few bowls of nachos/Doritos and crisps, as well as sandwiches, salads, biscuits and cakes.
Some warm breakfast options were on offer like these warm potatoes with a sauce. There was no label stating what it was, but it appeared to be a sweet chilli sauce. I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast potatoes and was very happy with my coffee.
All in all, this is (was) the ‘Ses’fikile Arrivals Lounge is a pretty good arrivals lounge. There is free wi-fi, which was reasonably fast, certainly fast enough for email and light browsing. Note that a wi-fi access code was NOT offered at check-in so make sure to ask. The seating was comfortable and other clients seemed to be both international visitors and South African visitors.
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