Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
The name Shongololo rolls beautifully off the tongue, particularly when spoken by someone with a mellifluous South African accent. The lines at security and passport were long but the agent had no problem pointing me towards the lounge and I admired her pronunciation of “Shongololo”. Once I got through security, I realised that a full water bottle was stowed in my side pocket. Yikes!
Shongololo Lounge: Location
To find the lounge, turn left after passport control and follow the signs for the A gates, which are clearly marked. The entrance is tucked away beside the bottom of a ramp and isn’t the clearest to see. This is a lounge which is available to business class passengers and pass users from many different sources and usually it’s very busy.
When I arrived, about 3 hours before my 11.50pm flight, things were remarkably quiet. I had noticed something on a couple of occasions in South Africa and I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing. If a person is busy (here: the receptionists), they will finish out what they are doing or their conversation before getting to you. This doesn’t come across at ALL as rude, just that they’ll be with you when they get done.
The lounge is laid out with large wingback chairs, offering some privacy and looks fairly smart. The theme is South African Club: leather shades of black, deep amber and tan, with glittering wall coverings.
Shongololo Lounge: Refreshments
The refreshment area is large to match the generous size of the lounge. This is no Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul, but it is generously proportioned compared to many Priority Pass lounges.
There is a drinks area for spirits and wine as well as fridges with beer and sparkling drinks.
The coffee machine was of top quality. As this was the evening, the red wine location was getting much more action!
Shongololo Lounge: Food
Food options were pretty good as lounge options go. There are sandwiches, fruit and (limited) sushi. I wasn’t hungry for a sandwich when I arrived but I did think about snaffling one for my flight. Note well – when I came back an hour later, nearly everything was gone!
There were two hot mains: a chicken chasseur and Korean-style sriracha ribs with rice as the base for both dishes. The rice didn’t look particularly appetising, but the chicken was really good. There was also a vegetable soup if those mains didn’t suit or for vegetarians.
I realise this doesn’t look amazing, but the chicken was tender and there was lots of butternut squash and other veggies in the dish.
I look very happy in this picture, looking back. Late flights can really sap your energy, especially if you have nowhere to stow your luggage after checking out of your hotel. Luckily, the Radisson in Sandton were excellent.
There was just one plate of sushi left in the evening. I can’t say it looked appealing, but you know, it’s the first time I’ve seen sushi in a lounge, so good on them!
There were lots of crisps. Including those amazing Doritos in the blue bag. In the US, the blue bag contains ranch flavour (not sure there is a blue bag in the UK?). However, here in South Africa the blue bag was reserved for spicy sweet chilli. They were seriously good.
Then there are shiny bottles just calling out your name. “Have a gin and tonic” they cry. I managed to resist as too much alcohol means I get zero sleep on a long flight and I prefer to arrive in a new timezone with at least a little sleep under my belt.
Shongololo Lounge: Bathroom Facilities
Before my big 11 hour flight in economy (whisper it) to Sao Paulo, I decided to use the shower. Note well! There is only one shower for men and there was a schedule. I had to wait a full HOUR for my turn.
As I got the all clear to go in from the Lounge Staff, a woman tried to barge in before I could lock the door! She thought it was the women’s bathroom and misread the sign.
The cleanliness was reasonable given how many people had been using the facilities all day. The Lounge Staff clean the bathroom between customers. All the same, I carry flip-flops with me in my hand luggage and this was the right time to break them out to avoid any issues.
I have noticed in some lounges that they will reuse the shower gel and shampoo pumps, which helps avoid unnecessary waste. However, the refills were not of the same quality as the bottles promised. I do take my own products for just this reason.
There was lots of hot water and I was properly refreshed ahead of my long overnight flight.
Two towels were provided as seems normal in lounge showers. As well as one very handy hairdryer.
Overall, this is a well-stocked and friendly lounge that’s well worth a visit if you have access. It is sensible to be there well ahead of your flight departure time if you want to use the shower. There will always be a risk in what food options are available but the choices here are better than in most non-airline-specific lounges.