Review: Marhaba Lounge Terminal 1 Singapore

Jyaga unsure (2.5/5)

Marhaba Lounge Changi Airport Terminal 1

Airport : Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
Terminal : Terminal 1
Operator : Marhaba (dnata)
Access : First and Business Class and frequent flyers of select airlines.
Date of Visit : May 2023

Marhaba, which means ‘hello’ in Arabic, is a chain of airport lounges operated by the Dubai-based airport ground services provider, dnata. In fact, a few Marhaba-branded lounges, including this one in Singapore, were until a few years ago, known as the dnata Lounge. The Marhaba Lounge in Changi Airport is one of two contract lounges in Terminal 1 (the other being the SATS Premier Lounge), which is otherwise populated mostly by oneworld alliance airlines.

Lounge Access

Whilst Marhaba is a lounge operator akin to Plaza Premium, there is no easy way to buy access to the lounge online. During my visit, I was not aware of any contracts the lounge has with lounge access programmes like DragonPass, Priority Pass, or LoungeKey. I am, however, aware that First and Business Class passengers and select frequent flyers of the following airlines are granted entry to this lounge: Air France, KLM, Malaysia Airlines, and Finnair.


The Marhaba Lounge is located one storey up from the departures level. After clearing immigration, turn right and walk straight past a few duty-free shops to find an escalator, with signage pointing to the Marhaba Lounge and the Qantas First Class Lounge. After going up the escalators the lounge will be a short walk to the right.

The Marhaba Lounge as seen from the escalators

Marhaba Lounge Terminal 1

Once I approached the lounge entrance, I was greeted by the friendly agent, who took my lounge invitation and scanned my boarding pass. For this visit, I was granted access by being booked into KLM World Business Class for my flight to Jakarta (CGK). The entrance is to the right of the reception desk, opening straight to the main seating section of the lounge.

Marhaba Lounge reception desk

Lounge Seating 

Main Lounge

The Marhaba Lounge isn’t very creative when it comes to seating. Most chairs are arranged in the traditional lounge seating manner, in which armchairs are lined in rows facing each other. As the entrance opens into the lounge, all within view is a sea of armchairs in a dimly lit room.

Entrance-side seating
Main seating area
Main seating area

The seating arrangement is not necessarily a bad thing, provided that the sofa chairs are comfortable; unfortunately, the chairs here appear to be past their prime, which is no surprise accounting for the age of the lounge. I found the chair padding to be on the lumpier side, which made it less comfortable.

Main seating area

Despite the wear and tear on the padding, I appreciated the fact that power outlets are abundant. Every seat with a dedicated console has its own outlet, which is very useful after a long day in the city. I also liked the dim lighting in the lounge, which was softer on the eyes, compared to the rest of the terminal.

More armchair seating

The arrangement of seats more or less stayed consistent throughout the main section of the lounge, with those by the wall or windows separated by a console with a lamp.

And more…

Back of the lounge

Towards the end of the lounge are a couple of communal hightop tables, along with a dedicated self-service refreshments area. Likewise, the communal tables also feature many dedicated power outlets, which again is a thoughtful touch. In a way, the look of this space really reminds me of the British Airways Galleries Lounges at Heathrow Airport. Additionally, the area’s lighting and proximity to the window meant made it the most conducive working spot.

Hightop communal seating

Curiously, there is also a private enclosed room next to the communal hightop seating area. The door to the room was locked during my visit. I imagine there being a special arrangement for the use of this room. Regardless, I don’t know who would like to be confined there, since the space looks stuffy and its door is see-through.

Private seating room

Bar and Dining Area

Backtracting to the centre of the lounge, there are a few hightop tables, along with several armchairs arranged in a staggered manner. This area is located next to the bar-cum-coffee area by the entrance. Again, the lighting remains rather dim around here, and there are an abundance of power outlets.

Hightop tables
Hightop tables by the bar

Past the bar is a narrow corridor on which the buffet is located. The corridor opens into the dedicated dining area of the lounge. This area similarly features hightop seating, along with more conventional dining tables in the centre, and along the wall of the lounge. Unlike the rest of the lounge, I did feel that this area felt rather uninviting and dull. For one the lighting and the outdated-looking monochrome Peranakan mosaic wallpaper didn’t make for a very pleasant ambiance.

Dining area

Next to the dining area is curiously another enclosed space, separated by an automated door. At first, I thought of it to be another seating area, though I couldn’t find a way to go past the doors. I was then advised by the reception staff that the area is not in use and thereby closed. Puzzlingly, the lights and television were on, which only confused me even more.

Closed section


The lounge has a dedicated password-protected WiFi network, separate from the terminal. However, I did think that the terminal’s WiFi network had speeds that were as good, if not better, than the lounge’s dedicated network. However, that’s probably by design of Changi being unarguably the world’s best airport.

Lounge Dining

Food Buffet

The lounge has a dedicated dining area located right behind the reception, consisting of both hot and cold dishes. At any given time, there is a selection of six hot dishes in bain-maries, plus rice and two soups. Supplementing that is a small cold food spread featuring some salad vegetables, a few cakes, and several fruits.

Marhaba Lounge food buffet

Compared to, say, the Blossom Lounge in Terminal 4, the salad bar here looks rather grim. There are two choices of greens with three additional toppings, including cucumbers that didn’t look especially fresh.

Salad spread

Next to that are the two soups, which during my visit were Pumpkin Cream Soup and ‘Miso Soup’. I ladled a serving of the latter into a bowl, much to my regret. The soup didn’t have the slightest taste of miso and was sadly more akin to a bland vegetable soup. Sigh.

Soup selection

Next to that are the six hot dishes, in addition to two types of rice (plain and coconut rice). On the left side are the three Asian dishes, complemented by three Western-style dishes. In the centre is a spread that constitutes Nasi Lemak, a local coconut rice dish with accompaniments (more on this later).

Hot food selection

During my visit, the Asian selection included ‘Japanese Beef Curry’, Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Gobi Methi Mutter.

Asian hot food selection

The three Asian dishes are complemented by a Pasta Aglio Olio, Baked Fish with Cream Sauce, and Sauteed Vegetables.

Western-style hot food selection

Finally, next to that is a supplementary selection of breadrolls and sandwiches, alongside a few cakes and several fresh and cut fruit.

Cold food selection
Bread and sandwiches
Cakes and fruits

Food Quality

Since the Miso Soup proved to be very weak, I decided to try again with a local dish. I made myself a plate of Nasi Lemak, with an accompaniment of sambal, fried Ikan Bilis, and a hardboiled egg, alongside the Gobi Methi Mutter and sauteed vegetables. Unfortunately, this was still really sad in terms of taste. The rice didn’t taste rich and fluffy as expected from Nasi Lemak, and the sambal was oily but not flavourful. Bland appears to be the trend here, which is such a pity in a city otherwise known for its eclectic and incredible cuisine.

My sad plate of ‘Nasi Lemak’


Whilst the food was really quite the disappointment, I’m happy to say that the lounge has a decent selection of liquor and wines. In terms of canned drinks, there are also the Asahi and Tiger beers on offer, in addition to several soft drinks appropriate for mixing with liquor.

Bar and coffee station
Soft drinks and beer

Curiously, even though the coffee bar proudly displays a sign saying ‘Hudsons’ Coffee’ from Melbourne, the barista machine was covered up and not in use. In its place is a typical coffee machine, which is underwhelming to say the list.

Coffee machine and water dispenser


The toilet and showers are located in the same area. The toilets are, by design, not separated by gender. Each cubicle features a toilet and its own sink, which I quite liked. The toilet is also complete with a handheld bidet, as is common in the region. The toilets are frequently serviced and were generally well-kept.

Toilet in Marhaba Lounge


In the same area as the toilets are the shower rooms, which I found to be bright and relatively spacious. I like that each shower room features a toilet, which is always a convenient feature. Whilst I didn’t take a shower on this visit, I’d say that the showers are probably the single biggest strength of this lounge.

Shower in the Marhaba Lounge Terminal 1 Singapore
Shower in the Marhaba Lounge Terminal 1 Singapore


Overall, I found the Marhaba Lounge to objectively be a mediocre lounge. Compared to the many excellent lounges at Singapore Changi Airport, however, I did feel that the Marhaba Lounge at Terminal 1 is comparatively rather underwhelming and due for a refurbishment. Whilst I was grateful to have access to this lounge, I did find myself staying for a very short period of time before going back into the terminal, but that’s probably by design of Changi Airport being an incredible airport.

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