Entrance to the Dar es Salaam airport
The future is now: Dar’s new Terminal Three at Julius K. Nyerere airport.

The CIP lounge in Dar es Salaam is a special place that lies close to our heart. This is a really, really great long. Those unexpected lounges in understated airportes are the kind of thing that keep blood in our gills (sharks have gills, right?) We’re writing you this extra long CIP Lounge Review – Dar es Salaam (DAR) becuase this is one of the most surreal lounges we’ve been in a while. If you don’t have access through your airline, you’ll need to pay to get in here (no card access), but if you have some time to kill, it may be worth your money. To find out why, read on!

(Hint: if you like beer and a shower, you’re in luck. If you like good food and tasteful decorations…sorry. Maybe try somewhere else, like Bali or somewhere in California.)

Our Trip – CIP Lounge Review – Dar es Salaam (DAR)

All roads lead the Doha. With Qatar being one of the best airlines in the world, we find ourselves passing through the gassy state of Qatar constantly. And this trip was no exception. From Istanbul we made our way down to Doha and then on to Dar for a little working trip under the equator.

our flight route from Dar es Salaam
Would that I could have afforded to just fly the hypotenuse.

The Facts – CIP Lounge Review – Dar es Salaam (DAR)

Listen up reader, becuase if you don’t do this right, you’re going to miss out. First off, you should know that this is the NEW Dar es Salaam airport terminal (T3), which is famous for being very large and very empty. The lounge lives up to that description, all the more so becuase access is kept so exlcusive.

Access:

  1. the lounge can only be accessed through the airline (all airlines share the lounge) – so you’ll need to be flying business class or have some type of eligible status.
  2. You cannot use Priority Pass at this time.
  3. You can pay $50 to enter the lounge. If you want to do this, you will pay at the end of the entry process (see below.)

Getting there:

Again, listen carefully. Once you get your boarding pass, you need to head to the far left of the terminal, away from the signs for immigration. Follow the signs for CIP lounge. When you get to the end you’ll see an unmarked door that looks like an emergency exit.

Mystery door at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review
It seems like the end of the airport…but is it?
Another mystery door at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review
A felt very uncomfortable opening this door.

If you take the blue pill, you can turn around and go back to the normal immigration. If you take the red pill, then push on the emergency exit door, which reveals itself to be a totally empty and very nice immigration area.

Take a seat on a sofa and fill out your departure card. When you’re done, go to the very lovely desk to have the very kind officers process your departure, then do your security check immediately behind them, and in total comfort and relaxation.

Security area at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review
This is where you’ll fill out your departure card.

Next, walk down a blank hall to an elevator.

mystery elevator at the CIP Lounge in Dar es Salaam
Where does this elevator go, Mr. Wonka??

Take this mystery elevator up one floor, and the follow your way through labrnythine and sterile hallways until you reach the end, where you will find the lounge door waiting.

sterile hallway at the CIP Lounge in Dar es Salaam
Wait, I’ve seen this movie efore, and I know how this ends…

Enter the lounge, proceed past the coatrack, check in at the front desk and, at last, you’re in!

coatrack entrance at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

The Space – CIP Lounge Review – Dar es Salaam (DAR)

seating area at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

I’ll lead in with the weirdest/worst/best part of this lounge. A+ for environmental effort, but this is a spacious lounge, and every single light is on a 10-section motion sensor dimmer. When the lounge is only a little full, the lights are constantly flashing on and off, all over the lounge, particularly as the staff roam around looking for matters to attend to. Pop in your headphones, put on some jams, and enjoy the discoball feel. Unless you have epilepsy, in which case, you may want to chose a corner without so much flashing.

more seating at at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Reviews

Beyond that, the lounge is decently well appointed, and has plenty of space. The main area has comfortable pleather couches, and various types of chairs, spread out with a decent amount of space.

The dining area has broad, clean tables and comfortable chairs tucked into them.

dining tables at at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

There are also two side-rooms that have couches that would work well for sleeping.

couches at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review
sleeping area at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

Over all, this lounge is decently comfortable.

The food – CIP Lounge Review – Dar es Salaam (DAR)

some food at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

Here’s the weak link in the lounge: the food is kinda more like snack food than a full meal. When we came in, they had beef stew, some chicken wings, and then rice and french fries.

the bad bood at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

On top of that, there were some “sandwiches” that were mostly just stale-ish bread, something that approximated a “salad” and some fruits on a few platters.

veggies at at the lounge

The drinks

beer towers at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review

Maybe they skimped on the food because they know what the people want, and what the people want is lots of beer. Pyramids and pyramids of beer.

If you’ve been in in Tanzania, you know that the country can be divided into two types of people. Those who like it moto (room temperature), and those who take it baridi. The lounge has plenty of both, all over the back of the bar.

more beer at the CIP Lounge

Next to that they have a decent selection of wines, and liquors. Clearly, though, they’re putting their money on alcohol, not food. Maybe that’s just what the people want.

wines at the CIP Lounge in Dar Es Salaam (DAR) - Lounge Review
hard liquor

If you don’t drink, you’re probably not super intersted in this section, but its our duty to tell you that there are juices, milks, coffees, and teas. The coffee is made on a very fancy and shiny Lavazza machine.

coffee at the CIP Lounge


The internet

The lounge uses the airports free and open wifi. We had no issues with connectivity, but it didn’t perform so well when we did a speed test. If these numbers are accurate, then perhaps the wifi isn’t so very great when there are a lot of people in the airport.

Internet could be better.

Restrooms and shower

the business center at the CIP Lounge
The lounge business center.

These were some top-notch restrooms. No frills, but a great place to just get your business done. There’s also a single shower in each restroom (we assume, didnt check the ladies’). You can get towels from reception and get clean. This may actually make the lounge a winning proposition if youre transfering from a flight elsewhere and need to clean up.

shower at the CIP Lounge
Private shower room (showerhead beyond wall.)

Final Thoughts

This is a truly special lounge. DAR really puts itself on the map with this contribution to the loungosphere. Few places anywhere in the world can compete. The only other language in the neighborhood with even remotely similar offerings is in Addis Ababa. The CIP lounge gives us one extra reason to visit what is already one of our favorite cities in the world. See you soon, Dar es Selaam!

Final Grades

Connectivity:3/5
Workability4/5
Relaxation:
3/5
Catering:2/5
Alcohol: 3/5
Ambiance:2/5
Total Score17/30

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