If you are traveling with a Star Alliance carrier through Sao Paulo GRU, the Espaco Banco Safra Lounge is your only choice in the wake of the closure of the Star Alliance lounge. I had a relatively longish connection in Sao Paulo between my flight from Asuncion with GOL and my Air Canada connection to Montreal.
While the lounge was good, with decent amenities, it lacked other features and was definitely on the more busy side of things. During my stay, the lounge always remained full and felt crowded a lot of the time. The lounge is located on the third level of Terminal 3, overlooking the terminal concourse and shopping area.
Sadly, the design lets this lounge somewhat. While it features many high ceilings, there is little natural light. In addition, due to the number of people, viewing the runways or shopping areas outside is very difficult. During my stay, the busiest times were around 3:30 p.m. and around 7:00 p.m. Overall, the Espaco Banco Safra Lounge is suitable for a short to medium stay. However, it might be more interesting to explore the city next time.
Espaco Banco Safra Lounge Location & Entry
Getting to the lounge let me catch up on my missed cardio earlier in the day. I honestly didn’t know where to go at first – my first stop was in Terminal 2, to find out where the Star Alliance Lounge was. Here’s a quick shot of the exterior of the SkyTeam Lounge, where I was directed to Terminal 3.
The walk between Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 is very long. So, while it was good to stretch my legs, it was very dull! Sao Paulo Terminal 3 is shaped like an upside-down “L” with the lounges located generally on the short leg.
The lounge is located on the third level of the airport, almost directly above the Immigrations and Customs area, and looks directly over the shopping and duty-free concourses. You take the escalator up to the third floor to reach the lounge.
The Espaco Banco Safra Lounge is the only Star Alliance lounge in the airport; however, on my way, I passed many other lounges, including the AA Admirals Club, Mastercard Black Lounge, and American Express Centurion Lounge.
Entry to the lounge was straightforward. The agent at the counter scanned my boarding pass and passport and then allowed access. While at the counter, I was provided with a power converter for Brazil’s unique power plugs.
However, I had to hand over my physical boarding card to receive the converter. This was kept and not returned until I had returned the converter.
Espaco Banco Safra Lounge Layout and Space
Once you walk into the lounge, you first notice how big it is. The vast space has high ceilings and lots of space (which they will need, but more about that later). To one side is a massive glass façade that looks onto the airport’s interior.
The lounge has many different spaces with various types of seating arrangements. Although the lounge space is a large open room, the areas are divided by the clever use of rope, trees, and lighting to separate the space. Unsurprisingly, since this is Brazil, there is a slight Jungle/Amazon theme to the décor, and it did work since it reminded me of a jungle.
There are lots of sofas and single seats to lounge on, as well as some table seating if you want to work or have a bite to eat. In addition, the glass façade has rows of seats overlooking the terminal interior, which makes for an interesting spot to relax and watch the world go by. There is also an elevated bar counter seating area with power ports to charge your devices.
Finally, a nap-style area is off to one side of the lounge. Although the site is under ropes, and many people were lounging and taking naps, I didn’t find it very private.
Baby Changing/Nursing Room
A dedicated baby changing and nursing room is at the back of the bathroom and shower area. The room seems to be a mix of a changing and nursing room. It has a large counter and mirror on the wall for care for babies. Plus, a chair with a dedicated lamp is at the back of the room. This obviously is to nurse or breastfeed babies.
While I do not need the space, I found it interesting and unique, and it showed that some thought had gone into the construction of the lounge and its facilities.
Nap & Rest Area
A nap area is to the left and rear of the Espaco Banco Safra Lounge entry. This is unique compared to the rest of the lounge and has a “nap and rest” sleeping style vibe.
Located under some ropes to give a more secluded, darker feel, the area features an entirely different style of seats. One thing to note is that the area is not very private since there are no dividers between the seats within the area.
If you want to catch up on some work or just browse the internet, the lounge has excellent Wi-fi. I found the connection to be very stable and fast during my time in the lounge.
The Wi-Fi code is posted in the entry to the lounge and on various counters spread around the lounge.
Espaco Banco Safra Lounge Shower
With a few hours to kill in the lounge, I opted to freshen up using the shower rooms. However, to gain access to the shower, you must return to the front desk and request access. Once there, I was told there was a 30-minute waiting list. Then, I was given a buzzer, which, once it rang, I returned to the front desk and was given a physical key to open the shower room.
Looking around the shower area, it seems there are only 4 in total, and I was given stall 3. Compared to other showers at South American Airports, like the LATAM VIP Signature Lounge In Santiago, these rooms seemed rather small.
The stall featured a large sink with a mirror. While the shower itself has a beautiful rainhead that delivers water at an excellent pressure. The water was also as warm as I liked it to be.
The one major drawback with the shower area is its very poor design. The shower lacks a barrier, or glass door, or enough space. On the one hand, this means it looks beautiful. On the other hand, water goes everywhere while showering, making a gigantic mess.
Fortunately, comfortable-looking slippers and an amenity kit with soap, shampoo, and bath gel are provided. You are also provided with fresh towels wrapped in plastic.
Espaco Banco Safra Lounge Food & Beverage
The main food and beverage area is located central, close the table- dining seating. However, a couple of tea and coffee stations are located along the perimeter back wall of the lounge. The main food and beverage area has the typical lounge buffet-style service with many different options.
In addition, there was a station full of red wines and a bar section with servers mixing drinks. The overall impression of the food and service area is that it is very well stocked with lots of delicious offerings.
Bar & Food Options
The food section was regularly maintained and was kept well stocked. It seemed that it was checked upon at least once an hour. This meant that there were tons of food at both the soup and snacks station and the Brazilian cheese balls station. The full menu list on the visit was as follows:
- Bolo de Milho,
- Pao de Queijo (and com Goiabada)
- Soups – Canja de Galinha, Sopa abobora com Gengibre
- Apples, Bananas, Grapes
- Salad station with Tabule, Frutas, Tomates
- Puddings, cheeses
Drinks fridge with the following:
- Beers (Budweiser, Heineken, Stella Artois)
- Cokes, Fanta (includes Guarana),
- juices (Pessego, Manga, Sabor (Grapes),
- iced teas
- batata palha,
- strogonoff de carne,
- salmao grelhadi com tomato cereja,
- arroz blanco,
- Carne Assada
The one thing I must say about the food is that it was awesome. I could probably get sick eating all the cheeseballs in this lounge; they were fresh and delicious.
In the grand scheme of airport lounges, the Espaco Banco Safra Lounge is decent. It had Wi-Fi, good food and drinks, tons of seating, and a shower facility. That said, it also has lots of passenger traffic, and the views outside are restricted. Also, I found in my experience that the lounge remained very crowded during my whole stay.
Although the lounge had a good food selection, a wide range of seating, and the food was regularly restocked, I found it lacking in the beer and bar choices. A proper bar with more choices (more than cans and bottles) would have made a big difference here.
With no nap rooms to rest and small but impractical showers, the lounge is okay for a short to medium stay, but I would think twice before spending a whole day here again.
- Delicious and plentiful food. Loved all the cheese balls.
- Wide layout with lots of different seating options.
- Many different kinds of drinks.
- Awesome, Fast & Stable Wi-Fi.
- The shower rooms had nice amenities but were also small and not the most practical.
- Felt crowded, was packed to the brim more often than it wasn’t.
- No proper bar with dedicated service and drinks options.
- No draft beer.
- No views into the airport or natural light in this lounge.