By Jancee Dunn
Illustration: Joe McKendry
Three years ago, when my husband returned from a cycling trip in Italy, what he seemed to spend the most time talking about was not the beauty of the Tuscan hills but the shower he had in the Munich airport. Because he’d gotten a rare upgrade to a business-class seat, he had been granted access to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, where he waited out a layover.
Most Stateside lounges are fairly generic, offering the same bananas and bottled water — but the Lufthansa lounge, he told me with shining eyes, had a distinctly Teutonic flavor. He raved about the weisswurst, the pretzels and mustard, the Weihenstephaner wheat beer on tap.
But what captivated him most were the showers. After signing in with a sturdy, gruff attendant dressed in clinical whites, he was handed a pile of snowy towels and a caddy of toiletries and led to a bathroom-and-shower combo scrubbed to a surgical level of hygiene. Upon reemerging into the lounge, he told me, he felt not just cleaner but psychically reset.
The experience so bored into my brain that when we were booking a trip to Europe last summer — with a layover in Munich — I idly checked the price of a business-class fare. It was $1,000 more than coach per ticket, and, rationally, I knew it was insane. But my thoughts kept returning to the mythical lounge. Before I could change my mind, I punched in my credit-card number.
After a sleepless overnight flight to Europe, we practically ran to the Senator Lounge. And there it was: row upon pristine row of showers. It’s really happening, I thought giddily. There is something so liberating — after spending hours surrounded by people, germs, bad air, jarring announcements, duty-free salesmen spraying Drakkar Noir at you — about entering this small, quiet, totally private space, peeling off your clothes, and feeling hot water wash over you for as long as you like.
It was heaven — and, if I may make a bold statement, in many ways superior to the Emirates onboard shower, in which each passenger is allowed a 30-minute shift in the shower room and a mere five minutes of hot water. And no turbulence.
If a windfall ever comes my way, I’m going one better: Apparently the first-class shower lounge has a Jacuzzi.