The Turkish Airlines lounge at IST is really amazing. It’s fairly new, opened in 2011 and has beautiful Islamic architectural details. If you’re transiting, you’ll need to go upstairs and walk all of the way to the end of the departure level and you’ll see the lounge entrance.
You don’t need to show anyone to enter the lounge, just scan you business class boarding pass and the gates will automatically open. Upon walking in you’ll see a bunch of lockers on the right side where you can store your bags all day if you wish.
As soon as I arrived, I went straight to the concierge desk in the back and put my name on the list for a shower, there was about a 45 minute wait at 5:30 AM. The showers are really nice, spacious, and clean. They even give you plenty of towels and a robe. (Though I’m not sure you need a robe since I wouldn’t think you’d walk outside the bathroom wearing it.) My main gripe was the lack of a shower door so water got all over the place and there’s no toothbrush so you’ll need to keep the one from the plane. They do provide shampoo, shower gel, slippers, towels, robe, and a hair dryer.
Since I arrived during breakfast hours, I decided to sample some breads, and an omelette. They can custom make omelettes which is a nice touch. They also have a real honeycomb on display so you can get some deliciously sweet honey to eat.
After a nice shower and breakfast I locked all my bags in the locker before heading off to passport control. I had to go all of the way back to the other side of the departures level, and take an elevator near the food court downstairs. There’s a turnstile leading back towards passport control and had to jump it since there’s something you need to scan to get through. Maybe there’s a more unscrupulous way to getting to passport control, but I couldn’t find it.
After a day trip of the city, I came back to the lounge, took another shower, watched some TV, and used the sleeping room. The TVs have wireless headsets to hear the sound, which I didn’t realize until I was almost done watching.
The sleeping room is like a small hotel room, without a toilet. There’s a single size bed and it’s very spacious, even includes a TV, two bottles of water, and a stereo to plug in your ipod. Make sure you bring ear plugs though, because it’s very loud as it’s right next to the showers. I think this is really above and beyond what they need, and it’s tough to get a sleeping room since there’s only a few of them. I’d probably suggest they get rid of these and have few smaller communal napping rooms to fit more people.
Overall the lounge is really nice and spacious. There are other reviews online complaining of crowds, but while it was buzzing, the lounge wasn’t full when I was there. There is plenty of seating around both the busy and quieter sides of the lounge. Drinks are ample and there’s even a billiards table and movie room for entertainment. The Turkish Airlines lounge is certainly something to look forward to upon arriving in Istanbul. Without the lounge I most definitely wouldn’t have endured a 12 hour layover and day-tour of Istanbul.