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Five Best: First-class Airline Lounges

Fine food, foot massages: Phillip Wellman checks out where to kick off a long-haul flight in style

Lufthansa's lounge at Frankfurt is designed to alleviate air travel stress. The kitchen provides freshly prepared dishes and relaxation rooms have sound-absorbing walls and daybeds. And when it's time for take-off, first class customers are driven to their aircraft in a Mercedes, Porsche or limousine.

Lufthansa (020-8750 3500; www.lufthansa.com). First class returns from Heathrow to Shanghai from £7,189. Lounge access is only available on long-haul flights.

Golden Lounge, Kuala Lumpur

This lounge is big. So big, in fact, that it has both a glass-enclosed "rainforest" and a river running through it. With so much space, even on its busiest days it feels spacious. The lounge features award-winning massage chairs and foot massagers and there is even a nursery with babysitting services so parents can enjoy everything on offer.

Malaysia Airlines (020-7341 2000; www.malaysiaairlines.com). First class returns from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur start at £3,430, including lounge access.

Virgin Clubhouse, San Francisco

This lounge is a futuristic domain with an unrivalled view across the Bay. Coloured glass panels move along the outside wall reflecting patterns inside, and five rotating monitors show digital art. There are laptop access points throughout and a business facility caters to those who can't escape work. The centrepiece of the Clubhouse - named best public space in the 2001 FX International Interior Design Awards - is the bar made from glass, where passengers enjoy complimentary drinks and food.

Virgin Atlantic (08705 747 747; www.virgin-atlantic.com). First class returns from Heathrow to San Francisco start at £2,319, including lounge access.

The Wing and the Pier, Hong Kong

Designed by John Pawson and overlooking Norman Foster's terminal, The Wing features the world's longest airport bar. The Wing and the Pier, which opened in 1999 and 2001 respectively, offer several areas for dining including silver service options. Five uniquely designed cabana spa rooms with enormous bathtubs are one of the lounge's most popular attractions.

Cathay Pacific (020-8834 8888; www.cathaypacific.com). First class returns from Heathrow to Hong Kong start at £4,397, including lounge access.

British Airways New York JFK

Designed by Kelly Hoppen, the lounge mirrors her onboard cabins. Inspired by Rolls Royce, they feature Connolly leather, walnut-effect furniture and plenty of velvet. The latest addition is a Molton Brown spa, offering a wide-range of complimentary treatments. The "Supper Room" has menus created by British Michelin-starred chefs and a wine list devised by Jancis Robinson.

British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.britishairways.com). First class returns from Heathrow to New York JFK start at £3,905, including lounge access.