With each passing year, airports around the world have become increasingly overcrowded, overwhelming in the mindless crush of harried passengers jammed into corridors and spaces that were never designed to accommodate such numbers.

In our experience, the best antidote is a stiff pre-boarding drink. For passengers fortunate enough to be blessed with upper-tier miles and lounge access, the options don’t come any swankier than the newly minted Le Balcon. Located in Air France’s Business Class Lounge at Charles de Gaulle, the 160 sqm bar is the work of French designer Mathieu Lehanneur who literally draws in the exterior spectacle of planes landing and taking off by lining the ceiling edges with gilt mirrors that are stippled like the keys of a giant piano to create what he describes as a space ‘suspended between heaven and earth’. 

Hyperbole aside, the effect is one of cloistered exclusivity, an experience that Lehanneur reinforces with capsule banquettes which encircle both the room and the central white marble-topped bar. Lined with plush blue velvet – and accessorised with a pedestal side table and connectivity – these were apparently inspired by theatre box-seats and offer a sense of quiet privacy we imagine passengers continue to cling to as they trudge to the boarding gate.§