Review: The Leeli Lounge, Male, Nasir Ibrahim International Airport, Male, Maldives


We had an early morning departure from the Park Hyatt Maldives. Our early morning departure allowed us for some extra time at the Male Nasir Ibrahim International Airport. We spent some of the time in The Leeli Lounge in the international departures zone. While there are limited lounge opportunities in the international departures zone, the Leeli Lounge was a perfectly adequate location to spend a little (but not a lot) of time before a flight.

This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Leeli Lounge, Nasir Ibrahim International Airport, Male, Maldives

“The Leeli Lounge provided Plaza Premium like lounge settings in a dry environment”

We were originally booked leaving the Maldives to fly on Air India’s flight from Male to Bangalore, then onward to New Delhi via their Boeing 787 aircraft. Despite monitoring the flight bookings prior to departure, Air India decided to downgrade the frequency of the Male to Bangalore flight at the last minute. This included an outright cancellation of our flight date a mere 14 days before we were supposed to fly them and 3 days before we were to leave home in Canada to depart on our trip. Aeroplan offered a free award change the travel dates of our India segments based on remaining reward inventory (not a lot), but that would have meant a shorter stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives, or another $500 – $1,500 room stay in the Maldives to stay an extra day, or alternately, we could accept a downgrade to economy and re-route via Thiruvananthapuram on a single class of service Air India aircraft. We opted for the re-route, keeping the same travel dates, but losing our Air India domestic Boeing 787 experience. Aeroplan compensation was promised by the Aeroplan call center which has yet to arrive; claiming 30 days to review our “circumstances” plus an additional 8 – 12 weeks to post. 

We were up for departure from the Park Hyatt Maldives at the awful hour of 3:30 AM for our transfer to Koodhoo airport. We were on the hotel transfer boat by 4:30 AM, and arrived at the airport at 5 AM for a 6 AM Q2 142 Maldivian domestic flight. I was cursing Air India at this point, which wasn’t a great first impression for Air India leaving us in this early departure slot. Despite this, there were some beautiful atolls on the way up.

Maldivian Resorts on our Morning Flight Up to Male

Checking into Air India Business Class:

On arrival at Nasir Ibrahim Domestic Airport, we were met by our usual Park Hyatt ground representative and escorted back to the Maldivian Moonmia Domestic Lounge to wait transfer to our international flight. I had fully expected to be out on the street up at the Traders Bar at the Hulehule hotel, so this was a nice added feature to be taken care of by being offered the domestic lounge to hang out in. Despite being a nice new lounge, the plates and glassware wasn’t super clean. We checked emails and killed some time before our check in for Air India opened.  

We were in the Moomia Domestic lounge for about 1 hour when we got our second taste of the Air India experience. Using the lounge wifi, I signed into Flight Track Pro and learned that a 1 hour and 40 minute flight delay was posted, 2 hours before our flight. Sooo disappointing!! All that early 3:30 AM wake up and early travel from the Park Hyatt Maldives was for nothing. Air India was not off to a good first impression. 

With the assistance of the Park Hyatt ground handler in Male, we were escorted over to the International Terminal and checked ourselves in at the Air India Counter. I was able to convince the ground agent to give us a lounge voucher, despite our first two segments being in economy. I explained the downgrade situation and this was accepted by the ground manager. The Air India Maharajah was smiling at us on arrival to the check in desks. My first thought was that the Maharajah was: “Smiling that I screwed up your flights!” 

Male Nasir Ibrahim International Departures
Air India Business Class Mararaja Check In – Male Nasir Ibrahim

We were given a voucher by Air India for the Neeri Lounge. After checking our bags, we went for lunch at the nearby airport café patio. It’s a bit of a no mans land on the airport island bit its still absolutely beautiful compared to the small North American airport in the neighborhood near you. 

Airport Lunch Views

Locating the Leeli Lounge:

After lunch, we returned to the International terminal. We had ourselves stamped out of the Maldives and headed through the duty free section to the lounge. We were given a voucher by Air India for the Neeri Lounge. There are two contract lounges in Male Nasir Ibrahim Airport. When we got to the Neeri Lounge, there was a sign on the door asking customers to visit the other Leeli Lounge. We headed over to the Leeli Lounge next to the food courts and entered into a space reminiscent of many Plaza Premium Lounges around the world. It’s not listed as a Plaza Premium lounge, but if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck… It’s the closest facsimile of a Plaza Premium Lounge that you’ll find. 

Male Nasir Ibrahim International Duty Free

The Leeli Lounge is located immediately after the international duty free section on the left hand side of the walk way.

The Leeli Lounge
The Entrance to the Leeli Lounge

Accessing the Leeli Lounge:

The Leeli Lounge at Male Nasir Ibrahim International Airport is the contract lounge for most international carriers at the international departure zone. There are no other branded lounges at this airport, making this the place to be for pre-flight departure relaxation.

Access to the lounge is only provided through the carriers, as a result, you’ll need to be flying business class or better on a departing flight in order to gain access. Surprisingly, the lounge is not a member of Priority Pass. I suspect this is due to possible capacity issues during peak travel times.

Access for us today was courtesy of our Air India Business Class Ticket.

Inside the Leeli Lounge:

The Leeli Lounge follows the tradition of other Plaza Premium Lounges. It is a dark space, with some natural light, along with clean furnishings. The same chairs are here as in our Oman and Vancouver Plaza Premium experiences. It was by far the nicest lounge in the Maldives that we had experienced so far. 

Leeli Lounge Seatings
Lounge Seating – Plaza Premium Style
Lounge Seating in one Square Room

The Leeli Lounge room had a relaxing chair lounge room that was mostly unused on our visit. After a holiday in the Maldives, you should already be pretty relaxed! 

An Empty Massage Chair Zone

Food and Beverage within the Lounge:

In terms of food and beverage, there were some limited snack offerings. As with other Plaza Premium lounges, the food did not appear to be too appealing. I personally find that contract lounges, including the Plaza Premium type lounges, usually come short on the food offerings and fall into the “eat only in case of emergency” category. 

Small Snack Offerings
Limited Food Offerings

Unfortunately, this sign broke my heart, but it wasn’t something that was totally unexpected. The lounge itself is completely dry, like the entire airport of Male. It would be a while before we would be able to get an alcoholic drink.

The Leeli Lounge is a dry zone

The Bottom Line: The Leeli Lounge Male

Overall, the Leeli Lounge is a reasonable place to hang out. It won’t be the number one lounge on anyone’s list but it’s far more comfortable than the crowded terminal.

If you’ve visited the Leeli Lounge, did you miss having a drink before your flight?

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