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The world's best airport lounges

By Nick Easen for CNN

Airline lounges are designed to be welcome retreats, away from the hustle and bustle of busy terminals.
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1. Cathay Pacific
2. Emirates
3. Gulf Air
4. Malaysia Airlines
5. Qantas
6. SAS Scandinavian Airlines
7. Virgin Atlantic
8. Asiana Airlines
9. British Airways
10. South African Airways
Source: Skytrax Survey 2004

Biz Traveller
Cathay Pacific Airways Limited
Hong Kong
Middle East

(CNN) -- If you thought European or North American airlines provided the best airport lounges for executive comfort, think again.

If you have a layover on your next trip and you are looking for a lounge to relax in or catch up with office work, make sure it is in the Asia-Pacific or Middle East.

According to one of the largest yearly surveys, airlines from these two regions have the best airport lounges, taking the top five positions.

Recently Cathay Pacific Airways was voted as having the world's best lounge in the 2004 Skytrax poll. It also emerged top overall for first and business class lounges.

"We are delighted to receive such overwhelming support from our customers," Cathay Pacific General Manager Quince Chong said in a statement.

"It is testament to the dedication and hard work of all our staff, both on the ground and in the air."

For first class, Emirates, Gulf Air, South African Airways and Thai International followed behind Cathay Pacific.

Cathay's closest rivals for business class honors were Gulf, Emirates, SAS and Qantas.

UK-based Skytrax Research conducted the survey over a ten-month period, and attracted more than 1.4 million votes.

Voters were asked to evaluate a range of criteria including seating capacity, lounge decor, business facilities, washrooms, showers and leisure amenities, food and beverage selections, as well as the efficiency, friendliness and attitude of lounge staff.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific pushed Emirates off the top after the Dubai-based airline won the accolade last year.

Signature touches throughout these award-winning lounges can now include: showers, wireless Internet access and 24-hour refreshments with bar services, including gourmet selections.

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