Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow

Introduction
Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse San Francisco
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR)
Virgin Atlantic Arrivals Lounge London Heathrow
First Class on the Heathrow Express – is it worth it?
Hotel Indigo London Paddington
SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow
Qatar Airways First Class from London (LHR) to Doha (DOH)
InterContinental Doha
Exploring Doha
Qatar Airways Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR)
Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Airport
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from London (LHR) to New York (JFK)
Andaz New York Wall Street
Conclusion


How great can a business class lounge really be? Well, if you haven’t been to the Clubhouse, you’re about to find out.

I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at around 8AM, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the Clubhouse, which I’ve heard so much about. While Terminal 3 isn’t modern, it does have bright neon lights that give it the Virgin “touch.”


Terminal exterior


Check-in area

I didn’t realize there was a totally separate Upper Class check-in area, so I just checked in at the one Upper Class check-in desk near coach check-in. The agent was friendly, though she had a concerned look on her face as she peered at her screen. She whispered something to her colleague, and then said “Sir, did you want to take the 9:30AM flight since you are here so early?” I politely declined, stating I had a commitment at 10AM, though out of curiosity asked if they were oversold. She responded with “yeah, we’re a bit oversold in Upper Class, but it shouldn’t be a problem.” So I stuck with my flight and with my Clubhouse invitation in hand, proceeded to Fast Track security. The Fast Track security for Virgin Atlantic actually leads to a special corridor, which I later realized is the area where I was also supposed to check-in. Sure enough there’s dedicated passport control and security, so lines were non-existent.


Upper Class Wing


To security queues

Terminal 3 might as well be a shopping mall, based on the number of duty free shops there are. The Clubhouse was maybe a five-minute walk, and required going up an elevator. The coolest part was that the elevator had a couch in it. Where else do you get that?


Terminal duty free


Lounge signs


Elevator to the lounge

The lady at the entrance checked me into the lounge and asked if I had been in the Clubhouse before. When I mentioned I hadn’t, she gave me a quick rundown of all the things to do.

How can I describe this place? It’s basically Disney World for adults. I don’t know why I had low expectations. I figured with the number of flights they have and number of people that have access to the lounge, it wouldn’t feel very exclusive. And actually, I was right, it doesn’t, it feels like a terminal. But what I was wrong about is that a really awesome, futuristic, premium terminal-feeling place is so much cooler than a stuffy, small, deserted lounge.

The lounge has so many individual sections that flow together perfectly. Instead of trying to explain the place, I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking, and will just hit on a few highlights.


Clubhouse seating area


Clubhouse lounging area


Clubhouse bar area


Clubhouse dining area


Clubhouse bar


Clubhouse seating area


Clubhouse seating area


Clubhouse pool table and arcade games


Clubhouse library


Clubhouse seating area


Magazine selection

There are waitresses roaming the lounge constantly serving drinks, though if you prefer a meal, there’s a sit down restaurant area. Since I was there in the morning, they were serving breakfast, and had a very extensive menu. I went with a bagel with lox, which was delicious.


Clubhouse dining area


Second floor seating area


Clubhouse seating area by window


Cathay Pacific 747 view from window


Virgin Atlantic 747 view from window


Breakfast menu


Drink selection


Lunch menu


Orange juice and coffee


Breakfast

One of the other nice things about the lounge is that they have a Bumble & Bumble Spa, where you can choose from a variety of treatments. I went with a 15 minute back & shoulder massage, which was phenomenal.

It goes without saying that this is the nicest business class lounge I’ve ever been to… by a mile. And while this isn’t as exclusive and the service isn’t as attentive as the first class lounges of Lufthansa, Thai, etc., it has something special to it. Don’t get me wrong, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal is amazing. The same goes for the Thai first class lounge in Bangkok. They’re both incredibly luxurious. But this place is honestly fun. Yes, given the option I prefer Lufthansa’s or Thai’s flagship first class lounges, but this is a close third. And that’s saying a lot, given that this is a business class lounge.

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Comments

  1. been through there several times – love the place … Virgin are a great airline with a great product.

  2. funny – your experience of checkin to lounge is identical to mine. Went in the wrong door, made it up to the fast track, had the “a haaaa!” moment when the door opened….

    ….at least you didn’t have food poisoning at the time…

  3. Is all the food off the menu free in the lounge, waiter service?

    All the lounges i’ve ever been in (i’ve only been in ones in the US) just had complimentary cheese and crackers, or chips, as far as food goes.

  4. Do they let you order multiple things off the same section of the menus? As much as you want? I don’t plan on pigging out, i’m just curious if there are any rules

  5. “Yes, given the option I prefer Lufthansa’s or Thai’s flagship first class lounges, but this is a close third.”

    Wow. And you’ve been in some impressive lounges…

  6. Thanks for sharing your photos and thoughts. I really enjoyed reading your report and loved all the photos, which made me wanting to give it ago on my next visit to London. Again great work and thanks for sharing!

  7. “The Fast Track security for Virgin Atlantic actually leads to a special corridor, which I later realized is the area where I was also supposed to check-in”

    I don’t think so. I’m through this lounge every month or two, and you check in on the regular floor, (at the ‘Upper Class’ desks to the right of EC and Premium) get your boarding card, hand off any bags, and then… go upstairs to the private security channel you picture. It is simply a great to sweep through security checks and x-ray with no line at all. Heathrow regular security is B-U-S-Y, so this is a great benefit, and gives a real VIP feeling.

    The lounge? Yes its wonderful. I weep with laughter when I see what US airlines give their business pax, and how much people struggle anxiously to get into a lounge for a coffee and some stale crackers. wow.

    @Michael, yes its all free – all the food you want to and all the drink, and phones and internet and newspapers and haircuts and showers and…

    Just please remember to leave the staff a tip on your free meal. they did wait on you after all. its the right thing to do.

  8. The upstairs area where the private security channel is located is actually part of the Drive Through Check In area of the new Upper Class Wing. http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/en/gb/whatsonboard/upperclass/newupperclasswing/index.jsp

    Your fare class must be either be J,D, R or you can use more miles to use the service. I booked it for my mother when it first opened a couple of years ago. It made her arrival stress free, a car picked her up, arrived at the special check in area where a porter and check in agent was waiting for her.

    @narikin, are you sure you are supposed to tip the wait staff? I thought they were properly paid and didn’t work for tips. What other VS staff members should I tip?

  9. @curious george: “are you sure you are supposed to tip the wait staff? I thought they were properly paid and didn’t work for tips. What other VS staff members should I tip?”

    OF course you should tip. You are flying upper/business/first class and getting free food and drink, with someone much worse off than you waiting on your whims, and you can’t find a couple of $ in your heart to give them? come on. It’s just the decent way to behave.

    I can’t believe anyone doesn’t tip, quite frankly. Though I do see it happen.

  10. ps: I am talking about lounge ground staff, where you are dining in a restaurant. Seems obvious to me, but I guess others have different attitudes.

  11. @ narikin — I’m curious, are you American? Americans seem to apply their standards to tipping to the rest of the world, be it Japan (where it’s offensive), France, or somewhere else. And there’s nothing “free” about the food, you paid for it through your ticket price. Using your reasoning, I see no reason flight attendants shouldn’t be tipped as well…

  12. I dont think tipping is the norm in the clubhouse.
    You have already paid thousands for a flight ticket which entitles you to clubhouse access and all that it entails
    The only place I do tip is in the spa if having a treatment, certainly not for receiving the food/drink on offer

  13. If flying from LAX to Heathrow, in Prem. Econ. class, can I use the Clubhouse at Heathrow? May I pay with my Credit card or even use miles reward points?

    Looks fabulous? Someone on the VS Cust. Call line told me that if there was room, then we could pay something to go in. True?

  14. @ Rose — A premium economy ticket doesn’t get you Clubhouse access, and as far as I know there’s no way to pay for access to the lounge unfortunately.

  15. Actually, if travelling in PE, you can pay £60 for clubhouse access. I was told this by LHR staff on Friday.

    This depends on capacity and whether they like the look of you. So by no means guaranteed. Worth a shot though.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome insightful story. I will be visiting the Clubhouse myself next month and you get me really excited! So nice to see that no one had any problem with phototaking inside the lounge as I love to do that during my travel.

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