Review: No1 Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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Our flight from London to Jakarta was scheduled to depart at 8:15PM, though around noon GMT I got an email from Garuda Indonesia indicating that there had been a flight delay:

I have just emailing to let you know that tonight’s flight has had a small delay due to a technical problem, The flight is now due to depart LHR at 23:05 and you will arrive into CGK at 19:55+1.

Please note that check in will open at 17:15 and will close at 22:00.

Apologies on behalf of Garuda Indonesia.

I’m not quite sure I’d call a three hour delay “small,” though I did appreciate them proactively letting us know of the delay.

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Upon doing some further research, it looked like the inbound flight had been delayed by about four hours:

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Nonetheless we headed to Heathrow Airport pretty early, given that we still had some work to do, and had to check out of our hotel by 4PM.

So we showed up at Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport at around 6PM.

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London Heathrow Terminal 3 exterior

We looked at the check-in monitor to see where Garuda Indonesia check-in was located, and easily found it at the far right of the terminal.

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Garuda Indonesia check-in London Heathrow

There was no queue for first class passengers, though as we walked towards the counter we were approached by a guy in a suit “Mr… Beckett… Mr… Schlappig?”

The guy introduced himself as Luke, and said he’d be taking care of us until it was time for us to board. He walked with us up to the check-in desk, where an extremely friendly Garuda Indonesia associate quickly processed our check-in.

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Garuda Indonesia first class check-in London Heathrow

He gave us a sheet of paper explaining the delay, which indicated that economy passengers would receive a refreshment voucher.

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Garuda Indonesia delay out of Heathrow

We were presented with our boarding passes, as well as some sturdy first class ticket jackets, a fast track card for Jakarta, and an invitation to the lounge.

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Garuda Indonesia boarding pass, fast track card, etc.

Luke was incredible, and whisked us through security and to the lounge. I felt a bit uncomfortable not taking my own bag (I’m not that much of a diva), but Luke insisted.

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Luke escorting us to the lounge at Heathrow

We were quickly through security, though got a bunch of looks from other passengers, as I don’t know of any other airline that provides this kind of service for premium passengers at Heathrow.

Garuda Indonesia uses the No1 Lounge at Terminal 3 for their premium passengers. While it’s disappointing that they use some random contract lounge, they really do make the best of it.

The No1 Lounge is located in the “F Lounge” section, which is also where the British Airways Lounge is located.

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Heathrow Terminal 3 airside

Just walk down the hallway and you’ll find an elevator on the right.

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Hallway to lounges at Terminal 3

Once you take that to the second floor you’ll be right at the entrance to the No1 Lounge.

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Elevator to lounges at Terminal 3

The lounge has a swanky exterior, with marble-looking signage.

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No1 Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3 exterior

As you can see based on the sign outside the lounge, quite a few airlines use this lounge for their premium passengers. This is also a Priority Pass lounge, so can be accessed by anyone who has a Priority Pass membership through their credit card.

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Airlines using the No1 Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Luke presented our boarding passes to the lounge attendant, and then escorted us to a special part of the lounge, which is reserved for select passengers. We were also presented with vouchers for free champagne.

First I’ll talk a bit about the main part of the lounge, though.

Near the entrance to the lounge is a long bar, with high-top seating, as well as a row of chairs across from it.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow bar

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow bar

On the bar is some Moet champagne, along with a book about the lounge.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow champagne

Past the bar area was the self serve buffet and dining area.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food spread

As you can see, there was cafe-style seating, as well as some communal tables.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow dining area

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow dining area

The complimentary food selection was limited. There were muffins, croissants, pastries, brownies, and a few types of salad.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food selection

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food selection

Then there were soft drinks as well as a coffee machine.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow coffee machine

The lounge also has a menu with food available for purchase.

Past the dining area was a long rectangular room with a lot more seating.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

For a contract lounge I tend to think this one is pretty stylish, and they do a good job mixing up the furniture so that it’s visually interesting.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

There were communal tables, couches, leather chairs, “cocoons” hanging from the ceiling, etc.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

Then there was a “cinema room” with a TV.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

There was also a small business center, with wallpaper that made it look like a library.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow seating

Then there was a kids room.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow kids area

Down the next hallway was the spa area.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow hallway

In addition to spa treatments, the lounge also had showers.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow spa & showers

In case anyone is interested in a spa treatment, here are the treatments they offer, and how much they cost:

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Down the hall from the spa are the bathrooms. On the plus side, the bathrooms are all individual rooms. Unfortunately there are only three of them, which didn’t seem to be enough based on the constant queues for using them.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow bathroom

So the above is the main lounge, but not really the area we used. When we got to the lounge Luke escorted us to a special “reserved” part of the lounge. There were two reserved areas, and it seems like they were reserved for select premium passengers, including those in Garuda first class and Oman Air first class (I’m sure there were others as well, though I didn’t quite catch what airlines some of the passengers in the area were on).

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

To the left was a room with four chairs, as well as an area with a couch towards the back (which is where we hung out for our time in the lounge).

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

Then right across the hall was another room, which was a bit bigger. It had a couch, several chairs, a desk with a computer, etc.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area

Like I said, these rooms weren’t private, in the sense that they were also used by other premium passengers. Towards the beginning of our stay there we shared “our” room with two other people, while for the last couple of hours we had the room all to ourselves.

Each of the rooms has a fridge with soft drinks, though these reserved areas also come with service. There was a lounge attendant who checked on us every 10-15 minutes throughout our stay to see if we wanted anything, and he offered us complimentary drinks, food, etc. I had a hard time filling up my water glass, as he always insisted on refilling it.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow reserved area drinks

Garuda first class passengers can order as much off the menu as they’d like:

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We were hungry since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (it had been a busy day), so I ordered a mushroom soup and a cheese plate. Both were good, though the roll served with the mushroom soup was borderline stale, so I didn’t eat it.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food — soup of the day

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food — cheese plate

Ford ordered the chicken adobo & sticky rice and a cheese plate as well.

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food — chicken adobo & sticky rice

Pretty good food for a contract lounge, if you ask me!

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No1 Lounge London Heathrow food

Throughout our several hours in the lounge, Luke came back and checked on us several times to provide us updates on the flight’s departure, etc. My assumption was that Luke was responsible for escorting all first class passengers, but that’s not the case. Each “party” traveling in first class gets their own escort. In this case there were six passengers in first class (two parties of two, and two single passengers), so there were four escorts to take those passengers on the plane.

As an aviation geek there was something else playing out in my head at this point. Heathrow Airport has a curfew of 11:30PM, so it was my understanding that except under special circumstances, planes can’t take off after that time. It even happens that planes are fully boarded, only to get canceled because they missed the curfew by a few minutes.

So I was curious to see how our flight played out, given that we were coming up on that curfew.

Luke asked whether we wanted to be first or last to board. We said first onboard if possible. At 10:15PM we were a bit bored in the lounge and asked him if we could go to the gate already, as I was curious to see how things played out.

Our flight was departing from gate 1, located at the far end of the terminal. When we arrived at the gate at around 10:20PM it was just opening, and there must have been a queue of 200 people. Luke brought us to the very front of the line, which is incredible service, but also so awkward, as you get weird glares from the people you’re cutting.

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Garuda Indonesia departure gate Heathrow

Our entire crew was still sitting in the gate area, and our captain seemed to be on the phone with operations, or someone (I suspect the message was along the lines of “if you don’t get this flight out by 11:30 it’s going to cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars”).

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Garuda Indonesia departure gate Heathrow

I overheard one of the gate agents say that they have a deadline of 11:10PM to close the door, or else the flight would be in jeopardy.

Finally at 10:59PM boarding began, just over 30 minutes before the takeoff curfew — I was excited about whether we’d make it or not (I know, I get excited about the strangest things).

The second boarding started, Luke carried our bags onto the plane and we were warmly welcomed by the crew. Boy was I excited!

No1 Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3 bottom line

The Garuda Indonesia lounge situation at Heathrow is not ideal, and I’m sure the airline would agree, and would much rather have their own lounge. However, given that they only have a few flights per week, that seems impractical.

Well, they absolutely make the best of the situation. The reserved area of the No1 Lounge Heathrow is great for a contract lounge, and the fact that there’s service and unlimited food & drinks makes it even better.

The real highlight of the ground experience was Luke, though. Being escorted every step of the way at Heathrow Airport is something I’ve not had on any other airline. It’s my understanding that Garuda Indonesia contracts an outside VIP ground handling company to provide this service, and it shows their dedication to creating a seamless ground experience. Kudos to Garuda Indonesia for that.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. interesting review, i always find the No1 lounges food selection quite disappointing, even the made to order items are usually inedible (experience at No1 in BHX, MAN and LGW) but not been to the LHR one. Also £40 for a entry pass? Wow….thats some serious LHR prices, its usually £20 everywhere else!

  2. Useless lounge. Have to pay more for everything decent once you get in.

    Priority pass lounges in third world countries are much better in terms of facilities you can use.

  3. As I have a connecting flight to SIN from Jakarta on this exact same flight, if I miss it I’d ideally not like to stay over night in Jakarta but continue to SIN and not miss my over night stay there!

  4. @Drew – So true. I was put off using the lounge because of the price. Buying online Birmingham and Edinburgh are £24 including fast track immigration (and often you can get online offers). I have used both and consider them good value. Heathrow is £36 if booked online and really puts my off especially as fast track is not included. You pay 50% more and get less for your money!

  5. Why do you always say “for a contract lounge” in all the contract lounge reviews – the fact is that the contract lounges are actually in the specialized business of building lounges and are thus often very good, as opposed to being just one small part of an airline operation (for airline specific lounges).

    Stop this stupid bias.

  6. @ B — Because I’ve found that contract lounges are on average lower quality than lounges operated directly by airlines. And as someone who has reviewed more airline lounges than just about anyone else in the world, I feel I’m qualified to speak on that…

  7. Fantastic, detailed review, as usual!! I really appreciate the dedication that goes into this blog day in and day out. Thanks, Ben.

  8. Why people keep visiting this blog if they don’t like what’s in it???
    Dude, writing bad things takes energy..

  9. I was there last week and they had the made to order menu was free for the premium section and some of the items were quite good (lobster mac and cheese for instance).

  10. @B

    Never been in a good contract lounge but have been in almost all airline lounges that are far superior. This is outside the USA of COURSE. A foreign contract lounge is almost always better than an AA lounge.

  11. @B because those lounges’ target is to make a profit, not as the extension of an airline whose target would be to make the customer as happy as possible.

  12. Can you amend your review. At all No 1 lounges guests each have one free meal from the menu. Any further dishes you want have to be purchased. Your review states that the food on the menu must be purchased.

  13. @Sam

    I’d like to know too

    I’m catching the same schedule flight arriving 1 hour before a connecting flight to SIN which is the last flight out of Jakarta until the morning and not really looking forward to an overnight stay.

    Might have to book a refundable hotel in SIN just to make sure otherwise I’ll miss it.

    How does that go with Airlines?

    If the Garuda Flight is one hour late to Jakarta I miss the connecting flight, four hours (?!) won’t be good!

  14. @ Sam — We arrived about 3.5 hours after our scheduled arrival time. For longhaul flights EU261 only kicks in after a four hour delay, if I’m not mistaken?

  15. Thank you for this information. I’m flying through LHR next summer and this will be a great option for my 4 hour layover.

  16. The fact that Garuda became a five-star airline despite contracting lounges in outstations (they only have their own lounge in CGK and DPS) is amazing. It just shows their great effort even in contract lounges, partitioning an area for first class passengers. In AMS, they’re contracting the KLM Crown Lounge, even though it’s their flagship long-haul route. I’m curious to know if Crown Lounge also has a separate first class area for Garuda, since KLM only has business class service.

  17. I noticed VS is listed as one of the airlines where premium passengers are granted access. Any idea why and why any VS passenger would choose this lounge over their Clubhouse in T3?

  18. Very nice review.

    I was not at all impressed by the service personnel and their lack of couth/respect for paying guests . I was practically kicked out of the front doors when the clock struck 6 am the morning of my checkout. When I put my bags on a chair to tie my shoelace – as the front desk service rep processed my checkout – I was given a proper tongue lashing by a rather vicious woman. Completely unprovoked and uncalled for. Further, I was then denied my free breakfast. WiFi was horrendous and they limit the sites you may visit – we are all adults here, come on.

    All in all, I would either stay at another pay-to-enter lounge or sleep in Terminal 3 on a row of uncomfortable chairs than return to No.1.

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