Review: British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow Airport

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Review: The Club At SJC
Review: British Airways First Class 787 San Jose To London
Review: British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow Airport
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Review: Etihad Lounge Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport
Review: Etihad Business Class A330 Paris To Seychelles
Review: Four Seasons Seychelles
Flying To Desroches Island
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Review: Turkish Business Class A330 Seychelles To Istanbul
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My layover at Heathrow was roughly five hours, as I was arriving in London around 3PM, and departing for Paris shortly after 8PM. Ford was on a different transatlantic flight, and landed in London about an hour after I did. My flight from San Jose arrived at Terminal 5C, meaning that on arrival I had to take the train to Terminal 5A, which is where the arrivals and transfer process takes place.


Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals process

Once in Terminal 5A I went up the escalator, and then followed the signage for flight connections. There’s a fast track lane there, though all premium passengers are put in the same queue — there’s no special service for first class. Then when you get to the actual security checkpoint there’s no separate premium line, as anyone can use any lane.


Heathrow Terminal 5 flight connections

Just past security I turned right and headed towards “Millionaires’ Door.”


Heathrow Terminal 5 airside

This door is located at the very right of the security checkpoint, and is rather unassuming from the exterior. Why on earth is it called “Millionaires’ Door?” Because British Airways allegedly pays the airport one million GBP per year for the privilege of operating it. The reason is because this allows you to (mostly) bypass the duty free shops, and the airport gets a cut on sales. So the assumption is that operating this door reduces revenue, which is why BA has to pay for it.

The lady at the door wasn’t terribly friendly. I had my London to Paris boarding pass (I didn’t have the other one handy), and as I handed it to her I said “I’m arriving in first class from San Jose, this is my connecting boarding pass.” She responded “for the business class lounge you’ll have to go downstairs.” I responded that I was in first class. “Then you’ll need to show me that boarding pass.”

Aside from the fact that she didn’t listen to what I said, I find this to be a weird system. In just about any other lounge I’ve been to they can scan your boarding pass, and since both flights were on the same itinerary it should have easily shown that I was eligible for access. Anyway…


British Airways’ “Millionaires’ Door”

Just inside that door was The Concorde Room, British Airways’ first class lounge. This lounge is only open to British Airways first class passengers, as well as those with the British Airways Concorde Room Card (their super top tier elite status). Meanwhile oneworld first class passengers and oneworld Emerald members are directed to use the Galleries First Lounge, which is next door.

It has been nearly four years since I’ve reviewed The Concorde Room and it was also recently renovated, so it’s time for me to write an updated review.


British Airways Concorde Room entrance

The Concorde Room has both an indoor area and a terrace that looks out over the terminal.

The centerpiece of the indoor section is the bar, which has a large selection of wine and liquor on display.


British Airways Concorde Room bar

I’d say the lounge’s drink selection is one of the few things that sets this apart from a business class lounge. British Airways offers Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle in The Concorde Room, which is the same champagne they have onboard (they also have Henriot Rose). I find it strange that most airlines have significantly better champagne onboard than in lounges (given that you can appreciate a good wine much better on the ground), though that seems to be the common practice. Kudos to British Airways for serving the good stuff on the ground as well.


British Airways Concorde Room wine selection


British Airways Concorde Room champagne selection


British Airways Concorde Room wine selection


British Airways Concorde Room wine selection

Along the center of the lounge is some high-top seating.


British Airways Concorde Room seating


British Airways Concorde Room seating

Then there’s the restaurant area, which is nice and private, and has a couple of dozen tables.


British Airways Concorde Room dining


British Airways Concorde Room dining

Those are the highlights of the indoor seating area. Other than that, the indoor section consists mostly of a random selection of couches and chairs that largely seem mismatched. Some seating sections are nicer than others, though some of it reminds me of the design of the Sheraton JFK Airport.


British Airways Concorde Room seating


British Airways Concorde Room seating


British Airways Concorde Room seating


British Airways Concorde Room seating


British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow seating


British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow seating


British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow seating

Then back near the lounge’s entrance is a business center with four PCs and a couple of printers.


British Airways Concorde Room business center


British Airways Concorde Room business center

The much nicer area of the lounge, and by far my favorite place to sit, is the terrace. This terrace looks out over Terminal 5, and has some views of planes in the distance as well.


British Airways Concorde Room terrace view

While I think British Airways did a pretty lackluster job with the renovation of the interior, I thought the terrace looked nice, at least in a quirky way.


British Airways Concorde Room terrace


British Airways Concorde Room terrace


British Airways Concorde Room terrace

There was a variety of seating options, ranging from couches to chairs to daybeds.


British Airways Concorde Room terrace seating


British Airways Concorde Room terrace seating


British Airways Concorde Room terrace seating

My favorite place to sit is the little areas they have set up to feel like living rooms or cabanas or something — they have curtains on both sides of them, and almost feel like they’re somewhere tropical.


British Airways Concorde Room terrace seating

My big issue with the terrace — and for that matter the lounge on the whole — is the lack of outlets. The terrace has virtually no outlets. Even inside the outlets aren’t plentiful, and aren’t well placed.

Aside from going to the lounge’s restaurant for an an actual meal, there are also servers roaming the lounge. I don’t find them to be proactive, in the sense that I wasn’t once asked if I wanted anything. Rather they seem to mostly be clearing plates and glasses. However, they’re easy enough to flag down, and when you ask for something they’ll gladly accommodate you. The cappuccino I had in the lounge was excellent.


British Airways Concorde Room cappuccino

Here’s the menu you can order off of from anywhere in the lounge (there’s a more extensive menu in the restaurant):

Later on in the evening, at around 7PM, Ford and I decided to have dinner in the restaurant. There are a couple of dozen booths in the lounge, and they all feel intimate and cozy. Again, there aren’t any practically placed outlets here, though.


British Airways Concorde Room dining


British Airways Concorde Room dinner — table setting

After sitting down we were presented with a menu and drink list. The dining area menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows (you can order off this from anywhere in the lounge):

To start I ordered a glass of champagne.


British Airways Concorde Room dinner — champagne

As a starter I ordered a garden salad (which was listed on the menu as main course, though they were happy to make it for me as a starter). The salad was pretty basic, exactly what you’d expect.


British Airways Concorde Room dinner — garden salad

Ford ordered the soup of the day, which was a carrot and coriander soup. The presentation was cool, as they brought out the bowl with the solid ingredients in it, and then poured the liquid into the bowl in front of you. Unfortunately the taste didn’t match the presentation, as it was quite bland.


British Airways Concorde Room dinner — soup of the day

For the main course we both ordered the roasted spiced cod with cauliflower puree, and mango and chili salsa. While the presentation was nice, the dish was also bland.


British Airways Concorde Room dinner — roasted spiced cod

For dessert we decided to split a warm chocolate and hazelnut brioche bread and butter pudding, which was excellent, certainly the highlight of the meal. Truth be told, I rarely come across bread and butter pudding I don’t like, though. 😉


British Airways Concorde Room dinner — warm chocolate & hazelnut brioche bread & butter pudding

I’d describe service in the restaurant as being efficient but otherwise impersonal. The guy taking care of us was quick, but there was no charm or finesse to the service.

There are a couple of other features of the lounge I wanted to mention. First of all, The Concorde Room has three Cabanas, which are private rooms that you can reserve in advance. I outlined my experience booking one of these in a separate post. If you’re in first class there’s no charge to reserve them, and they’re available on a first come first served basis.

I had reserved a Cabana from 3PM until 7PM, so went to the Quintessentially Concierge desk, and they escorted me to Cabana #1. The Cabanas are inside the entrance to the lounge and to the right, where the bathrooms are.


BA Concorde Room hallway


BA Concorde Room Cabana exterior


BA Concorde Room Cabana signage

Don’t get too excited about these rooms. The Cabanas are simply private rooms that have a chair with an ottoman, a TV, another chair, and a private bathroom.


BA Concorde Room Cabana living area

The chair itself seemed like it was new since my last visit, as it wasn’t nearly as stained. There was a small blanket available.


BA Concorde Room Cabana living area

Then there’s a chair in the corner, as well as the menus and drink list for the lounge. If you want you can order room service, and they’ll bring anything to you.


BA Concorde Room Cabana living area

There are also a couple of big bottles of water in the room.


BA Concorde Room Cabana bottled water

The lounge has a private bathroom. Neither are especially luxurious. Note that there’s no door between the shower, toilet, and the rest of the room, so if you’re traveling with someone else, that’s worth being aware of.


BA Concorde Room Cabana bathroom


BA Concorde Room Cabana shower

Toiletries in the shower room were from Aromatherapy Associates.


BA Concorde Room Cabana toiletries

Personally I don’t love spending time in the Cabanas. I’d much rather sit on the terrace getting natural light after a longhaul flight. So why would I even bother reserving one? Simple, because it’s the only way you can be guaranteed a shower in this lounge. The Concorde Room doesn’t have showers, but rather the showers are shared with the other lounges, and there’s no priority for first class passengers. So as a first class passenger you’ll often be told you’ll have to wait hours for a shower.

By reserving a Cabana you can definitely get a shower on your own schedule.

The Concorde Room does have bathrooms that are separate from the rest of the lounge (pictured below), though they’re really not nice. Actually, I often find them to be quite dirty. So the other benefit of having a Cabana is that you get a bathroom that has at least been cleaned to some degree.


BA Concorde Room bathrooms


BA Concorde Room bathrooms

If you do decide to rest in the Cabana, expect to hear a loud flushing noise several times per minute. These rooms are right by the bathrooms, so you hear the loud suction noise made by the toilets every time someone flushes.

First class passengers are also entitled to a 15 minute spa treatment at the Elemis Spa, though you’ll want to reserve that in advance if you’re interested. In my case they didn’t have any availability, even when reserving several days out.

In the end my five hour layover passed pretty quickly — I showered in the Cabana, I sat on the terrace drinking excellent cappuccinos and working, and I had a meal with Ford.

British Airways Concorde Room bottom line

I had a nice layover in The Concorde Room, and my time flew by. I like sitting on the terrace, the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle champagne and cappuccinos were excellent, and the ability to reserve a Cabana is a nice feature.

I don’t consider this to be one of the world’s 10 best first class lounges, though it maybe ranks in the 11-15 range. What don’t I love about this lounge? The non-existent showers if you don’t reserve a Cabana, the hideous bathrooms, the quality of the food (which I find to be just alright), the decor inside the lounge, the lack of power outlets, how difficult it is to get an appointment at the spa, and the other lack of priority services for first class passengers in the terminal, especially when you compare this to how the other three major European airlines with first class treat passengers at their hubs.

All things considered, I’d say this is the third best lounge at Heathrow, behind the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge.

If you’ve visited the British Airways Concorde Room, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Agree that Virgin Clubhouse looks nicer. That bathroom looks like a hospital bathroom. Yikes!!!!

  2. Regular first class flyer here. Visited this Lounge twice in April (BA was the only oneworld option in first class available for my specific flights). Totally unimpressed! I’d venture to say that if the BA First class lounge was not so overcrowded, I would have spent time there. Definitely not worth the price I paid. CX and Quantas Lounges in T3 are far better

  3. What happened to the Concorde seats (which were converted into office chairs) in the boardroom!?!?

  4. Might also want to fix the access requirements. CCR holders get access, not all GGL members are CCR card holders.

  5. The Cabana room looks like the room I was taken to when I gave a sperm sample at the fertility clinic. Well, it had only one chair, and a TV+DVD player, but otherwise similar.

  6. If I’m arriving in London on BA First but continuing on in BA Business, can I go the Concorde Room?

  7. @Jenny:

    Absolutely. Just show your boarding pass from your inbound flight. Once or twice I’ve been incorrectly told by the lounge attendant that I needed to use the Galleries First lounge. If they say this, press them that you’ve arrived on a BA flight in F.

  8. -They got rid of the horse with the lampshade on its head on the terrace! Improvement indeed!

    -Why did ford order a soup with coriander? Did/does he not know that coriander = cilantro, and cilantro is the worst spice ever?

    -Do the cabana shower drains still drain the water at 100 decibels?

  9. Santastico- had that exact same thought about them looking like Hospital bathrooms when I was there in March. Couldn’t believe they looked like that and it was early on a Sunday morning so no crowd at all.
    Travelin’Willy- does Cilantro taste like Soap to you? Many people are allergic and that’s the surefire response to it.
    Overall I’d call it a good not great lounge. Could really use some refreshes in the cabanas and bathrooms

  10. The Champagne wasn’t very chilled but the beer was good. As for the decor, I like your term “lackluster”. I often think to myself that the British version of chic translates to American drab.

  11. Can I say that I am routinely disappointed by the beer selections in many premium cabins and lounges? The individuals over these decisions need to recognize that increasingly people do not care about either Dom or Krug, neither of which I have any interest in drinking, but may actually be interested in a decent cask ale or sour. Amstel Light, really?

  12. The shower rooms and the toilets of the Concorde Room; feels and smells like you are in a NHS hospital’s A&E ward. (Decorated with cheap linoleum and moulded discoloured plastic). Unbelievable, as this is BA’s Premium top-tier lounge!

  13. I’m a CCR cardholder and visit once or twice a fortnight on average. There’s no doubt that, as a regular, you become known to the servers and managers, and accordingly get notably better service. Indeed, the visibility of, and interaction with, the lounge managers have markedly improved in the last couple of years.

    I never use the cabanas, and agree that the toilets are sterile (but you only spend a couple of minutes in them, so does it really matter?), and that the wine list has fallen off a cliff in the last 2-3 years. I think the food is much improved than it was in the same timeframe, though the menus and quality of the dishes in some months are notably better than others. I agree that the cod dish you tried is not the strongest (the steak was much the better option last month!), but generally speaking the food served in the restaurant is the best in any Heathrow lounge, in my opinion (or, perhaps, equal with the QR premium lounge in T4).

    Broadly, I think the refurb has improved the atmosphere (particularly on the terrace) no end. I’d certainly put the CCR in the top 5 lounges world-wide (and there aren’t many of note that I haven’t been fortunate to visit), though I accept that I might be getting a different experience than the once-a-year visitor.

  14. The only way to book the Spa is to request it a month in advance (which is when the reservation for First Class passengers opens). You can do this online. My last experience was that I tried it through the online form at exactly the time it opened, then got a response it was already fully booked. I protested that it simply wasn’t possible… to which they half-heartedly apologized and then reserved spots.

  15. the new furniture look straight out from one of those pubs that just closed down, probably one from each closedown pub as well, seeing how different each piece looks. and somehow they manage to have the new one looks so worn out. the toilets outside just look cleaner and a more premium feel than the Cabana… sigh, the Clubhouse just puts them to shame but BA with its dominance in Heathrow means we have to suck it up sigh

  16. The main reason a lot of airlines serve better champagnes and wines in the air than on the ground is that items consumed in the airports are taxable, and thus more expensive for the airline than items consumed in the air.

  17. @TravelinWilly – Horselamp lives in the Galleries South lounge at LHR T5 now. He crops up frequently in Kevincm’s TRs over at Economy Class and Beyond, another Boarding Area blog.

  18. If you have a long layover and would rather spend the time in London than in The Concorde Room, can they store your luggage?

  19. I’m a fan of your photos generally but oddly these don’t (in my opinion at least) do justice to the CCR – the new decor is eclectic but it does actually work in real life. I didn’t think this until I had seen it for myself. The cabanas are ghastly – I have to agree. In fact they could do with more loos generally. I see the BA bashers are back out in force – thought they were oddly quiet in the comments to your 787 F review!

  20. I’m glad I had the chance to check it out last year….made my birthday even better. (Flying BA First that day to Seattle.)

    But IMHO, my best lounge experience was with Emirates in Dubai.

  21. A perfect example of the pathetic British sense of “style”. I feel so sorry for anyone who has to fly that airline

  22. I quite like the look and layout of the lounge itself but I think you must have met the same stern ‘matron” at the entrance door.
    To Nick L … in my view that first ek lounge in dubai cannot be more sterile and boring and soulless if it tried.

  23. Every year I get to use this lounge between 4 to 6 times during any calendar year. Despite the snobbery and air of exclusivity surrounding the Concorde Room like an impenetrable cloak, it has been going rapidly downhill over the last few years (possibly linked to the acquisition of another major European airline and changes in management structure with a new CEO from a low cost airline), be it the quality of food and wine, or menu choices. At one point of time, the menu in the lounge was the same as it was in the dining room within the lounge, which was shocking.

    The recent refurbishment has helped improve the image when one walks in to the lounge. The menu is variable, the staff often ignore you but are happy to respond to requests when approached. Yet the toilets are awful and I often shudder at the sight when I enter one of them.

    All in all, though I will continue to use the Concorde Room, I cannot help feeling that it is nothing compared to the Cathay Pacific Pier First Class lounge in Hong Kong or the Singapore Airlines Private Room at Changi Terminal 3.

  24. EXACT same experience with the angry lounge dragon trying to send me to business lounge this past December until I presented my F boarding pass for my incoming flight.
    And also agree on the shower set up, that one shares with the business class pax. Any Ibis has a nicer setup.

  25. No showers at the lounge expect when you book a cabana, even showers are very important cimponent these days specially when transiting or upon arrival when available, they mostly target the business passnger, in the concorde lounge, according to the customer profile there’s no need of showers in the facility. It would be great if they have it, but not really necessary, as long as they keep a good champagne offering and a good menu selection, this would do it, the place is comfortable and never too crowded. Top 11 would be a good rank.

  26. As for the British having no taste, I’d point out that the designer of the CX F lounges is British (Ilse Crawford — def check out the Netflix design episode about her as it touches on the CX lounges a bit). Pity they didn’t hire her to put thought into the design of the Concorde Room.

  27. Outdoor plug points in the UK? Not a good idea with the strange weather they recieve. All you need is one genius passenger rushing back in due to rain, forgetting some electronics on the terrace and then saying “BA didnt warn us”

  28. Not sure what the problem is with the people on the door. I approached clearly holding up my First class boarding pass, and the lady said to me “Are you traveling in first class?” “Yes,” I said, “here’s my boarding pass.” “But are you traveling in First class?” (Still holding up boarding pass). “Yes, here is my first class boarding pass.” “This lounge is only for passengers traveling in First class.” Then I raised my voice. She snapped out of it and apologised saying she had just got new glasses. Then she laughed and said “I haven’t really, I’ve got no excuse!”

  29. I was in the Concorde Room recently and was dismayed by the furniture. The ‘Cabana look’ and grotesque pink terrace sofa is quirky – as in jumble or yard sale style. Over the last few years British Airways have stripped the Concorde Room of any hint of class. The wine list is worse. Drinks selection is worse. Well stocked bar? Not in my view. The food is mediocre and service perfunctory. Staff in the restaurant didn’t smile once when I was there in March. There were only three tables full and service was so bad that everyone was commenting and laughing. Concierge failed spectacularly to deliver courteous or efficient service. What has happened to them? A spa treatment was unavailable despite booking in advance. The Cabanas feel more tired than ever.British Airways can’t compete with rivals on any level. The only consistency offered in a guarantee of poor service on the plane and on the ground.

  30. The reason the furniture appears to be mismatched is because they are not pieces from Target or Ikea ( as suggested by some of your readers on your linked renovation piece, ie those at the Philistine end of the spectrum) but rather original designer pieces from decades ago. Hence they have been re-upholstered ( as opposed to being chucked out).
    It’s not intended to be the bland, uniform, plain vanilla typical lounge experience but rather something unique and maintains something of the history of the room, albeit not THAT much.

  31. You said this is your third favourite lounge at LHR though surely you think Qantas is better than the Concorde room

  32. @palermo – QR Heathrow lounge is not a patch on CX T3 lounge, or the QR lounge, for that matter!

  33. @palermo – QR Heathrow lounge is not a patch on CX T3 lounge, or even the QR lounge, for that matter!!

  34. British Airways picked some hideous furniture in the Concorde Room. Regardless of the intention, it fails miserably. The swathes of curtains impinge on the views to and from the terrace. The whole look isn’t trendy or stylish. It feels like something that would have been cobbled together on ‘Changing Rooms’ – the downmarket BBC programme. The lamps with the duck feet? Hardly cutting-edge design. British Airways couldn’t give a duck about improving the Concorde Room. It’s significantly worse than a few years ago. The bathrooms are horrible on the planes and in the CR. The cabanas look grubby, worn, tired. It feels like a budget attempt to inject personality. It’s a mess.

  35. BA is not good at T5 lounges.

    Club World (biz; there are two) is a zoo at peak times and, as a pax’s guest, I was surprised how busy First was a few months ago.

    Staff are not proactive; I grabbed a full English from the buffet before realising I could have ordered from a menu, after seeing a staffer amble by with someone’s eggs benny.

    A passable experience but no wow factor.

  36. @ jesper I dare say the wines and champagnes served in the lounges is because so many passengers are not travelling in the premium cabin but have states access to the lounge. I was in first on Emirates and a mate in business, we were chatting in the on-board lounge and they wouldn’t serve him the Dom champagne I was having.

  37. @TravelinWilly – to clarify, cilantro is *not* a spice. It’s a vile weed that has infested far too many cuisines. It needs to run its course and then disappear in to the hole from which it came.

  38. I love the exclusivity of the Concorde room to be honest, is it better than any other First Class lounge, in my opinion, no. I’ve used it a couple of times and I have to say the bathroom is God awful. The rest of the experience was as I expected.

    I’ve also used the Concorde bar at Singapore airport, very small and a bit dark.

  39. I am Concorde Card holder…Frankly the ‘New Lounge’ is EXACTLY the same as the old one, except for a few new lamp shades and Cabana’s in the outside section.

    Same food, same wine (not that great), same same everything!

    Poor show BA, you should have delivered better than this!

  40. OMG the cabana shower/washroom looks like a hospital washroom! The main washroom doesn’t look any better………not hard to find examples of mere business class facilities that are heads & tails above these……

  41. Ben, your comment about Fast Track immigration leading to a non Fast Track security surprises me – normally they have the queues organised so the fast track escalator emerges into them nd they cover the first couple of security checkpoints. You must have been there at an odd time.

    I personally think it’s easier to land in the U.K. and then take the lift up to the First Wing and walk through to the CCR, but then I’ve got the correct sort of passport! (Mind you, so do you…)

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