My Top UK Airport Lounges… How I zone out from the buzz and bedlam of the Terminal
There’s always a last minute extra I seem to add on to any holiday I book – whether it’s more baggage or a taxi transfer at the other end, I always seem to have a little more expense than I had budgeted for. Holidays are pricey treats in themselves so most people, myself included normally try to keep costs down and avoid spending any more money. BUT…is a little extra on top of what you’ve already coughed up really going to matter that much?
Recently, I’ve taken to booking airport lounges before any trip…even short city breaks. Now, I’m not made of money nor do I have anything against the regular airside bars or restaurants, it’s just that I find airports quite stressful and I don’t like crowds much either.
I don’t know about you, but, it takes me a while to settle down and relax into holiday mode. Going away is stressful – making sure work is up to date, checking tickets, sorting currency, getting to the airport on time, panicking about what I might have left on at the house and generally organising everybody else. It feels like by the time I’ve finally chilled out and got into my groove, it’s time to come home. Not anymore.
I’ve found that by booking an airport lounge ahead of my flight has really helped calm me down and lets me decompress a bit quicker – in effect, starting my holiday before I’ve even boarded the plane! The way I see it, for a few pounds extra, I can get my trip off to a flying start by winding down the minute I set foot in the airport.
Aren’t these lounges just for business travellers?
You may think that the hallowed airport lounges are reserved for high flying execs whose every Wi-Fi connected second counts? Not the case. The lounges can be used by any regular leisure travellers and holidaymakers who want to escape the bedlam. Although for the business traveller I would think settling into quiet lounge is a no brainer – especially if you have to prepare for an important meeting at the other end. Being surrounded by over-excited kids or rowdy stag and hen parties would not be conducive to getting into the zone or for concentrating on crucial notes on your laptop. Booking some quiet time in the lounge is money well spent if you want a clear head and some peace and quiet to prepare for your journey and the day ahead.
Business travellers aside, the airport lounges are readily available for anyone* travelling that’s happy to stump up a little extra for the privilege.
(*some conditions apply and usually there’s an age limit or that minors must be accompanied by adults.)
Should I book in advance?
Make sure you book in advance as you will pay a bit more if you pitch up on the day. You might also find the lounge is full so it’s best to arrange it ahead of your arrival to the airport to avoid disappointment.
Are airport lounges worth it? What’s Included?
The question is…what do you get for your money?
Generally, you can expect complimentary snacks, meals and drinks depending on which lounge you choose but in my opinion, compared to what you might spend in one of the public airport restaurants or bars, the entry fee more than justifies itself. If you think of what the bill might be just for every day grub and a couple of rounds of drinks, it’s worth doing but for me, it’s more about the ambience and the setting – far from the madding crowd!
I’ve put together a couple of examples, based on my own experience and recommend these lounges to you if you are departing from these airports.
These are absolutely top notch pre-flight hangouts. Of all the airport lounges I’ve been in, these were my favourite. Beautifully furnished with a private members’ club vibe, there’s a menu of freshly prepared dishes, wines and soft drinks available and the service was impeccable too – clearly the staff are highly trained and nothing was too much trouble, not that I had to make any extra requests…everything was so seamless and orderly.
From £38 in advance (from £50 on the door) (Clubrooms don’t accept children under 12.)
If you are travelling with younger kids, you can always make use of the No 1 Lounges at Gatwick. Here you can enjoy hot and cold foods, certain beverages, Wi-Fi and superb runway views – which are sure to keep curious little ones amused.
Expect to pay from £32 per adult when booked in advance (or £40 on the door) and for children aged 2-11 it’s from £18 (or £20 on the door) Infants go free.
This stylish and airy space is open daily from 4:30am until 9pm and entry price includes complimentary hot and cold food, unlimited Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines to enjoy during your visit. Most drinks are included except Champagne. This lounge welcomes passengers from any airline and any ticket class and you can stay here for up to three hours before your flight leaves.
What does it cost?
Adults from £28 and from £18 (kids age 2-11) when booked in advance.
Dress codes apply and generally it means no beachwear, tracksuits, fancy dress or other inappropriate clothing. Smart casual is the order of the day but do check the website for all exclusions.
Jetting off from Manchester on a Virgin Holidays package this summer? This cool lounge is exclusive to Virgin Holidays customers only and it’s just the ticket for getting your holiday underway. I made use of this on my last family holiday to Florida with Virgin Holidays and found it a pleasant space to chill before the long flight. It’s very family friendly and the staff were attentive, keeping everyone informed of flight information.
Hot breakfasts, pastries, fruits and cereals are available as well as soft drinks. Alcoholic beverages are not included but there is a pay bar available.
This lounge can booked as an add-on when booking a Virgin holiday. According to the website, it is not available to flight only passengers though. Call 0344 557 9813 to check costs and availability.
Relax in style at Glasgow’s Upper Deck lounge and enjoy free Wi-Fi, complimentary drinks and snacks. Alcoholic drinks are limited to four per person but this is ample before boarding a flight. Furthermore, if you compare the price of just four drinks in any of the regular bars without snacks, this is really good value for money. Adults £23 and Kids £17
Look out for the new premium Lomond Lounge opening at Glasgow Airport in August 2019. I’ll have to give that one a whirl too!
You’ll find pretty much any of the bookable lounges in the airport you’re departing from will be a real treat and a great way to start (or end) your trip. I’ve found that booking direct gave me the best deals to date but do check out websites such as Holiday Extras and compare prices for your dates.
It’s also worth checking what perks your credit card offers where travel is concerned as some offer airport lounge access and other goodies to help make your travel plans easier.
Is it worth the price? Yes, I think it’s worth every penny and I now factor the lounge fees into my holiday budget and hope to keep making use of these quieter spots when I’m airside.
We all deserve a little bit of luxury sometimes…
*Prices as at May 2019 and taken from the lounge websites. Do check the current prices and entry conditions before you book *
I love travel. I’ve been fascinated by other countries and cultures since my first foreign trip in 1985 and I’ve had serious wanderlust ever since.I also love to write about where I’ve been and tripsology lets me indulge that passion. I’m thrilled to be a regular contributor and editor. When I’m not writing I also run my own PR and publicity company.