I love traveling out of London Heathrow. I find its architecture and modern design inspiring, unlike the comparatively tatty Gatwick. If you are flying out of London Heathrow Terminal 5, you will need to know the best airport lounge to pick. The airport lounge you can access depends on what class of British Airways flight you have booked and whether you have high status with British Airways or a Oneworld Partner.
If you want to access one of the British Airways lounges in Heathrow Terminal 5, you need to be traveling in First, Club World, and Club Europe, or you need to be a Silver or Gold Executive Club member to gain access to these lounges. Even then, the Concorde Room is purely reserved for First customers or those with enough tier points who are given a special access card.
There are three British Airways London Heathrow Terminal 5 departures lounges collectively known as ‘Galleries’ (one First lounge and two Business Class lounges), and one arrivals lounge, as well as the Concorde Room. These lounges include:
- The Concorde Room is the epitome of elegance and the pinnacle of Club Lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5 and also New York’s JFK and is only open to passengers holding a First Class flight ticket or who hold a Concorde Room card, given out for earning 5,000 tier points in a year. This lounge boasts a Concorde bar and restaurant
- The Galleries First Lounge for First class passengers and Gold Executive Club members (as well as high tier members of other Oneworld airlines like American Airlines) and hosts a champagne bar
- The most accessible BA lounges are the Galleries Club South and Galleries Club North lounges, open to First or Club class passengers (including Club Europe) and Gold or Silver members of BA’s Executive Club
- Elemis Travel Spas in the Club Galleries and Arrivals lounges
- Plaza Premium Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5 which you cannot access with your Priority Pass but you CAN access with a Platinum American Express card or by paying on the door
- Aspire Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5 which you can access with a Priority Pass (or pay at the door). It doesn’t matter what class you are traveling
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The access rules for each Heathrow airport lounge differ. Paid entrance is also sometimes possible using cash or a Priority Pass. There’s also an exclusive American Express lounge that you can access with your Amex Platinum card (contact us via our concierge for a referral for extra free points). You can also access most Priority Pass lounges for free using the Free Gold Amex with its two free Lounge Club passes. To get extra referral points on both these cards, have a read of our best credit cards for luxury travel.
1. The Concorde Room London Heathrow Terminal 5
The Concorde Room is BA’s most exclusive lounge category and I first reviewed this lounge in 2015. It is better than the other Business and First Class lounges that BA offers across the globe. The Concorde Room is the very best lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
The Concorde was named after the iconic aircraft that was based in Terminal 4. The Concorde Room back then was the dedicated departure lounge for that service and the only BA lounge, which allowed you to board the plane directly from the lounge. At Heathrow today, as far as I know, you can only board directly from the Emirates Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.
This lounge can only be accessed if you’re flying First Class on British Airways (one guest is welcome as well) or if you hold a Concorde Room card, given out for earning 5,000 tier points in a year.
If you are a top tier frequent flyer on any other Oneworld airline, like American Airlines, you will not get access to the Concorde Room. Instead, you can access the British Airways First lounge.
If you are flying Business Class on British Airways, however much you paid for your ticket, you only get access to one of the two British Airways Business Class Galleries Lounges at Heathrow T5. You do not have access to the Concorde Room.
At Heathrow T5, the Concorde Room can be reached from the escalator, which leads to British Airways’ First and Business lounges. This entrance can be found in front of the First Class lounge, and next to the spa entrance.
Alternatively, you can access this iconic lounge via The First Wing, which is open to those traveling in British Airways First Class, as well as Oneworld Emerald members, regardless of what cabin or flight they’re traveling on.
The Wing is located at the far right of the concourse, as it has the same entrance as the First Class check-in. It is a smooth entrance that avoids the chaos of standard or even premium security and whisks you via private security, straight into the Galleries First Lounge, and then the Concorde Room if you have access.
The lounge itself is reminiscent of the lobby of a boutique hotel. It features the same contemporary decor that can also be found in the other BA lounges and offers a calm and inviting space with luxurious furniture imported from Italy, beautiful chandeliers, and artwork. It is a much quieter space than the hectic Galleries Club Business Class Lounges.
Stylish high-backed chairs, sofas, and horse statues sit on dark oak wood floors. Private cabanas can be reserved in advance and are a highlight of this lounge and a unique offering. They are private, like a mini-hotel room, with a comfortable day bed and an en-suite. These can be reserved in advance. While the lounge itself is not large and feels quite busy, there is plenty of seating in one of the appealing sitting areas around gas fires, or you can head to the opposite side of the lounge and out onto the terrace. This internal terrace sits above most of the rest of the terminal but still under the main roof. This terrace showcases nice views across the airport’s concourse and apron.
The center of the lounge is made up of a lovely bar and a restaurant area. The bar at the Concorde Room is very stylish, and the staff makes great cocktails. The restaurant space features a collection of stylish private booths, in addition to a couple of long tables where you are seated next to other passengers. There’s full waiter service and an a la carte menu.
The quality of the food is not noticeably better than what is served in Galleries First (although significantly better than the Business Class Galleries buffet). Breakfast is extensive and is served until 11 am with a solid selection of hot breakfasts; eggs any which way you fancy, full English, boiled egg and soldiers, kipper and poached egg, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, eggs royale, omelet as well as pastries, cereals, fruit, and juice.
From midday until close, there is an afternoon-evening menu which includes soup of the day and then a varying menu along the lines of duck salad, sea bass (beautifully cooked), ribeye steak, and then permanent offerings of BA Burger, Club Sandwich with desserts like Treacle Tart and cheeses.
If you fly in Business or First, you can make use of n Elemis Travel Spa, with complimentary 15-minute treatments. If you are flying in First Class, you can pre-book treatments within 28 days of departure, while Business Class passengers and BA’s elite frequent flyers can only book them upon arrival at the spa.
2. Galleries First Lounge At Terminal 5
The crucial difference between the Galleries First And the Concorde Room is the fact that the Concorde Room can ONLY be accessed if you’re flying First Class or if you hold a Concorde Room card. This means that the Concorde Room is the best and most exclusive lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
The First Class Lounge is better described as the ‘Gold’ lounge. It can be accessed by Gold tier executive club members, and the equivalent frequent flyer high tier members of other Oneworld alliance partners like American Airlines OneWorld Emerald. It is, therefore, not as exclusive as you don’t have to be flying in First to access this lounge. You just have to fly about enough to generate a high tier status.
Other factors to take into consideration when making your choice between the Concorde Room Vs. Galleries First lounge include the fact that although “The bar” at the Concorde Room is very stylish, the First lounge has an impressive champagne bar in the self-pour Galleries First Lounge.
The Concorde lounge does offer better wines and meals served at a table. If you prefer a buffet-style dining experience, you will prefer Galleries First. The Concorde room also has great cabanas, which are good for a shower, and a snooze. The Galleries First lounge does not. In reality, this may not be much of a bonus of the Concorde room as these cabanas are often all taken, and they can be slightly claustrophobic.
The British Airways Galleries First Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 is spacious with loads of buffet food on display: a fresh soup bar, hot and cold entrees, lots of snacks, full coffee stations with all sorts of cappuccino and lattes, and a big selection of wines, beers and spirits or liqueur.
The difference between the two Galleries Club lounges in Terminal 5 and Galleries First lounge is only marginal. The Galleries First is classier and less busy than the Galleries Business Lounges, and the buffet is better with slightly higher quality and more variety. The key difference, however, is the wide selection of additional food in the First Lounge on the a la carte menu, offering salads and burgers similar to that in the Concorde Room.
The First and Concorde British Airways lounges at Terminal 5 share an Elemis Travel Spa. While the free treatments are quick, like 15 minutes, they are top shelf, plus it is something else to do to break up the trip. And it doesn’t matter which lounge you are in. You have access if you are traveling International Business or First. Still, if you are traveling in First, you can get priority booking online for these Spa facilities, and they do get fully booked.
3. Galleries Club South Lounge At Terminal 5
The Galleries Club North Lounge is open to Club Europe, Business Class passengers, Club World passengers, and holders of Silver British Airways. It tends to be less busy than the Galleries North Lounge, hence my positioning of it in number 3. It is reached by the same escalators as the First lounge and Concorde room and actually sits above the First lounge and Concorde Room.
This lounge is huge and spacious, although somewhat lacking in available seats when we arrived. It is worth heading right on entering the lounge as there tend to be more available seats at this end.
For lunch, there is a very large buffet offering salads & coleslaws with or without dressing. Hot dishes included rice with spicy Moroccan beef, red Thai chicken curry, a spinach & mascarpone penne pasta, vegetable curry, baked potatoes, beans, and there is always soup, rolls, crisps, and a huge array of teas and coffee. I have reviewed the food at the Galleries Business Class Lounges in terminal 5 in more detail. There is also a huge array of newspapers, mainly in English, and magazines, including Business Traveller.
A useful British Airways help desk sits to the left of the entrance, with staff helping to sort out flight problems. There is also a useful business area with computers and a fax/photocopier, a cinema area (showing the news), and a kids’ play area.
Views are limited. One side (to the left as you enter the lounge) looks down onto the side of the airport. The other side, however, has high stools that offer a birdseye view of the interior of the terminal. A position that I love and seek out. You get to look down on people milling around the terminal, going through security, and going up and down the escalators.
4. Galleries Club North Lounge At Terminal 5
The Galleries North Lounge is located just after security. Go through security, then turn left along the balcony and instead of taking the escalator down, carry straight on, and you will eventually come to the entrance of this lounge.
It is more open than the South lounge with an interior bit and then a terrace, which is like a massive balcony looking down to the rest of the terminal and the tarmac. The terrace is not outside, it is still within the terminal and under the roof, but it is airier. To one (long) side of this lounge, you also have big windows and views of the parked up planes.
The North lounge is airier with better views and higher ceilings, but the South lounge, in my experience, tends to be less busy and has such a nice spot overlooking the interior of the Terminal that I always pick the South Lounge.
Both are good, both have identical food and magazines, but neither are as good as the First and Concorde Lounges in Terminal 5.
5. Plaza Premium Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5
Plaza Premium has some great lounges at London Heathrow, including departure lounges in Terminals 2, 4, and 5 and arrival lounges in Terminals 2, 3, and 4.
Most Plaza Premium lounges are in Priority Pass, which means that you can access them by using the Priority Pass card, which comes with Amex Platinum. Still, the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 5 at Heathrow, the main home of British Airways, cannot be accessed with your Priority Pass card.
To get access to this lounge, you will need an AMEX Platinum card. To get extra referral Amex Reward points when you apply for the Platinum AMEX, apply here. You and a guest can use this lounge using your American Express Platinum card at the door which you simply need to show at the door. If your partner has a (free) supplementary Amex Platinum card, then you can both show your cards to gain entry, both of you + 1, which means that 4 people can gain access from one Platinum American Express account.
The lounge is located on level 2, Terminal 5 Departures at London Heathrow Airport (Next to Gate A7), with opening hours 05:00 – 22:00 daily. This lounge is in the mirror image position to the Aspire lounge (reviewed below), which is by Gate A18 in Terminal 5. If you are facing towards the planes at what I consider the “front” of the Terminal 5 departures area. This Plaza Premium lounge is at the very far left of the terminal at the gate level.
This lounge tends to be much less busy than the Aspire lounge below and serves a great breakfast of cereals, pastries, juice along with hot breakfast items including scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausages. In the evening, there are light bites that are fairly filling, including Nachos and hot dishes like vegetable curry with steamed rice, rosemary potatoes, beef stew, penne pasta, and BBQ chicken wings. The selection is very similar in quality, if smaller in volume than the BA Galleries Business Class lounges. If you want peace and quiet, you may prefer this lounge.
6. Aspire Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5
This is located by Gate A18 in Terminal 5 and is the worst airport lounge at London Heathrow with the worst food and drink selection, but it is the only lounge you will have access to if you don’t have an Amex Platinum Card and you are flying out of London Heathrow Terminal 5, and are not a high tier frequent flyer with British Airways or Oneworld and are flying in Economy or Premium Economy on British Airways.
To access this lounge, you need a Priority Pass as Priority Pass members have access to the lounge as part of their membership, or you need to pay a horrendous £40 GBP per person at the door. I am not convinced that my cup of tea and salad with a couple of rolls that I usually consume (and would cost around £10 GBP at the sandwich shops like Pret a Manger at Heathrow) merit this access fee. Unless you plan to drink yourself silly with booze, I can’t imagine this lounge ever justifying such a high price tag.
But if you have a Priority Pass, and get access for free, this lounge is your best and only bet. You can also access this Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 with the two free lounge passes with the free (in the first year) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card or unlimited free Priority Pass with the AMEX Platinum Card. The two free Gold Lounge Club passes, or the Platinum AMEX Priority Pass, can be immediately used to get into these lounges to enjoy free drinks (including alcohol) and food.
If you want to apply for the free American Express® Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card, which two free lounge passes (free in the first year) with an extra referral point bonus, or the Platinum AMEX with extra bonus Amex Reward points, apply here.
The lounge itself feels intimate and offers all sorts of different seating options. Almost all of which have glorious views out over the planes. The whole space is incredibly airy as a result of the design of Terminal 5. The alcohol is free and generous, but don’t expect to fill up on high-quality food as the food selection is good, but has gone downhill since this lounge opened. The main problem with this lounge is that it is so busy, it is difficult to get a seating area for yourself.
The 4,000 sq ft lounge space is dominated by soaring windows on two sides, giving passengers dramatic runway views. But the lounge feels relatively small in size when compared to the lounges at Heathrow or the main British Airways Galleries Club lounges. It does, however, have a better view and occupies a premium position with views across the airport looking down at the planes from two sides. The view is better than the view from either of the British Airways Business Class Galleries Club lounges. Although the Galleries Club lounges are higher up in the terminal, they are set back in the middle of the terminal and away from the front windows of the terminal, so they have less of a view of the tarmac and planes.
As you enter the Aspire lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5, you pass the spa and showers (£20 GBP a shower) and then turn the corner to reach a number of seating areas, a bar, a food, and drink area, as well as work stations. At the far end of the lounge are 6 sleep pods. These are tiny rooms with privacy curtains (slightly see-through), each with tv and reclining seat-beds, which you can sleep on. When I took a look, 5 were occupied, and 1 was free.
A “British-inspired” seasonal food and drink menu has been created, which includes a wide range of complimentary as well as premium (chargeable) options. The complimentary food is a self-serve buffet. The hot food on my last visit included a rice and chicken dish, a pasta and meatball dish, and vegetarian samosas and fresh warm bread rolls. See pictures in my more detailed review of the Aspire lounge food & drink offering.
There is usually soup at lunchtime and sometimes scones with clotted cream and jam, in the cold buffet. There are salads with olives, cheeses, and hams. On my last visit, you could also have crisps (salted, cheese & onion and salt and vinegar), biscuits from a biscuit barrel, or chocolate cake.
The complimentary non-alcoholic drinks at the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal on my last visit included a variety of juices, cokes and Fanta, water and tea, coffee, and hot chocolate from one of many machines dotted around. There was also a choice of free alcoholic drinks, including Prosecco, spirits including Baileys, Martini, Tia Maria, Gin, Bacardi, Port, and Whisky. There were plenty of beers and wines available.
I would specifically choose to travel from Terminal 5 at Heathrow over and above the other Terminals or other airports like Gatwick because the Terminal is awesome. This is a decent lounge to access with my Priority Pass. You can’t compare this lounge to British Airways Galleries Club lounges. The British Airways Business lounges are excellent with much more space and food.
This Aspire lounge is smaller, with less appealing food and less variety of food. It can also be very busy, which is a disadvantage. The other criticism I have is that you have to leave the lounge to access the bathroom facilities.
Should I Upgrade my BA Flight?
My overall impression on my most recent visit was that this Priority Pass Aspire lounge was extremely busy. Initially, my family could not find a seat and had to share a table. The quality of food & drink was also not as good as that found in the British Airways Galleries Club lounges at Heathrow.
This lounge has convinced me that it IS worth upgrading to Club Europe (Business Class) on British Airways on outward-bound journeys from London Heathrow as this gives you access to the excellent BA Galleries lounges.
The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card, which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months. This would include Green, Gold, Platinum, and the American Express Rewards credit card.
You are OK if you currently or recently only had a British Airways, Starwood, Costco, or Nectar American Express card. But you must not have held a card offering Membership Rewards points.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.
Disclosure: Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.