I love traveling out of London Heathrow. Unlike the comparatively tatty Gatwick, I find its architecture and modern design inspiring. Heathrow is now terribly easy to get to with access by tube or via the new Elizabeth line that stretches more than 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west through central tunnels across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. This new railway, built by Crossrail, stops at 41 stations, making getting in and out of central London a breeze.
If you travel to Heathrow by car and are flying out of Terminal 5, you must try Pod Parking, which offers larger parking spaces and a fun way to travel between the parking area and the Terminal.
But I digress. If you’re flying out of London Heathrow Terminal 5, it’s worth knowing the best airport lounge to pick. The airport lounge you can access in Terminal 5 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 travel in First, Club World, and Club Europe or 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), one arrivals lounge, and the Concorde Room, the most exclusive lounge.
1. The Concorde Room
The Concorde Room is the epitome of elegance and the pinnacle of Club Lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5 and also New York’s JFK. This lounge 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 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. Back then, the Concorde Room was the dedicated departure lounge for that service and the only BA lounge, which allowed you to board the plane directly from the lounge. As far as I know, at Heathrow today, 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 Airway’s 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 is 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 and 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 11:00 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
The Galleries First Lounge is for First Class passengers and Gold Executive Club members (as well as high tier members of other Oneworld airlines like American Airlines). It hosts a champagne bar.
The crucial difference between the Galleries First and the Concorde Room is that the Concorde Room can ONLY be accessed if you’re flying First Class or holding 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. Gold tier executive club members and the equivalent frequent flyer high tier members of other Oneworld alliance partners like American Airlines OneWorld Emerald can access it. 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 consider when choosing 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 for the Concorde room as these cabanas are often taken and 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 Galleries First is classier and less busy than the Galleries Business Lounges outlined below, and the buffet is better, with slightly higher quality and more variety. The key difference, however, is the availability of seats, as the First lounge does not get as busy. There is also a 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 on 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
These lounges are identical in their offering in terms of food, although they have different layouts and are at opposite ends of the terminal. Galleries lounges are open to First or Club class passengers (including Club Europe) and Gold or Silver members of BA’s Executive Club. Lately, they have been very busy as British Airways has been more generous at extending status and giving out Tier Points than previously. The busyness should reduce over the next few months as high tiers once again become harder to achieve.
The food is very decent in these lounges, with a full buffet, salad bar, and a huge array of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and tea and coffee machines on every available surface.
The Galleries Club South 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 as 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, a very large buffet offers salads & coleslaw with or without dressing. Hot dishes included rice with spicy Moroccan beef, red Thai chicken curry, spinach & mascarpone penne pasta, vegetable curry, baked potatoes, and beans, and there is always soup, rolls, crisps, and a huge array of teas and coffee. We 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. However, the other side has high stools that used to offer a birdseye view of the terminal’s interior. A position that I used to love and seek out. Unfortunately, they have frosted over the glass since COVID-19, and you can no longer look out over the airport from this position. 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 portion and 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 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, and both have identical food and magazines, but neither is 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 using the Priority Pass card.
However, the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 5 at Heathrow, the main home of British Airways, cannot be accessed with your Priority Pass card. You will need an AMEX Platinum card to get access to this lounge. To get extra referral Amex Reward points when you apply for the Platinum AMEX,Plaza Premium Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5 which we recently reviewed cannot be accessed with a Priority Pass, but you can access it with a Platinum American Express card or by paying at the door.
Unfortunately, this lounge currently has ridiculous queues to enter. Even if you hold an American Express Platinum card, there’s no guarantee you will get in. The last two times we visited, we joined a virtual queue and were not offered entrance until our flight was boarding. We spent the hour-long wait sitting outside the lounge entrance with around 20 other people all waiting to get in. In fact, the lack of access has caused us to cancel our Platinum American Express card and book Club Europe on our outward flights from Heathrow, as access to this lounge is so poor.
The lounge is located on level 2, Terminal 5 Departures at London Heathrow Airport (Next to Gate A7), with opening hours 5:00 am – 10:00 pm daily. This lounge is in the mirror image position of the Aspire lounge (reviewed below), which is by Gate A18 in Terminal 5. If you are facing toward 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.
The lounge itself is adequate, with a basic, uninspiring buffet and a very limited selection of drinks. No sparkling water or bottled water, just water out of a glass jug. It is nicely quiet within the lounge, but this is because the lounge is so difficult to get into. The food, drink, and ambiance are nowhere near the quality of the British Airways Galleries lounges.
6. Aspire Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5
Aspire Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5, which you can be accessed with a Priority Pass, but pay-at-the-door customers are prioritized in front of the Priority Pass clients. It doesn’t matter what class you are traveling. This lounge tends to be busy with mediocre food offerings. It is not a patch on any of the British Airways lounges.
The lounge itself feels intimate and offers all sorts of different seating options. Almost all of them 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.
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. There are decent British Airways lounges in this terminal, but the lounges that your Priority Pass and Platinum American Express card give you access to are not great.
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