Better Than Your Average Priority Pass Lounge: The Aspire Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3
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To The Point
As far as Priority Pass lounges go, I would say that the Heathrow Terminal 3’s Aspire Lounge is better than average. Pros: Quiet and semi-private sleeping/resting area, complimentary spirits and draught beer. And there are decent views, too. Cons: Very small space, which can feel cramped and stuffy.
Having had my fair share of Priority Pass lounge experiences, I was intrigued to see how the Club Aspire Lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 would fare, especially in comparison to the several Oneworld lounges in the terminal.
If you have the Platinum Card from American Express, you receive a free Priority Pass card, affording you entry into this lounge. The lounge often gets quite busy, and if it’s full, you can be turned away, as priority is given to those who have booked a slot and prepaid the £25. I was told that the peak times can vary from day to day, but most commonly the early-morning and then late-afternoon rush times are the busiest. Like in other pay-per-access lounges, it’s always better to book in advance to guarantee access.
Passengers traveling in premium cabins on Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Iran Air, Philippine Airlines and Tianjin Airlines also have access to this lounge, so this may add to the busyness of the lounge at times.
The lounge is open between 5:30am and 10:30pm.
Directions to the lounge are clearly signposted as soon as you arrive in the main departure hall. There are so many lounges that there is an entire directory to help you find your way to the right lounge. Other than the Emirates Lounge, the Club Aspire lounge is probably the farthest from the main departure hall.
Walking into the lounge was like walking into an oven — it was absolutely boiling. In February, heating in the UK is essential, but still, I could hear people complaining that they were uncomfortably hot. I asked if there was anything that could be done about the temperature and was told that it was out of the staff’s control. The lounge is also quite small and was relatively busy when I was there, so the atmosphere was stuffy and I just felt uncomfortable.
There was a great mix of seating areas for dining, working and relaxing. I’m not sure when the last revamp of this space was, but it felt newly renovated. Other than the temperature, it was definitely a nice place to relax or do some work before a flight.
The lounge was designed for the addicted-to-the-mobile-phone generation, as power sockets were located next to pretty much every seat, including some built into tabletops. There was also a dedicated quiet area that wasn’t really closed off from the rest of the lounge and so kind of defeated the point of calling it a “quiet area.”
I came across these day beds hidden at the back of the lounge. I don’t think anyone knew that it even existed, as it was empty — I would definitely have made the most of this, if I had the time.
If you like lounges with a runway view, this one was pretty decent. Unfortunately there are really only a couple of seats where you could snag that view, as from elsewhere in the lounge most of the view was obstructed by the terminal.
Like in the Aspire Lounge in Terminal 5, spa treatments were no longer available, and that is a permanent thing, unfortunately. There were three showers available at a charge of £15 for 30 minutes. The washrooms were individual unisex rooms, probably to save on space, as the lounge was so small. They were clean and tidy.
There was not much in the way of entertainment in the lounge, other than this rather eclectic mix of magazines.
The Wi-Fi password was on display throughout the lounge, but it had pretty slow speeds (downloads at 3.02 Mbps and uploads of 2.13 Mbps).
Food and Beverage
The food was a bit basic. I find pasta a cop-out in lounges, and here there were two! I was actually quite hungry, though, and as I had no idea what was in the third dish (which was also covered in coriander or soap), I had a tough decision to make between the pasta in red sauce and the pasta in white sauce. I presumed the red sauce was tomato-based and would be healthier, so I went for that. It wasn’t actually that bad, but it certainly wasn’t anything better than I could have rustled up at home.
There was also a selection of cold dishes and salads, which looked fresh and were probably quite tasty.
For a Priority Pass Lounge, I was impressed with the drink selections. Like in the Aspire Lounge in Terminal 5, spirits were complimentary, and there was Italian beer on draft. As a fan of both gin and Moretti, I was happy about what was on offer here. Gordon’s wouldn’t be my first choice of gin, but as it was free, I didn’t complain. Soft drinks were also available in the form of a self-service fizzy-drink pump and water dispenser, as well as a Nescafé machine and large variety of teas.
Throughout my stay there was a member of staff continuously doing the rounds and clearing away empties and rubbish, which kept the place tidy..
Paying for use of the Aspire Lounge in Terminal 3 is a better value than its sister lounge in Terminal 5. Why? Despite the lack of variation in the food, what I had was tasty, and there was a great selection of complimentary drinks for Priority Pass. This lounge is also around £10 cheaper than the Terminal 5 equivalent, which, when you consider you have to pay to use the shower, I think is a fairer price. Whether you’ve paid for access or used your Priority Pass, the added bonus of this lounge is its small hidden sleeping area, which is perfect if you get to the airport really early, are connecting or have been delayed.
All photos by the author.
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