Setting the Bar High: A Review of the Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5
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To The Point
The British Airways Concorde Room is the most elite of all the British Airways airport lounges in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Pros: The dining options and waiter service really make this lounge a first class experience. Cons: It will make you dissatisfied with every other lounge in Heathrow.
The next stop on my quest to review all of the lounges at London’s Heathrow airport was British Airways’ Concorde Room at Terminal 5. It just so happened that this was also my very first visit to this lounge, thanks to the very generous Nicky Kelvin who guested me in on the same day that four of us from the TPG UK team flew from London to Abu Dhabi to review all four classes of service on board a BA 777. I was very much looking forward to experiencing the pinnacle of British Airways hospitality and its first-class, luxury lounge, and I can honestly say it was better than I had anticipated.
Entrance into the Concorde Room is the strictest of all the British Airways lounges — you either need to be in possession a First Class boarding pass or be the proud owner of a British Airways Concorde Room card which affords you access to the Concorde Room no matter what cabin class you are traveling in. As a holder of either of those “golden tickets”, you can also guest a friend or family member in with you as long as they are flying on a BA flight that day. The lounge is open from 5am to 10:30pm daily.
The Concorde Room is situated on the middle level of Heathrow’s Terminal 5, sandwiched between the Galleries South Lounge on the upper level and the main Terminal 5 concourse level below. However, if you are flying First Class, you will more than likely have used the First Class wing, which will lead you first of all into the Galleries First Class Lounge. Follow around to your left once you’re inside the First Lounge and leave via the main reception area where you will see directly opposite you the entrance to the Concorde Room. Alternatively, if you’re going through the main security area and have Fast Track, then go through Fast Track South as this leads you out right next to a second back entrance to the Concorde Room.
As you enter the lounge, on your right a member of staff will be waiting to offer you a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Champagne on arrival. As gin is my usual drink of choice, I don’t know much about Champagne, but I had no complaints about this!
The lounge is made up of various seating areas from an intimate set up of sofas and chairs around a contemporary fire place to a more relaxed sofa seating area to a high seating casual dining area and everything in between.
My favourite area is the “terrace.” It is bright and spacious as well as being the best place for views of the apron and runways. The seating options out here include day beds, arm chairs, sofas and even open-air cabana-esque seating areas whose white, beachy curtain dividers give the subtle illusion of extra privacy. One thing to note about this area is that finding a power outlet can be a bit of a challenge. In fact, not having enough power outlets is probably the biggest downfall of this lounge as no matter where you are — including the restaurant area — you will probably struggle to find an empty seat with a power socket close by.
Dining options are plentiful in the Concorde Room. You can order food from the main menu to wherever you’re sitting in the lounge. Or, if full table service is what you are looking for, then there is the Concorde Dining area, where you will be waited on with the finest of wines and culinary treats fit for a King and Queen.
The Concorde Dining area has an authentic restaurant feel to it — you almost forget you’re in an airport. The only small reminder is the aeroplane-safe cutlery with those strange stumpy knives.
If neither of those suit you, and you would prefer to be in complete privacy, you can spend your time in one of the Concorde Room Cabanas. These are small rooms with a private bathroom where you can sleep, shower, make phone calls and eat to your heart’s content. As the showers for the BA Galleries First Lounge, the Galleries South Lounge and the Concorde Room are shared, if you want to guarantee yourself a shower, it might be an idea to reserve a Cabana for your visit to the Concorde Room. I would also advise doing this in advance, to avoid disappointment. Nicky managed to get us a one-hour slot very last minute, but I think we were just lucky.
The decor is nothing special in the cabana, if not a bit dated, and the bathroom area feels quite clinical. Other than that, this private room is definitely worth it if you want some undisturbed shut eye or just some privacy away from the world before your flight.
As is the case with business-class passengers, those traveling in First Class also have the option of booking a 15-minute spa treatment at British Airways’ Elemis Spa before your flight — if you can snag a free slot, that is. Luckily for First Class passengers, you have the option of reserving up to 28 days in advance of your flight to ensure you secure a slot. If you don’t get the chance to do that and you need to reserve your spot on the day of travel, don’t forget to ask at the desk if there is any availability at the Galleries B Gates Lounge as the spa closest to the Concorde Room is shared by both the First Class and Galleries South Lounge and tends to get full pretty quickly.
The bathrooms were spotlessly clean. As in other Galleries Lounges, there was a toilet attendant on duty with a cleaning trolley to make sure everything was in tip top condition.
The Concorde Room also sees the curious — and perhaps unnecessary — additional luxury of a bide.
If music is your thing, then you can take a seat at the piano, pop on the headphones and play away to heart’s content without disturbing any of the other guests.
There is also a dedicated business centre/private meeting room if business is on the agenda. It was occupied at the time so I didn’t get chance to get a picture of it.
The Wi-Fi strength was no better than the other Galleries Lounges, coming in with a download speed of 3.11mbps and upload speed of 0.89.
Food and Beverage
One of the best features about the Concorde Room is that you can order from the à la carte menu wherever you are in the lounge. The best option is to flag down one of the staff as they are milling around, but you can always pop up to the bar and order from there if you like, too. As it was late morning, the breakfast menu was still on offer so we ordered a couple of dishes to share. The English Breakfast and Egg (not plural) Benedict which were both delicious. Another great aspect of this lounge is that you can also order cocktails, so I went for an Espresso Martini — the perfect way to wash down my breakfast.
As Nicky and I had now been joined by Christian and Jean, we thought it would be a good idea head to the Concorde Dining area and sample everything on the menu. I got distracted on the way by a lovely gentleman who was serving Grand Siècle. As I mentioned earlier Champagne is not typically my drink of choice, but after a breakfast espresso martini it just seemed right.
There were four of us dining, so we decided to each order one of each of the starters as well as one of each of the main courses so that we would get to sample the entire menu.
The soup was … soup — nothing special. The wafer-thin duck was tasty, but, the top starter award goes to the goat’s cheese and fig tart — we Northerners would probably have called it a mini pie — and I could have eaten about three.
The starters lasted a matter of seconds and were followed swiftly by the beautifully presented main courses. Personally, my least favourite was the gnocchi, but only because I don’t actually like gnocchi, so it would be hard to pass fair judgement on it. However, the rest of the team demolished it, so it must have been good. As far as salads go, I really quite liked the tuna Niçoise — it was full of flavour and the tuna was delicious. There’s only one complaint I have about the sea bass and that is that there wasn’t enough. But, it was perfectly cooked and delicious. The beef bourguignon stole the show for me. The beef itself melted in my mouth, and the mash and gravy finished the dish off perfectly.
I also found myself triple parked. I had the Champagne I’d been served on my way to the dining area, a glass of white, and a glass of red. My favourite of the three was definitely the red.
If for some reason you aren’t satisfied with the abundance of delicious à la carte options — or you only have time for a quick snack — a small selection of fruit and pastries is available as the only self-service option in the lounge. But when the à la carte is that good, why would you want anything else?
As well as being able to order drinks to wherever you are in the lounge, there is also the option of perching at the Concorde Room’s very well-stocked bar.
I really really enjoyed my time in the Concorde Room, to the point that now every time I’m in the Galleries North, South or B Gates lounges I’ll definitely be wishing I was in the Concorde Room. What’s so good about it? The atmosphere, the service (despite what I’ve read about it being difficult to flag a waiter down) and the food. Yes, the cabanas might be a little dated and feel slightly like you’re on a hospital ward, but personally I’d rather spend my time in the actual lounge on the terrace, at the bar, or better still, being wined and dined in the Concorde Room’s dedicated dining area. I also loved that the lounge really didn’t feel too busy but at the same time there were enough guests that there was a nice atmosphere. Looks like I’ll have to get started on earning that Concorde Room card…
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