Go South, Young Man: A Review of the British Airways Galleries South Lounge at LHR
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To The Point
BA’s Galleries South Lounge is an ideal place if you want to grab a quiet drink and light bite before you fly. Pros: Clean and spacious with lots of seating areas and a good selection of breakfast options. Cons: The views of the runways and apron aren’t great and the cinema isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I began my quest to give every major lounge at Heathrow a full review with British Airways’ Galleries North Lounge, and next up was its further-away counterpart, the Galleries South Lounge. I only recently found out that the Galleries South lounge even existed because Instagram followers told me I was in the wrong lounge when I was visiting Galleries North. They told me to skip that one — too busy — and go instead to the South lounge, which is far bigger. Galleries South is the British Airways lounge I’m least familiar with in Terminal 5 — here’s what I found out on my first visit to this space.
The BA Galleries South Lounge is open from 5am until 10:30pm. Access is granted with a First Class, Club World or Club Europe ticket. You can also enter if you have Gold and Silver elite status with BA’s Executive Club programme (or Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status) and are flying on a BA or Iberia flight that day.
The southernmost Galleries lounge was quite a bit more of a walk from security than Galleries North, though there were plenty of signs pointing me in the right direction to the top floor of the building. I knew I’d arrived at the entrance of the Galleries South lounge when I was greeted with the largest model aeroplane I’d ever seen and the infamous British Airways horse with a lampshade on its head.
The first thing I noticed about this lounge was that it was indeed quite a bit bigger than the other Galleries lounges in the terminal and definitely felt less claustrophobic than Galleries North. It was so large, in fact, that there were even signposts dotted around the lounge pointing in the direction of things like the washrooms, baby-changing stations, work and entertainment zones and a wine gallery and cinema.
Left on entering was the largest seating area, with a mixture of armchairs and sofas geared toward both spending time alone or socializing.
There was a self-service bar, as well as a one of British Airways’ Union Hand-Roasted Coffee stations where I knew I could get decent coffee — at least for an airport. There was also a kids area tucked away in the far corner of this part of the lounge.
The old British Airways and British Overseas Airways Corporation decorations and memorabilia throughout the lounge thrilled the AvGeek inside me. As this was mid-February, there were also seasonal Valentine’s decorations, which could divide opinion depending on one’s current relationship status.
The Galleries South Lounge was a lot less busy in comparison to the Galleries North Lounge that I had just come from. I didn’t find myself doing laps to find a place to sit, and there seemed to be more power outlets in more practical places next to seats here, too, complete with UK, EU and USB ports.
The main buffet area was spread across the central part of the lounge and was surrounded by communal dining benches.
If you have work or studying to do, then the Galleries South Lounge is probably the best place for you. There were two dedicated areas decked out with printers, scanners, laptop working stations and even desktop computers. The Wi-Fi speed, however, was not great (downloads of 3.08 mbps, uploads of 0.87 mbps).
If you prefer to watch what’s happening outside rather than sending emails and writing presentations, this lounge probably isn’t for you. Despite there being a decent view, the glare from the windows didn’t made photos look good.
The washrooms were clean and even smelled really nice, which I had never noticed in Galleries lounges before. The showers, however, were not actually within the lounge. You had to leave and head downstairs to the first floor by the Elemis Spa. I’m not sure how much the shower facilities are actually used, as there was no waiting list for a shower, though I didn’t have time on this trip.
Those traveling in First or Club World and members of the Executive Club with Gold status (no matter the cabin of travel) are entitled to a free, 15-minute massage before flying — that is, if you manage to get a slot. For me, the next available slot was after my flight had departed. Make sure to get there early and ask at reception if there’s availability at the spa at the B Gates, just in case.
If you take my advice and got to the lounge super early to get that 15-minute spa treatment and find yourself with lots of time to kill, take yourself over to the lounge’s cinema. Yes, a cinema inside a lounge. But don’t get too excited, because the lack of popcorn, low lighting and anything resembling an actual film being shown may put a damper on your expectations of cinematic excellence. Nice try, though, BA.
Food and Beverage
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I found a good selection of both hot and cold options for the first meal. The miniature version of the traditional British bacon sarnie came in three types of bread, and there was also toast, beans and tomatoes. There were no eggs to be seen, but I think they were probably in the process of bringing a fresh batch out. There was a selection of tempting pastries including croissants, pain au chocolat and danishes. Fresh fruit, cereal and porridge were also on offer.
Like the food, drinks were also self-service. There were at least four different Union Coffee stations dotted about the place where you could help yourself to a better-than-average machine-made coffee or one of many varieties of Twinings teas. There was also a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, including gin, whisky, top-shelf vodka and wines from all around the world.
For something cold and fizzy, the numerous fridges were stocked with cans of soft drinks, lager and pale ale.
The food-and-drink areas were well-presented, clean and well-stocked throughout my stay, and staff were often doing the rounds and clearing away rubbish or dirty plates and glasses.
I much prefer the Galleries South lounge to the Galleries North lounge, as it just has a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere. It’s also spacious and doesn’t feel overcrowded, like some other lounges in the Terminal 5. The food and drink are good and probably what you would expect for a lounge of its footfall and size.
I would not, however, recommend this lounge if you’re looking for a good spot for plane photography and AvGeekery, in which case you’re probably best heading over to the Galleries North lounge or even the B Gates.
All photos by the author.
Featured photo by Ian Waldie / Getty Images.
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