Bring Your Own Food: A Review of the Galleries Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5
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To The Point
An added bonus to flying on a First Class or Club World ticket, the Galleries Arrivals lounge is definitely worth a visit if you want a quick freshen up before starting your day after an overnight flight. Pros: The lounge wasn’t too busy and there were plenty of showers available. Cons: Hot food options not available after midday.
Arrivals lounges are the often-overlooked lounges that airlines provide for select flyers mostly at their main hubs. They don’t get as much attention as the lounges that you’ll find in the departures area of the airport, but, especially for business travelers, they’re a valuable perk of flying in a premium class or having status with airlines. If you arrive early in the morning after an overnight flight, it’s a perfect place to have a shower, grab a quick breakfast and still make it to the office in time for your 10am meeting. Personally, I love the idea an of an arrivals lounge, where I can refresh myself and refuel before heading out for the day in a new city. So, naturally, I was happy to check out the British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 5 of London Heathrow (LHR) after a flight from Amman, Jordan.
Access to British Airways’ Arrivals Lounge is almost as stringent as the requirements for getting into the Concorde Room. You are eligible for access if you arrive on a long-haul flight in First or Club World or are a Gold member of the British Airways Executive Club, arriving on a long-haul flight in any class. Since it’s only open to receive passengers arriving on overnight flights, it’s only open from 5am to 2pm.
I was asked to present my boarding pass, but in my case it wasn’t a deal breaker. Mine was buried deep at the bottom of my backpack, so the desk agent just asked for my name and flight number and was able to find me in the system.
Once I cleared security and was reunited with my luggage, I found myself in Terminal 5’s bright and airy arrivals area.
I wandered up to the mezzanine and found Galleries Arrivals Lounge signs. I could easily get from the plane to the lounge within about 30 to 45 minutes.
The first thing I noticed was how empty the lounge was, especially compared to the lounges in the departures area. My flight landed at 11:30am, and by the time I got to the lounge it was around 12:15pm, so I had probably missed the main wave of early-morning arrivals.
The central area of the lounge was occupied by the self-service buffet area and a seating area. To the right, there was what looked like a dedicated working area, but there were no desktop computers available. After that was more seating and a Union Coffee station, then the lounge’s showers.
To the left was an area exclusively for first-class passengers, who could choose from the Concorde Room breakfast menu, as well as the arrivals Elemis Spa.
Alongside the showers were a number of rather hard-looking loungers.
As the lounge was so empty that there was no waiting list for the 94 showers available to all guests free of charge. The shower room I was allocated was perfectly clean and fresh and spacious enough for me and my suitcase, with plenty of room to get changed.
Elemis Spa treatments of 15 minutes were available to all guests in the lounge as long as their arriving flight was over six hours long. The treatments available included a facial, nails, head-and-shoulder massage, etc. I got the feeling that the staff member working at reception didn’t really want to be there, as she seemed to be annoyed by how many questions I was asking her. She then cut me short and told me that there were no appointments available on the day I visited anyway.
Food and Beverage
If you’re planning on coming to the Arrivals Lounge hungry, then don’t bother if it’s after midday, as you will be greeted with an empty hot buffet and a few leftover pastries and bits of cheese, as happened to me.
I get that it’s no longer breakfast time at 12:30pm (the time British Airways’ website says that breakfast is served until) but in the age of all-day brunches, we’re pretty used to eating breakfast dishes throughout the day. Leaving the lounge without hot food for the last 90 minutes of its opening time is a poor effort.
There were plenty of soft drinks available, as well as a coffee machine.
The lounge was nice and quiet during my stay, so I was able to sit in peace and do some work. I liked that I was able to have a shower and freshen up straight away. I was actually really hungry when I arrived, despite having been served a meal on my flight from Amman just a couple of hours earlier, and I was really looking forward to a nice hot meal. I would imagine that had I arrived on an earlier flight, there would have been a hot food selection similar to the breakfast options available in the Galleries Lounges in departures, but for this visit, I was unimpressed with what was on offer in the British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge.
All photos by the author.
Featured photo by Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock.
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