High Priority: A Review of London Heathrow Terminal 3’s No1 Lounge
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In a terminal full of lounges belonging to some of the biggest airlines (Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, to name but a few), I was intrigued to see how the Priority Pass No1 Lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 would compare to its competition. I already had pretty low expectations, having already experienced several Priority Pass lounges ranging from the very bad to pretty good, but I was optimistic this one might change my opinion of the brand.
This lounge often gets very busy, so you’ve got to make sure you are able get into the lounge. You can book ahead online for £34 for adults and £18 for children. You can also pay on the day of your visit, and that costs £42 for adults and £26 for children, but you run the risk of getting turned away if the lounge is full. This is the case even when using the Priority Pass, and it’s the response I got during this trip when I took out my Platinum Card from American Express. If that’s the case, you may be asked to come back in 30 to 40 minutes or just be turned away completely. The lounge opens from 4:30am to 10:30pm; the spa from 6am to 10pm and the “bedrooms” also from 6am to 10pm.
Finding the No1 Lounge could not have been easier, thanks to the lounge directory and signage throughout the terminal. The lounges were laid out in a line from a central corridor leading from the main departure hall, left from B to E and right from F to H.
Checking in to the lounge was nice and easy, as all the agent at the desk needed was my name to find my reservation. She handed me a menu and said there was a server would take my orders off the à la carte menu to wherever I was sitting in the lounge, and that all I had to do was flag down a member of staff to order.
A la carte? Priority Pass lounge? In the same sentence? Yes, I was as shocked as you are.
Not long after I arrived, the lounge started to get much busier and felt a little overcrowded. Luckily, I had already snagged myself a seat by the window, next to a power outlet and with cracking views of the apron and one of Heathrow’s runways.
The lounge was laid out well, split into various sections. I walked through a main bar area, which led to the buffet and the main sitting area by the windows. There were also a few smaller rooms that have a cosy feel about them but were either quite full or reserved.
I liked the decor — it was modern, and the furnishings were well-coordinated throughout. The seating was perfectly comfortable.
There were plenty of power outlets throughout the lounge, complete with North American compatibility, which was well-thought-out considering the number of US-bound flights that depart from this terminal. There were also USB outlets in some places.
The washrooms were eerily dark, reminiscent of club bathrooms where you don’t actually want to see your reflection in the mirror. They were also very clean and came as individual rooms complete with sink and amenities. I prefer this style to open-plan washrooms because of the added privacy.
The spacious shower rooms were also squeaky clean and kitted out with everything you would need for a quick freshen-up, including basic amenities and two types of towel. If you wanted to take a shower, you had to reserve one at the front desk. The charge varied, but as I paid full price for entry, a shower was complimentary. If you use your Priority Pass or something similar for entry, there is a charge of £10 for a shower and then a £15 charge for any guests who would like to use the shower too.
The lounge also had a travel spa with prices for treatments from £20 to £165 — pretty good value, as I’ve seen a lot pricier airport spa menus.
There was a dedicated screening room that actually felt like an authentic cinema. Maybe the British Airways Galleries South lounge should take notes. I’m not sure “The Smurfs” would be everyone’s first choice of film, but I guess it’s better than nothing at all to pass the time.
The cosy couch at the back of the cinema looked like a good place to curl up and grab a quick nap before a flight.
There were private single and double bedrooms available for £90 for the double and £60 for the single. If you gained access to the lounge using your Priority Pass and were a jet-lagged couple, then paying £45 each could be a good value. On the other hand, it’s not as great a deal for a solo traveler paying up to £42 for entry and then £60 on top for the room.
These were occupied during my stay, so I wasn’t able to grab any pictures.
Food and Beverage
The buffet area was quite small and didn’t have the widest selection. I arrived just after 10:30am, and the food available was a strange mix of breakfast and lunch. There were a few pastries from breakfast, and on the main buffet table was a selection of fruit, pretzels, soup and salad.
Normally, an airport lounge with a poor buffet would get a bad rep, but this lounge had a saving grace in the form of an all-day à la carte menu. As it was just before 11am when I ordered, I was just in time to try the poached-egg bowl. I was starving, so when the tiniest portion of food turned up a few minutes later, I kicked myself for not ordering two or three.
About an hour later when I left the lounge, cheese and crackers had also been added to the small buffet table. A random choice I feel for that time of the day, but who doesn’t love cheese?
I was impressed with the selection of complimentary drinks at the huge main bar: a great variety of soft drinks, a decent selection of wines, bottled beers, spirits and even draft beer — a rare find in an airport lounge. (Beer tastes so much better drawn fresh from the cask as opposed to poured from a can or bottle.)
I was definitely impressed, especially considering you can access this lounge “for free” with a Priority Pass membership. I would even say the £34 I paid was good value when you take into consideration the à la carte menu, great complimentary drinks, excellent runway views, cinema, spa and shower. Granted, the lounge was busy and the buffet options weren’t great when I was there, but of all of the Priority Pass lounges I have experienced, this is definitely up there with one of the best.
All photos by the author.
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