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While fine for a quick drink and a spot of food, this lounge is definitely not worth its £40 price of entry. Pros: Quiet, empty, an airy and modern vibe and a cosy seating area. Cons: Food and drink options are subpar, and the one shower is very expensive to use.
Before setting out on my mission to review every lounge at Heathrow Airport, I had never set foot in a Plaza Premium Lounge, but other people’s colourful critiques intrigued me enough to want to learn what it was like firsthand. In a terminal dominated by British Airways lounges, how would a pay-per-entry lounge fare?
The lounge is open daily from 5am until 10pm. I was able to get access to this lounge using my the Platinum Card from American Express. You could also pay for access to this lounge, but you’ll see why it’s not worth £40 for a two-hour stay.
The Plaza Premium Lounge, along with the the Aspire Lounge, was far as possible from security in Terminal 5, right at the southernmost point of the building (by the A Gates, 1 through 7). There were lots of signs pointing toward the lounge once I cleared security.
The first thing I noticed on entering the lounge was how light and airy it felt, especially compared to other Plaza Premium lounges I’d been in. This feeling was soon cut short, however, as I quickly realised that there really wasn’t much to this lounge in terms of space. However, the lounge only had probably a couple of dozen guests during my visit, which meant that it didn’t feel too overcrowded despite its small size.
There was a sitting area with a couple of workstations when you first entered the lounge, followed by the food and the bar. At the far end of the lounge was a reading nook, where I set up camp. The views of the apron and the runway from this area were pretty good, and the seating felt private and cosy, perfect to do a spot of work or read a book with a glass of wine.
Despite the sign at the entrance pointing to a supposed dining room, there wasn’t really a clear place to sit and eat — just a few tables and chairs dotted around.
There was only one shower available, which charged £20 — pretty pricey considering you may have already paid £40 for access.
The bathrooms themselves were just like regular public toilets, not private cubicles with their own sink and amenities, but they were clean and tidy nonetheless. There was a small selection of magazines and newspapers available, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Food and Beverage
One of the most important features of an airport lounge is the kind of complimentary food and beverages it offers, as airport restaurants can be pretty expensive. Here, the Plaza Premium Lounge at T5 left a lot to be desired.
There was a messily presented selection of six items to make up an English breakfast. The ladles were caked in food, and there were beans and eggs spilled all over the counter and even into other foods. I’m aware that it was mostly the patrons who were to blame, but staff could have done a better job at keeping this area tidy.
There were pastries and muffins and even smaller cold selection of meat, cheese, yoghurt and fruit.
Even given the few guests and tiny lounge, there should have been more and better food, given the cost of entry for non-Priority Pass members. There was a saving grace, however: Gluten-free and vegan options were available, at least according to a sign posted.
There was a surprisingly wide array of spirits available, especially gins, though not for free. With their cheapest gin on the menu, Portobello Road, coming in at £5 for a double (not including tonic), these prices were actually better than in most bars in London. When I asked what drinks were included with my entry, the staff member said the beers and soft drinks in the fridges below the bar were complimentary, as was a small selection of wines.
There was also a solitary unbranded coffee machine (I like to know the brand and origin of my coffee to make sure that it’s good before drinking it) and a selection of teas.
I was impressed with the feel of the lounge, as some Plaza Premiums I have visited in the past have been stuffy and tired. The Terminal 5 version feels fresh and modern and was nowhere near as crowded as some of the brand’s other lounges at the airport.
However, the selection and presentation of the food really let this lounge down. The cosy seating area was a definite bonus, as it was quiet and offered pretty decent views of the apron, but other than that, there is no real reason why I would pay to have access to this lounge.
All photos by the author.
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