Cosy Retreat: A Review of the Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 4
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To The Point
Terminal 4’s Plaza Premium is definitely up there with the best of the Priority Pass lounges despite a couple of minor flaws. Pros: Well designed and decorated space. Hotel-style bedrooms for an extended stay. Cons: Nasty coffee and non-existant runway views.
After spending a full day in Heathrow’s terminals 3 and 5 experiencing the best and worst of the lounges, it was now the turn of Terminal 4. Heathrow has a number of lounges accessible with the Priority Pass, including Terminal 5’s Aspire Lounge, Terminal 3’s No1 Lounge and Terminal 3’s Aspire Lounge which ranged from pretty good to pretty average. My only previous experience of the Plaza Premium brand was my visit to Heathrow Terminal 5’s Plaza Premium, which is, interestingly, not a Priority Pass lounge. I was hoping that my experience in Terminal 4’s version would be better.
The best way to get access to this lounge is by having a Priority Pass membership, which you can pay for (memberships start at £69 per year), but the best way to get hold of one is by signing up for the Platinum Card from American Express. You can also pay for entry. The website advertises $53, which is around £42 for a two-hour stay.
The lounge is open from 5am until 10pm, but it can be a good idea to book ahead if you definitely want access. I was told that it shouldn’t be a problem, but on really busy days, the lounge can reach capacity and turn away customers. The good thing is, capacity reserved for airlines is at a minimum in this lounge, as only Biman Bangladesh Airlines uses this lounge as its dedicated business-class lounge.
As is usually the case with London Heathrow (LHR), directions to the lounges are clear. It took seconds to find Gate 1B and the entrance of the Plaza Premium and Qatar Airways lounges.
I was instantly impressed with the decor of the lounge — it was much more akin to that of Cathay Pacific’s Terminal 3 lounge than your usual Priority Pass Lounge.
The space was laid out well with its clearly zoned areas for working, chilling with a drink, having some food or just relaxing in an armchair.
I arrived fairly early in the morning, and it wasn’t so busy, so I was able to get a real feel for the size and layout of the space.
I liked the restaurant-style area. Granted there was no table service, but at least there was a clear area designed for eating a proper meal or just snacking while working on your laptop at the breakfast bar. There was no shortage of power outlets, and pretty much wherever you chose to sit, there were charging facilities within reach.
I also liked the cosy reading nook with softer lighting and furnishings, which was complete with plenty of power outlets as well.
The food service area was a single buffet in the centre of the lounge right next to the dining area.
There were more comfy armchairs along the far wall of lounge, which looked out onto a rather quiet area of Heathrow’s operational area.
I really liked the workstation pods, where I set up camp for my stay in the lounge. It was private and comfortable, and I was able to stay plugged in.
The majority of the power outlets were only UK- and USB-compatible.
Going back to the decor, this tree as a focal piece and the little travel-themed area went a long way to make the lounge more inviting and like a hotel lobby rather than just another soulless airport lounge.
The lounge faced onto pretty much the back end of the airport and looked out onto a couple of less-used gates with not a runway in sight — not the best to do some AvGeeking.
The washrooms were in the same style as the main lounge area: dark woods and soft lighting. It was very clean and fresh.
This is where things got interesting. You could reserve a reclining lounger with footrest for £10 for two hours. This area used to be free, but passengers were monopolizing the area for hours on end, so in an effort to give fairer access to all, a charge was implemented. Whether that would be worth it, I’m not so sure.
If I were on a long layover or had a significant delay, I would definitely consider paying the £60 for a three-hour stay in one of the hotel-style bedrooms. Everything was provided for a preflight or or between-flight refresh, right down to the usual amenities and comforts that you’d find in any decent hotel.
There was even a private shower and toilet within the room. The standard of these rooms really was quite something, and would certainly give the cabanas in British Airways’ Concorde Room a run for their money.
If you didn’t fancy splashing out for a small hotel room and shower, there were also three shower rooms available — completely free of charge.
Food and Beverage
The selection of food available wasn’t huge, but it was definitely enough. The buffet area was a bit messy and could have probably done with a bit of a tidy up, but the lounge was really quiet, and I didn’t see many staff about cleaning.
More and more people have specific dietary requirements these days, and I rarely see those being catered for in airport lounges. So I was pleasantly surprised when I saw lactose-free, gluten-free and vegan options. I kept things light for my day of lounging ahead and went for eggs and mushrooms, which were so delicious I ended up going back for a second helping.
In the main lounge area, there was a fridge stocked with soft drinks and a coffee machine. I am a bit particular when it comes to what coffee I drink, and this missed the mark so badly that I didn’t even finish it.
Back past reception was the bar. It was a proper bar in its own area of the lounge away from those relaxing or doing work. There was no server working at the time, but it was very early and the lounge was pretty empty.
There was good selection of spirits, wine and beer.
I would definitely recommend spending time in this lounge if you’re passing through Terminal 4. The design, quality of the furnishings and decorations coupled with the service I received from the duty manager in charge that day really did put this lounge far ahead of the majority of other Priority Pass lounges that I’ve spent time in. The £60-for-three-hour bedroom is an excellent touch, and I would definitely make use of that if I were to be in the lounge for a lengthy period of time. The offering isn’t the most extensive I have ever seen in a lounge, but it the quality was good, and there was plenty of it.
All photos by the author.
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