United at the bar: A review of the Terminal 2 United Club at London Heathrow
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During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has temporarily ceased taking review trips and we are not publishing new flight or hotel reviews. While bringing our readers unbiased, detailed reviews of travel experiences is one of our core missions, now is not the time. We all love to travel and know you do too. So, to help keep you entertained — and maybe inspire you — we are publishing a selection reviews from 2019 and 2020, including the one below. Hopefully, this will help you once we’re all ready to start booking trips again.
Having only previously flown United in economy from Oslo (OSL) to Los Angeles (LAX) via Newark (EWR), I had no idea of what business-class hospitality would look like for United Airlines.
United operates several flights per day to destinations across the USA — from Washington (IAD) and Newark (EWR) on the East coast to Chicago (ORD) in the mid-West and Los Angeles (LAX) San Francisco (SFO). With up to two or three flights per day to each destination, that’s a significant number of passengers and a potentially high footfall of premium passengers coming through the United Club in T2. I was interested to see just how polished the offering would be at one of the airline’s main international hubs.
Related reading: United launching nonstop 787 service from San Francisco to Dublin
As with many airline-owned lounges that are part of an alliance, the United Club lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 2 is open to more than those flying United. The following passengers can also enter: United Polaris business and Star Alliance long-haul first and business class. Doors are also open for Star Alliance Gold members who are travelling on a same-day flight operated by a Star Alliance carrier as well as United MileagePlus Club Card holders.
Related reading: The ultimate guide to United Polaris
I was able to enter the lounge on my short-haul business-class ticket with Swiss, even though the United website doesn’t mention Star Alliance short-haul business-class passengers as being able to enter.
Guests travelling with Gold status with United or any other Star Alliance programme are allowed to bring one guest into the lounge with them. The same can be said for those passengers flying long-haul in first class with any other Star Alliance member.
Related reading: I’m still in love: A review of Lufthansa first class on the A380
I’ve read reports that it’s possible to pay $59 for one-time entrance into the lounge, which I couldn’t seem to find details of on the lounge access page. If you’re planning on sinking a few cocktails and eating to your heart’s content, then it might be worth the fee. But if you’re just looking for a quick snack and a sit down for half an hour or so, then it might not be worth your while.
Related reading: Here’s why I skip the airport lounge and head straight to the gate
If you’re flying short-haul intra-European on one of the carriers operating out of Terminal 2, you might not feel like the 10-15 minute schlep over to the Terminal’s B concourse. Personally, I think it’s definitely worth the trip — more on why in a little bit.
Despite the walk, the signs are easy to follow from arrival into the main terminal building and the entrance to the lounge is by Gate 46.
I really enjoy the space in this lounge. It feels much lighter and brighter than most airport lounges I’ve visited. The design and décor gives it more of a hotel lobby feel than an airport lounge — far more relaxing than the stuffy, corporate atmosphere you can often find yourself in while trying to relax in a lounge before a flight.
The clean lines, bright colours and shiny surfaces really do compliment each other well.
The décor is simple. Not sure if the leafless trees were real or not, but they served a purpose and helped to break up the space a bit rather than using walls.
There’s a variety of seating areas throughout the lounge, giving plenty of space for relaxing on a sofa, doing some work or sitting down to have some food.
Charging was available in most corners of the lounge, which during my visit was pretty empty. I was there during the middle of the afternoon, which is some time after the morning rush of United flights heading from London to the likes of New York (EWR), Denver (DEN) and San Francisco (SFO).
The entire space was immaculately clean. The wait staff circled constantly with trays making sure any empties where whisked away in an instant.
One of the quietest spots in all of the lounge is right at the far end. It’s a circular space, with tables and plenty of reading material if you’d like a distraction from your devices.
Food and beverage
There’s an assortment of dry snacks, a build-your-own salad section, sandwiches and cold cuts and a lovely array of sweet snacks.
As appetising as they were, I headed straight for the real food. And by real food, I mean proper, hearty British comfort food in the form of cottage pie. As you might have read in my review of Virgin Atlantic from Manchester to Atlanta, anything with the word ‘pie’ in it usually goes down very well with me.
The warm delights didn’t stop there. The eclectic mix of flavours and dishes from around the world reminded me of an all-you-can-eat style buffet restaurant that I’d go to as a teenager. I’m not complaining, though. The food was hot, tasty and there was definitely something for everyone. Not only that, but it was all complimentary.
I pitched up near a charging point with a typical lounge-sized mini plate. At the bar, there’s a full cocktail menu. Everything is free — from the classics to the more imaginative concoctions, created by United bar staff. I couldn’t decide from the list, so told the barman what I liked, and he mixed me up this orange and fruity gin delight in a couple of minutes.
The cottage pie tasted like it had come fresh from the nearest pub, so naturally I went back for seconds.
As a big fan of coffee, I was delighted to see the Illy symbol next to the coffee machine — it’s certainly one of the better coffee brands in the U.K. Aside from cocktails and coffee, the fridges were full of cans of the usual fizzy suspects. There was also a variety of tea sachets to choose from as well as fresh juice machines.
I didn’t have any issues with the Wi-Fi, but for some reason, I couldn’t get the speed testing app to work.
The bathrooms were decorated with tiny, bright white tiles, which seemed to make them feel even cleaner than they already were.
Not to be taken for granted by any means are the five stunning shower rooms — perfect for refreshing before your flight. The space is stocked with Cowshed body wash, shampoo and conditioner and also includes a wardrobe space complete with hangers to stop your clothes from getting creased or wet.
By way of other amenities, there wasn’t much also to note. The main draw of this lounge is, for me, the food selection, the cocktail bar, and the great glass window that runs the length of the space.
While the United Club doesn’t quite pack the same punch in terms of views like its neighbour in Terminal 3, or quite the same food selection as you’ll find in T3’s Qantas lounge, I really enjoyed my time in the space. The floor-to-ceiling glass window gave the space a really bright and inviting atmosphere. The food selection, while maybe not to everybody’s taste, really hit the spot for me, and you’d have to be really fussy to not be able to find something nice to eat.
The main point to make, though, is that this lounge is definitely worth the walk to the satellite B concourse in Terminal 2. The quality of the food offering and the space itself is far better than the Lufthansa Business Class lounge in the main terminal building. Not only that, but if you’re heading to the B concourse, you can also check out the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge and Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounge.
Featured image by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy