Flying in Upper-Class/Business-Class is one of the most enjoyable ways to get around the skies. Epic seats, in quiet cabins, great food, fantastic service, Premium drinks, and a host of other perks…all at a significant cost. One of the other perks most airlines throw in is Lounge Access. And not typical lounge access but Exclusive Premium Lounge Access. When Flying with Virgin Atlantic From London Heathrow, Virgin grants you access to their Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
In our Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Review, we take a look inside Virgins Flagship Clubhouse. This is Virgin’s home base and they pull out all the stops to bring you the best lounge experience possible. We headed inside to show you exactly what to expect on your Visit to the Clubhouse.
- Lounge: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
- Location: Terminal 3 London Heathrow
- Space: 2,500 sq m – Roughly the Size(length) of a 747 Aircraft!
- Amenities: Deli Counter, Games Room, Retreat, Peleton Room, Full Bar, Brasserie, Outdoor Terrace, Showers, Wifi, Power Outlets.
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow is Virgin’s Flagship Airport Lounge and is reserved primarily for Upper-Class and Gold Customers. It’s an upmarket Modern Space serving high-end drinks and food. Situated in Terminal 3 which is almost Virgin’s own private Termial and accessed through their very plush Upper-Calss Wing, it is the perfect start to any Upper-Calss Journey.
For anyone flying Upper-Class on Virgin then visiting this lounge is all part of the whole experience, so this review will let you know what to expect and what Virgin has in store for you in the Clubhouse. Others may have access to the lounge through partner airlines’ Business Class services or Loyalty Schemes so would like to know what to expect, you may well have the option of other lounges so need to know what the Clubhouse is like before choosing where to relax. Our review has you all covered, even if you just want a peek at how the other half lives!
Unfortunately, there are only a few ways to gain access to this lounge. And none of them are cheap. The easiest way is to book a flight on Virgin in Upper Class. Or alternatively, you can book a flight in Delta One, Delta’s Business Class Product, or La Premiere, Air France’s top Tier Cabin (First Class). (This may change soon as Virgin is joining the SkyTeam and may allow upper-class passengers from other airlines into the clubhouse)
If you are not flying Upper Class, then the only way in is to achieve gold status on Either Virgin’s Flying Club, or achieve Diamond or Platinum on Deltas Sky Miles Medallion Club, and anyone with Platinum Status on Flying Blue Air-France-KLM’s Loyalty Scheme. This is no mean feat and would probably mean you have flown a few Upper-class flights in the last year anyway. Very few Gold Status Members ever really fly anything else.
The Club House also allows holders of certain Member statuses at Virgin Australia in as well:
- Virgin Australia Velocity Club Gold cardholders
- Virgin Australia Velocity Club Platinum cardholders
- Virgin Australia Velocity The Club cardholders
Even with these Elite statuses you still need to be traveling on either Virgin Atlantic or Delta that day to be able to access the lounge. (Virgin Australia Elite, must be flying Virgin).
Finally, anyone with access is entitled to bring a single guest to accompany them, provided you are on the same flight and are with them in the lounge. This basically means you have booked yourself Upper-Class and have stuck your companion back in Economy, so we are not sure why they want to spend time with you, but at least they get this perk, before being sent off to the back of the plane!
And that’s it. It’s select Upper, Business, and First Class passengers, along with select Elite Tier Status holders. This means everyone in here has paid a handsome fee to gain access. There are no paid entries or Discount Voucher Holders, or even those who have wangled Lounge access simply by taking out a credit card.
This largely eliminates the Riff Raff and means the Clubhouse is a nice and relaxed space filled with well-to-do and civilized people…and on occasion, terrible undesirables, like us!
It is also worth mentioning, there is no maximum time to access the Lounge. While many lounges are limited to 3 hours, or less, before your flight. Virgin does not put any restrictions on this, just valid same-day travel.
How Busy is the Clubhouse?
It is worth noting, that despite these restrictions it is incredibly busy at times, to the point the Clubhouse is no longer the relaxed Lounge Space you might expect. We arrived around 9 am and it was packed to the rafters. We wandered around for 5-10 minutes trying to find a seat, not a good seat, just any seat!
The Majority of Virgins’ Heathrow schedules are morning flights. This means as the day goes on this overcrowding lessons, however, it also means MOST people will experience overcrowding. If you are on a very early flight it should be nice and quiet when you arrive and get busier as the morning rolls on, at least you can grab a great seat. But if you are on a peak time flight 8-9 am, expect the lounge to be very busy the whole time you are there.
We were really early for our flight so as the morning flights took off, whisking people away, it got a lot quieter, but it was really manic, to begin with. Still, once we got a seat the service was sublime.
Arrival – Virgin’s Upper-Class Wing
Ok, this is not technically the clubhouse, but it kind of goes hand in hand, as most people with Clubhouse Access also have Upper-Class Wing Access. And frankly, this is about the best perk of using the Club House. And that is saying something as there are a lot of cool perks.
The Upper-Class wing is your own private arrival suite. A separate drop-off and check-in area is designated solely for Virgin (and Delta) upper-class passengers. Arrival here is only by car so you will need to book a car, taxi, or Uber to get you dropped off. Rather than heading to the main terminal with all the other travelers, you head up a private ramp and get your driver to drop you at the Private Upper-class Check-in. This feels very much like arriving at a fancy hotel rather than the chaos of an airport. As Virgin says, it’s like having your own private airport.
Once outside the car, our bags were wheeled inside for us, and we joined the queue for check-in. We were the only ones in the queue, so it wasn’t too bad, and besides the staff decided to have a queue of one was unacceptable and opened a desk for us.
Here we received the famous virgin hospitality as the assistant whisked us through the check-in procedure and checked our bags. With upper-class you get 2x32kgs of checked luggage, but they never even weighed them.
Then it is off to your own private Security Lane. Seriously this is one of the best Airport experiences we have had. To be allowed to skip the stress and hassle of regular security is worth its weight in gold. We casually unloaded our thing into the trays and chatted, with the friendly Security agents as we passed through the checks. It’s all the same staff and the same procedure, you are just treated as a human and not cattle. No one is shouting things at you and no one is getting confused and holding the whole line up. It’s just so much more civilized.
From here you head off to the Clubhouse…if you want to, you have full access to all the duty-free shops and amenities as everyone else, so if you want to pick up a bottle of something for your travels there is time to do this, of course, you can come and go from the clubhouse too, but we found once in we didn’t want to leave.
The Clubhouse is a pretty huge space and feels like a totally separate part of the airport. As you walk in you arrive on a terrace that overlooks the main seating area. There are then various separate spaces and sections separate from the main area.
The Clubhouse’s main area is a large open-plan space with high ceilings and various sectioned-off spaces where you can sit, eat, and drink, in differing levels of comfort. Some areas offer comfy seats, while others offer more traditional tables and chairs more suited to dining.
Alon the back wall is the Deli area. This sits in front of the kitchens and offers a selection of self-serve items. There are deli/charcuterie meats and cheeses. Fresh Breads, Jams, and spreads. Healthy options such as Yoghurts, Chia Seeds, Nuts, and Pulses. Fruit Salads, Juices, and Smoothies. Fresh Fruit, Cerila and Croisants. It’s quite a spread and all just there for the taking. This would probably be a pretty decent food offering, but there is also the ala-carte Menu as well which we dive into later. There is also a Self Serve drinks table, with teas, coffee, juice, and water.
Along the back wall is the main bar. This is very impressive and is stocked with all kinds of high-end liquors, wines, beers, and Champagne. You can just order from the bar or request table service, or simply pull up the app, as we look at in detail below.
It really is a very impressive space, but on top of this, there are various extra sections to explore or set up base.
The Brasserie is not really a separate area, but it encompasses all the zones where you can order food. These are primarily zones surrounding the bar and offer Table service through the App or Via the wait staff. You will know you are in the Brasserie as the table will have a “Scan For Champagne” QR code on the numbered table.
Outside the Brasserie, you are on your own, either ordering from the Deli, or at the bar. To get into the Brasserie, which as we said is just a large part of the main area, you just have to find an open table and sit down, it’s not a separate space as such.
This is our preferred spot. Seats are a high commodity here but you can get lucky. This area is behind the bar, but offers a segregated space, with comfy seating and windows out onto the apron to watch flight operations.
The Glass separators mean this section is quieter and more relaxed yet it’s close to the bar so service is great. We were often waiting for our app orders when the Wait staff just turned up and filled out glasses! This is not the flashiest spot but it is a comfy and quiet place to relax, enjoy the service and wait for boarding, which is really what a lounge is all about.
At the left-hand side of the Main Area (if looking at the bar) is a fun little Games Room. This has a pool table, some board games, books, and screens. It’s a great place to head if you have kids with you and want to keep them entertained. From here there is another flight of steps up to the Outdoor Terrace.
It’s pretty rare to find an outdoor space at an airport lounge, especially in the UK. So we love the addition of a nice little area to get out and get some fresh air. Except you can’t really, the problem with the outdoor area’s at an Airport is they are a bit smelly. That unmistakable stench of Kerosene/jet fuel fills the air. It’s also not very relaxing as the Terrace is in a pretty busy part of the airport so expect some heavy noise. And anyone thinking great, I can head out for a Smoke, there is bad news there too as the Terrace is still non-smoking…with the heady aroma of jet fuel in the air it’s not hard to see why! And then there is the English Weather!
Really it’s a bit of a gimmick, but we still like heading out there for a nosy. It’s good for watching the movements on the apron and depending on which way operations are running you can get a good view of some take-offs and landings.
Sleep Pods – The Clubhouse Retreat
The Club Gouse Retreat is a quiet and secluded area where you can book some time in the Sleep pods. These are large reclined leather chairs with comfy footrests, mood lighting, and relaxing sounds piped in. Here you can really switch off and zone out for a while. Perfect for later flights but we were really just getting going!
Quite honestly, getting on an exercise bike is the last thing we want to do before a flight but the option is there if you want it. Maybe you are in a rush and missed your gym spot, or maybe you are just super curious about exercising in an airport. Whatever the reason if you want to work up a sweat before your flight, three Peleton Bikes are available via a booking system.
Toilets and Showers
Fortunately for those getting off the Bikes, there are several shower rooms available too. These are bookable and offer a nice space to refresh and recharge. Again we were on a morning flight, so showered at the hotel, but if you are here later or transmitting through, a quick freshen-up could be absolutely life-saving.
The Toilets themselves were spotlessly clean and well-appointed. We never queued even at really busy times which is not something we can say about all lounges!
Spa – Closed
The Clubhouse was designed with an integrated Spa, however, this has not reopened yet post-Cvid. The future is not looking great for Louge Spas in the post-Covid travel world and these may be a thing of the past, at least outside ultra premium first class lounges.
We already mentioned the Self Serve Deli-Bar, which is pretty awesome, but there is also a full al-a-carte menu too, and it’s pretty special. Everything is in small portions so if you are super hungry you can just order a few bits.
The best way to order food is through the App. On every table is a super cute QR code, with the words “Scan for Champagne”. This opens up the online app menu, don’t worry there is free Wifi, and you can order Food and Drink right to your table.
There are two menus for food, Breakfast and Lunch/Dinner.
Example Breakfast Menu
- The Clubhouse English breakfast
- Sliced smoked salmon
- Egg Benedict
- Egg Florentine (V)
- Egg Royale
- Half a fresh grapefruit (Ve)
- Fruit salad (Ve)
The breakfast menu was a touch limited, but when you consider it is supported by the amazing Deli counter, there is something for everyone. The Egg Royale was perfect, with fantastic smoked salmon and a perfect poached egg. Everything was served as light bites, perfect for grazing as the morning draws on waiting for your flight.
Example Lunch/Dinner Menu
- Curried Cauliflower Soup (V)
- Vegetable Gyoza (Ve)
- Baked Chicken Wings
- BBQ Cauliflower Wings (V)
- Salmon Poke Bowl
- Greek Salad(V)
- Chicken Ceasar Salad
- Lucky Saint Beer Battered Fish And Chips
- Clubhouse Chicken Burger
- Plant Burger (Ve)
- Prawn Laska
- Cauliflower and Potato Masala (Ve)
- Flatbread (V)
- Clubhouse Signature Cookie (V)
- Brownie (V)
- Berry Pudding (V)
- Cheese Board (V)
The Menu is supposed to switch over at 11:00 am however for us this was not the case, the switch did not happen until 12:00pm, which was a little late for us as our flight was at 13:30 pm. We did manage to sample the Signature Cookie, which was up there with the best cookie we have ever tasted, warm, gooey, and nutty!
There are some really inspired Veggy choices on there, not just the usual token items, which is great to see. We happily eat meat but there are even items we would try, simply as they sound so good! We will be back soon enough to try out the full lunch menu.
We loved using the Web App Menu for ordering food, but for drinks, it was a little slow. Really is wasn’t too bad, but we were waiting maybe 5-10mins for our drinks, which if you plan well is no problem. However, we found while waiting for drinks our friendly server would pop by 1 or two times offering to take our order, or just filling our glasses unprompted. It kind of made the whole app thing pointless and we should have just relied on their incredible service.
We know this is an odd complaint, and it’s more of an acknowledgment than a complaint. It just feels a bit weird having such flawless service and then trying to replace it with an App. Maybe we were just lucky as we were right near the bar and our server was so attentive. Mayen people seated elsewhere might have less perfect service.
As our flight time drew nearer and we wanted one last drink, then we just headed straight to the bar. With either a server or the App the Bartenders make the drinks at their pleasure, but if you get up and stand in front of them you get priority.
The drinks themselves were fantastic. This is a fully stocked bar and they can make you just about anything. The Cocktail menu has some really interesting items on it, but you can easily go off-piste with the classics.
All the cocktails were top-notch, starting with a Breakfast Martini and a Cosmopolitan. The Breakfast Martini was fantastically filled with citrus notes and MArmalade Vodka, it took a little of the guilt away from drinking at such an early hour. The Cosmo was less guilt-free, but it was still excellent. Just before the flight We took to the harder stuff and enjoyed a fantastic Old Fashioned, Dry Martini to help us settle down for the flight.
There were 5 choices of sparkling wine, perfect for toasting your trip. Two french Campagnes, Jacquart and Lanson, along with a Prosecco, an English Sparkling, and a Rose. There are 4 or 5 Choices of red or white wines too, Rioja, Cotes Du Rhone, and a nice Gavi caught our eyes, along with an excellent french Rose. There is even a sweet and punched Bordeaux Dessert wine on offer.
Even the Beer options shone. They had the usual suspects on draft but there were some excellent Craft selections too, including my absolute favorite Beer, Brewdog Punk IPA. All Spirits were top-shelf, such as Grey Goose Vodka, Aviation Gin, and single Malt Whiskeys.
The drinks selection was far and away the best we have seen in any Lounge worldwide, and meant we had quite a heavy drinks session…all before 12:30 pm. Good job we had a big comfy lie-flat bed to sleep it off in later!
We absolutely loved our visit to the CLubhouse. While it was Pretty busy when we arrived, it soon thinned out as the Virgin Aircraft loaded up and left. We had great seats, in a quiet relaxed spot overlooking the runway and just enjoyed our morning.
The Food was top-notch, a far cry from the overcooked bacon and flaccid sausages of most lounges, and the quality drinks just kept flowing. From the first glass of champagne to the last crumb of our Cookies we were immersed in a world of indulgence.
The Overall feel of the lounge is also not too posh or overly fancy. To us, it’s an extension of Virgin’s more hip and cool Vibe. It is never Stuffy and overly pretentious, just upmarket and classy.
The service industry is going through the wringer right now and many places we visit are really struggling for staff to be able to provide the kind of service we expect from some locations. We get this and are endlessly patient with the current issues. However, there was no sign of it here. Our server was incredibly attentive and nothing was too much trouble.
We have pointed out a few issues and quirks, but these all pale into insignificance compared to the positives. It’s a wonderful lounge experience and we cannot wait to get back.
Honestly, if you are flying Virgin or Delta, then there are not really any other options for lounges, at least not at this level (the paid lounges do not even come near). However, if you are a frequent flyer you may have an elite status that will get you into one of the other High-End Options. Qantas, Ba, American, Cathay Pacific, and Emirates, all have lounges here, you may even have access to the Centurion Lounge from America Express.
These are all Premium Lounges, and some certainly rank higher in terms of pure luxury than the Virgin Clubhouse. However, we really love the Quirky, Relaxed style of the Virgin Clubhouse. It does not feel as clinical as many lounges and has real personality and bite. We think if you have access, especially if you are flying Virgin, then it is definitely worth checking out.
It might not be the BEST lounge we have ever visited, but it’s certainly our favorite!
Have Your Say
Have you visited the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse? what were your thoughts on their exclusive retreat? How did you find the Food? What did you make of the drinks selection? How busy did you find it? Was it overcrowded? Whatever your thoughts are, let us know in the comments. And if you have any questions just fire away.
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