Airport lounges are increasingly popular, promising to start your holiday in style. But priced at anywhere from £18 to £50 for entry, are they really any better value than the restaurants and bars at the airport? To find out, a study conducted by Which? uncovers where you can get the most for your money around the UK.
Worst airport lounge
Bottom of the pile was the Skylife lounge at Southend Airport, which was rated just one out of five. Promising to let you ‘live the high life’, our inspector instead found noisy TVs playing in the background that made it hard to relax and soggy prepacked sandwiches. Like several other lounges, there was no hot food available.
Inspectors from consumer group Which? say they found barely-there facilities at the Skylife Lounge with no runway view, no hot food and no sparkling wine – earning it just one star out of five.
Given Southend Airport was recently rated one of the best airports in the UK by readers, the Skylife Lounge really is a waste of money.
Best airport lounge
The No1 Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 was rated the best lounge by our inspectors, receiving four out of five thanks to a complimentary a la carte menu and cinema. But it doesn’t come cheap – entry starts at £32.
Complimentary sparkling wines and à la carte dishes gave these lounges the edge, helping Heathrow’s Terminal 3 No1 lounge to the top.
The London airport lounge is described as the best-equipped location Which? inspected. It boasts a cinema, free showers, private sleep pods and hot food options made to order.
According to Which?, the only downside is that in common with all No1 lounges, guests are now limited to only one made-to-order dish per person, knocking down what might have been a five-star review to four.
Jointly top-ranked Manchester T3 1903 was praised for being dotted with model planes and aviator goggles as well as a pick and mix sweet station.
Reviewers noted the ‘floor to ceiling runway’ view, cheese plates and an ‘immaculate’ self-service bar that was found to be ‘well-stocked’.
Made-to-order hot food was available here, too, but limited to just one choice – pork belly on the day Which? visited – earning the lounge another four out of the five-star rating.
Heathrow’s The House lounge in Terminal 4 also receives four stars but the price on the door is £50.
Other highly ranked lounges include the No1 lounge at Birmingham Airport, which was rated third, as well as the Gatwick Clubrooms in both the North and South terminals, which rounded off the top five.
Find out how the lounges at your next airport were rated below.
What do the ratings mean?
1 = A sub standard lounge we think is well below average; 2= An adequate lounge with room for improvement; 3= a solid lounge that meets expectation; 4= An excellent lounge that’s above average; 5=An exceptional lounge
We inspected all 20 lounges between August and December 2017. All reviews were carried out anonymously.
Should I pay for an airport lounge?
Plenty of people like to grab something to eat and drink at the airport, rather than stumping up for the bad food and bad prices on board the aircraft. But are you better off with a lounge or is a restaurant at the airport better value?