Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Airport

Introduction: 20,000+ Kilometers In Three Days
Virgin Atlantic 787 Premium Economy Hong Kong to London Heathrow
How Is It Like Staying At An Imperial College Dormitory?
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Airport
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Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Doha to Munich
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Since Imperial College took care of my transfer to the airport, I was on campus until 5 PM, where I was bussed to the airport. My friend Albert was returning to Incheon, and his Asiana flight experienced a mechanical and was delayed until the next morning, which set us back a little bit. Asiana arranged a room at the Sofitel London Heathrow for him, which he said he enjoyed. Meanwhile, my friend Mohini ended up on the same flight as me, coincidentally also in premium economy.

We checked in at Heathrow’s Virgin Atlantic wing at around 6 PM, which was quick and painless. I originally wanted to select a bulkhead on the flight, mainly so I could review it, though the check-in agent was only able to put a request on my booking so I could vouch for a bulkhead at the gate. For the record, seat 21G was open on ExpertFlyer, though I couldn’t select it on Virgin Atlantic’s website. Seats 21A, 21D and 21E were shown as blocked (which means they weren’t taken, or else they’d be showing as occupied). She explained the boarding time, and since I also asked her about accessing the Clubhouse, she said that if I managed to get in the lounge, boarding would be called from inside the lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Check-in London Heathrow Airport

After check-in, we made our way through immigration. While the line was only a few people deep, the family in front was clearly not a family of “experienced travelers”, in that they didn’t know why they had to take their jewelry off when going through security, refused to put their electronics into the basket, etc. Regardless, we were through in about ten minutes. While my preference would be to stick together with whoever I was traveling with, not only did I want to visit the Clubhouse, but my mother also had me get her something from Jo Malone, which would be a rather embarrassing task had I stuck with Mohini throughout. I ended up just telling her I had to do something for the blog, and texted to meet at the gate.

My first task was to refill my cash card, which had nine pounds on it. You can enter Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse if you are:

  • in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
  • in Delta One (Delta’s business class)
  • in Virgin Atlantic premium economy, though there is an entrance fee of £60 and only upon availability
  • in Virgin Atlantic premium economy, economy or Delta economy, and are a Virgin Atlantic or Delta elite (Delta elites were revoked access for a while, though they can once again access the lounge as of June 2017)

Obviously I was going with the third option in this case, so I had to refill my cash card with Travelex at Heathrow. I decided to refill my cash card so that I would have just enough money for both the lounge and 150 MB worth of internet on the flight.

I followed Heathrow’s signage to the lounges, where Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse is located near lounge area H, along with American Airlines’ Admirals club, which is located on the floor below.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Signage

Going to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse consisted of going up a flight of stairs (there’s also an elevator, though I found that unnecessary to get up one floor).

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Entrance

Then I found myself inside the Clubhouse at around 6:15 PM. The friendly lounge agent said that they could only admit premium economy passengers into the lounge three hours before the flight (6:55 PM in this case), though they said they’d push it to 6:30 PM. I went back into the airport terminal to run a few errands (including getting my mother her perfume at duty free), and at 6:30 PM I was back at the lounge. Initially I had trouble with paying, though by 6:40 PM I was admitted into the lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Entrance

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Entrance Display

Before I entered the lounge, the lounge attendant asked “have you been with us before”. As collected as I normally try to stay when alone in airports, all I could say was “no, and I’m very excited”. The lounge attendant then ran me over some of the lounge’s features – she pointed out that dining was available anywhere in the lounge, and pointed out the spa, brasserie, etc.

One thing that I noticed was that the lounge was massive. It was pretty much peak rush hour for flights to Asia, and the lounge was rather busy – still, I noticed many empty seats.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow

Right by the entrance was a small seating area, which seemed deserted for the most part. It featured a variety of seating, including hanging chairs, 1-1 cushioned chairs, bench seating, etc.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Seating Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Seating Area

Right below that was a huge communal bench stocked with power ports.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Seating Area

The main seating area was a couple of steps below the entrance and the aforementioned smaller seating area. There was a huge variety of seating, including a variety of chairs, benches, sofas, etc.. You essentially had your choice of seating no matter how big a group you were, whether you were two people, three people, four people or more.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

In addition to a ton of different seating, I also found daybeds for those who had longer layovers. These weren’t in a different room or anything, so people might have trouble resting in these daybeds due to how busy the lounge usually is.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

In addition to that, there was communal seating around the lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Main Seating Area

By the end of the seating area was the cocktail bar. I don’t drink, but I still love a good bar that whips up great mocktails. I’ll get back to that later, so stay tuned.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Bar

Located in the main area was a newspaper stand. I read the news off my computer so didn’t have a need for newspapers, but I found it to be interesting that they were all laid out (normally I normally find newspapers in a lounge located in one big pile, or on a rack).

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Newspapers

Past the main seating area was an area more well-equipped for working, with individual work tables, tables facing the tarmac, etc.. This area was emptier, though also featured a variety of comfortable seating.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Office and Library

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Office and Library

Each desk was equipped with a variety of power ports (you might need an adapter in some cases, though, as only UK and US power ports are supplied), as well as a lamp.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Office and Library Desk

Past that was The Den, which was a seating area designed for dining. This isn’t the only area – The Brasserie is also equipped for dining purposes, so The Den was more or less deserted throughout the entirety of my stay.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Den

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Den

Each table was set up meticulously, though I feel like it was meant to be a less “formal” option for dining, compared to The Brasserie.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Den Seating

Running along the end of the lounge was The Gallery, which faced the tarmac (with partially obstructed views), as well as yet another selection of seating. It was personally my favourite area, as I loved the earthy tones displayed throughout.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Seating

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Seating

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Seating

The area was also set up weirdly in the fact that the walls were slanted, which gave the area a very alcove-y feel, if that makes any sense.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Seating

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Seating

I particularly loved the swinging chair that faced the tarmac, where I spent a bit of time before leaving for my flight.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Seating

Much like all the other areas throughout the lounge, power ports were abundant in The Gallery.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow The Gallery Power Ports

The Sky Lounge and the garden are elevated from the rest of the lounge – the Sky Lounge is located half a floor up, and the garden is located in an outdoor area on the rooftop. Unfortunately both areas were roped off during my stay. This was because West Brom was coming to Hong Kong (some of them would be seated in premium economy), so they had arranged to have the Sky Lounge to themselves (and I guess the team didn’t want to open up the garden). Fortunately I got permission to access both places before West Brom arrived, and after asking, the lounge attendants said that I could access the garden whenever I wanted, as it technically wasn’t roped off.

The Sky Lounge features a variety of seating, including a big bench, chairs, bar seating and a sofa. The area had very clean colour tones, with mainly white and black tones, and blue and green hints.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Sky Lounge

I’m not surprised that West Brom chose to hang out here, as it seemed like the perfect spot for a small group to socialise.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Sky Lounge

Based on pictures, though, it seems like this area usually acts as a TV lounge, and it was just arranged to be otherwise for West Brom’s arrival. I’m sure the team appreciated that there was a snooker table present.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Sky Lounge

There was also water prepared for them, which was set up nicely.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Sky Lounge Water

Upstairs was the garden, which I spent a bit of time in during my stay. The area featured a few sofas, though the highlight had to be the plane views. Unfortunately this area was the one area of the lounge that the WiFi didn’t reach – I initially planned to spend most of my three hours here, though ended up spending all of fifteen minutes.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden

I would’ve wished that the area was called a “terrace” or a “rooftop” or something, as it sure looks quite depressing for a “garden”.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden

What wasn’t depressing were the plane views, as I had a clear view of the Virgin Atlantic wing, as well as the runway.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden View of Virgin Atlantic 787

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden View Of Korean Air 747-8

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden View Of British Airways 747

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Garden View Of Cathay Pacific 777

I decided to walk over to the other end of the lounge near the spa, where I discovered a legitimate cinema room with an L-shaped sofa and chairs, as well as a huge TV.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Cinema Room

The room was curtained off and was empty during the duration of my stay.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Cinema Room

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Cinema Room

Additionally there was another curtained off room without a TV, which almost looked like a curtained off area of a high-end coffee shop. I’m assuming it’s an area affiliated with the Cowshed spa, such as a waiting room or something. This area was also empty throughout my stay, though there were more comfortable options around the lounge, so I didn’t end up spending any time here.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Cowshed Spa Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Cowshed Spa Area

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Cowshed Spa Area

WiFi throughout the lounge (bar the garden) was fast and free, and I was reminded of the code several times from different attendants whenever I pulled out my laptop.

After exploring the lounge, I decided to have dinner at the Brasserie, as it was set up with table service, and didn’t seem too crowded at the time.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie

Next to the Brasserie was The Deli, which featured a small spread of high-quality salads, cheeses and cold cuts. Had I been really hungry I’d have helped myself, but I was waiting for the main meal, as the Clubhouse offers table service.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Deli Spread

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Deli Spread

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Deli Spread

When I sat at one of the tables a waiter quickly approached me with a menu. Noting that I had taken a lot of pictures, he first posed with the menu, then said “I’m joking”. When he noticed that I was actually getting my camera out, he asked if I was actually going to be taking a picture of him, and when I said I was just going to be sharing the inside of the menu, he replied “that’s amazing”.

The menu was a perfect size, with a range of cuisines across different places.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Menu

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Menu

The beverage menu read as follows:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Menu

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Menu

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Menu

The table setup was stunning, with a potted plant at each table trees put up around the Brasserie.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Setup

A waiter took my orders. Firstly I ordered an orange juice, which was given to me moments after I ordered. I found it interesting that my orange juice was served in a wine glass, but whatever it takes for me to look older, I guess.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Orange Juice

A waiter came over with a cheeseburger and a kofta pitta, and I was groggy at the time so couldn’t really remember what I ordered. Turns out the waiter couldn’t really remember either, though he managed to figure out that I had ordered the lamb kofta pitta.

The lamb kofta pitta was awesome. If I’m being picky I’d say that the ground lamb was just a touch on the dry side, but the flavour combinations couldn’t be beat.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Appetiser – Lamb Kofta Pitta

For the main course I’d have wanted to go for the cheese burger, as everyone seemed to be ordering it. However, I felt rather full and wanted to be able to finish my meal, so I went for the baked cod fillet. Once again, the cod was slightly overdone, but the sides and flavours were exceptional.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Main Course – Baked Cod Fillet

For dessert I felt like the strawberries and cream, as it seemed light and refreshing according to the menu descriptions. It was also overdone amazingly delicious, and was well thought out, from the clotted cream ice cream, to the jelly, to the tasty shortbread on the side.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Brasserie Dessert – Strawberries and Cream

Overall I wouldn’t say the food was hands down the best I’d had anywhere, but it was definitely better than anything else I’ve had in an airline lounge (well, maybe on par with the Swiss business class lounge special menu). Kudos to Virgin Atlantic for offering table service in a business class lounge, which is otherwise a touch largely only found in first class lounges.

After dinner I decided it was time for a shower, so asked the attendants at Cowshed Spa if they had shower rooms available. I was then escorted to shower room number Two.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room

The shower room was a great size – no, it wasn’t the most luxurious shower room I’d ever been to, but it fit the lounge’s decor perfectly. The shower rooms featured a large walk-in shower, a toilet and a sink, though the coolest thing has to be that the walk-in shower doubles as a steam room. Water pressure was great, though there was no handheld shower device (which was fine with me, though others may not appreciate that as much).

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room

The shower room also featured three different toiletry sets – two big bottles of Cowshed toiletries (shampoo and body wash), two bottles of hand wash and a bottle of hand lotion, as well as two bottles of a different kind of shampoo.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room Toiletries

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room Toiletries

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room Toiletries

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room Towels

The steam operations were clearly outlined, though at this point I was just looking for a quick shower and a bit of work, so didn’t end up trying out the steam room.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room Steam Room Controls

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Shower Room Steam Room Instructions

Even the bathrooms are some of the nicest I’ve seen anywhere in an airline lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Bathrooms

After my shower I headed to the bar for a drink, and asked the bartender if he had a mocktail at hand. The bartender said “let me make you a drink so you can take a picture”. While the mocktail seemed like a concoction of juices more than anything else, it was tasty, refreshing and beautifully presented.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Bar Mocktail

I wasn’t looking for a hairdo or anything, though asked if I could take some pictures of the salon area. Making it clear that I technically wasn’t allowed to, the attendants manning the Cowshed spa gave me a chance to take a quick picture.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Bumble And Bumble Salon

The lounge also has a play room, though it was occupied by someone trying to work (as it features a little “parents” sitting area nearby, and is otherwise quite private).

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Play Area

I went to the front desk and attempted to change my seat as I had mentioned prior, though at this point only 21E, a middle seat, was available. The lounge attendant said that were she in my position, she’d stay exactly where I was (in 24K, which isn’t my favourite seat, but at least I still had a window). I agreed.

I worked at one of the swinging chairs for half an hour, and decided to meet up with Mohini at the gate before the flight. Before I left I told the agent who accepted my payment that I was actually an airline lounge reviewer, and that the Clubhouse was singlehandedly the best business class lounge I’ve been to. That’s what I believed at the time, though I’ll have to start compiling my rankings. There’s no questioning that the Clubhouse is one of the world’s best business class lounges I’ve been to, though.

I headed to gate 16, which was where my flight to Hong Kong was departing. The “holding pen” was empty, at first, though it quickly filled up. I was able to get a picture of the beautiful Virgin Atlantic 787, with the sunset in the background.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 London Heathrow Airport

I wasn’t originally planning to board first as I had already taken enough pictures of Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy cabin, but Heathrow’s Terminal 3 holding pens don’t have bathrooms, so…

Bottom Line: Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has long been known for some of their amazing lounges, and I can confidently say that the Clubhouse at London Heathrow is one of the best business class lounges I’ve been to. It fits right in with Virgin Atlantic’s branding, in the way that there’s so much to do in the lounge, from getting your hair or nails done at the Cowshed Spa, to spending time planespotting in the garden, to having a great, filling meal. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the lounge, and can’t wait to return again. It’s especially impressive considering that the lounge is situated in Heathrow’s most depressing terminal.

The lounge fits in with almost all of the 10 things that I look for in an airline lounge. The decor is harmoniously impressive, there are plenty of spaces to work, there’s a huge variety of seating to do whatever you need to, the food is great, the bar is amazing with a really fun bartender, WiFi is fast and free (that said, there’s fast and free WiFi all throughout Heathrow), the shower rooms are great, and overall I just love the “fun” vibe in the lounge. Despite the service being more “formal” than I expected (I felt more like I was in a high-end hotel than a young clubhouse, though I guess high-end is what Virgin Atlantic’s trying to go for), everyone was so fun and happy to be there, so kudos to them. The only thing that the lounge lacks is a “true” relax area, though I wouldn’t see the point sleeping somewhere where there’s so much to do – I’d be missing out.

If you’re flying Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class, or otherwise have free access to this lounge, I would recommend getting to Heathrow early and maximising your time in the Clubhouse.

Should You Pay £60 To Access This Lounge?

As I said, I paid £60 to access the Clubhouse as I was seated in Virgin Atlantic premium economy, which is something Virgin Atlantic only sells when there’s availability. £60 (~HK$620) isn’t a small amount of money, especially considering that the lounge only gives you three hours of time, though in my case I thought it was worth it. That said, my money was spread across a shower, private time in an airside outdoor area with a direct view of Heathrow’s runways, and a full three-course meal. So, in what circumstances should you try and access the lounge for £60, and in what circumstances do I not think it’s worth it?

  • If you have 2-3 hours to spend, I definitely think it’s worth spending £60 to access the lounge
  • If you have 1.5-2 hours to spend, I think it’s worth spending time in the lounge if you’re visiting for the first time and have no plans to visit the lounge in the near future
  • If you’re on a morning flight/have an hour or less before takeoff, I don’t think it’s worth spending £60 to access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

If you’re arriving early to visit The Clubhouse when seated in Virgin Atlantic premium economy, keep in mind that if the lounge is at capacity, the lounge attendants reserve the right to repudiate your access, so you might be spending your three hours sitting at a gate (or a different pay-in lounge, for what it’s worth).

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