Winston Aldworth enters the British Airways Galleries Club lounge inside Heathrow’s Terminal Five.
There are three entrance gates at the door, giving an indication of the scale of this lounge. There are five British Airways lounges in the terminal, so ask at check-in which one will be nearest your gate.
The architecture: Light and spacious with a high ceiling and terrific runway views. Clean design has made this a pleasant place to be.
Food: A superb offering for starters (clever little pork pies), and mains where Cuban bean cassoulet, chicken jalfrezi and a strong beef stew compete for attention. The lack of cheeses was a disappointment (surely this is a great place to show off some classic English stilton) and the puds were limited to a too-big serving of madeira cake and uninteresting little chocolate things.
When artificial intelligence and the rise of robots threatens societal breakdown, my ability to trick airport-lounge coffee machines into making half-decent flat whites could provide a glimpse of hope for humanity. In the post-apocalyptic wasteland, I’ll be a highly caffeinated John Connor figure. Follow me if you want to live, or at least, have a nice cortado before take off. Here, I ran in a shot of espresso before letting half the milk from the cappuccino run into the drain and the second shot into the cup. They use Union brand coffee beans — possibly ironic given BA’s recent stoush with workers over pension schemes.
The drinks cabinet: The range here is a slight step up from many standard premium lounges — the selection passed my personal “can-I-make-a-white-Russian” test and the Fever-Tree tonic water is a peppy alternative to the ubiquitous Schweppes. It’s all self-service.
What’s in the neighbourhood: The Heathrow Harry Potter Shop is right outside the door — crucial information for parents with kids in the Potter-zone, and for those weird adults who still read the books.
Reading material: We’re in Blighty, so there’s a spectacular collection of newspapers. I settled in for a lengthy session, pausing only to look up and see the steady stream of landings on the Northern Runway. Bliss.
Wi-Fi: Strong, fast and free.
Amenities: A small work area with two printers and a few desktop computers. I managed to print a much-needed document, which — given my general technical hopelessness — is testament to the skills of whoever set the thing up.
The toilets: All in private stalls, which is nice when you’re in them but does lead to occasional queues. There are half a dozen shower rooms.
Fellow guests: Loads — I’d estimate nearly 300. Most seats were full — though, it’s such a nicely designed area it handled the near-capacity crowd well.
Notable guest: Former Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger was quietly reading his newspaper. I was torn between the urge to get a selfie and the common-sense assumption the poor bugger probably wanted to be left alone. And, of course, this being London, there would doubtless be half a dozen Gooners who would dive in and crowd him once someone had broken the selfie ice. Anyway, I ummed and ahhed for a bit and then, before you could say “Wenger out!” he was, er, on his way out.
A slick testament to Heathrow’s modern improvements, and a credit to a heritage carrier’s customer service.
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