My review of the Virgin Trains First Class lounge at Manchester Piccadilly

My review of the Virgin Trains First Class lounge at Manchester Piccadilly was only supposed to be part of a ‘bits’ article.  However, even though the lounge is quite small, I really liked it and it can have a bit more coverage!

The Virgin Trains Manchester lounge is located on the first floor overlooking the Piccadilly concourse and the platforms:

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review view over tracks

Despite the small size the lounge wasn’t too busy and there were enough empty seats.

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review

There was one coffee machine, water and soft drinks:

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review

I was quite surprised to find fresh orange juice and coconut water in the lounge.

Next to the juice fridge was also a juice station for your phone.

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review juice coconut water

The highlight of the Virgin Trains Manchester Lounge was the snack selection:

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review snacks 1

Not only were there fruits and crisps, but also a broad selection of biscuits, cakes and chocolates.

(To quote dirtyneedlebluesky’s comment on our Instagram photograph: ‘Small but find it better stocked than Euston. Often get a cheap first class single from Stockport to Manchester just to use the lounge‘.)

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review snacks 2

I don’t know how many HFP readers have used Virgin’s BEAM app for on-train entertainment, but I thought I’d give it a try and downloaded it whilst I was in the lounge.  You cannot use the onboard WiFi to download the app as it’s too slow.  I found BEAM very impressive and will write about it separately later this week.

virgin trains first class lounge manchester piccadilly review beam


I was positively surprised by the Virgin Trains First Class lounge at Manchester Piccadilly.  It might be small but the snack selection and service were outstanding.  You can easily offset part of the extra cost of a First Class ticket over Standard Class before you even get on your train.

You can find out more about Virgin Trains First Class lounges on this page of their website.

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  1. Aeronaut says:

    Just checked, it’s £5 for an First Class Anytime single between Stockport and Manchester (or v.v.). Though you can’t stay in the there all day…

    “All you need to do to get into our First Class lounges is show a valid Virgin Trains ticket – either Virgin Business, First Anytime or Advance First. For up to two hours before your outward journey, and up to one hour after you arrive, just make yourself at home (within reason, please).”

    As well as Euston and Manchester, there are eight other lounges on Virgin Trains West Coast:

    Re the BEAM app and service, it seems to be widely misunderstood at least going by the feedback comments for the Android app on Google Play, with some pompously but ignorantly pronouncing that to make it work you need to buy on-board Wifi access (which is payable for standard class passengers, but free for First class pax)… This is not the case, BEAM works via local media servers on board the train (similar to some airline systems), with users just connecting to the Wifi for local network access (not full internet access), i.e. LAN rather than WAN.

    That said, looking at comments on much of the internet is a recipe for rapid insanity – thankfully, most of the time the comments section on HfP rises above such nonsense!

    • I am surprised that you still have your ticket after you have travelled. When I used to commute between Swindon and Paddington the turnstile to let you off the platform kept the ticket (except season).

      • They tend to all do that – if you need your ticket for lounge access (or the various 2for1 deals you can get for tourist attractions), then you need to show it to a member of staff manning the gates and they will let you through without taking your ticket.

        • Or for expenses. The staff can open ticket gates to retrieve lost tickets if required but they aren’t keen on it!

          Confession time – I have a network railcard (£30/ annum, saves me £7.50 every time I go to London so well worth it for me), but when going to London meetings when I can leave after the morning peak I don’t use it, as I expense the journey and get the extra credit card points!

    • Hi Harry.

      I’d be very interested in hearing more about this fare saving between London and Cornwall. As my folks live down there I often have to shell out a fair amount for this journey.



        • There’s also “trainsplit”, which I think is better – it will also seamlessly sell you split tickets for a journey (the MSE version is clunkier), albeit with a 10% commission on any savings the system finds:

          It’s not perfect, and the advanced search options for slow trains and long waits don’t necessarily work that well (if at all), but it’s still a pretty good effort. Worth pointing out the site doesn’t have a mobile version, and it’s a bit of an exercise in frustration to try and consult it on a mobile so I’d suggest not trying to!

      • You’ll almost always save by splitting your journey at Didcot Parkway. Just make sure the train you’re getting stops there.

  2. Cheshire Pete says:

    Shame no little bottles of wine or a few beers! Otherwise a good appraisal.

  3. Good to see Piper’s crisps although love the black pepper variety best. Made fairly near me and they only, apparently, sell them to small shops etc. rather than large supermarket chains.

    I was going to catch a Virgin train down to London but it turned out to be far cheaper to fly.

  4. Oh! Matron! says:

    Despite this being a train lounge, it’s still better than many north american airline lounges, and infinitely better than the old T1 ServiceAir lounge at LHR! The Euston one is normally packed, whereas the Manchester Picc lounge has never more than 12 people in it.

    PS: Virgin Atlantic Gold gets you in here too :-)

  5. Despite weekly commute for a few months, I only used this lounge once. As the trains start at Manchester, and the platforms are open, I always just boarded as soon as the train arrived, avoiding any rush (unlike Euston experience).

  6. Next stop: The Virgin First Class lounge at Runcorn station (Southeast from Liverpool). For a small station, it has a surprisingly good, and well stocked First Class Lounge. Similar selection of snacks and drinks as shown in the photos above, magazines, newspapers, etc. It’s unmanned, so you show your ticket to a video intercom at the door to be let in.
    If you’re travelling to the East side of Liverpool (business parks, JLR sites, etc), or Liverpool Airport, Runcorn is a very good station to use as taxis are cheap, and it’s easier than trying to get into Liverpool for the train. Also, most trains going south to London stop there.

    • Next stop was actually the Virgin Trains lounge at Liverpool Lime Street, as Anika was up at the aloft last weekend – review to come.

  7. wally1976 says:

    Has anyone tried the Wolverhampton, Coventry or Birmingham New Street lounges? Appreciate any feedback, thanks