Review of the Aspire and Aspire Plus Lounges at Newcastle Airport

This is our review of the Aspire and Aspire Plus Lounges at Newcastle Airport.

Last week we asked for your help in completing our collection of UK lounge reviews.  Thanks to everyone who volunteered – there should be a steady flow of articles over the next couple of months.

First up is reader Jason who kindly sent in some photographs and a brief review of the Aspire and Aspire Plus Lounges at Newcastle Airport.  He also visited the British Airways lounge for us and we will cover that tomorrow.  This is what he had to say:

“I like Newcastle airport as it has a very straight forward flow, starting from security, leading you past all the standard shops and facilities you would expect and then on to the gates – all in a linear route.

Security was quite busy, which ended up being a bit of a theme, but then I snaked quickly through the Duty Free “Ikea” style meandering path into the main shopping drag.  It ended at The Beer House with a cheery sign saying “A House with Beer – what more do you want?” – plain speaking in keeping with the City itself.

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport beer house

I then fell at the first hurdle though. On reaching the Aspire Lounge reception, I was told they were full and I should come back in 10 minutes. Unprompted, they went on to explain they did not want to take my money and leave me unhappy with the service, so that was a good sign.  As it was a busy Saturday morning it meant that within 10 minutes a couple of flights were called and I was allowed into the lounge without further fuss.

My initial impressions were good. The lounge is a couple of years old but has fared well. It was a bright sunny day in the north east of England but little of that strayed into the main area.

Some people have complained about this since the refurbishment and reconfiguration of the site from the previous Servisair facility but I thought it made for a classier atmosphere compared to the British Airways Terraces Lounge.  The BA lounge is larger and a lot brighter, but I feel it would be easier to have a private conversation and “me time” in the Aspire lounges.

There was plenty of the promised “standard” drinks and bacon rolls. Not as good quality as those in the Heathrow BA lounge (cheap baps compared to my preferred rolls) but at least there was a good supply and they were hot.

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport sausage rools

The bar is staffed and they were very friendly and efficient, with little waiting time as they served the crowds.

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport staffed bar

The place was still quite busy, though seats were available. There is a nice mix of bar stools, armchairs and booth offerings, with a very good number of TVs well placed so you can enjoy your choice of entertainment without impacting others.

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport seating

There were also a couple of quiet rooms with power points if you needed to concentrate on some work.

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport work booth

In the competition for opportunities to power your devices I think the BA Terraces Lounge slightly wins out.  Power sockets are not quite as common nor as well placed in the Aspire room.

On the Aspire and airport websites, they mentioned the “Airside Andy’s Play Pod” children’s area. Although not travelling with my three offspring this time, all of whom are school age, I was keen to check it out for future reference. I had envisaged at least a small room or sectioned off corner, if only to deter noise.  I was disappointed by the reality. It was literally a plastic moulded round with a couple of Android tablets stuck on it!

Don’t get me wrong, any parent who does not already have a tablet with which to sedate their children may welcome it.  I am less sure about the couple trying to have a quiet drink next to it!

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport kids area

This was the magazine and newspaper selection.

Aspire lounge Newcastle Airport magazines

My entrance was free via my HSBC World Elite credit card Loungekey entitlement.

This does not cover the Aspire Plus area, which you need to pay £34.49 (compared to £20.99 for the main area) to gain entrance if you do not have free access.

Aspire plus lounge Newcastle Airport entrance

I politely asked if I could just have a look round and they were more than happy to let me in without paying. If I had not been about to go on to the BA Terraces lounge next door, I might have considered paying the extra fee to stay in the Aspire Plus area.

Aspire plus lounge Newcastle Airport TV booth

There were only a couple of people in this lounge and the drinks were of a higher standard.

Aspire plus lounge Newcastle Airport drinks

Although there was no hot food out to self-serve, the staff were happy to get you something from a small selection.

Aspire plus lounge Newcastle Airport snacks

Again, there was a variety of seating types and creative attempts at giving some seclusion in small space.  Some previous visitors have criticised the toilets but I found them to be well serviced.

Aspire plus lounge Newcastle Airport seating

Conclusion

In summary, the Aspire Lounge at Newcastle Airport is a fine example of the basics you would expect from a standard lounge, well delivered.

The Aspire Plus lounge would have been worth the extra money if you were craving some peace and quiet, or wanted posher spirits and Prosecco instead of plonk.

The British Airways Terraces Lounge (review tomorrow) was also a typical high standard example of their offerings, though a little less intimate, but a lot more bright and airy.”

Thanks Jason.  There are various of accessing the Aspire lounge at Newcastle Airport.  You can use:

Priority Pass (free with Amex Platinum or you can buy one)

Lounge Club (2 free visits with Amex Gold)

or, as Jason did, use LoungeKey (for HSBC Premier credit card holders)

or you can book for cash via the Aspire website here.

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Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    A House with Beer – what more do you want… at 6am

    • You clearly don’t live in Newcastle fella! :-)

      • the real harry1 says:

        or Spain (& a few other European capitals I’ve lived in!) – 6am might just be a typical late night

        that’s what siestas are for if you’ve ever wondered

      • Genghis says:

        :) I’m a Darlo boy but never understood those at NCL having a lager at 6am!

  2. Good review from Jason. Only thing he doesn’t mention is wifi. When we were there two weeks ago the signal kept dropping out and when it was on it was extremely slow. The receptionist said that was because a lot of people had arrrived in the last ten minutes and were logging on. The lounge was certainly not full and the wifi didn’t improve. There were quite a few of us around the reception area trying to get a better signal as some parts of the lounge had no signal at all.

    • Jason Scott-Taggart says:

      I did note the wifi was free in all lounges and apologies I did not mention it. I did not attempt connecting in the Aspire area though did in the BA Terraces and performance was fine (though it was also quite empty).

  3. the real harry1 says:

    Good review – thanks.

    I take it there was also Newkie Brown in the Aspire lounge?

    • Jason Scott-Taggart says:

      Why aye, bottles of Dog available for yersel’ and any canny lad.

    • Don’t try calling it that in Newcastle! You’d expect a Brown Ale from Newquay. Taddy Broon is more appropriate as they moved brewing of it to Tadcaster in Yorkshire a while back.

  4. Good review.
    Rob, do you still need someone to review the Aspire lounge at Bristol? I will be visiting this weekend.
    I will also be staying at the brand new Hampton by Hilton at Bristol Airport. This is worth a mention because we finally have a hotel within walking distance of the terminal. Also very good value at 10,000 points per night.

    • Got a volunteer for that already, thanks.

    • Janeyferr says:

      Tell us about the Hampton when you return, please. I have a pre-festival night booked there in August, even with the ridiculous parking price it seems a good deal on points.

  5. Some of us remember when Newcastle Airport was a lot more user friendly with a rooftop viewing area and landside bars and cafes with a view of the airfield, most of it had to change when it expanded but the most recent change was the enforced zigzag through the duty free shop when they expanded the security area. Thanks to that change I’d now dispute the linear route (prior to this change they still forced you through the main duty free shop but it was indeed a linear route at that point).

    It’s also worth mentioning the Aspire lounge is also the lounge most airlines that offer lounge access with status and business class and above. The only dedicated airline lounge is the BA one. The Aspire lounge is certainly a decent place to wait, particularly considering there’s not much decent in the terminal if you want somewhere to eat, although it seems well catered for bars!

    • Jason Scott-Taggart says:

      I agree about the zig zag aspect and hence my Ikea reference i.e. you are led by the nose to maximise the sell opportunity – which is found at many airports now. My linear comment was more about the fact that everything is along the same path. You go from security, through the Duty Free to the shops and bars then past the lounges on your way to the gates. Meandering perhaps but unlike most other terminals, there are not choices to be made about going down one branch or another.

    • “although it seems well catered for bars” as are most airports not just Newcastle…

      I’d also rather walk a little further through the duty free if that the price for a refurbished area, it takes all of one minute at a slow pace..

  6. Peter Taysum says:

    I think they shoot themselves in the foot forcing customers through Duty Free. Having to be forced to zig zag through; I’ve not bought anything since the change, and I’m there a lot.

    • the real harry1 says:

      who’s ‘they’ exactly?

      the airport makes (some of) its money out of the leases paid by the retail outlets

      the lease won’t go down if you go on strike

  7. Good review guys. I like the Aspire lounge as I am Newcastle based I have used it a few times. On the whole the recent refurbishment of the airport has worked well. As for the Ikea style duty free, well Geordies to love to shop and the selection has improved greatly so I can’t blame the airport for wanting to get their investment back. Bought a few things in there myself!.

    I have always been able to get into the lounge and always found the staff to be polite.

  8. I have to disagree with the reviewer on this.

    IMO the aspire and aspire plus lounges at ncl are a massive disappointment. The old servisair lounge was significantly better due to its discreet location, view of the runway and abundance of natural light. It was hidden away and it felt like not many people knew about it so when you did use the lounge it was never particularly busy.

    The aspire lounge on the other hand is crowded and dingy and it feels like an extension of the departure lounge with no sense of exclusivity that you get in comparable non-airline lounges in other airports. Due to its position within the terminal most people are aware of it and the masses (on their way to Benidorm) all now charge in there realising they can pay the entrance fee and drink as much alcohol as they like for less.

    As for the aspire plus this is even worse with no hot food or even any staff and shared WCs. The only thing it has going for it is that its quiet but that is mainly because the only people who use it are Emirates business class travellers who get access FOC. I wouldn’t pay for for access if I was a multi billionaire.