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My review of the refurbished Virgin East Coast First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross station

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This is my review of the newly refurbished Virgin East Coast trains First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross

Until this month I had never been to a lounge at a train station – and now I’ve been to three.  The concept did sound a bit funny to me, to be honest.  Why would I want to get to the station way before my scheduled train?  I tend to just get to the station in time to grab a coffee.

However once you’ve been to a lounge, you can easily get used to it.  Especially when it’s as quiet as the newly refurbished Virgin East Coast Lounge at Kings Cross.  Here is my review.

First, I should say that Virgin East Coast has removed the old GNER / East Coast Trains policy of charging First Advance ticket holders £5 to use the lounge.  Entrance to the lounge is now free for everyone with a First Class ticket, although First Advance tickets must be worth more than £10.

The entrance to the Virgin East Coast lounge is right next to Little Waitrose.  You need to take a lift upstairs and you then find yourself immediately outside the lounge.

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross entrance waitrose

The lounge was surprisingly spacious and had lots of sitting and working areas.  Some of the seats were integrated in the wall as you can see in this picture at the far back.

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross eating coffee

There are two serving stations with coffee machines, a large variety of tea, a fridge with water and coke, orange juice and biscuits. In the mornings you can also get a pain au chocolat – which I didn’t dare to eat as I’m not a big fan of pastries wrapped in plastic.

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross tv area

The lounge also has free newspapers (The Times) and fruit.

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross newspaper pastries

This is the sitting area at the far back to the left

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross sitting

…. and this is an interesting looking sitting thing which is in the middle of the room:

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross sitting area

At the far back on the right is another sitting area including a bar table:

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross bar table

Many of the tables in the Virgin lounge have wireless phone chargers:

virgin east coast first class lounge phone chargers

If you need to print something, you can connect your device with the printer using wifi – unfortunately the wifi was down when I was in the lounge …..

virgin east coast first class lounge kings cross magazines printer

Conclusion

Compared to the Virgin West Coast lounge at Euston station which I visited a few days later, the lounge at Kings Cross was impressive.  I will not write about that as Rob did a full West Coast lounge review here.

You can feel that the East Coast lounge is new and the sitting areas have been well designed.  Unlike Euston, which feels very cramped, you can actually sit back and relax in the Kings Cross lounge.

It would have been great had there been a bit more food than just bananas and biscuits and the fact that the WiFi was down was a bit annoying, but that should have been a temporary issue.

I loved that the lounge was located very close to the platforms and the coffee was good. If you don’t like rushing around and would rather spend some time relaxing at the station before getting on your train, the Virgin East Coast First Class lounge at Kings Cross is a good place to do so.

I also visited the Virgin West Coast lounge at Manchester Piccadilly last week.   I didn’t expect it to be worth writing about, but it is.  That piece is coming soon.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (25)

  • James says:

    I used to visit this lounge on a regular basis and pay my fiver (pre refurb) but it was getting busier and busier to the point I gave up and now spend my fiver on a pint in the pub next door to experience the same busyness but with an alcoholic drink 🙂

    Has anyone visited now it’s free but at 6pm on a Thursday or Friday night as I can only assume it’s worse now it’s free?

    • Chris says:

      It is. I’m a fairly regular user of this lounge and i have never had this quiet experience you described. It has always been very busy, and the organsed seating layout goes out the window. Still, I’m glad it’s there if I have time to kill.

  • Danny says:

    I’ve used this lounge a lot as I’m a very regular East Coast traveller. Very handy to have, and even at busy times it’s much calmer than sitting in Pret in the main concourse. Was in there on Wednesday evening and there was a masseuse too!

  • Michael says:

    To all those saying get there ages early, note that rail rules say if you get delayed on other rail transport, your ticket can be endorsed by station staff for travel on the next one. Yes you have to allow ‘reasonable’ time, but this does include the tube-anything where it’s published with delays on the TfL website will count. Obviously a contactless account record (or Oyster printout) could be required if you need to prove your route, but don’t consider hope lost until you’ve asked at the station!

    • John says:

      This is not true. Although you can use any number of NR tickets for a single journey, tube delays would only be covered if it was included in your train ticket or if it is an LUL interavailable route. You oalso need to stick to min connection times which are substantial for LUL.

  • Lady London says:

    I used the lounge at Munich main station earlier this year and it was pretty good. Although quite crowded standard and calmness exceeded the standards of a number of airport lounges I’ve been in at BA and LH outstations.

    • HAM76 says:

      You have to know what food is availble, though. Otherwise you get offered the default which is a sandwich. Alternatives are croissants in the morning, soup from noon and fruit salad usually available during the day except early in the morning.

  • lynnette b says:

    Used the 1st class lounge in Newcastle this week, and have to say it was a joke. The drinks machine was filthy and not working, so there was only water available in the fridge. No fruit, no biscuits, in fact nothing to eat. My husband went to find someone to check this out and after 20 minutes, 4 people appeared and played about for about 15 mins trying to fix it. Eventually you could get a drink. Our train had been delayed so we spent more time in there than anticipated. Don’t get your hopes up about this lounge!!!

  • Johnnycl says:

    Nice review Anika, the level of detail and photos paint a good picture, I look forward to trying it out in the near future.

  • Richard says:

    I used this lounge at 1815 last Friday and it was maybe 30% full though we are in holiday season.

    I don’t care much for the Virgin design style and the variety of uncomfortable seats that this lounge offers.

    Worth noting that there is a fridge at the entrance where you can purchase alchoholic drinks and a wider range of soft drinks.

    Not worth rushing to use the lounge but good escape from the main terminal if you arrive early.

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