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Review: the Virgin Trains First Class lounge at Manchester Piccadilly

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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.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (April 2023)

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four 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 four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

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

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get 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 (16)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Cheshire Pete says:

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

  • Scott says:

    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.

  • 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 🙂

    • Rob says:

      Does it really?!

    • Paul says:

      Interesting! Never heard about VS Gold status getting lounge access before. Is this published anywhere? Just show card at reception desk?

  • GK says:

    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).

  • mark2 says:

    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).

    • Brian says:

      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.

      • Gavin says:

        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!

  • Robert says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

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

  • Rob says:

    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.



      • Aeronaut says:

        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!

    • Kathryn says:

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

  • wally1976 says:

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

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