This article is my review of the Aspire lounge at Edinburgh Airport. This is the original Aspire lounge by Gate 4. Our review of the new Aspire lounge, by Gate 16, is here.
A long layover at Edinburgh Airport last week gave me a chance to take a look at three of the lounges – No1 Lounge (reviewed here), Aspire and the British Airways Galleries.
You can learn more about the Aspire Lounge, and pre-book cash visits, on their website here.
The Aspire lounge is located next to the British Airways lounge at the far end of the shopping precinct. The No1 Lounge is more central, although you shouldn’t pick a lounge on this basis as they are only a minute or so apart.
I got in using my Priority Pass, which comes with my American Express Platinum card (or you can buy one) and allows unlimited free lounge visits. It also accepts Lounge Club, which comes with American Express Gold (two free visits per year) or HSBC Premier’s LoungeKey card. You can also pay cash on the door, or pre-book a spot via this website.
I had been in the No1 Lounge first, and leaving there to enter the Aspire lounge was a bit disheartening.
Here’s the thing. If you look at the pictures below, it looks OK. And, of course, it is ‘OK’. It has clearly been refurbished recently.
The lounge is an odd shape. As you enter there are a few cubicles on the right hand side, which makes this a better option than No1 if you want to work in semi-privacy. You then enter a fairly small room (so small I couldn’t photograph it well) with both cubicle, booth and bar stool seating.
Initially, you think this is it. Eventually you spot that, behind the buffet and bar, the lounge snakes away around the corner, and you find yourself in a bigger space with a lot of light and views of the airport.
I think my bad vibe came from a few things. There was a general sense that things were not ‘smart and neat’, from the newspaper table:
….. through to the scuffed and creased menus everywhere, through to some of the buffet presentation:
It is also quite a tight space with a lot of furniture and the dark colours don’t feel too inviting. Coming from the open plan, bright walled No 1 Lounge, Aspire felt cramped.
Heading to the loo is tricky. You let yourself out into the main corridor via a one way fire door, and then walk around the corner. On your return, you need to head back to main entrance and see the reception staff.
Perhaps I am being too picky. The lounge was not busy. It also, at least over lunch when I was there, has hot as well as cold food on the buffet. If you are in need of something hot and more substantial than a No1 Lounge fish finger wrap, you will be at home here. I had a plate of pulled pork and rice which wasn’t bad at all.
Aspire was also more generous with its wine, pouring straight from the bottle. The No1 Lounge poured your wine into a measuring device and then into your glass, which is odd given that you weren’t paying for it and could have as many as you wanted.
As I said above, if you look at my pictures you might wonder why I wasn’t full of enthusiasm. It is hard to put my finger on it myself. Aspire is certainly a better place if you want some privacy or are worried about your kids making a noise, as you can tuck yourself away in a corner.
If I was back in Edinburgh with a Priority Pass or Lounge Club card, I would head to the No1 Lounge first (reviewed here). If I got turned away because it was full, however, I wouldn’t be too concerned if I ended up in the Aspire Lounge.
You can book for cash via the Lounge Pass website here.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (October 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
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.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
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 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 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.