In order to complete our collection of reviews of airport lounges across the UK, we asked for the help of our readers.
Reader Stephenie kindly sent us a review of the Escape Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 1.
You can find all of our other UK airport lounge reviews here. At Manchester, we have also covered Aspire in T1, Escape Plus in T2, Escape in T3, British Airways in T3 and the premium adults-only 1903 Lounge in T3. We are well on our way to covering all of the independent ones.
Over to Stephenie:
“The lounge I’m reviewing today is the Escape Lounge in Terminal 1 at Manchester International Airport.
I was really excited about redeeming one of my two free visits (Lounge Club from my American Express Gold card) to check out the Escape Lounge at Manchester Airport, before flying out to Hong Kong via Helsinki.
Before online reviews were “a thing”, my vision of an airport lounge had always been a place full of business travellers in their crisp suits, glamorous jet-setters enjoying a glass of bubbly, flipping through magazines and relaxing before getting on a plane …
As it turned out, Terminal 1 at Manchester is not necessarily where you find that.
I turned left to follow the sign for “Premium Lounges” after coming out of the obligatory corridor of duty free goods. The sign led me to a brightly lit corridor, away from all the hustle and bustle.
The lounges could be reached by stairs or lift. I took the stairs and turned right as I reached the top of the staircase and immediately saw the entrance of the Aspire Lounge (previously reviewed here on HfP). The Escape Lounge is a few steps away from the Aspire Lounge, on the left. It was definitely easy enough to find.
There were 3 receptionists on duty upon my arrival (at around 3:30pm on a Sunday afternoon). The lounge on first look seemed fairly deserted. The member of staff who signed me in was very professional and helpful.
In addition, there was a striking green bar. I had expected the lounge to look slightly classier and more sophisticated. After checking in, I decided to give the place a good look and investigate.
The lounge itself was a very spacious area with lots of chairs and coffee tables. There were at least two wall-mounted screens showing flight times. The main lounge area was set with a self-serviced food counter and a staffed bar.
Next to the main lounge was another room labeled ‘Quiet Zone’ with a small area for making tea and coffee. Mini croissants were also served next to the coffee machine.
I had at least two hours in the lounge before boarding, so I managed to explore the place further, walked and sat around at different areas. There were two main food islands, one offering cold food and the other one hot.
Further down the main lounge, there was another area set with a coffee machine, a selection of Twining tea bags and a variety of snacks including muffins, shortbread and flapjacks.
The choice of food was rather limited (or was I expecting too much?) The cold food included salads, coleslaw and a tray of sandwiches:
Apart from the sandwiches, everything else on the cold food counter was out in the open and exposed to the air, uncovered. Hot food included soup and pasta. (There was also a sign saying ‘sausages’ but sadly there were no sausages to be found.) None of the food on offer looked particularly appealing.
For this review, I tried a few items from the food counter: a coronation chicken sandwich, a spoonful of the salad with sweetcorn, red kidney beans and other vegetables like mixed peppers; I also had a chocolate muffin and a flapjack. They were OK and definitely not gourmet food, though the flapjack was rather delicious.
Apart from drinks in the fridges (to which guests could help themselves) and the wine and other alcoholic beverages served at the staffed bar, there were also three types of fruit juice, including fresh orange juice, on offer. You could also pay for a bottle of champagne if you so wish.
There was a selection of magazines and newspapers near the reception, some more magazines and a TV can be found in the ‘Quiet Zone’.
The Quiet Zone was separated by a sliding door that stayed open the whole time so the room was not completely silent. The TV was also on at a very low volume. During my stay, there were kids screaming and crying in the main lounge and while I could still hear the noise, it definitely helped to be in the Quiet Zone.
During my hour and a half spent at the Escape Lounge, the place went from fairly deserted to incredibly noisy with kids screaming and crying, though only for a relatively short period of time.
That being said, you could definitely get some work done or just sit and read in the Quiet Zone. Free WiFi access was available to all guests and there were plenty of sockets where you could charge your phone or plug in your laptops.
The staff were attentive and helpful. Food was OK and there was a nice selection of beverages. Seats were comfortable and there were definitely plenty of them available. The décor was a little bit random and dated, and quite bluntly, the Quiet Zone reminded me a bit of the lounge of a care home – with mismatched chairs facing the TV.
Would I recommend it? Not particularly, especially if you’re paying money for it. I expect there are more sophisticated and sassier lounges to try with your Priority Pass or Lounge Club card with fast WiFi, tastier food and which in general give you a more special lounge experience. The Head for Points review of the Aspire Lounge down the corridor looked more inviting.”
Thanks Stephenie. You can access the Escape lounge using a Priority Pass (free with Amex Platinum or you can buy one here) or Lounge Club card (two free visits with Amex Gold) or LoungeKey if you are a MasterCard World Elite holder.
If you want to book entry for cash, you can do so via the airport website here.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 2021)
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge 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.
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 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.