This is my review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at New York’s JFK airport.
As part of the Virgin Atlantic press trip I had attended earlier in the week, I was given a pass for the New York JFK Airport Clubhouse before my return flight. Whilst I have been lucky enough to sample quite a few airline and commercial lounges in the past, I had never experienced a Virgin Atlantic one before. That was until this trip when I found myself in the glorious Clubhouse at Heathrow T3 at the start of the week and then in the JFK Clubhouse on Friday evening.
Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse location
Once through security I headed to the Clubhouse which is above gate A5. This was convenient as my flight was also leaving from gate A5, although this was probably not a coincidence.
It didn’t take long to walk there and at the entrance I was greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic lady. I was made to feel like they were expecting me, all very pleasant so far.
As I walked through to the Clubhouse, there was an unmanned hand luggage store room to the right where you could place your bag.
On entering the Clubhouse itself I was greeted by a row of architectural metal bars behind which I could see the drinks bar. These decorative bars were present throughout the building.
Looking around you have the option of turning left or right. In both directions I could see that there was plenty of seating available. Both sides of the room had windows running the whole length allowing lots of natural light in and close views of the airport runways.
There was a good selection of British newspapers on the back wall.
There was also a familiar selection of magazines which was disappointing as I thought Virgin would be doing something different here.
Walking around to the left, the pool table caught my eye. Shame I was travelling alone otherwise I would have made full use of that.
Further round there was a small business centre with a couple of Apple Macs.
There seemed to be many different types of seating so you could choose whether you wanted to kick back and relax by yourself on a soft reclining chair or find something more upright and sturdy for working.
Food and drinks
As I was hungry I headed over to the restaurant area which was very nicely appointed. It had a formal look but was actually very relaxed. The waiting staff were very warm and calm and that definitely helped to create a more laid back environment. They were very attentive and I was impressed with the high level of customer service throughout.
I’d been told the food was very good and was looking forward to trying it. Main courses on offer included chicken or vegetable curry, panko crusted catfish and ‘Employees Only’ ricotta gnocchi. Employees Only is the name of a hip little restaurant in SoHo that had created this dish. If you get a chance to visit them, I recommend it.
In the end I decided on the Clubhouse burger as I’d heard good things about it from the Virgin Atlantic PR team during the trip. It was delicious and filling and I knew I was going to sleep well on the flight. So much so that I didn’t have room for one of the desserts such as salted scotch pretzel pudding or black forest trifle. I’m kind of regretting that now as I type.
There is a young flyers menu for any children lucky enough to be in the Clubhouse. There is also a good selection of bar snacks which can be chosen as starters or served together as a main.
The champagne on offer was Lanson Black Label NV. Wines included a Californian Château Souvrain Chardonnay, 2013 and a Washington Merf Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015.
Next to the restaurant was a large bar where you could have a cocktail in relatively peaceful surroundings. The spirit choices were all pretty standard brands.
If you needed to freshen up, showers are available. Cowshed shower gels and Bumble and Bumble shampoo/conditioner are provided.
As in London there is also a spa and hairdressing salon. Most of the services are charged, although Virgin and Delta customers can receive a complimentary 15 minute treatment such as a fringe trim, beard tidy, head massage or nail manicure. These services are always busy so I recommend booking a treatment as soon as you arrive or even in advance. I didn’t get to see inside the spa area as someone was having a treatment.
One nice thing about the Clubhouse is, you do not need to worry about when you are boarding. An announcement will be made regarding your flight followed by a second announcement, so don’t rush that gin and tonic after the first! It took me less than two minutes to leave the Clubhouse and board the aircraft which was appreciated.
Whilst not as big and impressive as the Clubhouse at Heathrow, the New York Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is still a very good lounge. An hour or two in here before your flight is guaranteed to relax you and make the time pass quickly. The food is far better than most standard lounges and the service is excellent. A better class of champagne would be nice, as would a selection of more artisan spirits but these are only minor disappointments.
I was concerned the Clubhouse would be busy as I was travelling at 7pm on a Friday evening but it was quite the opposite and there was plenty of choice for seating.
I do like that Virgin are able to make their services feel different. Whether it’s the relaxed design or enthusiastic and down to earth staff, I find the experience very enjoyable. Even though the standard of care is high and makes you feel part of something special, the atmosphere created is quite informal and easy going. If you have a chance to visit this lounge one day then – as long as you don’t expected all the bells and whistles of Heathrow – you won’t be disappointed.
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