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Review of the expanded 51 Degrees Lolfa Foethus (Executive Lounge) at Cardiff Airport

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This is our review of the new 51 Degrees Lolfa Faoethus (Executive Lounge) at Cardiff International Airport.

Last year in February we published a review of the Executive lounge at Cardiff Airport by one of our readers Nathan.  A few weeks ago the lounge reopened after a refurbishment, presumably to tie in with the launch of Qatar Airways services from Cardiff.  Here is Nathan’s update on the changes.  Over to you Nathan ….

“The Cardiff airport lounge has been expanded and renamed.  The new name is 51 Degrees, for reasons not explained.  The entrance has moved further around the corner into the new large seating area, opposite the new large WH Smith.

Here is the new entrance:

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

Once I was through the double doors the desk was staffed by two very friendly members of staff. You can get access by paying cash (£20), showing your Priority Pass, Lounge Club or Dragonpass card or your business class boarding pass. I scanned in my Priority Pass card and was given a code for the wifi, which was fast enough to stream Netflix well.

There were two flight information screens within the longue to keep you up to date.

Seating

My first impression was that the new layout is much bigger and brighter than it was before. There is a lot of armchair seating and coffee tables. The image below is approximately a third of the new seating area. As you can see it was not very busy at 2pm on a Friday.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

The wall behind me in that image has a bar style seating area, and the bar stools were very comfortable. There are no longer any private booth style seats.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

If you want a plug socket to charge any of your devices, you should either sit on one of the bar stools or find a chair adjacent to the wall. The sockets were standard British plugs and USB chargers.

There was one highchair available if you are travelling with a little one.

The outlook from the single window is still over the car park.  There is only one table by the window but I would not be upset if I didn’t get to sit there.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

Entertainment

There is one very large TV playing BBC news, a fair selection of newspapers on the bar and what I consider a poor magazine selection.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

Food and drinks

The new 51 Degrees Cardiff airport lounge has one self service area for snacks and soft drinks.

As you can see in the picture below, to quench your thirst you have a tea and coffee machine, a selection of Schweppes mixers, fruit juices and just off the photo a coke and lemonade fountain – sadly not the one where you can make cherry coke.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

The snacks were acceptable but would not equate to a full meal.  There were nuts, crisps, pastries, cereals, fruit and welsh cakes. If you were a fan of the rocky road in the old lounge like myself you will be sad to hear they are no longer available …..

All alcoholic beverages are served from a staffed bar. The spirits are still locally sourced from the Penderyn distillery in the Brecon Beacons.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

Some of the beers are also locally sourced from the Glamorgan brewing company.  There was wine available but I did not see the exact bottles and, as I am not a wine drinker anyway, my opinion would have been moot.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

Within the lounge there was a door to another section that is only for business passengers flying Qatar Airways or KLM.  While I was there I did not see anyone go in or out of there. I looked through the glass door and from what I could see it was just a continuation of the main lounge design. I couldn’t tell whether there was anything else special in there – it seemed not.

Lolfa Foethus lounge at cardiff airport

Conclusion

Overall the revamp has improved the Cardiff Airport lounge substantially.  51 Degrees is now a very bright, spacious and peaceful place to spend an hour before flying.  The Welsh history theme has been lost to make way for clean muted colours.  I liked both but I have to admit the new ambience is very nice.

The staff were extremely friendly and there were so many of them! Maybe there are more at the moment in case of any teething problems, but at a rough estimate is that there was one member of staff to every three guests. I never had to queue for a drink.

As previously the food lets the 51 Degrees lounge down which is a shame because it is really nice place to be. Even just some sandwiches and soup would put it up there on par with similar lounges such as Bristol and Dublin.

The dress code is apparently ‘smart casual’. I was wearing my customary shorts and t-shirt and did not get the slightest ‘look’.

There are some downsides of the revamp mainly due to how the existing space has been split.  There is now only one window in the main body of the lounge as the expanded space is all internal.  The windows in the old lounge are all now inside the business section.  This is also where the toilets are, which means that they are for business passengers only and everyone else has to leave the lounge to use the bathroom outside.  This annoys me slightly – I couldn’t take a look but the old toilets were rather shabby.

I doubt that it will ever be full as I never had a problem with the lounge when it was half the size. Of course this may all change if Qatar Airways or any other airline start investing and flying more regularly from Cardiff Airport (I hope they do)!  The scope is there and I know plans are in motion for a much faster link road direct from the M4 at J34. Watch this space.”

Thanks Nathan.  If you don’t have a Priority Pass lounge card or a Lounge Club card (two free entries with the Amex Gold credit card) you can book entry in advance for cash via Lounge Pass.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

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:

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 (20)

  • DOLLY THE SHEEP says:

    Cachu bant ti cachu mes

  • Andrew M says:

    Erm. Pretty sure the “Lolfa Foethus” isn’t part of the name, given it simply means executive lounge. Just like the executive lounge in English underneath isn’t. Just 51 degrees.

  • Lux says:

    51… foot?

    • Michael Jennings says:

      51 degrees north is the Latitude of Cardiff. (51.4816° N, more precisely). I assume that’s it.

  • Catalan says:

    Quite a boring, drab looking lounge in my opinion. Coupled with dire food selection I’d be rather annoyed if I’d paid £20 to enter.

  • Andrew says:

    I am on the 7 am flight to Doha , is there a half decent restaurant alternative at Cardiff?

    • Ade says:

      Its been a year or so, since I was through Cardiff airport, but there is a small cafe before security (can’t remember the name, but imagine Little Chef and you won’t be far wrong) Once in departures these is a cafe/bar that regularly rates 1 star on trip advisor (although I’ve not eaten there in years to offer a current opinion).

  • Russell says:

    It looks like any other provincial lounge… until you get to the beer and whisky selection! Great choice, I doubt any other lounge in the world will stock Penderyn, and more fool them!

    • AndyF says:

      Couldn’t agree more the Penderyn distillery is world class their gin is fantastic.

  • Lee Thomas says:

    In the executive lounge used By qatar and KLM the bar is a free pour bar with the addition of prosecco. On my pm flight we also had a hot dish , cawl, which is a welsh lamb stew. Apparently they are looking to up the hot options for business class passengers.
    Previoulsy , you could buy hot food items from the cafe/ restaurant outside the lounge and they would deliver it to the lounge for you.
    The business class lounge has access to the toilets, I think those in the executive lounge have to use the toilets just outside the lounge.

  • Chad60 says:

    I was in there 10 days ago as a guest of QR.
    Passed through the second set of doors and yes it’s similar but more welcoming. Absolutely EXCELLENT pot of cawl in there and plenty of snacks too. Good local spirits- Brecon gin etc
    TBH, my seat was comfortable, the f&b were as good as anywhere – I would genuinely prefer to be in that lounge at Cardiff than most other U.K. lounges

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