This is my review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at Washington Dulles International airport. It is the first of three articles covering my journey back from the Hilton event I attended at their HQ in Virginia. The second part will look at the new A330-300 Upper Class product and part three will look at the Revivals lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.
The key thing to remember with Virgin Atlantic is that you only get the ‘true’ Clubhouse experience in Heathrow Terminal 3 (special website here, review here). New York JFK, its second most important airport, has a watered down version as we reviewed here. Provision at other airports varies widely, including the travesty of the Escape Plus lounge at Manchester Terminal 2.
I am pleased to say that the Washington Clubhouse is at the upper end of the scale. It doesn’t have table tennis tables or any of the Heathrow quirks but it is an attractive, solid lounge with excellent dining and good staff.
(If you are flying out of Dulles in the morning when there are no Virgin Atlantic flights, you can access the Clubhouse with a Priority Pass. There is a reduced food and drink offering however. For clarity, you cannot get in with a Priority Pass during the hours that Virgin is operating.)
The lounge is directly opposite the gate that Virgin Atlantic uses. It was my shortest ever walk from lounge to plane – it took literally two seconds to get from the lounge door to the back of the Priority Boarding queue!
The lounge is, in theory, on two levels. There is this attractive spiral staircase (just visible on the left):
… but when you get to the top you realise that there is actually nothing there and it is just an architectural tweak to make the room look classier:
It does allow you to get some decent photographs of the main downstairs area though!
and of the dining area:
There is a wall of glass which gives views out to the adjacent jet bridges. As the Virgin Atlantic gate is on the other side, you will be looking at someone elses aircraft!
With the Virgin Atlantic flights being overnight, the key benefit of using the lounge is the waiter-service lounge dining. This allows you to do what I did – have a decent meal on the ground and then refuse everything when you get on the aircraft in order to maximise sleep. I also skipped breakfast and decided to hit the Revivals Lounge at Heathrow instead.
The dining, I’m pleased to say, was very good. I kicked off with champagne:
There is one Virgin Atlantic gimmick in the lounge. There is a ‘virtual reality’ cocktail experience. The drinks menu contains nine signature cocktails from famous bars across the world. Choose one of these and the staff will give you a VR headset so you can see it being made in the bar where it originated ….
My dodgy eyesight means VR doesn’t work well for me so I headed straight for the food. I skipped the eight starters and salads and headed to the mains. The options were:
- sesame crusted tuna
- chicken tikka masala
- Clubhouse burger
- Portobello mushroom burger
- Mac and cheese
- vegetable curry
I went for the chicken tikka masala which was good:
Desert options were creme fraiche cheesecake (see below), fruit salad, dark chocolate brownie, mango sorbet or an artisan cheese selection.
The meal was impressive – probably better than I would have got on the plane. It is worth noting that pre-flight dining is available to everyone who has access to the lounge, so if you are in Economy or Premium with Virgin status you can still take advantage of it.
And that was that. The Virgin Atlantic Washington Dulles Clubhouse lounge is a light, bright place with a very good dining area and is a pleasant place to pass an hour or so before an overnight flight.
I ate, took the four paces from the lounge door to the back of the Priority Boarding queue, and waited to see how the refurbished A330-300 Upper Class cabin would turn out.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles. That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)