My review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow

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This is my mini review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

I have a confession to make. To this day I’ve never flown with Virgin Atlantic and the only Clubhouse I’d ever visited before was the Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 3 for a press event.   Whilst I’m yet to get on a Virgin Atlantic plane, I can tick off the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow now as I got access as part of my Delta One flight to Atlanta last week.

Rob wrote a two-part review about the lounge two years ago which you can find here and here.  He had a few hours in the lounge and was able to experience a full meal due to his afternoon flight.

My flight was at 12:30 pm which meant that I was in the lounge for breakfast.  Due to lengthy check-in and security delays I had less time than I planned, so I recommend reading Rob’s older articles alongside mine, especially if you want to know more about what the restaurant serves.

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3
As the Virgin Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow is generally regarded as one of the top five Business Class lounges in the world I decided to get to the airport early enough to check out the spa and restaurant and look at the different areas.  I ended up being a little disappointed as you will see.

Unfortunately the check in process stole about 40 minutes of my time. There were about six open Virgin / Delta premium check in counters, each with their own queue. I waited in one of them, just to be told when it was my turn that the counter was closing and I had to join one of the other queues – at the back.

I made my way to the next line. Once it was my turn I was asked if I was flying Virgin or Delta. I said Delta and was told that I had to do some sort of security check and answer a couple of questions before they would accept my suitcase.   I made my way towards the middle of the check in hall, handed over my passport and had to answer a number of questions (what visa am I travelling on, where am I staying, how long, and so on).  I got a sticker on my passport and walked back to the check in counter ….

Once I was finally checked in and had dropped off my bags I walked to the lift which is located next to the check in counters. The lift took me up to the Upper Class security – where they were experiencing delays due to a passenger arguing with staff about his bag with liquids.  This appears to be an increasing problem with US flights, because passengers with TSA pre-check no longer need to unpack liquids when leaving the US …. but they do on the return.  It seemed that asking this passengers to step out of the queue to let other people go ahead was too difficult.

Anyway, after a long walk through the Duty Free shop and another lift ride I finally made it to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – but with only about 90 minutes left until my flight.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

Rob told me that the spa gets booked up quickly and as the lounge was very busy, I walked down to the far right end of the lounge and booked a head massage.  This is one of the complimentary treatments – the majority of the spa menu requires payment, either in cash or miles.

The free treatments at Heathrow are:

Creative dry style female hair treatment (15 minutes)

Fringe trim (ladies only) (15 minutes)

Beard trim (15 minutes)

Neck tidy (men only) (15 minutes)

File and buff for hands and nails (15 minutes)

Express Radiant You facial (15 minutes)

Head massage (15 minutes)

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

I got an appointment 20 minutes later which meant I didn’t have enough time for a sit down breakfast in the restaurant.  I went to the buffet counter instead and it was very impressive to my continental tastes. They had various different bread types to choose from and a large selection of fish, cheese and cold cuts.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

I sat at the long table opposite the breakfast counter facing the long bar at the far back.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

After my head massage I had a look around the lounge.  It is a very large space with plants and glass walls acting as room dividers to create the feeling of separate areas.

Opposite the entrance was a table with a small selection of magazines and newspapers. To the right was one sitting area and the spa, at the far back was the bar and behind it a number of small sitting areas with views over the airport.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

and

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

Towards the far left of the lounge were more sitting areas including a TV area.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

and

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

I didn’t take a picture of the restaurant as it was very busy but Rob covered it in-depth in his review.  As I was there in the morning I couldn’t sample the new afternoon tea service which was introduced this year.

It’s worth noting that there is table service throughout the whole lounge and there were breakfast menus available on every table. I personally preferred the bread, fish and cheese option and only ordered a fruit salad from the menu.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

The lounge also has a small mezzanine level with seats, sofas and a pool table. This area was very bright unlike the rest of the lounge which was rather dark.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

From the mezzanine level I walked up more stairs and found myself on the outdoor terrace. It was a gorgeous day and it would have been fun to have a drink up here, but I guess I was too early as the bar wasn’t open yet.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow T3 review

I also took some video footage that I edited into a short video clip.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel via this page – this is the same link to visit if the video does not automatically appear below.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge. The breakfast was very good and I got a free head massage. It was very busy until around 11am but I still managed to get a small sitting area with a swing by the windows.

That said, it was not the life-changing experience that many flyers seem to rave about. And I doubt it was the loss of the jacuzzi in the last refurbishment that made the difference!

Part of the problem is that the lounge is substantially busier now than it was historically.  Delta began to give its customers access and then then consolidated all of its Heathrow flights, previously split across two terminals, in Terminal 3.

It’s a shame I didn’t get to experience lunch, afternoon tea or dinner in the restaurant as I believe this is one of the things that makes this lounge special.  There are fewer ways to make the breakfast experience stand out.

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Heathrow is definitely one of the better lounges and worth a visit but if you want peace and quiet it won’t be everything you hoped for.  If you have the choice, I think that it’s better to book a flight in the afternoon when you can visit the restaurant and the lounge is hopefully not as busy as when I visited.

To make the most of the lounge I suggest arriving at the lounge two to three hours before your flight and to book a spa treatment as soon as you walk in. And if you’re flying with Delta, remember to do the pre check stuff before queuing at the check in desk …..

You can find out more about the Clubhouse on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

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.

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Comments

  1. Oh Matron! says:

    Sorry to hear about this farce at check in, something I’ve never had in the 20 years of flying VS.

    Whilst I agree with the Clubhouse getting a little crowded, I’ve still always been seated in the restaurant for breakfast / lunch, etc

    And let’s not forget just how good that deli bar is: The beetroot smoked salmon is excellent!

    One thing to mention that you didn’t have time for: The showers are excellent, along with the steam rooms. Something that’s always appreciated before a long flight

    Fortunately, it’s less busy than it first was, when they let any Delta Gold Medallion (does anyone else bring when they hear the word ‘Medallion’?) riff raff in. Glad they changed this policy

  2. Anika…..

    “I only ordered a fruit salad from the menu”…….and a glass of champagne…????

  3. The thing about VS clubhouses in my opinion is they are basically a good bar – so as long as you can still get a stiff drink fairly easily I don’t mind if it’s a bit busy. Used the spa once….wouldn’t feel the need to repeat, it’s a novelty.

  4. I suspect Heathrow airport experience is a massive headache for Virgin. I have yet to have a pleasant experience in the dedicated security channel, and have reflected this in the after flight surveys every time.

    So much of the Virgin USP is in the soft product. You sweep up to the turning circle to be met by charming check in staff. Your bags disappear without any stress. You have your boarding documents prepared and ready to go.

    Then you shuffle slowly through surly security staff, who compare poorly even with London’s leisure airports.

    • Can’t be as bad as BA F security staff at JFK…

    • I sat next to someone relatively high up at LHR security on a Little Red flight a couple of years back, just after T2 opened.

      She told me when they were recruiting for T2 they cherry-picked the most customer-friendly people from across LHR. Leaving the ones who didn’t make the grade at the other terminals. As can be clearly seen at T3 …

      • Why though? T2 is probably the nicest terminal just because of its newness but I don’t see why they’d look to have better security staff than the other terminals?

  5. I cancelled an Upper Class flight I had booked to San Francisco using airmiles. Its been over a month and I’ve still not had the taxes refunded. I’ve chased repeatedly and apparently its in the system….
    Has put me off booking with them again. I’d booked two singles so they owe me about £6-700!!

  6. Is the virgin upper class security different from the usual fast track at T3? I can’t remember a duty free shop after it.

    • IIRC from last year, when you go up the lift it gives the impression of going to a private security zone, but actually you just pop out in the main concourse where there is a lane – part of the wider security set-up – for UC. You then need to do the usual meander though the terminal to the Clubhouse. It would be better if the lounge was moved so that you could get from drive thru check-in to the lounge without joining the general throng.

      • When you leave the UC desks take the lift immediately to the right (when lookign at the desks) then when you go up one level the magic door is almost in front of you. That gets you access to the private security channel which is part of the UC Wing.

        So yes it is totally separate from the general fast track security line at T3.

        There is no way to move the CH from it’s current location to anywhere near the UC Wing. Certainly I can’t see VS/DL doing that voluntarily but if HAL wanted them to move and pay for it when who knows …

        I’ve never had a problem walking through the terminal to get to the CH.

  7. I really enjoyed my clubhouse visits this time last year…

    I thought the lounge, whilst busy, was nothing compared to how busy the BA lounge in T5. The food served at every place, together with drinks are a considerable upgrade to BA!

  8. I had the exact same problem with US passengers when passing through security at T5 on Sunday. They really need issuing with a notice telling them that the fact that they “were pre-cleared in Charlotte, North Carolina” (or wherever” means zilch in the UK.

    After we spent 2 1/2 hours queuing for immigration at IAD last month as the kiosks weren’t working I don’t see why we should be the only ones being inconvenienced!

  9. Alan Wan says:

    I used the Clubhouse a few years ago and was somewhat underwhelmed maybe because I was expecting something better after reading the hype. Now the Qatar premium lounge at T4 I was really blown away.

    • Barnaby100 says:

      Might put my daughter to work at Christmas as well as she’ll be nearly 11 ???? She can run a slime stall on the side.

      Unicorn snot, all the rage. Cheap Hair gel, add glitter, print a few unicorn labels, sell to the punters for £10 a pop.

      • Will suggest that to her! My daughter has no understand of the requirement to sell for more than the costs of the production, so the slime is sold at a loss-making (I reckon) £3 per pot.

    • Agreed. The Qatar lounge is the classiest in Heathrow, by a long way. Admittedly ‘classy’ is not always what people want (the lounge is effectively a very high end restaurant – the last place you’d want to be if heading off on a stag weekend for example) but I prefer it.

  10. Does anybody know if you are allowed to smoke on that outside terrace?

    • You can see the sign in Anika’s video. It’s no smoking – but ostensibly no eating or drinking either, which makes the appearance of the bar (pleasantly) surprising!

      • Colin JE says:

        That bar upstairs has been there for ages but I’ve never seen it staffed. Last time I was there (admittedly a couple of years) it was a Grey Goose vodka bar.

  11. Colin JE says:

    Anika, thanks for the review. It’s still my favourite lounge. I’ve only managed to get in by upgrading a PE ticket to Upper (can’t afford a full price Upper ticket). I’m really intrigued how you got in the lounge on a PE ticket. Do tell please?

    Sounds like check-in was a nightmare. If you ever have a chance to fly Upper and arrive in a taxi or limo do try the Upper Wing. It’s a brilliant arrival experience.

    • Delta One is J

    • If flying PE, ask at the reception if you can access Clubhouse – I have done this in the past for £60. As far as I understand, they won’t even entertain the request if flying economy, however PE you may have a chance. Bear in mind this was pre-Delta and it definitely depends on how busy the clubhouse is when you ask.

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