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.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK. You see all of the reviews here.

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.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. rams1981 says:

    Interesting review, thanks, particularly about it being busier. I’ve not been for a few years and used to love it. The busyness is a worry.

    By the way, think you mean 12.30pm flight departure Anika and not 12.30am.

    • It surely can’t now be long before Anika receives a complementary ticket from Virgin to try out their Upper Class service in flight………………

      • Stuff Anika, I’m hoping for an Upper Class ticket to Barbados in November when the first refurbished Air Berlin plane returns from the factory 🙂

        • I suppose poor old Anika only visits the lounges or takes the complementary air trips that you either don’t fancy taking up or don’t have the time to take up yourself………………….

          • My informal deal with my wife is that I will restrict myself to three long-haul trips a year for the company. That’s 9-12 nights away. Throw in conferences, press events outside London and the odd European hotel review and I’m away from the kids about 20 nights a year. That is more than enough. Other people can do the rest.

            I will make an exception and squeeze in a 4th one this year if it’s the Caribbean though 🙂

            There was nothing glamorous about flying to Aberdeen recently purely to visit the new BA lounge I promise you …

        • If you’re looking for “other people [to] do the rest”, Rob, I’ll happily take a ticket for my turn. ????

      • Prins Polo says:

        A complementary one would be nice, but even better when it’s complimentary 😉

        • But just to be clear that Anikia is not Rob’s wife but only his (presumably paid) assistant. Hence why she can be told it makes more sense for Rob rather than her to go off on a particularly exotic Freebie (sorry I mean important Head For Points Research trip) instead of him. Most modern 1st world wives would just not accept being told this.

          I don’t know if we have ever so far learned the name of Rob’s wife, although we do quite often here references to both her and Rob’s two children in terms of the hotels and/or resorts that they have all stayed at together (and their enjoyment thereof or otherwise) in various places around the globe.

          I am not sure if this would ever become any clearer to me if I managed to buy a HeadForPoints party ticket before they ran out (for instance do Rob’s wife or children ever attend those events). On that point I do think that given that they are always sold out that those who have never been to an HfP party so far, but who really want to go to one, ought to have priority over the more obsessive HfP members, some of whom seem to make over 100 posts a week on this website and have all attended several previous HfP parties. As things currently stand the obsessive HfPers always manage to snap up all of the party tickets before the rest of us ever manage to do so……………..

          • My wife comes to the parties, yes, and I normally point her out during my speech. Because of her senior City role and the fact she uses her maiden name at work, a few readers are always surprised to find they know her already.

            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.

        • It seems Rob’s wife is Conny. Here is a picture of them together at https://bit.ly/2LVM0Dp

          • There is a story behind this picture. The Mail sent a photographer to the office who spent over an hour doing shots of me, and some of me and Anika, in various locations – on the office roof, the balcony, in our chill-out area, in the lobby, on London Wall etc. Well over 100 shots in total. On the way out she asked if I had any holiday shots. There was literally just one relevant photo on my phone, since obviously all the other pics were taken by me and so didn’t have me in them, which I gave her. That is the one which was used.

            In theory some random holidaymaker is owed money by the Mail because they own the copyright.

  2. Interested to know what the other 4 lounges in your top 5 are. My favourite is still the Cathay HK lounge (Wing or Pier).

    • Lufthansa First Class Terminal In Frankfurt has to be one

      • The article refers to it as one of the top 5 business class lounges. I don’t think the Virgin Clubhouse would make the top 5 lounges including first class lounges.

        • Yes, you can’t really include dedicated F facilities like the one in Doha, which is more like a cathedral.

    • In no particular order the four best J lounges in the world are generally considered to be:

      – Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Heathrow
      – Al Mourjan Lounge, Doha
      – Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul
      – Pier Businesss Lounge, Hong Kong

      As for a fifth, perhaps the Qantas Lounge, Hong Kong?

      • I really hated the Turkish lounge, as per my article at the time ….

        Let’s see what the new airport brings.

        • I’ll second that Rob. Couldn’t stand the whole airport experience . I remember the Turkish Airlines motto at the time ” You will be treated like royalty from the moment you arrive at the airport” . NOT.

        • Prins Polo says:

          Agree, I’m not a big fan of the TK one in IST – it’s over the top in some respects but overall missing vibe and (although I’m sure some will disagree) good food.

          Not a fan of QR in DOH or EK in DXB either.

          For me the top ones are CX in HKG and QF in SYD.

      • Always a good topic to debate but the Al Mourjan? Yes, it’s huge, but already a shadow of it’s former self, I find the food there poor now. I know they badge the QR LHR T2 lounge as First and Business, but if they let business class in then for me, that’s what it is, I’d rather be there than at DOH. Anyone else got any good lounges to share?
        James, from what Lucky reviewed last week the Oman lounge may be better than DOH too.

      • Lady London says:

        Why not QF Sydney First Class lounge? Has that deteriorated?

      • I really don’t get the fuss over the Al Mourjan lounge. It has the wow factor (size, fountain) and some good extras (lockers, sleeping area) but to not even provide power sockets in the restaurant/bar mezzanine is … Well, a bit like trying to find some in the BA Galleries LHR T5 to be honest!

        It certainly doesn’t have the zones, variety of catering, or useful charging points which you could even find in the No.1 Lounge at LHR T3.

        Oh, btw off-topic but has anyone else tried the Amex Centurion lounge at Atlanta? It’s basically a private area of the Pontus restaurant but I’d not seen any mention of it here, even in the recent recap of Amex Platinum benefits. Pretty decent for a pre-flight meal as I found back in May before a Qatar ex-Europe bargain.

  3. There used to be some arcade games and a lounge area with the pool table downstairs.
    But they seem to have added more tables to accommodate the Delta flights

  4. Last time I was there, at the end of April it was empty all afternoon.

    You can’t really compare how busy it is to say, BA Galleries. Even when the Clubhouse is busy I have always found a quiet spot.

    A shame about check in. There are signs for DL pax to go to the desks.

  5. Intentional or not, your review put me right off flying VS/Delta. Have friends in the US who love Delta but the checkin farce you experienced was rediculous.
    The stupid liquid rule is well past it’s sell by date. I flew in the US last month and they simply don’t check. Mind you, TSA pre clearance is also farcical with family members (children) on the same booking getting it for some sectors and not others. My son just got the bigger bags! It’s mad

    • To be fair, I had almost exactly the same experience as Anika flying American a few weeks ago. Pre Check in made me feel like a criminal and I had to queue for ages. And I find in priority security ‘there’s always one’ who doesn’t know what they’re doing or makes a big fuss.

    • You get the extra questions whenever you fly with a US based airline on flights to the US

      Fly VS and you don’t but fly DL and you do. Same with BA and AA

      AA now even have staff in T5 connections to do the extra questions.

  6. Instastam says:

    Just as a point of note, if you’re flying Delta One you can still use the Virgin Upper Class Wing at Heathrow where you drive up in any car without booking, I did it in an uber a few months back – You’d have been checked in and through dedicated security and into the lounge within minutes.

    • I thought you had to call them in advance and confirm a time of arrival? Can you just turn up whenever as you say?

      • I flew on the 9th August. Was in my uber and called to find an automated message saying you don’t need to call anymore.

      • Used the Wing couple of weeks ago. Our pre flight email mentioned phoning in advance to let them know reg of the vehicle.
        Did so on the day when our car picked us up and voicemail said no longer required.

        • If you phone in advance and book a slot it means they can print off the bag tags ready for your arrival.

          If you just turn up then they obviously have to do that bit of admin whilst you are there so slowing down the process.

      • Instastam says:

        As others have confirmed, no longer required. I just buzzed the gate and told them my flight number and in I went.

        • Yep, booking a slot no longer required. I used it on a whim in July as the terminal was so damn hot and busy. Just jumped in a black cab after parking my own car at T3 short stay. It was noticably busier than in the past, and the paperwork took a couple of mins, but being able to circumvent T3 check-in that day was a godsend.

  7. I shouldn’t laugh ????

  8. Johnny Tabas says:

    Completely agree about the overcrowding, it seems to have worsened every year for the past 3/4 years.
    Last month we could only get a seat upstairs in the ‘chill out’ section which was fine but which meant no waitress service (I know it’s a hard life etc)
    When we went to the bar there were people kicking off about how long it was taking to get their drinks/get served.
    Worse was at the dining area where there were a fair few people milling around waiting to dive into seats as soon as people got up when they were done eating.
    It’s a great lounge it really is, but if I’m being honest (and spoilt!) it’s just not a special as it used to be.

  9. I still maintain that Delta should have their own lounge provision at T3 and leave the Virgin Clubhouse lounge for the exclusive use of qualifying VS passengers. What was once Virgin’s USP is now at times overcrowded and underwhelming.

  10. Why did you accept being sent to the back of the queue, having already waited your turn?

  11. So THAT’s the way they want their premium passengers to check in! Harrumph!

    I’ve not been there since the DL intervention and now feel no great desire to go back. Thanks for the warning.

    I wonder what ‘Sir’ RB would think about the report and the declining reputation of the lounge. Oh, wait. he’s not hands on any more.. Too busy overseeing the reprise of Virgin Radio?

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