Review of the BA Galleries Club South lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5

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This is our review of the British Airways Galleries Club South lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

Regular readers may remember that we called upon a friend of ours called Jamie earlier in the year when we needed someone to travel to New York for a Virgin Atlantic flight review.  The feedback in our comments about his writing style was positive, so when he offered to write a series on a recent trip to Indonesia we were happy to accept.

His trip was exclusively in Business Class using airlines in the oneworld alliance, with all of the flights booked using Avios.  We were especially keen to get some Malaysia Airlines coverage as we have always neglected it a little despite its oneworld status.

Over the next week Jamie will be looking at:

British Airways, Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur (Club World)
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge
Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta (Business)
Premier Lounge in Bali International airport
Qatar Airways, Bali to Doha (Business)
Qatar Airways business class lounge in Doha
Qatar Airways, Doha to London (Business)

The first review is the British Airways Galleries Club South lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5.

With the British Airways Galleries at Terminal 5 being the most visited lounges by HFP staff (and readers) you would think that there we’d have written a review of the South lounge already.  But, for some reason, no one ever did – I think we thought all our readers had already seen it too.

That’s obviously not the case, however, and we were happy to let Jamie take a look on your behalf and add it to our list of UK Airport Lounge Reviews.  Over to you ….

“I was embarking on a one month trip to Indonesia and, as it was a long haul journey, I decided to use some (most!) of my Avios to book my flights in business class.

It had been several years since I visited the Galleries Club South Lounge.  I don’t fly enough to earn British Airways status but I did make numerous visits whilst holding Cathay Pacific Gold Status a few years back.

(For a couple of years, Cathay Pacific Gold status – which is equivalent to a British Airways Silver card – was a free perk of American Express Platinum!  Due to BA’s relationship with American Express this benefit was never widely publicised in the UK and few people outside of the Head for Points readership knew it existed.)

I was curious to see if this lounge had changed at all in the intervening years.  Once through security, it took no more than five minutes to get to the South Lounge, passing through the main shopping concourse on the ground floor and then heading back up several floors past the Concorde Room (First Class ticketed passengers only) and Galleries First (Gold card holders) to the entrance.

You will know you have arrived when you see the horse lamp – yours for $5,649!

There are three Galleries Club lounges in Terminal 5 for Club World, Club Europe, BAEC Silver members and oneworld equivalents.  Galleries Club North is the one you are more likely to visit if you arrive at Heathrow by tube or Heathrow Express.  It is next to North Security opposite the lifts from the trains.

There is also a Galleries lounge in Terminal 5B, the first of the two satellite terminals.  This is by far the quietest of the three and, if your gate is showing as B or C when you arrive at the airport, you are best to head there if you want to avoid the crowds.

Back at Galleries Club South, there was no queuing and I was ushered in with a smile. I was also told to allow 20 minutes to get to my departure gate.  The pictures below are a little dark, unfortunately, but so is the lounge ….

As lounges go, Galleries Club South feels quite large but in reality it’s actually not that huge. There’s something about the design when you walk in that can make you feel a little overwhelmed and disorientated.  Rob told me that he prefers Galleries North for the same reason – there is something about the layout of Galleries South makes him feel uncomfortable.

The lounge is designed in a kind of a T shape.  If you turn left after the entrance desks (into the head of the ‘T’), you are faced with an open seating area to either sides with windows along the full length of the wall in front of you. These provide an outside view of the airport. The natural light here makes this side brighter during the daytime.

If you turn right you are faced with a long run of seating. This side has windows down at the end of the hall with charming views overlooking the security check point and departures area. As such it always feels darker and less open but more private. Without fail, I have always chosen to head this way and find a seat.

This area also has a private room with a large TV. Anyone can sit in there, but I guess its first come first served on which TV channel you watch. Most seating throughout the lounge has easily accessible power sockets. These are configured for UK, EU and US style power adapters. Glancing around it looked like about a third of the seating was taken.  It was 6.30pm on a Sunday evening and I expected the lounge to be busier than it was. I chose to sit here:

There are a few departure information screens scattered throughout the lounge but you are unlikely to have one close to where you are sat unless you actively make that choice.

There is a good size business centre on this side of the lounge with maybe seven or eight work stations and a photocopier/fax. Wifi is good quality and WhatsApp calls worked perfectly.

Both sides of the lounge have separate bars and tea/coffee stations which are self service.

Beers included Heineken, Tiger, Amstel Light and Tribute Cornish Pale Ale.

There was a good range of spirits available so.  All the wine selections are located centrally with the food offerings, which we will come to later.

Here is one of the hot drink stations, which will be instantly recognisable from any other current generation BA lounge you have used:

I can’t vouch for the quality of the coffee as I don’t drink it but there was a decent selection of Twinings teas on offer.

Two types of biscuits were available, too.  I can vouch for these (from many occasions) and say they are very tasty, although it is slightly odd that they have never been changed in all these years!

Hot and cold self service buffet food is located in one central area close to the entrance desks (you can see it in the photo of the entrance desks, behind them).

There is a fairly uninspiring salad bar.

And a rather sad looking cheese selection with Carr’s water biscuits and oatcakes.

There were two varieties of soup on offer – organic tomato & basil and leek & potato. These were accompanied by a selection of mini bread rolls. I tend to have a bowl of soup whenever it’s there and always find it to be tasty.

Next to the soups was a large dish of pork pie slices and a carrot cake…!

One of my overriding memories of food in this lounge from my days as a Cathay Pacific Gold cardholder is the small jacket potatoes and chilli con carne that seemed to be served every time I visited. On this occasion they were nowhere to be seen. Instead the hot food choices included chicken tagine, Cuban black bean cassoulet and BBQ beef meatballs, accompanied by rice or penne pasta.

I had the meatballs and they were fine, but don’t expect a gourmet experience here.

The carrot cake and a Twinings green tea afterwards were rather more enjoyable. Apples and oranges are also available. Hot food is only served between 12-3pm and 6-10.30pm.  I’ve never been in here in the morning but breakfast is served from 5am.

There is a wide range of soft drinks to enjoy including the usual suspects of Coke, Fanta, lemonade, still and sparkling water. There is also ginger ale and two types of Fever Tree tonic water, all of which go well with gin.

Four juices were available too. When I arrived I noticed that the apple juice was empty but was swiftly refilled.

The wine selection is located in a simple modern designed display, close to the hot food.

There was a choice of four or five red and white wines. The red wine choices included 2010 Chateau Faugeres Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Wakefield Jaraman Shiraz 2015 and a 2016 Bodegas Santalba Rioja. I admit I didn’t take a look at the white wine as I got distracted by the two baskets of kettle chips above them.

I didn’t see any champagne and always assumed it is not available. However, I recently read its available on request if you flag down a server. I have been missing out all these years!

I don’t remember the magazine rack looking quite so funky and bright so maybe some changes have been made since my last visit.

I also don’t remember there being such a terrible selection of magazines. Global Franchise or Gallop anyone? The guide to the Edinburgh festival may have been useful, except that it had finished several weeks before. I picked up a copy of the latest Shortlist, good light filler reading but not exactly enough to keep me going to Kuala Lumpur.

BA Galleries lounge south heathrow


As I was sitting down, looking around the lounge, I realised nothing had improved in the last couple of years.

I thought the whole lounge felt a little tired. Perhaps I’ve used it too many times and the novelty has worn off. There was certainly none of the excitement I felt the first few times I visited. As on some previous visits, there was an underlying messiness to the place. The state of the food buffet areas wasn’t great and there were plates and glasses scattered around on many tables.

There were several staff visible around, all working hard to keep the lounge clean it seemed. However it was obvious they were not staffed to cope with the high numbers of guests passing through. If you’re hoping to get a good meal in here before jumping on a night flight then think again. But if you want somewhere to kill time relaxing, whilst enjoying a small bite and a good glass of wine then you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t expect VIP treatment.

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  1. Solid writing again. Look forward to the rest.

  2. Shoestring says:

    Gin & ginger ale? New one on me 🙂

  3. The Original Nick says:

    I was in BA South yesterday around 11am. Food was OK. I do prefer the breakfast at the Plaza though. Good report though.

  4. The whole lounge thing becomes so tedious. Everyone new to it I take in there thinks it’s great, the more you visit the more expectant you become, and then jaded, followed by its all crap. The BA lounges suffer from a huge number of status passengers on short hauls, and will never be a premium experience. As to the endless promotion of CX in T3, I’ve had some very indifferent experiences there, despite it only having to serve CX and those OW flyers in the know.
    I remember BA selling LUX returns for £45 and FTers bragging they’d drink and eat £150 worth in the CX lounge prior to flying. No idea of the relevance of that but I can see how it starts to fail as a premium experience.
    The BA toilets are grim, and I wish they’d have some more ordinary toilets in addition to the washrooms, the wait is annoying when you just want a pee.

    • The CX lounge is the only one of the 4 Oneworld lounges in T3 that has the ambiance of a high quality hotel/restaurant. The drinks & food are ok but nothing exceptional although I’ve never been in the first class section.

      £150 worth of food and drink for a £45 flight to Luxembourg? I’d rather just spend £100 on a nice meal in London

    • Agree with the toilets, again Cathay lounge T3 is an example of how to do toilets in an airport lounge, urinals and regular cubicles and more than sufficient and I suspect much more economical to keep clean.

  5. Do all the three BA business lounges at T5 stock the same chambers or is one better than the others?
    I’ve heard if you hunt around you can find a few jem’s. 😁

    • Lady London says:

      Personally I found the alcohol selection in BA;s T3 lounge to be quite OK. But it’s a while since I’ve been in there.

      • It always look good – the wine display in the First lounge in Terminal 3 is very impressive. Not sure how it tastes, but ….

  6. Graham Walsh says:

    Tried both lounges and still prefer the PP in T5. Chicken escalopes and spicy BBQ are great.

  7. I was in this lounge a few weeks back and I found it crowded, chaotic and the food was very average. The seat I managed to secure was so far from the food that I had to run the gauntlet of rampaging kids and oversized hands luggage to carry my food back to my seat. It’s still a better place to wait for a flight than the airport environment though so I came away satisfied.

    I’ve also used BA’s fairly new Gatwick Lounge which was better but still far from relaxing.

    Virgin’s lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow I thought were fantastic in comparison. A really enjoyable and relaxing environment that bettered the overall travel experience.

    I conclude from this that BA really are fighting a losing lounge battle. They have so many passengers to deal with that their business class lounges will always be busy and far from the relaxing haven that most people imagine a lounge to be. The only thing they could realistically do is create a massive lounge (like Emirates in Dubai) but that just makes it even harder to provide any kind of service.

    • Without any understanding of the consequences, I don’t think they can create any sort of premium experience without separation of long and short haul flyers. The sheer numbers that have access make the lounge a crowded hectic place. The ME3 and Asian carriers are a mystery to me, but if you look at the US carriers there’s no longe access as a result of a domestic flight, there are odd exemptions for coast to coast, but broadly speaking lounges are for long haul international flyers.

      • US Lounges are for those in premium long haul, anyone with one world status of sapphire and above ( unless via AA) and those who choose to pay for Admirals club access.

        The lounges in JFK and LAX that I have been in are crammed depending on the time of day but they remain a far better experience overall than galleries with the possible exception of the food and beverage.

  8. Graham Walsh says:

    OT I was on a SAS flight from OSL > AMS this week and nice clean aircraft and a free coffee plus refills. Then from AMS > LHR T4 on KLM. A vegetarian wrap and what ever drink I wanted (alcohol or soft drink or hot drinks) Both services FOC as part of the service. BA could learn a thing or 2.

    Then nearly an hour to get from T4 > T2/3 > T5 to get my car. Should have got a taxi from T4 to the T5 parking.

    • BA service has gone out of the window a long time ago. I think they even stopped using their trademark slogan “To Fly. To Serve” as the second element of this is non-existent

      • The biggest problem with BA is they no longer know who they’re competing with and once my silver status expires I’ll just go with whoever is the cheapest/most convenient option unless there’s a good Qatar sale coming up.

        Having said that, I do think they do attempt to compete on price with the low costs rather than the traditional rivals. Search for London to Amsterdam and KLM doesn’t appear. Same with Lufthansa to Munich and probably many others. The only flag carrier that came up cheaper for me in recent years was Turkish to Istanbul and to be honest I’d rather than widebody economy over club Europe

        • My partner came over from Lisbon a week ago on TAP. Y class. Half the price of BA and free food and drink on board.

      • @Nick_C can’t agree more
        After the calamity with BA having denied boarding to my partner and me in June (regular HFP readers know the story) we chose to ditch BA and bought tickets for TAP and what a contrast it was to good old Speedbird!
        New plane, young and lovely crew, food in economy, beautiful lounge (my partner has SA Gold) and similar fare. The choice is obvious TBH… and TAP flies to THREE London airports from LIS

    • Why did you go via T2/3 to get from T4 to T5? Is it because you’re one of those “I’m too good to ever step foot on a bus” people, even when it’s free and only takes 10 mins?

      For the record, buses are almost always the quickest way to transfer T4T5. Especially when the inter-terminal transfer is not currently running so the only train connection to T4 is the half-hourly stopping service from Paddington.

      • Graham Walsh says:

        Erm no. I prefer the bus in London to the tube. Didn’t realise there was a bus service outside to take you. Used the train as that’s all I knew. Also didn’t think I could use the internal bus as that was for flight connections. Was under the impression that I needed to clear customs.

  9. A decent review, thanks! That Ed Festival magazine with Pussy Riot was there back in August when my partner and I were travelling to Singapore. And I was always wondering how the food at BA lounge could be so canteen-style and generally uninspiring… while drinks are ok

    • Sums up Britain, the food may not be the best but we do like a good drink 🙂

      You could arguably make a great lounge if you combined the best of the 4 oneworld lounges in THE. The booze from BA, the ambiance and food from Cathay Pacific, the toilets and coffee from Qantas and the pick and mix from AA

  10. Dawn Pearson says:

    I struggle with the BA lounges because my husband and I are dairy intolerant – it makes us quite ill if we have any cream/cheese/milk products. Trying to find a soup without dairy for example is always difficult. I’d rather eat in the lounges than the plane on a night flight but sometimes there’s nothing on offer.

    • I think lounges and food intolerances don’t mix well. I’ve not been to one that caters especially well for them.

      • Shoestring says:

        Food intolerance is a bit of a myth, obviously Chinese people don’t like milk too much & get silly on one can of beer.

        • Shoestring says:

          For most people, you’re clutching at straws in the hope that your loose bowel movements are somehow not the result of your food choices. Ie you want to blame something else.

          Eat sensibly, nice balanced diet, & you won’t get loose bowel movements.

          Lots of meat, rice, bread, pasta. Keep off the fruit. That’ll sort you out in a day.

        • Not sure what you’ve got against food intolerances harry! I recall you’ve made similar comments in previous threads.

          No doubt, there are some that claim intolerance when in fact they don’t, but these things are medically diagnosed – often to the extent that products are available on NHS prescription to Coeliacs and the like – and not just people eating poor diets or being fussy.

        • Shoestring says:

          And a big waste of NHS money it is, too. If somebody fondly (falsely) thinks they have a food intolerance, they should pay for their chosen diet on their own money, not get the taxpayer to subsidise it.

        • Coeliacs and people who think they have an intolerance to certain food types are two very different things. I run a nice restaurant and it’s really annoying when I sit down with the chef and we create a special dairy free menu for someone and they arrive and say they’ll just have the normal menu. But we have no problems with catering for people who mustn’t have certain things

        • Rice, bread and pasta is just high carb/sugar food.

        • Shoestring says:

          Nice job on the prostate cancer fund-raising, Lumma

        • Food intolerance is very real. All dairy/ milk products make me very ill. Oh, and I assure you that neither I nor my relatives get silly on one can of beer!

      • Lounges often barely do a good job for the majority never mind the minority.

        If you want to avoid grains it’s tough everywhere never mind an airport lounge that has a small offering. The best thing might to be bring your own food even though that isn’t ideal

  11. OT:
    has anyone successfully booked flight with lloyds upgrade voucher for someone else? If so what strategy have you used.

    • I believe you can only use the voucher on someone else if you are also travelling (ie 2 pax travelling the same itinerary, upgrade one leg for both pax).

      I had two vouchers and was able to persuade them to use the second voucher on a second booking (slightly different return flights) but that was only after a lengthy referral to a supervisor and only I think because I was making a booking for myself in the same phone call.

      I don’t think you can book for someone else if you’re not travelling.

    • Yes, had to ring up and booked it on the phone. I wasn’t travelling on the same booking.

    • Easy to do, just ring up and they will book it.

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