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Review: the bizarre world of the ART & LOUNGE airport lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4

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This is our review of the ART & LOUNGE lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4.

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

Regular readers will know that we covered the launch of this ‘new’ lounge a few weeks ago.  El Al had decided that it no longer wanted to run its own facility at Heathrow.  The impressive King David Lounge, which was managed by Plaza Premium, was handed over to start-up lounge group ART & LOUNGE.  El Al has experience of ART & LOUNGE as the airline uses their only other lounge at New York Newark.

What is ‘ART & LOUNGE’?

According to its website:

“ART & LOUNGE is an international airport hospitality company. Our flagship lounge is located at Newark Liberty International Airport just outside of New York City. London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4 is being added on July 1, 2019. Soon lounges will open in Paris and other major cities around the world. It is not a business lounge, it is not a gallery, it is a “bubble” allowing a high-end captive audience to experience an unconventional story, through art.

Every aspect of our hospitality is rooted in our commitment to you as a traveler. While we pamper you with the premium class experience you expect, we also aim to delight your mind and soul with thoughtfully displayed art throughout, inviting music and publications from around the world, adding a new dimension to your journey. All of our amenities are complimentary to our guests.

ART & LOUNGE, a uniquely designed VIP lounge takes travelers on an inspiring journey, long before they board their flights (and leaves an impression long after they’ve landed). An innovative concept that uses a somewhat “obvious” space more creatively, the new generation airport lounge by ART & LOUNGE.”

As you will see, that is a pile of …..

We send in our top reviewer …..

It turned out that my wife was due to fly out of Terminal 4 on Monday on KLM.  I asked her to take a look inside ART & LOUNGE.  It didn’t go well.

The lounge only opened in May 2016, following El Al’s transfer to Terminal 4 after the closure of Terminal 1.  It covers 340 square metres.

The lounge is located by Gate 4.  Opening hours for the general public are restricted, and you can only get in between:

06:00 – 11:00

15:00 – 18:00

Here are some photos to set the scene:

and

and

and

and

and (only magazines, no newspapers)

and

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “These look like PR photographs, because there isn’t anyone in them.”

They’re not.  My wife was the only person in the lounge for the entire time she was there.

She asked why there were no other guests, and was told that people were going elsewhere because ART & LOUNGE doesn’t serve food.

It was true.  The only food on offer at 8.30am was a token gesture:

  • toast (make your own)
  • fruit salad
  • some yoghurts

That was it.

Apparently ‘proper’ food only comes out after 11am when the lounge closes to Priority Pass and Lounge Club customers.  Between 11am and 3pm it goes back to being for the exclusive use of El Al passengers.

To be fair, there are three other reasons for the lack of custom:

I can imagine that many passengers on Qatar Airways and Etihad, the two main users of Terminal 4, are not keen to use what is still branded in places as the King David Lounge

The Plaza Premium lounge is a fantastic Priority Pass / Lounge Club facility

The SkyTeam lounge is a pretty darn good Priority Pass (not Lounge Club) facility

My wife was, apart from the fact there was nothing to eat, positive about the lounge.  The decor is attractive and it is nice and bright.  If you want somewhere to sit quietly and do some work, you’re never going to find anywhere quieter than a totally deserted 340 square metre airport lounge.

Here is the food offering.  From left to right: untoasted bread, yoghurts in tiny glass containers, a bowl of fruit salad, two containers of fruit juice.

…. plus this solitary pastry-like item which my wife did not recognise:

Well worth £25, I’m sure you’ll agree.

There is no shortage of alcohol, to be fair, should you be the sort of person who likes to get hammered in private at 8.30am:

and

We didn’t see the First Class area, which apparently has “upgraded food items” – ie potentially some food, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  The door to it was locked.

Is it worth visiting ART & LOUNGE?

I suppose it comes down to a few things:

Do you hate people?  Do ‘the general public’ generally get in your way and make your life less enjoyable?

Do you enjoy drinking alcohol in private, alone?

Do you usually not bother with breakfast (or, if you do, only have alcohol for breakfast)?

If so, I believe we have found the lounge for you.

Standard entry is £25.  Access to the First Class area costs £35.  They also accept the following:

ART & LOUNGE accepts Priority Pass (free with American Express Platinum, or buy one here), Lounge Club (two free passes with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, which is free for a year), LoungeKey and DragonPass.

Your other lounge options in Terminal 4 are:

These are ALL excellent facilities.

With a Priority Pass, you can also access the SkyTeam lounge and Plaza Premium.  These two lounges both have a LOT of food.  Lounge Club cardholders cannot access SkyTeam but can use Plaza Premium.

The ART & LOUNGE website is here if you want to find out more.

PS.  There’s one more thing to mention ….. as you can see from the pictures, there isn’t actually any art on display in ART & LOUNGE either.


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 (35)

  • Jonathan Lonsdale says:

    Your four questions sound like the EXACT four reasons I spend time in airport lounges!

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