This is our review of the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross station.
Whilst Rhys was at the British Airways A350 arrival event last week, I was making my annual visit to the First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross.
First Class railway lounges in the UK are a strange beast. To some extent we should possibly be grateful they exist at all (and if you don’t board in London they often don’t). No-one has ever made the experience really work, however.
The three main London lounges are Paddington (easily the best space, reviewed here, but there have been reports of cut backs since that article), Euston (well intentioned but hampered by the lack of space Virgin has to work with, reviewed here) and Kings Cross (the most modern of the lot, but also the smallest). In all three cases the lounge has suffered from being shoehorned into the existing architecture.
The key takeaway from my visit is the LNER has finally cleared out the over-funky Virgin Trains East Coast furnishings. Nothing else has changed – the food and drink area and the selection on offer are the same – but it certainly feels fresher.
Inside the LNER First Class Lounge
If you’re new to Kings Cross the lounge can be tricky to find. It is on the first floor, and at concourse level there is simply a small doorway leading to a lift. You will find it to the left of Little Waitrose, and to the right of the Platform 9 3/4 photo opportunity.
Exiting the lift, there is a new reception desk which frees up some space inside. The main magazine and newspaper rack, well stocked with The Times and a handful of magazines, is also outside.
The first thing you see when walking in is a fridge full of free soft drinks, mainly Coca-Cola and bottled water. You then come to what is actually a secondary seating area (click on any image to enlarge):
…. followed by the food and drink island:
Once you get past this you have a more casual seating area:
The lounge then veers to the right, where you have a hot desking area:
The food and drink selection is terrible by airline lounge standards but actually OK by railway lounge standards. You are looking at individually shrink-wrapped cake slices, small packets of biscuits, Corkers crisps, bananas and apples.
(It is worth noting that whilst most HFP readers won’t get excited by any of this, a 13-ish year old girl in the lounge with her family was VERY excited about the idea of being able to help herself to this stuff. The percentage of users of this lounge who also visit airline lounges is probably very low.)
It was surprisingly quiet for 8.30am. Whilst services were running OK, mass cancellations the previous day seemed to have reduced the passenger flow. I have seen it a lot busier than this.
All in all, this is a perfectly fine place to spend 30 minutes or so. It is worth remembering that – whilst, in GNER days, Advance First ticket holders had to pay £5 to use the lounge – Virgin and now LNER allow everyone with a First Class ticket to come in. Given that my £53 ticket to York also got me a full cooked breakfast on the train, and a virtually empty carriage to myself, it was good value.
PS. If you are an LNER traveller, take a look our review of the brand new Azuma high speed trains currently being rolled out.