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Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

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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):

LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review

…. followed by the food and drink island:

LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review

Once you get past this you have a more casual seating area:

LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review


LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review

The lounge then veers to the right, where you have a hot desking area:

LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review

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.

LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review

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.

LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross review

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.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2023)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

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 Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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 £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • MKB says:

    At least these lounges still exist. Hot on the heels of Stoke and Wolverhampton, Virgin have just closed the Coventry one.

    • Lady London says:

      Nooooooo! It was thé only thing that made Coventry bearable…!

  • John says:

    Are there any railway lounges one can access with LoungeKey or similar?

    • Rob says:

      No, although Amex Platinum gives you access to Eurostar lounges.

  • Imbruce says:

    I tried to use the Virgin 1st class lounge at Birmingham International train station, I could not figure out how to open the door to get in and there was no one around to let me into the lounge, it’s not obvious how to get in, so I gave up.

    • BJ says:

      At least that’s better than the nonexistent lounge customer have at GLC.

    • ChrisBCN says:

      There’s an intercom next to the door that you buzz and then show your ticket to the camera

  • Mr C says:

    A model release isn’t required. Apparently neither is common courtesy or respect for others. If you’re going to publish images of people taken in a lounge where presumably people have gone for at least some kind of privacy when travelling, at least have a modicum of respect for others and blur their faces. It’s not difficult to do. It’s either pure laziness not to spend the literally 2 minutes to do it, or just a plain lack or respect..

    • Pb says:

      Really ? Does it honestly matter ? I find all this blurring everywhere quite silly .

  • PB says:

    If I may confirm the dismal decline in the GWR lounge having spent a couple of hours there this morning , admittedly a Sunday , but for example the first class coaches we the travelled on were full , they are happy to sell tickets which are not cheaper than weekdays over the weekend , but seem to think no one wants to eat , read , use their internet or be comfortable in the lounge . No sandwiches or crisps etc on train either , no hot food because of their now very poor trolley service only , seats like a brick , otherwise everything is fine ! Bonus , wi fi on train worked .

    My notes below Time Sunday. 10 am to 11.50

    No wi fi despite it showing full signal , no device would connect .
    Biscuits , flap jack , and apples only food
    Coffee tea selections both reasonable selections
    No newspapers a couple of magazines titles..
    Pepsi full and zero only
    Orange juice
    Comfy area shut off
    Charging points ok
    Just dismal compared to say two years ago .
    No scanner for electronic tickets .

  • Gordon Ritchie says:

    Once a month, i enjoy travelling First Class from KGX to York on the 0706 stopper for £42.55, rather than the express. OK I miss out on the lounge as it doesn’t open until 0700, but I get a good breakfast and copious servings of tea, crisps and biscuits [bagged for for elevenses and AT] served by friendly, helpful staff. Similarly, my return is the 1802 rather than the 1758 non-stop for the same single price [even on a Friday evening], after a frenetic day’s work in Scarboro’, relaxing with a couple of cans of their Hop on Board before dinner. Unfortunately, although the train starts at York they’ve never had the smoked salmon sub available, so I’ve yet to try it. It’s been a bone of contention with me that York is one of LNER’s primary stations and yet it doesn’t have a lounge, although there have been empty units between platforms 3 and 4 they could have utilised for as long as I can remember.

    As a regular EMT traveller to Nottingham, I’m interested to see what Abellio does with the FC lounges there and at StP and on the trains, when they take over from Stagecoach soon.

  • Ann Rowsell says:

    Having used the Kings Cross lounge a few times in the past, booking East Midland to Sheffield this week I was interested to see how the lounge at St Pancras compared.
    I had to ask for directions as I couldn’t see any signs to it. It was a basic version of the Kings Cross lounge- slices of cake, biscuits, coffee, tea, water and juice. Interestingly enough, the service in the First Class carriage was almost identical, with hot food available for an extra charge.
    I don’t think that, as a leisure traveller, it was worth the extra ticket money at the time of day I travelled.

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