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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

and

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 (May 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) 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.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

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

American Express Amex Gold

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 you get 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 (34)

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

  • Tony says:

    Definitely looks better than the East Mids Trains lounge at St Pancras. That is a depressing place to spend any time.

    • _nate says:

      But that lounge at least has free wine at certain times of the day…

  • Memesweeper says:

    There is a tiny, but useful, 1st lounge at Liverpool St. Unfortunately Greater Anglia will be phasing out first on all but one routes over the next two years.

    • signol says:

      I’ve only used it once but it was rubbish then. A room with 4 hard sofas, a water cooler and a hot drinks pod machine (but no milk). No food. So a polystyrene cup of black tea and some water then.

  • BJ says:

    And for anybody who’d missed them, HFP have recently posted on excellent opportunities to redeem nectar and MR points on LNER through 14 August.

    Regardless of how busy this lounge gets, it is more pleasant than hanging around waiting for a train elsewhere in the station. It’s a bit of a nuisance when a whole bunch of people rise to pour out as a train departure gets listed. I wish they would allow a little longer to board trains starting at this, and other mainline UK stations.

    • Genghis says:

      Realtime trains lists the platform before it’s displayed on the boards. I’m always settled, if possible moved to the extra legroom seats if I couldn’t reserve when booked, before the mad rush.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    I’d say that beautiful York from Kings X non-stop in less than 2 hours for often well under £50 in 1st has to be one of the best bits of travel in the UK. I find 1st lounge similarly uninspiring but Parcel Yard in Kings X isn’t too bad and York Tap on platform at York (the station with 3 pubs!) is excellent. Wide revolving beer selection and people go there who aren’t even getting a train and how many station pubs can you say that about…?

    • RussellH says:

      Carlisle Station has had a small but decent pub on platform 4 for about 18 months or so now. And it is nearly always quiet

  • Dr P E Stevens says:

    Not true about Virgin Trains East Coast charging Advance ticket holders, fwiw, at least not in recent years – I used that lounge with an advance ticket many times.

    • Roy says:

      Although Advance tickets less then ,£10 don’t gain access to the lounge, according to the LNER website

  • Matt says:

    Correction last paragraph – advance first class ticket holders were charged extra to use the lounge under the government owned east coast days. VTEC changed the policy to allow all first class ticket holders including advance for no charge.

  • Kev says:

    The shortbread is the best around and four great flavours – made by Reids of Caithness. I like them more than Walkers! Well worth sampling alongside the healthier bananas!

    • BJ says:

      Walkers a bit too hard, not crumbly enough but happy enough if its the only brand places have available. Who cares about healthy, we only live once, get enough exercise and eat what we like I say 🙂

  • James says:

    Whats on offer in the lounge is better than whats on the LNER – Edinburgh 1st class service I was on last week, shocking selection of a salmon sub or tortilla chips. No hot food for £235 single

    • Shoestring says:

      £235 single, I guess you’re scared of flying?

      • Matt says:

        Shoestring travelling LNER first class from Edinburgh to London is more relaxing, more environmental friendly and just an overall much more civilised experience than flying.

      • Andrew says:

        Single to Edinburgh can easily be £300 to £400 on Flybe and BA.

        On the Friday before the BH weekend, Flybe have a routing from Heathrow to Edinburgh via IOM and Manchester for £745 one way.

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

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