This is our review of the new Clubrooms lounge at Luton Airport.
It is part of our, nearly complete, collection of UK airport lounge reviews. You can find them all here.
When I heard that Clubrooms, the ‘premium’ brand of No 1 Lounges, was opening at Luton Airport, I knew I would have to go and see it.
The lounge situation at Luton Airport is not great, to put it mildly. The only lounge, before Clubrooms opened, was Aspire (website here). Anika reviewed the Aspire lounge at Luton Airport here shortly after it had been refurbished.
Aspire gets very busy, however. Recent reader reports suggest that it has started to limit access to Priority Pass and Lounge Club holders because of deals it has done with airlines for their premium passengers and strong direct cash bookings.
There was clearly a gap in the market for something else, which Clubrooms wants to fill.
The Clubrooms business model has been tweaked since the original one opened in Gatwick South. At that point, it was genuinely a series of separate rooms, hence the name, with families or small groups being able to book one outright.
Today, a Clubrooms lounge is laid out like any other airport lounge. The difference is the extra money poured in to decoration and general ambience and, by virtue of high pricing, the lack of other guests.
You can find out more about the lounge, and book it, on its website here.
Getting to the Luton Airport Clubrooms lounge
Having not been to Luton Airport in 15+ years, apart from a visit to the private jet terminal, I was amazed by the changes. Getting there was surprisingly easy, with the train from Blackfriars and the bus trip to the terminal itself taking just under 55 minutes in total. Once the shuttle train between the terminal and station opens it should be even quicker.
The Clubrooms lounge is tucked away in a corner. You need to walk all of the way through the restuarant and shopping area, past the Aspire lounge which is on the mezzanine.
Eventually you get to the entrance, pictured above, and you get this very positive first impression:
It was a smaller space than I imagined, with around 40 seats. The website quotes a capacity of 65 but I think you’d be getting pretty cozy on the seating in such a scenario.
Immediately to your left and right as you go in are two smaller rooms, in a rather dull style, so they can technically claim that the ‘Clubrooms’ concept is still valid:
Virtually of the seating is in the main area. There is a decent mix – one long communal table, a few sofas and numerous tables with different capacity.
The decor was very classy. A lot of money seems to have been spent here, and I was impressed. What really added to the environment was the jazz soundtrack they had on the go.
There is only one window in a corner which looks outwards, towards a few parked aircraft. Weirdly, I think the lounge would have been better without it – the sight of a couple of easyJet planes somehow ruined the classy atmosphere!
Food and drink at the Luton Clubrooms lounge
Given that Clubrooms is a ‘premium’ product, with a premium price, you may assume that unlimited free food and drink is included. You would be wrong.
There is a small table containing self-service pastries, cereals, fruit salad pots and yoghurt and granola pots:
On entering, you are given a menu listing various more substantial food options. You are allowed to order one item free of charge – your menu is taken away after ordering, and without a menu you are not allowed to order anything else!
The breakfast options were:
- Full English, including toast and rosti
- Bacon roll (with a gluten free option)
- Sausage sub
- Full Vegetarian English
- Smashed avocado on toast
- Soft eggs on toast
- Eggs Benedict
- Eggs Florentine
I didn’t see the lunchtime menu because of the time I was there. However, a reader sent me a copy which you can open as a PDF by clicking here.
To be honest, I wanted a bacon sandwich. This was not exactly going to stretch the kitchen, however, so for review purposes I ordered Eggs Benedict. Good grief.
It was a bad sign when I saw that it came with pulled pork. This was a new one on me. My server, however, then told me that ‘we don’t have any poached eggs’ and would I like fried eggs on it instead?
Obviously intrigued, I asked for more details. It seems that there is no naked flame cooking allowed in the kitchen. Everything is bought in, but the pre-poached poached eggs had run out. The pre-fried fried eggs were available, however, and could be reheated for me.
The end result was bizarre. Eggs Benedict, made with pulled pork and reheated fried eggs. Not surprisingly, as the picture below shows, the kitchen had drowned it in sauce to disguise the look and taste:
Don’t let this put you off though. Stick with a bacon sandwich (presumably made from pre-fried reheated bacon) and I’m sure you’ll be fine.
In terms of drink, I think you can have unlimited quantities of wine (the menu features four whites, four reds, two roses and two sparkling wines), beer (a decent mix including Meantime and Brewdog), tea, coffee and soft drinks. Champagne is extra, however, at £9 per glass or £20 per person for ‘all you can drink’. I’m not sure if the spirits behind the bar are all included and at 7am I wasn’t in the mood to ask.
Overall, however ….
Despite this, there is a lot to like about the Clubrooms at Luton Airport. I loved the decor and the soundtrack. Someone had found a lot of old photographs of the airport which had been attractively framed in one corner:
The magazine and newspaper selection was decent:
There are loos inside the lounge (unisex) so you don’t need to go out into the terminal. You won’t find yourself short of plugs or sockets.
There were never more than 10 people in the lounge during the 90 minutes I was there, and six of those were in one group.
How to get in
You CAN get into the Clubrooms lounge using Priority Pass (free with American Express Platinum, or buy one here) or Lounge Club (two free passes with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold). There is a supplement of £10 per person, however.
As the Aspire lounge is free with Priority Pass or Lounge Club, you need to decide how much you value peace and quiet ….
Note that children under 5 are not allowed in the lounge.
If you are paying cash, you can book via the No 1 Lounge website here.
However, compare pricing via their special Virgin Atlantic booking page here which comes with a slug of Virgin Flying Club miles. Pricing via Virgin varies based on whether there is a promotion running – I paid £25 but it is now back up to £35.
The lounge has also been on Groupon recently (see here) and whilst that offer is still running, it remains the cheapest option at £24.50.
All in all, Eggs Benedict not withstanding, I thought the Luton Airport Clubrooms lounge is a good effort and a pleasant break from the crowds.
Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge 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 get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here. The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much. Additional visits are charged at £20 per person. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card. No annual fee in Year 1. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course). The card has an annual 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.