Luxury in Luton? We review the new premium Clubrooms lounge at Luton Airport

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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:

The Platinum Card from American Express

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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.

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Comments

  1. I was here on Tuesday afternoon. The afternoon menu has the full English and eggs Benedict and 3 other larger dishes (burger, chicken sandwich and veggie curry) and a couple of lighter options.

    They were extremely slow with offering drinks and only ended up having 4 drinks in 2 and a half hours. I even asked if I could have a bottle of beer at the same time as my top up of red wine and was told “I’ll keep that in the fridge for you until you’ve finished he wine”

    The burger was nice and they weren’t limiting it to one dish per person but I wish I’d just spent my £27 in one of the restaurants

    • Shoestring says:

      No1 T3 is always happy to serve you 2 drinks at a time so that you can avoid queuing again, not that you’d mention they are both for yourself

  2. It must be a common problem with them running out of the pre-poached poached eggs. I was there in July and had the same issue. Sounds like your overall experience was better than mine though. Service was all over the place with staff forgetting orders for both food and drink. Bringing stuff to the wrong tables and then asking at every other table whether it was meant for them. I’m at Luton again tomorrow and am planning of giving it another go as it is a nicer place to spend time than the Aspire lounge. I hope the teething problems have settled down and it’s a more polished experience

  3. Shoestring says:

    The Groupon deal includes reservation I think

  4. interesting article. possibly the only luxury thing in luton.

  5. The Original David says:

    Why would any HfP reader go to Luton in the first place though?

    • For a positioning flight?

      • Shoestring says:

        just to save money or grab the ‘crazy’ LCC fares to somewhere interesting for a few days – Luton – Barcelona £20 return in November on Ryanair, for example

        plus parking can be very cheap & easy if you book ahead

        • The Original David says:

          I’d rather pay an extra £50 and fly BA to BCN from T3. If you’re paying for hotels, food and drinks for a couple of days away, the marginal cost of a decent flight is negligible, especially if you plan to pay for a mediocre 3rd party lounge instead of enjoying CX or QF for free. That’s before we even consider the madness that is getting to Luton airport.

          • Wow, so many assumptions: that everyone has access to those lounges, that it’s easier for everyone to get to LHR than LTN, that £50 (per person) is negligble. Wow.

          • If you live centrally, Heathrow via tube is much cheaper than Luton via train and bus. Never sure how many people fail to factor this sort of stuff in.

            If you have BA status too for lounge access, free seat selection, free luggage and fast track I think you can easily justify £50 more on the flight ticket.

          • Lady London says:

            People make the same mistake with STN. I have no idea why anyone uses that airport if they have a choice. The Stansted Express used to be the most expensive train fare in Europe, after No. 1 biggest ripoff that was the Heathrow Express.

            HEX have now moderated their fares somewhat if you can jump through a few hoops like booking an advance ticket for your journey as soon as you’re born. Only the Elizabeth Line looming and the opening up of Heathrow Connect to those with Zone 6 travel cards prompted that. The problem is there aren’t many other ways to go the long distance to Stansted on the foggy risky M11 reliably. But when you factor in the cost of getting to and from Stansted or parking there and the new ripoff charge for dropping someone off, the cost of that would pay your hotel bill for a couple of nights away. Let’s not cover the really poor state of the STN Express train carriages.

            Correspondingly there is also only a single lounge at STN,staff are great but the organisation is again kind of mean feeling and downmarket.

          • If I was at St Pancras, I’d much sooner go to Luton than Heathrow.

        • I don’t have status and I’m sure the lots of people that complained about the Amex Plat fee increase and what it did to their rationale to hold the card because of Priority Pass membership didn’t either (I also gave it up because of that).
          LHR for me is much more convenient that Luton (or any other airport really) but it’s not because I live centrally, nor anything close to that. 🙂 (BHX is the second most convenient)
          Summary: of course that for lots of people Luton would never be a consideration (maybe for thos reasons, maybe for others). But to think that there isn’t anyone that could conceivable have it as a better option than Heathrow, like I said previously, “wow”.

        • Lady London says:

          I fly same route from both LGW and when I have to, Luton. I hate Luton Airport. It’s overcrowded and low ecperience. Only STN (and prob MAN) is worse.

          However It galls me to say that in both directions on my route Luton planes have been on time every time in past few years. But Gatwick are regularly up to 1 hour late sometimes longer.

          TBH Rob from your review the Luton Clubrooms sounds no better than the standard No.1 was at Gatwick when i first started using it about 3 years ago. Every thing measured, poor quality and mean.

    • Why shouldn’t HFP readers use Luton if it suits them?

      I can get to Luton from Brighton in just over 2 hours on the train (including the connection from Parkway) to which is the same (and sometimes quicker) thas it takes on National Express or train/tube to LHR

      And Luton does serve destinations that aren’t available from LHR.

    • Currently in Amman Jordan, flew here via Vilnius and I’m going back via Malta. Having a couple of days In each stopover. 3 Ryanair flights and back on BA from Malta. Total cost for 4 flights £140 Vs direct flights to Amman on BA/RJ around £500.

      I would usually pick anything but Luton but the Stansted option got into Vilnius really late

  6. “How to get in”

    ” You CAN get into the Clubrooms lounge using Priority Pass (free with American Express Platinum,) ”

    ” I paid £25 but it is now back up to £35.” !!!!!!! Why.

    Rob. What happened to using the promoted benefit of your Plat card. Did you not trust that you would gain entry this way. Not a good endorsement if so.

    • We set up an entire trip (since I had to fly somewhere to get airside) just to review this. Too risky not to be 100% certain of entry as we had £100+ of sunk costs. Tax write-off meant real cost to me was only £12.50 so silly to take any risk.

      • Would have been an ideal opportunity to try the PP card first to see if access was granted, especially as there were no more than 10 guests during your 90 minute visit.

      • You can book and reserve as a PP holder for £15 on the No1 Lounge website….

      • Agree it would have been good to try PP card first, see if they’d let you in, and only use paid entry if required.

  7. Stefan Bard says:

    Hi Rob, I recently went to try the Clubroom at luton and the only food they offered (not off menu) was cookies. No yogurts cereals etc. I even went to ask a staff member and they simply said yep only cookies and salted crsps. I then asked for salt n vinegar. Told only stock salted. Very poor and disappointed over food offering or lack thereof.

    In addition I booked via Virgin. But as was promotion price of 25 GBP No1 refused to give me points when I rang up. Stating as promotional price no can do.I

    Over all I think I will simply go through priority pass and pay 10 GBP in future as so quiet. Just thought I would share.

  8. Neil Donoghue says:

    I flew from Luton last Friday for the first time in 3 years to Girona! I couldn’t believe how different the airport was. The security was fast, the layout actually works and I was the only person in the Clubroom lounge at 17.00. I had no idea you guys had not reviewed it otherwise I would have taken a few photos of the menu. Overall is was a relaxing area but not worth the extra supplement in my opinion as I was only there for 40 minutes.

    • Are you sure you were at the Luton Clubrooms??! We were also there last Friday, we had a reservation through the Groupon deal a few weeks ago, so got it for a bargain price. We got there about 3.45pm (and stayed the full 3 hours), and first impressions were not good. No member of staff at the door, we walked in and even had to look around for someone to check us in. This happened a lot (we were in the seats directly opposite the entrance), people wandering in with no-one to greet them. The staff were run off their feet.

      The airport was packed, and they weren’t taking any walk-ins (I did see a few people get told this, then some came back 20 minutes later and were allowed in). Lots of grumpy priority pass holders when they were told they couldn’t come in as they hadn’t booked. I believe the Aspire Lounge was also doing the same (from what I heard a few passengers say).

      Very slow with drink orders, and food. No-one actually came to our table, we had to grab them as they were passing by. We ordered a cheese plate (ordered one, but were given two!) and that took 20 minutes to come. In comparison, we later ordered some macaroni cheese, and that came within about 5 minutes (clearly heated up in the microwave!). The beer wasn’t cold (they were stocking up the fridge as we got there, so I guess they’d run out of a lot) and they had no Brewdog at all, as husband wanted some.

      There were empty seats in there at all times, so perhaps that why it looked quiet, but they were definitely understaffed in there for the number of guests in there.

      I have never used Clubrooms, and probably wouldn’t again, or certainly not this one (although we have got another Groupon deal booked for December to use in there). I’m generally happy with the Aspire Lounge there (if I can get in!). Maybe they are better at other airports, but if that’s the case, Luton has a bit of work to do. I think Aspire does what it says on the tin, whereas this lounge is supposed to be a bit classier with it’s table service etc, and it just really didn’t hit the mark.

      And for the someone who asked why would anyone travel from Luton – loads of reasons!! It’s much closer to us than London, cheap Easyjet flights, cheap to park if you book early (we really like Airparks there), we don’t have any status with BA so no free lounges etc, and I’ve just bought an awesome hand luggage case that is the exact dimensions for Easyjet (and BA) which means I can get loads of stuff in even with my medical equipment, so don’t need hold luggage for a short break.

      • Shoestring says:

        +1 for Airparks, they have a slick operation at Luton & nice and cheap

        I haven’t flown from there for a while but my wife has, I think at shorter notice the official onsite LT car park wasn’t too expensive either & just a short walk

  9. “No naked flame” cooking is usual in most airports, I think I remember that TGI Fridays at LHR T3 had to have a special permit and additional fire safety features installed. However, this doesn’t excuse the point that you don’t need gas or naked flames to poach, boil or even fry an egg. Most restaurants will be using induction. This is just another poor excuse for pre made and reheated food that customers are being asked to pay a premium for.

    • +1 pure laziness …

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Haha, this was my first thought too – has the electric hob not reached Luton yet?

      I dread to think of the rest of the food if throwing an egg into hot water for a few minutes is beyond their abilities.

    • I had trouble understanding the “naked flames” bit at first. I live in Finland and NOBODY has gas piped to their house, everyone is using electricity for cooking and frying pans work equally well on an electric hob compared to a gas one.

  10. I visited the Clubroom Lounge at Gatwick once, in 2016 when BA was temporarily using it.
    I probably wouldn’t use one again. I’d rather have a buffet to which I can help myself (same applies to drinks). Table service can be unreliable; if I’m only making a c30 minute or shorter visit, that’s too much of a risk.

  11. Can we just clarify that if you have used your free Amex Gold Lounge Club passes you will be charged £20 at Clubrooms or £30?

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