This is our review of the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station.
Strangely, given the size of York station and the number of trains to London and Scotland that pass through it, it has not had a First Class Lounge in recent years.
LNER has undertaken significant improvements at the station over the last 18 months. These include an improved travel centre, the renovation of all the toilets and the introduction of new retailers. Pret A Manger and Sainsbury’s are now open, with other new retail slots given to three local companies – York Gin, Potions Cauldron and Spring Espresso.
We decided to pay the new lounge a visit. It only opened to the public on 29th July.
The lounge is a little tucked away even though it is, technically, in the same area as the main shopping and cafe area. There is no signage that I could see and I needed to ask for directions. It is directly behind the wall which contains the departure and arrival screens.
This is what you are looking for:
When is the First Class lounge at York station open?
The current opening hours are:
- 06.00 to 20.00 Monday to Saturday
- 07.30 to 20.00 Sunday
What tickets are accepted?
All First Class tickets for LNER services appear to be accepted. This includes Advance Saver tickets, which is what I used to enter.
Children are welcome.
What’s inside York’s First Class Lounge?
The easiest way to think of the lounge is as a square, split into four smaller squares in a 2×2 layout.
Bottom left, which is where you enter, is where the refreshments are laid out:
It’s not exactly a gourmet paradise. There is nothing fresh, so you are choosing between crisps (and only one flavour – Sea Salt) and packaged biscuits. That’s it. I’m not sure if the offering will improve post-covid.
For drinks, there are two coffee machines, which can also dispense hot chocolate, and a fridge of water.
Bottom right is, effectively, a hot desk work area. There is a surprising amount of seating here with a lot of plug sockets. I thought this was well done.
Top left is a more traditional seating area:
Top right is, frankly, a little weird.
The lighting is deliberately low (it is a lot darker than the photo suggests) and there is a roaring fire. Except, of course, it isn’t a real fire – it is a TV playing a video loop of a roaring fire.
It’s different, if nothing else.
The lounge is well placed if your train is off platform 1 or platform 3. If it is off platform 5A or 5B, which is common for LNER, you need to give yourself time to get across. Luckily the entrance to the pedestrian tunnel is directly outside the lounge so it will only take a couple of minutes.
By the standards of UK railway First Class lounges, LNER has done a decent job here. In terms of decoration, it could be the smartest rail lounge in the country.
It would be good to see some fresh food and perhaps some wine added as travel volumes increase. I was there at 1pm so there may be a better selection in the morning and evening peaks.
I still think that Priority Pass and DragonPass have missed a trick by not doing deals with UK railway station lounges. It would bring in some revenue – the lounges are purely cost centres at the moment – and given the current volume of passengers (only one other person used the lounge whilst I was there) there is spare capacity.