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We review the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

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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.

Review: the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

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:

Review: the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

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:

Review: the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

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.

Review: the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

Top left is a more traditional seating area:

Max Burgess

and

Review: the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

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.

Review: the new LNER First Class Lounge at York railway station

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.

Conclusion

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.

Comments (23)

  • Peggerz says:

    Tsk tsk Rob, “ it could be the smartest rail lounge in the country.” Surely you are not comparing the dark corners of York’s 1st class lounge to Edinburgh Waverley’s version of Brigadoon, where I am presently sitting. They have more tartan than the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch!
    It is also used by the Caledonian Sleeper service and would normally have showers etc for their guests on arrival. Unlike York atm, there is no tea/coffee, biscuits or even bottled water.
    Re the question of use on arrival at stations, my understanding is these lounges can be used for an hour after arrival at your destination.

  • tony says:

    Surprised no one else has mentioned, but the open fire on a loop is straight out of the BA lounge at Glasgow in the whisky snug back in the corner there…

  • Andy says:

    A definite improvement on the 1st class lounge at Newcastle which has seating but nothing else!.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    With no less than 3 pubs in the station (including a direct access to the bar at the Principal and the EXCELLENT York Tap with its wide array of local ales and knowledgeable staff), it’ll take a lot more than a free packet of crisps and flames on a telly to get me sitting in here…

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