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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)

  • Rob says:

    Visited on 3rd August. Spent 90 mins there after lunch. Had 4 visitors in that time. There is signage to it but it is hard to spot. Review is bang on with everything else.

    Staff very friendly. Nice work LNER.

  • TimM says:

    A power socket is no more a “plug socket” than a power plug is a “socket plug”.

  • Yorkie Aid says:

    We visited around 9.30am on 3rd August and sat by the “fire” although it wasn’t switched on. We found it cosy rather than dark. Refreshment selection was the same. We were grateful for the lounge since our train was delayed. All 1st ticket fares are accepted although officially the fare paid is supposed to be at least £10. Whether they enforce that I don’t know. About 7 other people used the facilities while we were there.

    • John says:

      All LNER 1st fares from York are over £10 unless you are a child or railway staff on leisure travel

      I suppose someone will now find an exception to prove me wrong

  • BuildBackBetter says:

    Can arriving passengers use these lounges?

  • JohnT says:

    Don’t forget Seatfrog to bid for first class if on a cheaper ticket. However not sure if allowed to use the lounges!

    • Memesweeper says:

      I’ve got into the Euston lounge after seat frogging a west coast fare.

  • Barnaby100 says:

    But the trains to London now always seem to be 5A (unless just the ones we are on) and so the lounge is oddly situated on the platform they used to go from

    • Rob says:

      Mine was 5A, and the ones which terminate in York from London use 5B IIRC.

  • Nick Jablonski says:

    All First Class tickets are eligible for entry providing they are for travel on an LNER service. So a First Class Advance for use on either a CrossCountry or Transpennine Express service would NOT allow entry.

    Use of the Lounge is permitted before or after a journey, so if you have arrived into York on an LNER service you can use it then.

    Many trains TO London do indeed use Platform 5 rather than Platform 3. This is done primarily to allow a cross-platform connection into the two-hourly York to London stopping train which leaves from Platform 6. However, there are still a fair number of London departures from Platform 3, especially those leaving in the morning peak hour.

    The new Lounge is a very welcome addition at York, being the biggest station along the LNER route that didn’t previously have one.

  • Dave says:

    Shame you now have to travel on those awful Azuma trains. The seats, even in first class are like ironing boards, hard and uncomfortable!
    The old 125s and 225s were far superior.

    • Rob says:

      Didn’t find it too bad to be honest but we had a table for 4. Felt better than the GWR version although this could be my mind playing tricks.

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