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Review: the new-look Aspire Lounge at Luton Airport

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This is our review of the Aspire lounge at Luton Airport.

It is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

All this week, in partnership with Priority Pass, we are reviewing some of the best independent airport lounges outside London. All of these lounges can be accessed with a Priority Pass membership, which you can buy here with a 40% discount or get for free with selected UK credit and charge cards (click here to learn more). You can also pay cash, of course.

We last reviewed the Aspire lounge at Luton in 2016, shortly after it reopened following a full refurbishment. It has since been refurbished again and re-opened in 2020 although clearly it hasn’t seen many visits since then.

Aspire lounge Luton airport entrance

Luton is possibly the worst of the ‘London’ airports, as anyone who has had the pleasure of passing through can attest.

It truly is a no-thrills airport for budget airlines (although I admit I was surprised by the range of shops to be found in the terminal concourse) and I highly recommend bypassing the terminal altogether and using the Signature ELITE private jet lounge (review here) instead which you can do if flying with easyJet! The cost may put you off unfortunately …..

The other independent lounge, the Clubrooms Lounge which Rob reviewed here, has become a casualty of covid and will not re-open. The site was not included when owner No1 Lounges was sold earlier this year so the decision seems final unless a new operator picks it up.

Fortunately there is light at the end of the tunnel. Luton is expected to open its Direct Air-Rail Transport train in 2022, which will allow better for connections between Luton Airport Parkway train station and the airport terminal. This will replace the shuttle bus.

The good news is that anyone who is forced to fly through Luton can enjoy the newly refurbished Aspire lounge which was the picture of pre-flight relaxation on my early morning flight to Edinburgh.

Inside Luton Airport’s Aspire lounge

Finding the Aspire lounge is easy at Luton. The main entrance opens directly onto the passenger-holding-pen main concourse.

The lounge is on the first floor. When entering you are asked for your boarding pass and booking number:

Aspire lounge Luton airport reception

The lounge is not massive but it was fairly empty when I went during the peak morning rush. There were just a handful of other people using it at the time. The bar and buffet are immediately in front of the entrance:

Aspire lounge Luton airport bar

If you are a regular lounge user, you will see that the refurbishment has brought the lounge into alignment with the design of other recent Aspire lounge openings.

Breakfast service was in full force, and the hot selection included scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages and bacon:

Aspire lounge Luton airport hot buffet

Cold items included some yoghurt and cut fruit, as well as cereals including cornflakes and Weetabix:

Aspire lounge Luton airport croissants

The bar is also open although I thought it was a little early at 7am, even for me. Prosecco and champagnes are available but at extra charge.

Whilst a range of seating straddles the windows overlooking the concourse:

Aspire lounge Luton airport quiet zone

and

Aspire lounge Luton airport view

and

Aspire lounge Luton airport seating

It is a good spot for people watching and I was particularly mesmerised watching the Auntie Anne’s Pretzels staff hand roll the pretzels!

Here are some more photos:

Aspire lounge Luton airport seating 2

And looking back at the entrance:

Aspire lounge Luton airport 2

The wifi was decent for emails and browsing, and Press Reader is also available in case you want to download magazines and newspapers to your device.

There are also ‘SnoozePods’ – apparently the first UK airport lounge with a napping area – although these are currently closed due to Covid. I believe these are similar, if not identical, to the ones British Airways recently installed at Heathrow.

Aspire lounge Luton airport snoozepods

Shower facilities are also available, for an additional £15 per person.

Aspire has done a good job refurbishing what is probably its flagship UK lounge (the Club Aspire lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow have a different ownership structure). If you are not a fan of Luton Airport then I would encourage you to think again if you can get access to this lounge, because it really does transform the Luton experience. Throw in the new DART train from 2022 to guarantee a seamless ‘train to terminal’ journey and things are really looking up.

Opening hours

At present, the Aspire lounge is operating with reduced hours:

  • Monday – 6am – 12pm 
  • Tuesday – 6am – 12pm
  • Wednesday – 6am – 12pm
  • Thursday – 6am – 12pm
  • Friday – 6am – 2pm
  • Saturday – 6am – 2pm
  • Sunday – 6am – 2pm

It is getting better though …. when I was there last month, it was closing at 8am (not a typo).

Keep a careful eye on the lounge website as these hours are liable to change at short notice.

How to get entry to the Luton Aspire lounge

There are two ways to get access to the Aspire lounge at Luton. One option is to book ahead on the Executive Lounges website here, with headline prices starting from £20.99 per person. This guarantees you a spot at your booked time.

The alternative is to use a lounge membership program such as Priority Pass or DragonPass, both of which are accepted at the Luton Aspire lounge. Standard Priority Pass membership is currently £41 per year (40% off) via this link, or you can get it for free via the following cards:

Using a Priority Pass or LoungeKey membership doesn’t guarantee you a spot – it is first come first served – but given how empty the lounge was on a Monday morning during half term this probably won’t be an issue at Luton.

Thanks to Priority Pass for supporting this series of articles.

Comments (42)

  • Richie says:

    Hope the DART opens before crossrail. Good review, worth bothering with this lounge if you are hungry and like a couple of alcoholic drinks.

    • Gavin says:

      It will be. My understanding is that the DART will be operational for SS2022 ie. End March 2022.

  • Dave says:

    This review is in my opinion a scathing attack on Luton airport.

    There is nothing wrong with this airport, it serves the locality well to many destinations and is very popular Yes, it is aimed at the low-cost market, but what’s wrong with that. It has all the shops and eateries one would need. OK, it doesn’t have high-end shops, but neither does it have that target market.

    Please stop your snobbery – the statement “The main entrance opens directly onto the passenger-holding-pen (with strikethrough) main concourse” is unforgiveable.

    I will happily use this airport instead of Heathrow or Gatwick – its far superior in my opinion.

    Please stick to the facts in your review, not lace it with digs and snobbery.

    • Rhys says:

      I like a low cost airport as much as the next person but not when it’s not connected to the train station properly!

      I used to love Stansted. We used to use it a lot as a family – it was very convenient and, at that time, pleasant. It’s a lot less pleasant now!

    • John says:

      Snobbery is a feature of HFP :p

    • tony says:

      Each to their own, but it’s a thoroughly miserable experience and one I will only use as a last resort.

      Waited an hour to get bags off a flight from IOM a couple of years back. Absolutely no one around in the reclaim hall to offer any advice.

      A car drop off system that is tyrannical and seems designed to trip up the uninitiated.

      From my visit in 2006 to my one in 2019, the place remained a building site with the one consistent theme being queues – for absolutely everything.

      I don’t think there’s anything snobbish in stating the blindingly obvious.

      • Bagoly says:

        Exactly.
        For the Security Experience I would place it second bottom in the UK, to Manchester.
        For immigration, as a British Citizen, it’s usually OK, but I did have my worst UK entry experience there.
        The Car Rental collection and drop-off is awful.
        Until the recent road remodelling there was always the stress of being delayed by the entry traffic (even having taken the train to the nearest station)
        And the main passenger holding pen is far too small – as soon as there are any delays it is standing room only. I think Rhys’s description is spot on and sums up the view that management seem to have of their customers.

    • J says:

      Passenger-holding-pen is a fairly accurate description. On my last flight from Luton it took an age of squeezing past people to get through it. Still miles ahead of Stansted though.

    • VerdantBacon says:

      Just because it serves the area well and is popular, doesn’t magically make it a good airport. It’s a convenient one for some, that’s all.

    • _nate says:

      This airport is inexcusably bad. It charges for drop-offs, it channels you through a maze of shops before you get anywhere sensible, it is poorly connected to transport.. Just what are the redeeming points?

    • Amy C says:

      Dave, lighten up, it’s a tongue and cheek comment fgs! Personally I like Luton airport and absolutely detest STN. Luton’s recent refurb seems to have copied the footprint of STN with the snaking through shops after security. However, I still like it. No need to get all affronted and offended. The world needs more humour not people looking to be offended every five seconds.

    • Thywillbedone says:

      Have you forgotten the recent mass fist fight at Luton? (17 arrested, 3 seriously injured) Everyone (seemingly) on the sauce from early hours in the main holding pen?

  • Charlie Whiskey says:

    I thought this was a rather anodyne review. Yes, it describes what is on offer, but there is a marked contrast between the very certain, direct but superficial criticism of the airport as a whole and the complete lack of any helpful opinion on the actual quality of the Aspire Lounge and it’s services.
    Let’s hope that being in hock to Priority Pass, presumably
    for easy access, isn’t going to dumb down these reports such that they are simply space-fillers. Utter integrity is a vital ingredient of this website and must not be jeopardised by sloppy journalism.

  • John T says:

    I was going to say ‘surely there is enough flights in the afternoon and evening from Luton to warrant the lounge opening longer each day’ but I just checked and there are surprisingly few flights from Luton right now – probably only 30 per day with most before midday.
    There used to be a swathe of overnight Wizz departures to lesser known places in Eastern Europe but they don’t seem to be currently operating.

  • Brian says:

    I agree with some other comments. The tone of the review implies that Rhys was dispatched to Luton against his will and slightly shocked that he couldn’t use the private jet terminal.
    I’ve never personally used LTN, it’s location doesn’t meet my need but have departed from STN after work, because of the rail link and flight times suit my needs. While I agree it’s a poor experience. BA and LHR doesn’t serve many destinations that are very useful and only from LTN or STN.

    Not all LCC users are tight fisted or cheap. Sometimes schedule and destination are more important than perceived importance.

    • chabuddy geezy says:

      Gatwick and Edinburgh serve a lot of LCCs and are an infinitely better passenger experience than Luton or Stansted.

  • JK says:

    If you live in North London near Thameslink then it’s quicker to get to than most realise. Once the DART opens it will get a lot better, the shuttle bus really is miserable. The terminal has got a lot better over the last 15 years. I used it quite a bit pre-covid as the Level flights were dirt cheap and empty. Stansted definitely still more miserable – it has the train, but it takes ages, costs too much.

  • The cyclist says:

    Both Stansted and Luton are both sh!tty miserable experiences. I stopped using them both years ago. I would rather travel to and pay more for LHR and I live close to Harpenden!

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