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What are the best airport lounges in Heathrow Terminal 3? My conclusions ….

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Heathrow Terminal 3 has quite possibly the highest density of airline lounges at any airport worldwide. Currently there are 12 lounges:

  • American Express Centurion lounge
  • American Airlines lounges x 2 (currently closed for refurbishment)
  • British Airways Galleries First
  • British Airways Galleries Club (business class)
  • Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge
  • Cathay Pacific First Class lounge
  • Club Aspire lounge
  • Emirates lounge
  • No1 Lounge
  • Qantas London Lounge
  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Heathrow Terminal 3 lounges

Which is best? Having visited five of them in the same day recently, and with Rob or I having visited all of the others at some point in the past, we feel as well placed as anyone to draw some conclusions.

There is, of course, a huge amount of personal preference here. What matters most? Natural light? Champagne? Restaurant-style dining? A kids play room? Peace and quiet?

Without stating the obvious, you also can’t visit all the lounges even if you want to. Whilst there are debates over whether the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse beats the Cathay Pacific business lounge, for example, it is highly unlikely you will be able to access both on the same trip.

1. The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge

The best lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 is undoubtedly the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge (full review here). Despite its small size – with room for around 30 guests or so – it manages to get everything right, from stunning decor and exceptional runway views:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow seating 2

…. to an a la carte dining room with Asian and Western food made to order:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow dining room

The Cathay Pacific lounges also have the best showers, clad in beautiful brown stone and featuring Bamford amenities:

Cathay Pacific lounge Heathrow shower suite

It’s a winning combination that no other lounge has managed to top yet.

Best for: champagne, food (if you like Asian cuisine) and showers, peace and quiet

Access: open to anyone travelling on a oneworld airline and either flying in First class or with oneworld Emerald (ie. BA Gold) status

2. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

In second place is the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (full review here). A lot of people rate this as highly as the Cathay Pacific First lounge, but it depends on what you like. Cathay Pacific First is smaller and more exclusive, whilst the Clubhouse is often more lively.

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is a fabulous business class lounge (and, of course, is my choice of best business class lounge in Terminal 3). A range of different tiers and mezzanines break up what is otherwise a large space:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow bar

A la carte dining is available to any seat in the lounge – just order on the app or with one of the lounge staff and they’ll deliver your food for you:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow eggs royale

It’s also the only lounge at Heathrow to feature an outdoor terrace:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow terrace

Best for: breakfast, kosher food, pool tables, video games and Peloton bikes

Access: anyone flying Virgin Atlantic or Delta Air Lines and ticketed in Delta One or Virgin Upper Class, or holding Virgin Gold, Delta SkyMiles Diamond or Platinum Medallion, Flying Blue Platinum, KrisFlyer Elite Gold, Virgin Australia Velocity Club Gold, Platinum or The Club, Air New Zealand Gold (San Francisco only)

= 3. Qantas London Lounge

In third place with have a tie.

As the newest oneworld lounge on the block, the Qantas London lounge (review here) makes a great impression. Spread over two floors, the lounge has plenty of seating depending on your mood.

Qantas London Lounge Heathrow T3 horseshoe bar

Like the Virgin Clubhouse, the Qantas lounge features a la carte dining in addition to a help-yourself buffet featuring more Western-inspired food than Cathay Pacific.

Qantas Lounge Heathrow dining salt & pepper squid

You’ll also find the best coffee in the Qantas lounge, and if you want something a bit stronger then you’ll like the unparalleled selection of gins at the gin bar:

Qantas London Lounge Heathrow T3 gin bar

Best for: coffee, gin, a la carte dining (for Business Class)

Access: open to anyone travelling on a oneworld airline or Emirates and either flying in Business or First class, or with at least oneworld Sapphire (ie. BA Silver) or equivalent Emirates status

= 3. Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge

In joint third place is the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge. Although not quite as special as the First Class lounge it is still an exceptional business class lounge, with stylish decor:

Cathay Pacific Business lounge Heathrow plants

A fantastic noodle bar that serves noodles, bao and dim sum:

Cathay Pacific lounge Heathrow dimsum

Plus, access to the same exceptional showers as First Class passengers.

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow shower

Best for: Asian cuisine, showers

Access: open to anyone travelling on a oneworld airline and either flying in Business or First class, or with at least oneworld Sapphire (ie. BA Silver) status

5. The Centurion Lounge

The newest lounge to open at Heathrow, the American Express Centurion lounge (full review here) is a great airline-agnostic lounge that anyone with an Amex Platinum card or Amex Centurion card can access.

Inside, you’ll find a stylish space that manages to make the most of the room, despite the lack of windows:

Although there’s no champagne, you can order from a full range of cocktails. The Centurion Lounge is probably the most convenient if you’re looking to work or charge a device – there are USB sockets at virtually every seat.

Best for: working and charging gadgets, cocktails, anyone who is flying in Economy without airline status (but does have an Amex Platinum card)

Access: anyone with an American Express Platinum or Centurion card, or the US-issued Delta Reserve SkyMiles card

Runners up…

Beyond the top five the remaining lounges are a bit of a muchness.

Emirates

The Emirates lounge is by far the best of the remaining lounges, although it’s only open to qualifying Emirates and Qantas passengers. The lounge was refurbished in 2015 to feature a slightly more Arabian design and make it look less like a 1980’s Holiday Inn restaurant.

There is no dedicated First Class section, although there is generally more than enough seating around. Food is above average for an airline lounge – and certainly better than the British Airways lounges – and alcohol is improved too, with Veuve Cliquot the champagne of choice.

Uniquely, the Emirates lounge is directly connected to a couple of the T3 gates and offers direct boarding onto the A380, which means you can enjoy it right until the last second before your board.

British Airways Galleries First and Galleries Club lounges

The British Airways Galleries lounges are big but slightly soulless. I actually prefer the Galleries Club lounge, which has a more sensible layout and far more natural light from the windows that span its entire length.

Unfortunately both are looking a bit dated these days and are in need of a comprehensive refurbishment. The toilets and showers are a particular embarrassment.

Food in both is equally poor, although you do get a slightly wider range in Galleries First, and of course you get a superior champagne – the Canard Duchene Blanc de Blanc.

If you have access to the BA lounges then you can also use the other oneworld lounges. I’d recommend trying either the Qantas or Cathay Pacific lounges, or both. Only the kids room in Galleries First adds any value here.

No1 Lounge

If you aren’t flying in business class or airline status and you don’t hold an Amex Platinum card then the No1 Lounge is a decent pay-per-entry lounge. It has a fairly dark aesthetic, although it features table football, a mini TV/screening room as well as showers (currently closed) and several bedrooms, which cost extra.

Beer and wine is free, plus a few spirits, although you’ll have to pay for champagne, prosecco or premium spirits.

The lounge is part of Priority Pass. At busy times you may want to pay the £6 reservation to guarantee entry. You can book the lounge for cash via the website here.

Club Aspire

The Club Aspire is another airline-agnostic lounge with paid entry (or with Priority Pass, if you have it). It is not dissimilar to the No1 Lounge, although much smaller and slightly brighter with decent views of the airport.

A basic buffet and alcohol is free although you can choose to pay for premium food and drink. Showers are also available, albeit for an additional charge.

It is not possible to reserve a slot in advance if you hold a Priority Pass card – it is first come, first served. You can book the lounge for cash via the website here. It re-opens on 18th February.

Our rankings: the best airport lounges at Heathrow Terminal 3

Best lounge for wine and champagne:

  1. Cathay Pacific First Class lounge
  2. British Airways Galleries First
  3. Virgin Clubhouse

Best lounge for cocktails and spirits:

The Qantas lounge takes the crown for the best cocktails and spirits at Heathrow T3 given its extensive gin selection and dedicated cocktail bar.

  1. Qantas London Lounge (gin bar)
  2. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
  3. Centurion Lounge

Best lounge for food:

  1. Cathay Pacific First Class lounge
  2. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
  3. Qantas London Lounge

Let us know in the comments if you disagree …..


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges 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. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a 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.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (49)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • BobT says:

    There is one thing which the BA first lounge does best, and that is it usually has a decent red wine on offer, usually a claret. Given the discussion of champagne, gins and cocktails in the other lounge write-ups this is surely worth a mention. They also used to have a decent rosé champagne for my wife, although I’ve not checked recently.

    Puts BA top of my list if I have 30mins to kill and I’m not eating. Otherwise agree on CX first lounge.

  • James says:

    Given the choice of Emirates lounge or any other T3 lounge (I’m a Platinum Cardmember, Priority Pass etc), which would be the best one to visit? Caveat, my girlfriend has a dairy intolerance so ideally a good vegan offering would be ideal. I’ve done Emirates lounge before but haven’t don’t the Centurion Lounge yet.

    • Rob says:

      Do both, as you can board directly from Emirates. Pop into Centurion and then wander down to Emirates about 30 minutes before boarding. Oddly No1 has more going on than either of these but is usually crowded and you’d need to pay the £6 reservation fee to guarantee a spot.

    • Andrew J says:

      And don’t forget you can also use the Qantas lounge if you’re flying Emirates business or first class or have status.

      • James says:

        I wasn’t aware of this Andrew – how come? Will be flying Emirates Business. Would you say it’s worthwhile doing the Qantas lounge?

        • Andrew J says:

          Because Emirates and Qantas have a joint venture and reciprocal lounge agreements on certain routes including London to Dubai. I would recommend a visit to Qantas for the main bulk of your time and then down to the Emirates lounge for half an hour as Rob suggests and avail of the direct boarding from the lounge.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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