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Review: the No1 Lounge at Birmingham Airport

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This is our review of the No1 Lounge at Birmingham Airport.

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

As I was already at Birmingham Airport for Flybe’s inaugural flight to Belfast we thought it was worth reviewing the No1 Lounge which re-opened just before Christmas.

Having reviewed the Aspire lounge at Birmingham I was keen to see how it compared. Both brands are now under the same ownership so there’s no competition between the two, although Collinson and Swissport appear to have decided to keep both open.

Note that, for now, the second Aspire lounge and the Clubrooms lounge remain closed.

Where is the No1 Lounge Birmingham Airport?

The No1 lounge is just to your left as you leave duty free, in the central part of the terminal and sandwiched between Next and WH Smith:

No1 Lounge Birmingham Airport map

Note that opening hours are still a little restricted. It opens at an impressively early 5am but closes at 5pm.

The entrance is easy to spot (and it is also the way to the public toilets):

No1 Lounge Birmingham entrance

Just down the corridor is the actual (and very classy) entrance:

No1 Lounge Birmingham check in

As it was the Easter holidays, the lounge, and indeed the entire airport was extremely busy when I was there. Initially the lounge attendant said they were going to be fully booked in about twenty minutes and therefore couldn’t let me in (I hadn’t pre-booked.)

However, she was happy to let me in for fifteen minutes or so after I told her that I would only be there briefly to grab a coffee and a bite to eat. This worked for me but clearly most passengers will want to wait longer. With the second Aspire lounge still closed at Birmingham Airport lounge capacity is down, particularly over the holiday periods.

Inside the No1 Lounge at Birmingham Airport

The lounge was last refurbished in 2019 so – after two years of closure – it is still almost brand-new. I was very impressed with what I saw, starting with the classy entrance you saw above.

The lounge occupies a fairly square space. The main area is divided into two broad sections: the dining area with the bar and buffet, and the lounge area.

Here is the bar:

No1 Lounge Birmingham bar

…. and the dining area:

No1 Lounge Birmingham dining area

Whilst here is the lounge area, which has impressively large windows:

No1 Lounge Birmingham lounge area

and

No1 Lounge Birmingham stairs

As you can see, there is also a small mezzanine area:

No1 Lounge Birmingham mezzanine

Tucked away, on the right hand side of the lounge, are also a number of small, privatish rooms. These had ‘reserved’ signs on them so may have been pre-booked by groups or by airlines with a small number of premium passengers:

No1 Lounge Birmingham business centre

There is also a meeting room:

No1 Lounge Birmingham private room

…. and also a sort of TV room:

No1 Lounge Birmingham tv room

Overall it’s a nice space and I think No1 has done a great job when it comes to the fit and finish – it feels classy with marble (effect?) and wood finishes. It’s certainly a lot nicer than the older Aspire lounge at Birmingham Airport (review here).

What’s the buffet like at No1 Lounge Birmingham?

I was there during the breakfast period. This consisted of a small buffet of pastries, yoghurt and cereals, plus eggs, bacon, sausage (including a veggie option), baked beans and potato balls:

No1 Lounge Birmingham buffet

It would’ve been nice to have some mushrooms and cooked tomatoes too!

Juices, tea and coffee are also available:

No1 Lounge Birmingham tea coffee juice

All pretty standard and similar to what you’d find at other No1 and Aspire lounges.

The lounge staff did a great job of topping up the buffet during this busy period – I saw them do it several times and nothing ever ran out. The croissant and pain au chocolat in particular were fresh, I presume having just come out of the oven.

Alcohol is also available, albeit not self-pour – you have to ask at the bar. Normally that includes a couple of basic spirits plus house wines and beer – you often have to pay extra for champagne or prosecco.

How to get entry to the No1 Lounge at Birmingham Airport

There are two ways to get access to the No1 Lounge at Birmingham Airport. One option is to book ahead on the No1 website here, with headline prices starting from £28 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 No1 lounge. Standard Priority Pass membership is currently £69 per year, 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 – and as you saw above I almost didn’t get in, albeit during peak school holiday season. Alternatively, No1 Lounges allows you to prebook a slot for £6 per person to guarantee entry.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

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

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable 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 Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

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 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 (14)

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

  • Tony says:

    They have an acceptable enough French sparkling wine – to make a mimosa with – for free (so a friend tells me…).

    This lounge does however seem to be blighted by peaks and troughs. At least you know The Aspire lounge will be a universally miserable experience whilst the No1 has the knack of luring you in, thinking you’ve found a haven of calm – then all of a sudden the hen party (which isn’t allowed in the t&c’s) is in full swing.

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    The refurbed Aspire lounge at BHX is now OK. The food is also a lot better and it’s serve yourself drinks.
    In fact due to the bad publicity of No 1 charging you £5 (now £6 it would appear) to pre book a “free” space to which you are entitled via PP, I have not bothered. It’s also (or was) a bit of a trek to the Flybe gates.
    How do they explain charging £6 for “free” access (paid for by your PP membership fee anyway)? If the lounge is full, it is full – period. Charging £6 is not going to create more space! It is simply profiteering and I for one do not support this.
    Whilst No 1 may look a bit special on first appearance, it actually lacks a bit of character and flow and is very open plan in its design. The mezzanine is closed off more often than not, presumably due to “staffing issues” and keeping it cleaned; and that is the only area that is usually peaceful and a bit of a haven.

    • Chris L says:

      I thought the £5/6 fee was acceptable given it included fast track security so I was willing to use it.

    • Evan says:

      How do you know if the mezzanine is shut if you aren’t using the lounge due to its owners being profiteers? Just a question…

    • Rob says:

      Priority Pass is well known for paying peanuts – £10-£12 – for a lounge entry. It’s why No1 and Plaza Premium both withdrew. DragonPass pays more which is why it still has a Plaza deal.

      Compared to the £28 that No1 charges directly, and which is presumably similar to what airlines pay, you can see why it’s not a great deal.

      The only thing in favour of Priority Pass – and I’ve never met a lounge company who admitted to having done the maths on this – is comparing consumption. I’ve gone into Priority Pass lounges, had a cup of coffee and walked out again. An easy £10-£12 for them. No-one who has paid £28 will be doing this.

    • Ian says:

      I think you’ve missed the point of the £6 fee. It doesn’t create more space but it does reserve you a space…it’s no different to booking a table in a restaurant that would be full if you just turned-up without a reservation.

      • G Flyer says:

        Well I’d argue it’s quite different! None of the restaurants I go to charge me an extra £6/head simply to book a table. Restaurants let you book for free!

        • Rob says:

          No-one is forcing you to pre-book, there are alternative Priority Pass options at all No1 locations. The No1 Lounges are full because they are generally better than the Aspire alternatives. In general, in life, a superior product comes at a higher cost to an inferior product. By adding the £6 reservation fee it allows No1 to monetise this difference.

  • GCESP says:

    We visited this morning – fully booked but we had reserved a space for £6 (plus priority pass) as this also includes priority security lane. Good news is the Prosecco is included in the fee – it’s just the champagne which is extra.

  • Dickie H says:

    I was there at breakfast-time last week too, and the buffet was a welcome improvement on the saucer-sized a la carte item that you used to be able to choose. The inclusion of fast-track security – for only £1 more than the airport itself charges – makes reserving in advance worthwhile: you’ve not lost much if you pull away somewhere else because, say, it’s too busy (although in fairness, they were actively turning large parties away when I visited).

  • Colin says:

    BHX is my local airport, albeit not travelled since Feb20. No1 never let me in when using Amex PP, HSBC LoungeKey, ( always full ( local friends tell me the same), nor on BA CE – Summer flights… obvious from their signage ,despite the check in desk telling me to go there rather than Aspire ). Never a problem getting into Aspire , although last time I sat by family who got tickets from TUI, all were very loud, guy made a point of saying “ great innit, had four pints already ( it was very early morning) and as he left he helped himself to two doubles at the optics.

  • Kevin D says:

    I was also on the inaugural Flybe flight, having travelled over from Belfast the night before and stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn, a convenient 3 minute walk from the terminal. Unfortunately, having left the hotel in good time, I queued for 80 minutes to get through security, and wasn’t able to go to the No.1 lounge! There was even a 40 minute queue for the Express Lane security, which I usually would have bought but seemed to be sold out a few weeks before. My apologies Rhys. I didn’t realise you were on that flight too or I would have said hello!

  • Cuchlainn says:

    Myself and OH spent 2 miserable hours in the BHX Aspire sauna Lounge two weeks ago using PP. Lounge thermostat at 25 degrees and low late afternoon sun blasting in. Staff were indifferent to several complaints from customers and food / drink offerings were poor.

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