This is our review of the Etihad First and Business Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4.
It is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK. You can see all of the reviews here.
Tuesday was an exciting day for Etihad as it welcomed the return of its first A380 to passenger service after a 40-month hiatus. If you haven’t already, it is worth reading my first-hand experience of the celebrations where I dig a little deeper into why the A380 is such an excellent aircraft.
This is the first of my ‘formal’ reviews from the trip. We will be following it with a review of the Business Studio on Etihad’s A380 fleet on Monday.
Etihad is now the only direct way of flying to Abu Dhabi from the UK since British Airways permanently axed its flights during the pandemic. Etihad currently flies four times a day with departures ranging from 9am all the way until 9pm.
The good thing about getting the 9am Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi is that you arrive in the Middle East at a fairly sensible time – around 7pm during BST. That gives you enough time to check in to your hotel and have dinner before calling it a night.
The downside, of course, is that you need to be up early to get to Heathrow in the first place. I would normally aim to be at the airport around two hours in advance. As this was a special flight and I was keen to experience as much of the celebrations as possible I got up at 5am and arrived at 6am, just in time for the Etihad check-in counters and lounge to open.
How to access the Etihad Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4
After dabbling with outsourcing its lounge operation in London to No1 back in 2018/2019, at the height of Etihad’s cost-cutting phase, a decision was made in late 2019 to bring it back in-house and operate it exclusively for Etihad passengers.
That means that the Etihad Lounge is no longer available for Priority Pass or other lounge access programs. As far as I can tell, Etihad isn’t hosting any other Terminal 4 airlines either, although this could be an attractive revenue stream at quiet times of day.
You need to be flying in Business Class or First Class, or have Etihad Guest Gold or Platinum status, to get access. Etihad is not part of any airline alliance so you won’t get in by waving a oneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance top tier card. Some codeshare deals on specific routes may allow access for elites of particular airlines.
It seems to be possible to pay for entry although I’m confirming the exact price with Etihad!
The Etihad Lounge is open from 6am until 10pm daily.
Where is the Etihad Lounge in Heathrow?
Unlike Terminal 3, where Heathrow uses an alphabetic labelling system for the lounges, Terminal 4 uses standard signage which makes it easy to locate.
There is also no duty free maze to contend with at Terminal 4. Another benefit!
If you don’t know Terminal 4, it is effectively one long concourse with security popping you out in the middle. All that matters is that you turn the right way! For Etihad, turn right down the main concourse toward Gate 10. You’ll find the entrance to the Etihad Lounge directly opposite:
Either take the stairs or one of the lifts down to the lower floor, where you’ll be greeted by the lounge reception:
As it turns out, we were first people in the lounge which made it possible to take lots of photos.
Inside the Etihad London Lounge
This was my first time in the lounge and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find the lounge wasn’t just well furnished but also featured a dedicated dining room and a la carte menu. It certainly feels more First Class than Business Class.
The lounge is broken up by several large monuments which help to make it feel small and private, although it helps that it isn’t huge to begin with.
Around the edges you’ll find large sofa-walls with armchairs facing them:
In the open spaces and along the window you’ll find these Eames-inspired armchairs:
Unfortunately, there is no real view from the windows; all it looks out on is a passenger corridor.
If you’re looking for a quieter spot there are a few areas that are tucked away:
Bigger groups can make use of this large set of sofas around the TV:
A dedicated children’s room is tucked away in a circular room with a closing door, which should keep any noise down for other passengers:
Given the overall size of the lounge, this is pretty good. On the left hand side of the lounge you’ll find the bar:
If you turn left after the bar, you are greeted with the dining room:
There is seating for just over 30 people in the dining room. Whilst the lounge did fill up as our departure neared it was never full.
Showers in the Etihad Lounge
There are, I think, three shower suites in the lounge, although I can’t imagine they get a huge amount of use given there probably aren’t a lot of connecting passengers in London.
Whilst I didn’t have a shower myself, I did have a look inside:
They were perfectly respectable with a rainfall and normal shower head:
The toilet is uniquely egg-shaped (and is also in Etihad’s lounges in Abu Dhabi) which, whilst looking cool, means it’s not a great place to put your clothes whilst you shower!
Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner were supplied although I didn’t see any other amenities such as shaving or dental kits. These may be available on request.
Food and drink in the Etihad Lounge London Heathrow
You won’t be going hungry or thirsty in the Etihad Lounge, that’s for sure.
There is an extensive selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available from the bar, including Layton’s Rose Champagne:
In terms of spirits, you have your choice of the following, including 12/18 year aged Whiskies:
When it comes to food, the majority of it is available in the dining room with snacks spread out throughout the rest of the lounge.
I was there for breakfast and the self-serve buffet featured full English breakfast items (in halal, non-pork formats).
There is also a selection of cereals, pastries, yoghurts and cold cuts:
You are not restricted to what is available in the buffet. There is also a made-to-order a la carte menu. For breakfast, that includes:
- Arabic shakshuka
- Eggs benedict / florentine / royale
- Belgian waffles
I had a quick look at the lunch and dinner menu too, available later in the day, and that included:
- Truffle soup
- Beef burger
- Methi chicken curry
- Pan fried seabass
- Pea and shallott tortellini
- Eton mess
…. which sounded delicious too.
I want for my usual eggs royale and was very happy I did:
Whilst the menus are available via QR codes, it is all table service and the staff were very attentive.
There’s no two ways about it: the Etihad Lounge at Heathrow Airport is an excellent lounge.
The staff were very welcoming and it’s great to have a dining room with full table service should you want it. These days that’s getting rarer and rarer except for First Class lounges so it’s good that business class passengers can enjoy this as well.
The loss of the Six Senses Spa (removed during Etihad’s cost cutting phase, and free treatments were scrapped some years earlier) is a small price to pay for what is otherwise an impressive facility.
With better food and excellent service it is better than any British Airways lounge except, perhaps, the Concorde Room in Terminal 5. It holds its own with some of the best lounges at Heathrow including the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge in Terminal 3 which is my personal favourite.
Even better, the A380 gates that Etihad uses are just opposite, meaning that you don’t have far to walk.
A review of my A380 Business Suite flight will follow on Monday.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2023)
Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.
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.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £24. You get four 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 gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £24 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.