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Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

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This is our review of the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross station.

Whilst I go through this lounge 2-3 times per year, it seems that we haven’t written about it since 2019. Finding it surprisingly quiet on Wednesday morning, I was able to get some fresh photographs – not that much has changed!

If you only learn one thing from this review, it is that you can use LNER lounges as arrivals lounges as well as departure lounges. Whilst I never have the urge to visit when arriving back in London, I do use the LNER lounge in York as an arrivals lounge whilst waiting for my non-LNER connection.

Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

First Class railway lounges in the UK are a strange beast.  To some extent we should possibly be grateful they exist at all (and if you don’t board in London they often don’t) but no-one has ever made the experience really work.

The three main London lounges are Paddington (reviewed here, but there have been reports of cut backs since that article), Euston (well intentioned but hampered by the lack of space Avanti has to work with, reviewed here) and Kings Cross (the most modern of the lot, but also the smallest).  In all three cases the lounge suffers from being shoehorned into the existing architecture.

Inside the LNER First Class Lounge at Kings Cross

If you’re new to Kings Cross the lounge can be tricky to find.  It is on the first floor, and at concourse level there is simply a small doorway leading to a lift.  You will find it to the left of Little Waitrose.

Exiting the lift, there is a stand-alone reception desk which frees up some space inside the lounge itself.  The magazine and newspaper rack which was there pre-covid has gone.

The first thing you see when walking in is a fridge full of free bottled water.  You then come to what is actually a secondary seating area next to the food and drink island:

Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

Once you get past this you have a more casual seating area:

Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station


Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

The lounge then veers to the right, where you have a hot desking area:

Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

Tucked around a corner are some private booths which are very rarely occupied:

Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

Food and drink

The food and drink selection is terrible by airline lounge standards but actually OK by railway lounge standards.  You are looking at individually shrink-wrapped muffins, small packets of biscuits, crisps, bananas and apples. It’s nothing for any HfP reader used to airline lounges to get excited about.

Review: the LNER First Class Lounge at London Kings Cross railway station

It was surprisingly quiet for 8.30am but I think this was a function of the school holidays reducing business travel.  I have seen it a lot busier than this. Oddly my train was 95% full in First Class but seemed more tourist heavy than usual – I think a lot of people don’t know the lounge exists.

All in all, this is a perfectly fine place to spend 30 minutes or so.  It is worth remembering that LNER allows everyone with a First Class ticket to come in, even Advanced Purchase ones.

When you leave, there is a short cut which takes you directly to the platforms. You do not need to return to the concourse via the lift and fight through the crowds to the main set of gates. You exit the lounge, follow the arrow and you find yourself on a virtually unused bridge. It cuts across all of the LNER platforms with escalators and lifts to take you down.

PS.  Our review of the LNER lounge in York station is here. Nothing has changed in the three years since we published that.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2024)

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.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

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

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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

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

Comments (51)

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

  • Pb says:

    The Paddington lounge , particularly the back sections used to work well , still a pleasant place to be seated , however the dumbing down of the food that used to be served is very disappointing , rather like the seating on their GWR trains.

  • David says:

    There is no mention of drinks in the review?

  • Lee says:

    You are banned from taking sandwiches out of the Paddington lounge.

    Wonder if it is the same on LNER?

    No sign to say that at Paddington however, but I was shouted at and the door person took my photo 😂

  • Henry Young says:

    Looks depressingly squalid with a typically unhealthy selection of snacks. Pret a Manger offers a far better option, and who cares whether it’s free or not if you shelled out for First Class. Utterly pointless “lounge” !!!

    • Rob says:

      I think you misunderstand the point of the lounge, which is not the feed you.

    • Rich says:

      It’s exactly the kind of lounge I need when I arrive 15 minutes before my train. I don’t need a three course meal and a haircut. I need a comfortable place to sit with a free coffee and view of the departure screen.

  • Danny says:

    However, if LNER fails to provide first class food/drinks service on the train, they refuse point blank to compensate you…patronisingly reminding you that it’s “complimentary”.

  • Geordielad says:

    The LNER First class offering is crap. Quite often there is no hot food on broad the train and several times the lounge in Newcastle has been closed when it should be open makes me wonder what I’m paying extra for. Well no longer I’ll just get a Lumo to London when I can for about 60% less.

    • Rob says:

      Oddly this has never happened to me, albeit I only do 2-3 returns London to York each year. It would annoy me because I find the quality pretty decent, given the conditions under which it is prepared.

    • lumma says:

      The problem with Lumo is that is long distance only, so at least 50% of the train has large luggage, which there isn’t enough space for. I once had to sit all the way to London with my case where my feet should be

  • Rich says:

    I use Newcastle and York a fair bit. Both noticeably better than Kings X, which is a bit soulless. And Newcastle has the benefit of being on the London platform.

    These lounges have got a lot friendlier recently too. Newcastle has a lovely host who goes around checking tickets, helping people with connections, and pointing them to the right place on the platform for their seat reservation. Above and beyond IMHO.

  • Ted says:

    KX lounge has recently changed the closing time from 22:00hrs to 21:25hrs (I often get the 22:00hrs service).

    When I was last there (late March 2024), I was ushered out of there by 22:15hrs and the miserable, almost surly, staff members said that was the closing time, not 22:15hrs as advertised. I suspect this was because I was the only person keeping them from finishing for the day. No interest in helping me by informing me what platform my train was on or anything like that as I’d experienced previously.

    I know this won’t impact many travellers but an indication of how the 1st class lounge experience is getting worse.

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

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