Not to be missed if you are an eligible British Airways passenger arriving or connecting in London Heathrow Terminal 5, the British Airways Arrivals Lounge might be better described as a complex, given its unparalleled size and range of amenities. The lounge offers traditional arrivals services such as showers to freshen up after a long flight, breakfast for those who choose to maximize sleep time on-board, a fully equipped business center, local and international press, and an area to relax. In addition, the lounge features a number of luxurious amenities including cabanas with infinity bathtubs, complimentary 15 minute spa treatments, and for those customers arriving in First Class, a private dining room with waiter service.
To maximize your experience, follow along as we explore this unique lounge. Whether you terminate or connect in London, first you’ll need to exit baggage claim and customs. Then, follow the signs to “Airline lounges – Invitation required” and make your way upstairs to the mezzanine level. A convenient perk is the ability to store your bags in the secure area to the left of the reception desk. This is actually highly recommended as the showers are on the small side.
After checking in, head straight ahead for breakfast, or make a right for a shower. Or perhaps it would be wise to first make a left and inquire with the Elemis Spa as to the availability of a treatment – indeed, the perk can be elusive as slots fill up early and are strictly available first come first serve, even for First Class passengers. A two hour wait is not uncommon, although there is also a couple massage chairs which are more broadly available. (Hint: as nice as massages may be, they’re not worth a lengthy wait.) Should a massage not be an option, you may still enjoy the many Elemis products on display and perhaps bring home a few samples.
The “hydrotherapy zone” is humongous, with a whopping 94 shower rooms. Check in with the shower attendants (don’t mind the occasionally surly attitude) and they will either assign you a room number if a shower is immediately available, or hand you a buzzer should there be a wait – the lounge does get busy early in the mornings.
Make a note of your shower room and enter the shower maze – it’s a sight to behold, a warehouse like area subdivided in different color-coded sections. Push the door of your shower – it opens inwards – and you’re in. The shower rooms are a mixed bag. With multiple massaging jets and a rain shower, they aspire to be fancy, but the cramped cruise ship like design with neon lights, hospital-like finishes, awkward sewer gargling noises, and tendency for the stall to overflow on the floor are rather disconcerting. Quality Elemis amenities are provided, though deodorant is missing. A nice perk is the complimentary pressing service – open the double door, hang your items, and they’ll come back wrinkle-less within ten minutes. Each shower room has a built-in sound system, with pre-set news and music channels. It’s only unfortunate that the system only appears to work every so often.
Should you be in the mood for a bit of pampering, you may inquire as to the availability of a cabana. There are just a handful of them, though most passengers ignore their existence so they might be available. Significantly larger than the shower rooms, the cabanas come with an oversized dressing area, an overflowing “infinity” bathtub, and a large chair. Plenty of towels are provided. Again, it’s as if British Airways intended for these facilities to be luxurious but the designer somehow missed the mark – the décor is plain and sterile, and form trumps function (faucets splash.) We wish that British Airways would provide a bathrobe as well as foaming bath to complete the experience. That being said, nothing beats a bath after a long flight, and lamenting the lack of a bathrobe in a soaking tub at an airport is something we’re happy to deal with 🙂
As far as the spa is concerned, we refer our readers to our review of the Terminal 5 Elemis Spa – all three spa locations offer the same services and facilities. (However, pre-arranged appointments are not available at the Arrivals Lounge.)
Seating and business center
Next to the shower area is a large seating area with comfy couches and a few partitioned semi-private areas. Power outlets are available throughout, as well as a vast selection of newspapers and magazines and an espresso machine. This dimmer portion of the lounge is a good place to rest, unfortunately British Airways stopped short of providing napping chairs and day beds or even a designated quiet area. (Note that recliners can sometimes be found in the shower area, by the windows.) The space receives limited daylight and features no views, but patrons typically stay only long enough to catch up on email or wait for a shower.
On the other side of the lounge, to the left of the reception desk, is a well-appointed business center with work cubicles, computers, and complimentary printing and scanning services. Next to the business center are also large individual bathroom stalls and a baby changing room.
The breakfast buffet features delicious fresh pastries, and a range of hot and cold options, including a full traditional English breakfast spread. Patrons may also order eggs any style – just flag one of the servers. A broad selection of soft drinks and several espresso machines are available. (Note that there is no alcohol.) The hot fare is typically available until 1pm at the latest, after which breakfast turns continental.
On the downside, the breakfast area can be crowded at peak times. Seating is comprised of communal tables which lack power outlets, and the chairs are painfully noisy. Service can also be spotty.
First Class passengers benefit from the exclusive and elegantly appointed Concorde Dining Room. A server will take your order at your booth and you may enjoy the broad selection of newspapers and magazines in the room while waiting. There are a few cooked-to-order options, but overall the food served in the Concorde room is pretty similar to the buffet fare. The setting however is extremely peaceful and relaxing, with rarely more than a few patrons in the room.
British Airways Arrivals Lounge LHR bottom line
Overall, while the décor won’t win any awards and the showers could use a makeover, the British Airways Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5 is undoubtedly one of the best arrivals lounges in the world with an outstanding range of amenities. Note that the spa is a token feature, though – realistically, it’s unlikely to be available to passengers who don’t have a flexible schedule.
All passengersAll customers eligible for lounge access may enjoy a complimentary buffet featuring a large soft drink selection, pastries, and hot breakfast entrees (available until approximately 1pm.) Several espresso machines are available. Alcohol is not served at this lounge.
British Airways First Class passengersFrom 5am to noon, British Airways First Class passengers benefit from exclusive access to the Concorde Breakfast Room, where they may order a cooked to order breakfast, served in private booths. The following is a sample menu.
- Freshly baked croissants and Danish pastries.
- Toasts, bagels, muffins and brioche.
- Selection of cereals, muesli and granola.
- Traditional porridge.
- Yoghurt selection.
- Fresh fruit.
- Fresh fruit juices.
- British jams, preserves and honey.
- Traditional English breakfast featuring: a choice of poached, fried or scrambled egg, grilled British bacon, Dingley Dell Cumberland pork sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans.
- Boiled egg with toasted soldiers (vegetarian).
- Cured kippers with poached egg.
- Smoked salmon and scrambled egg.
- Eggs Benedict.
- Traditional and specialty teas.
- Freshly ground bean to cup coffee.
- Hot chocolate.
You may have access to British Airways Arrivals Lounge as a premium customer of one of the following airlines, or as an elite member of their frequent flyer program. Check the Access rules tab for more details.
British Airways (BA)
The following passengers have access:
- British Airways First passengers arriving on a same-day longhaul flight.
- British Airways Business Class passengers (Club World, BizBed) arriving on a same-day longhaul flight.
- British Airways Gold Executive Club members arriving on a same-day longhaul flight.
- Guests are not permitted.
- Passengers arriving on other oneworld airlines are not admitted regardless of their class of service.