Lounge Review: Aspire Lounge, Heathrow Terminal 5
Terminal 5 is Heathrow’s newest terminal. Opened in 2008, the terminal exclusively serves British Airways and Iberia. With the famed First Wing, Galleries First Lounge, and Concorde Room, the terminal is fantastic for travelers flying British Airways First Class and Oneworld Emerald flyers. However, there’s only option if you plan to use a Priority Pass lounge – the Aspire Lounge. Is the lounge a worthwhile competitor for British Airways Club Lounge?
The Aspire Lounge in Terminal 5 is located at the very end of the terminal. After clearing security and passport control, head right and follow the signs toward the “Aspire lounge & spa”. You’ll down the escalators and continue on to the south end of the terminal. Once you’ve reached the end of the terminal, turn left and the lounge will be next to gate 18.
If you see a giant sign saying “Aspire: The Lounge and Spa at LHR T5”, you’re in the right place. Depending on what time you visit, there may be a queue to enter. The check-in area is rather small so if there’s a line, it will likely extend into the terminal. When we arrived, we were told there was a 15-minute wait to enter the lounge. That was fine, as we had plenty of time to kill. We grabbed a seat at Gate 18, directly next to the lounge’s entry.
Priority Pass and Diners Club members have access to the lounge free of charge. If you don’t have either of those, it will cost you £35 to enter the lounge.
The Aspire Lounge is laid out in an “L” shape. After you enter, there’s seating around the edges of the lounge. Most of the seating is setup around small tables with booths and chairs around them. There are also a few seats at the bar and separate tables for two.
Overall, I’d say the seating and layout of the lounge was pretty disappointing. The lounge was incredibly crowded and you could feel it. Unfortunately, the Aspire Lounge isn’t wide enough that you can easily manoeuvre around when it’s empty. Add in a bunch of people and luggage and it’s nearly as stressful as the main terminal. This was especially noticeable when trying to visit the buffet.
I’m not sure what the best solution is. As you can see, it’s already a pretty tight space to start with. Maybe they need to consider further restricting the number of people allowed in at one time?
The Aspire Lounge also has a separate working area. The working area is separate from the rest of the lounge, allowing you to get some work done away from the chaos of the rest of the lounge. Unfortunately the room was full and I wasn’t able to get any photos. However it did look like a good option if you need to get work done.
Food and drinks in the Aspire Lounge were…different. Overall, the food selection actually wasn’t too bad for a contract lounge. The hot bar consisted of meat and vegetarian chilis, rice, mashed potatoes, and tortillas. The food was fine, though unmemorable.
There was also a cold food selection. It included things like salad, pasta salad, a bean dish, and some scones. For some reason, the scones didn’t come with any clotted cream or jam. I’m sure somewhere a lone tear is rolling down the queen’s face.
There are also allegedly “premium” food options available for purchase. These are supposed to be a more substantial, a la carte option, though I didn’t see any menus available or people going for this option.
My favorite part of the lounge was the pancake machine. You just press a button for the number of pancakes you want, and within 60 seconds, you’ve got hot pancakes. How cool is that?!
While they weren’t the greatest pancakes I’ve ever had, the novelty of watching and eating pancakes in the middle of the day wasn’t lost on me. Plus, it’s free pancakes sooooo… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The lounge also features a “full service” bar. Standard beer and wines are available for free while other options are available for purchase. I say “full service” because the bartender frequently disappeared to take care of other tasks. I’m not sure if the staff was shorthanded or if this is a routine occurrence. However, if you want a drink, be prepared to go as soon as you see the bartender.
The strangest part about the whole food and beverage experience was the inconsistent messaging. Before entering the lounge, it seemed like drinks would only be available for purchase. However, if you asked the bartender, they’d seem confused why you asked whether drinks were complimentary. More substantial food was also supposedly on offer, though it wasn’t clear how to go about getting it.
Bathrooms & Showers
Here’s my review of the bathroom facilities in the Aspire Lounge:
Nope, I didn’t leave out a paragraph. They simply don’t have any. If you need to use the restroom, you’ll need to leave the lounge and go to the ones in the main terminal. Thankfully, they aren’t too far from the lounge. Still, a lounge doesn’t exactly scream premium when it doesn’t even have its own restroom facilities.
Showers are available to visitors for £20. Meanwhile, if you have access to either of the British Airways lounges, they’re free. This is a hard pass from me. However, if you’re just coming off an overnight flight, it might make sense to pay for the ability to freshen up.
Overall, I was pretty underwhelmed with the Aspire Lounge. While there was plenty of natural light and a modern feel, the space still felt really cramped and mobbed with people. The lounge is in a really neat space with views of the apron and solid decor, but leaves so much to be desired. If you have the option to visit a British Airways lounge in T5, I’d go there instead. That being said, if this is your only option, it’s still better than nothing. If you don’t have free access to the lounge though, I wouldn’t recommend paying £35 to visit.