Five Star Virgin: Conclusion

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse San Francisco
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from San Francisco (SFO) to London (LHR)
Virgin Atlantic Arrivals Lounge London Heathrow
First Class on the Heathrow Express – is it worth it?
Hotel Indigo London Paddington
SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow
Qatar Airways First Class from London (LHR) to Doha (DOH)
InterContinental Doha
Exploring Doha
Qatar Airways Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR)
Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Airport
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from London (LHR) to New York (JFK)
Andaz New York Wall Street

Given that my trip report had 17 previous installments, consider this a Spark Notes summary.

Usually I know what to expect when it comes to airlines, but this trip threw me for a loop. Virgin Atlantic blew me away. For whatever reason I had the perception they wouldn’t be especially good, given that they don’t exactly have the newest product anymore. Furthermore, I assumed the airline was much more style over substance. I was wrong. The airline has just as much substance as it does style. I would argue their ground services are unrivaled for a business class product, especially if you can depart from a city in the US that features a Clubhouse. The Clubhouse in London was spectacular, and the Revivals lounge in London was great too.

Qatar Airways in first class was very good. However, somehow they lacked the “x factor” that makes a flying experience truly special. I don’t know what it is, but I didn’t get the same feeling I get when I fly Singapore, Lufthansa, or even Virgin Atlantic, just to name a few. They’re all around very solid, but not especially exceptional in any area. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again. They’re a top notch airline, though I don’t think they’re “the world’s 5-star airline,” as they advertise.

I’m happy to have seen Doha, though definitely don’t need to return anytime soon. I’ll be curious to see how the World Cup plays out in Doha in 2022. Maybe by then the city will be exciting, who knows.

All the hotels along the way were good too. The Hotel Indigo Paddington was an exceptional value and a great alternative to the normal Heathrow transit hotels. The InterContinental Doha was nice, though could probably use a makeover sometime soon. The Crowne Plaza London Heathrow was a great value and nice hotel, so if I had a short transit near Heathrow, I would most definitely return. Lastly, the Andaz Wall Street remains one of the best values in New York, and I’d say they keep improving.

Thanks for reading, folks, and for all the interaction, it’s what makes this fun.

I’ll be starting my trip report about my trip to Mendoza, Argentina for the 2011 Masters of Food & Wine next week, and by the time that’s done I have another huge trip (bigger than any trip I’ve ever taken before) planned for May.

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Filed Under: Awards, Travel
  1. Spectacular trip reports. Thanks so much.

    Question: how hard is it to redeem
    /get VA miles so u can fly USA to london?

  2. @ Michael — If redeeming for Virgin Atlantic I suggest accruing All Nippon Airways miles instead. They’re partners with SPG and Membership Rewards, and convert at a 1:1 ratio. Not only are their redemption levels lower, but they don’t impose fuel surcharges, which saves you hundreds of dollars. You can search space through While it’s not easy, it’s not impossible either.

  3. Fantastic job with the trip report, Ben — I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading every instalment!

  4. Sounds like your experience on Qatar sums up a lot of what I have heard…a really good airline, but not as great as THEY like to think they are…

    As for Doha, well, it is getting better each year, but it’ll be a while before it can compare to Dubai in terms of social and cultural activities…

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