Five Star Virgin: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse San Francisco

Filed Under: Awards, Travel

Upon arrival at the international terminal I proceeded to check-in, where I queued in the Upper Class line. Both of the Upper Class agents were helping others, so an agent from the economy line called me over, which I appreciated. Check-in was prompt and I was given my boarding pass and lounge invitation for the Clubhouse.

SFO International Terminal

Check-in area

Upper Class check-in counters

Clubhouse invitation

I proceeded to the Clubhouse, which is located landside, just next to the museum display area near the security checkpoint. I took the elevator up a floor to the level with lounges, and to the right was the Virgin Clubhouse. I presented my invitation and was welcomed and asked if I wanted to use the Revivals lounge in London. I said I would, and was presented with an invitation.

Elevator to Virgin Clubhouse

Entrance to the Clubhouse

Revivals Lounge invitation

I’ve been to a lot of the world’s best lounges, including the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, Thai First Class lounge in Bangkok, and most recently the Qatar Airways Premium Terminal in Doha, and I’ve gotta say, I was truly blown away by the Clubhouse. Keeping in mind that Upper Class is really business class, I have to say that this was by far the nicest business class lounge I have ever been to, and even superior to most first class lounges I’ve been to.

The design of the lounge was sleek, with a bar area, lots of seats to lounge in, and even tables for enjoying a meal. To top it all off, they had some really relaxing music playing.

Virgin Clubhouse SFO

Virgin Clubhouse SFO

Virgin Clubhouse SFO bar

Virgin Clubhouse SFO

The lounge features free Wi-Fi (of course) along with two PCs.

PCs with printer

The lounge also had several shower rooms, featuring Bumble & Bumble bath products.

Shower room


I decided to sit down at a table to get a bit of work done, and was immediately approached by a charming waitress that introduced herself as Kat and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked for a Diet Coke with lime, which was promptly served, and she also explained the menu to me. Since it would be another four or five hours until I got a meal aboard the plane, I figured I might as well eat something, though did so in phases.

The Clubhouse menu read as follows:


Portobello Mushroom Soup
Roast Portobello mushrooms with barley, in a creamy vegetable broth and truffle oil.

Charred Ricotta and Roast Beets
Marinated ricotta cheese tossed with frisee leaves, roast beets, and a red wine vinaigrette.

Crispy Crab Cakes
Pan fried crab cakes served with a red pepper mayonnaise.

Main Courses
Sweet Italian Sausage and San Marzanno Tomato Pasta
With fresh basil, shaved parmesan and toasted bread crumbs.

Maple Glazed Salmon
On wilted kale with autumn squash.

Zucchini Frittata
Individual, baked frittata with topped with a salad of dressed rocket and roasted tomatoes.

Flying Club Sandwich
A traditional club sandwich of roast chicken, lettuce, tomato and bacon, served with a side of crisps.

If you require something a little lighter, we’ll happily create a tuna mayonnaise club sandwich for you.

West Coast Apple Cobbler
Warm apples, cinnamon crumble topping and vanilla bean ice cream.

Fresh Fruit Salad
Local and far fetched fruit chopped for easy eating.

Artisan Cheeses
Aged Cheddar, Humbolt Fog Goats Cheese and City Line Brie with biscuits and baked chutnie.

Clubhouse menu

Clubhouse menu

First I ordered some crab cakes, and by Kat’s suggestion went with a double order, since she said they were very small. They were served about 15 minutes later, and delicious.

Crab cakes

The lounge slowly began to fill up as more people checked in for the flight to London. About an hour later Kat asked if I wanted anything else to eat, so I went with some mushroom soup, which was also delicious.

Mushroom soup

About 90 minutes before my flight, Kat came by again and asked if I wanted some dessert. I was hesitant, though she said the apple cobbler was especially good, so I went with that.

Apple cobbler

The lounge was probably the best I’ve been to in the US, possibly along with the Lufthansa first class lounge at New York JFK.

The lounge is amazing in every way. The food and drinks are great and the lounge is sleek and comfortable, but what impressed me most were the employees. Let’s face it, it’s tough to get good help nowadays in the US, especially if you don’t work for tips. Hell, look at the United Red Carpet Club bartenders at Washington Dulles, who do count on tips, yet have the attitudes of prison guards. The ladies working at the Clubhouse were genuinely friendly, proactive, and wanting to please, and their positive attitude shined through to make the lounge spectacular, in my opinion.

  1. Have you ever checked out the Museum and Library next to the entrance to The Clubhouse? Currently there is a great display of PanAm “artifacts”. Be sure to wander through the Library in the upstairs part of the Museum.

  2. It seems strange, to me, that the lounge is located landside. I always prefer to clear the lottery of security before settling down.

  3. The new Canon S95 is doing its job really well. BTW-I think the “bartenders” at the IAD RCC are outsourced from some generic airport personnel company. Which might explain their “skills” and attitude (although some can smile).

  4. Wow, who else can access the lounge other than VS pax ? Since VX is moving to T2 in a few weeks, so even paying cannot even get inside the lounge, am I right ?

  5. Is tipping required in the lounges where you are served a sit down meal? I’m going utilize my first class privileges in BA Concord lounge in a couple of months. What about if you visit the complimentary spa facilities?

  6. @ jmd001 — I don’t think I’ve actually ever been. I’ll be sure to check it out next time I’m at SFO and have time.

    @ Colin — It was very, very good.

    @ Biggles209 — Totally agree, it’s pretty frustrating, but then again it’s a great lounge, so I’m not complaining too much. The difference between the Clubhouse and the BA Terraces lounge that’s airside is truly night and day.

    @ 1K — It was easily one of the best desserts I’ve had.

    @ JetAway — Right, they’re definitely outsourced, though that’s no excuse for their general disdain for customers, IMO. Thanks for the kind words on the pictures, have been quite happy with it.

    @ ordogg — Yes, just one flight a day.

    @ ORDnHKG — As far as I know, no other airline uses the lounge, which is surprising to me. Seems awfully expensive to keep a lounge like this open for just one flight. While Virgin America passengers can buy passes now, no clue what will happen with the terminal change. I mean, technically the lounge is landside so is still accessible in theory, but it’s rather inconvenient.

    @ N — While some people will, absolutely, positively not required. I don’t remember the last time I’ve tipped at an airport, possibly with the exception of the Thai Airways first class spa in Bangkok. While tipping isn’t required there either, they do offer hour-long complimentary massages that are amazing, and I know $5 goes a VERY long way for the people working there, and it’s certainly worth it to me for an hour-long massage.

  7. “it’s tough to get good help nowadays in the US”. Seriously? You’re going to go down that road?

  8. i do tip when i get a facial or massage at the elemis spa in london – probably should have tipped at the TG F lounge in BKK but neglected to – i was sad to learn that the LH F lounge at FRA, which is quite wonderful in several ways, does not offer free spa services!

  9. So how does this lounge compare to the Virgin lounge in IAD? FYI, that’s the lounge Qatar Airways passengers use when they fly out of there…

  10. Did you go through separate security for Upper Class like @ LHR?

    I’ve been to the LHR Clubhouse 8 or more times and the experience is always a highlight of my trip.

  11. @ Backdoc — There’s a premium security line shared by all airlines, which isn’t quite as “special” as the Virgin Atlantic one at Heathrow.

  12. At JFK, TAM First Class pax have access to Virgin´s Atlantic Clubhouse. And that´s one of the nicest lounges I´ve been to.

  13. In the Virgin Clubhouse @ SFO, do they also provide spa treatments, haircuts, showers etc? It’s not fully clear on their own website.

  14. Thanks for the quick response. I guess I have to pay for my haircut to get it to look like Richard Bransons 🙂

  15. I’ll be arriving at SFO via VS Upper Class (Delta codeshare); would I be eligible to visit this lounge upon my return, or just on the outbound? And even if both… would the Delta or Centurion lounges be a better bet on the return?

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.