Review: British Airways Galleries Lounge London Heathrow

Filed Under: British Airways

We had landed a bit behind schedule and I was worried about making my connection from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5, particularly since I was booked on a separate ticket on a rival carrier (British Airways).

Luckily, we deplaned rather quickly and the fast track card proved enormously helpful. Although I had the option of connecting totally airside via bus, I was renting a Tep Wireless mi-fi device for my trip, which I was to pick up landside in Terminal 3. In any event, that would allow me to connect to Terminal 5 via train rather than bus, which I preferred.

I made it through passport control and customs within minutes (easily, under 5 minutes total), although by the time I’d made it to the Heathrow Express platform for a transfer to Terminal 5, the train was just pulling away, so I had to wait another 15 minutes in the train station.

As I was booked in Club Europe on British Airways, I was also eligible for Fast Track security at Terminal 5, so once I arrived in the terminal, I was able to make it through security quite quickly.

Just beyond security was the British Airways Galleries Lounge for business class passengers, so I checked in.

British Airways Galleries business class lounge
British Airways Galleries business class lounge

The lounge is very attractive, and large, but it was slammed.  It was also uncomfortably hot inside, due likely to the “heat wave” Britain was experiencing as well as the general lack of air conditioning for which Northern Europe is famous.

I headed toward the shower rooms and put my name in for a shower. The attendant didn’t know how long the wait would be, but handed me a buzzer.

In the meantime, I checked out the food and drink selection, though I wasn’t hungry (and even if I was, I wouldn’t have been hungry for lunch, since it was “my morning” even though it was nearly 2pm).

British Airways Galleries business class lounge
British Airways Galleries business class lounge
Wine and snacks selection
Wine and snacks selection
Wine and snacks selection
Wine and snacks selection
Hot food selection
Hot food selection
Hot food selection
Hot food selection
Salad bar
Salad bar

The food all looked quite edible, though I didn’t partake. I appreciate that it was a fairly expansive spread. As for the wine, Ben loyalists should note that there was no champagne or anything sparkling, so it was largely a white-and-red affair.

While I waited I grabbed some reading material and made myself a bit of a bloody mary, though very light on the vodka.

British Airways Galleries business class lounge
British Airways Galleries business class lounge

I took a seat toward the back of the lounge, near the windows facing the tarmac.

British Airways Galleries business class lounge seating
British Airways Galleries business class lounge seating

With about twenty minutes to go before I really had to hightail it to the gate for boarding, I checked in with the shower desk again, and apparently a shower was ready for me (it turned out my buzzer was broken).

Shower room
Shower room

The shower room was small and was dated and felt bizarrely like Ben’s horribly-cramped bathroom at the Westin Nagoya Castle in Japan.

Ben's horrible bathroom at the Westin Nagoya Bathroom - a dead ringer for the shower rooms at the BA Galleries Lounge
Ben’s horrible bathroom at the Westin Nagoya Bathroom – a dead ringer for the shower rooms at the BA Galleries Lounge

In any event, the shower itself was powerful and just what I needed, and the toiletry products seemed high-end.

I dried myself off quickly, did my hair with a less-than-adequate hair dryer, changed and headed straight for my gate for my flight to Amsterdam.

British Airways Galleries Lounge Bottom Line

Is this the best airline lounge at Heathrow?

Most definitely not. That’s because the Virgin Clubhouse exists, among many others that consistently rank among the best airport lounges in the world.

But for a lounge I could access on an intra-Europe business class ticket on British Airways, it was impressive. I thought the lounge was attractive and had plenty of seating and amenities.

Is it going to be the best food and the highest quality wine? No, but it certainly does the trick when you’re transiting Heathrow and need a shower and a bit to eat.

  1. Nick,
    Nice review with great pictures.
    I have a question about an analogous situation that we have upcoming:
    We will be traveling BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus in J on an award ticket, transiting to DUB-AMS, also on Aer Lingus, but in Y. Will we have access to an Aer Lingus business class lounge in DUB, and if so, what’s it like? Showers?

  2. There are 2 Galleries business class lounges in LHR T5A. You went to the North one, which is right by security. IMO, it is also the worst one of ALL lounges in T5. You should have gone to the South one — down the escalator to the lower level, past all the duty free and up the escalator again — as it is more spacious and is generally better.

  3. I’ve spent too much time in that place over the past few years and it is always busy. I used to head to the airport early when I had access to the First Class lounge with my BA Gold card but the Galleries lounges don’t have the same appeal. Still, when my flight was delayed and then cancelled last year, spending 8 hours at Galleries North was better than hanging out in the public area.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s always interesting to read someone else’s experience of lounges I’ve been to.


  4. Although they don’t have champagne on display it is available if you ask for it (at least it has been during my visits).


  5. It is very large and crowded, but it is really a pretty nice international lounge. It only seems pale in comparison to the many other top-notch international lounges at LHR – Concorde Room at T5, United GF in T2 (even the UA business lounge in T2 is comparable to Galleries, though it is the only one like it in the UA system) and Skyteam in T4 (a bit better than Galleries, but not hugely so). LHR is a bit of a standout vis-à-vis lounges.

  6. I assume that this was the Galleries North lounge based on the description. I think I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Heathrow T5 Galleries lounges, since those were the first lounges I ever used that didn’t belong to a US airline or a third party, so at the time they amazed me. Still, I loved using them early in the morning upon arrival from the US, since I never remember them being too crowded at 6 am, but that could just be my imagination. I think the lounge in 5B tends to be less crowded from my experience and the south lounge is often more crowded.

  7. While the bubbly isn’t out for self serve, they gladly bring a glass (or few) to your seat upon request.

    Was the shower within the lounge itself? I frequent the ones in Elimis spa, which is by Galleries South. This one looks like an Elimis shower…

  8. Having recently been through every business-class lounge in LHR T5, that’s definitely the North one; I agree it’s quite crowded and the least nice. The South one is a bit of a haul but is nicer, which is also the one that has the First/Concorde facilities and spa. The one in 5B might be my favorite of the ones I’ve stopped by, but is a bit tricky since you don’t for-sure-know your flight is leaving from 5B or 5C until it goes up on the board and that doesn’t leave you with a lot of time to visit it. (Though if you give yourself enough time, you can always walk back through the transit passageway.)

  9. Nick hi! I think you picked the wrong lounge – you went to the North lounge, which tends to be used more for domestic travel as the UK gates are near there. The food is always quite good – and the same as the other lounges. Champagne is always available on demand – so do ask next time. I think compared to any AA lounge, it is a dream come true. The T5 First lounge is, of course better – but reserved to one world emerald flyers. We do get vintage Taittinger and made to order food – but it needs a little refurb and more staff as it is getting busier and busier. BA uses Elemis in business as a brand, which is ‘high-end’, but time for a change, in my opinion. The ‘restroom’ facilities seriously need an upgrade in all lounges at T5.

  10. In case anyone from BA is reading, I would really like a hair dresser at the lounge – like Virgin has. Seriously useful for female passengers and I would be very happy to pay for the convenience if, say, not flying First (longhaul).

  11. @Zow,

    I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but are you on a single ticket or did you book those tickets separately (e.g., end-to-end)?

    My only experience has been with connecting tickets, but I have never had an issue accessing the Gold Circle lounge in DUB using my inbound J class boarding pass (they seem to often have a paper list of eligible customers to reference as well, but for some reason I’ve never been on that list). It’s an attractive lounge, but with relatively limited food options (closer, but not quite at the level of, a US domestic lounge). You will need to clear transit security first–and then I recommend using the elevators to go down to the departure gates/lounge level, rather than the escalators, to save some backtracking.

    Also, as an aside, Aer Lingus only operates Y intra-Europe–they don’t bother blocking middle seats to create the “fake” J seats like the other European carriers.

  12. @Austin,
    Thanks very much for replying and for the helpful, specific information.
    We are traveling on separate tickets (BOS-DUB in J booked via BA with Avios and then the DUB-AMS booked myself online as a revenue fare). We’ll give it a try, if we have time. We are scheduled to arrive in DUB at 0805 and then depart at 0940…not sure we’ll even have time to breathe, but I would like to check out the lounge! Thanks again.

  13. Champagne is available in the Champagne bar area which is around the washroom area and computer terminals. You can also order from any waiter.

  14. Hi everyone!

    Yes, it appears I went into the North lounge (I didn’t really know there was a South lounge), which was directly in front of me as I cleared security. For those who are transiting T5, it happened to be the first lounge you’d see if you were to get to T5 by Heathrow Express (as I did, from T3).

    I would probably have ordered a glass of champagne had I known, and I might have checked out the South lounge had I had time, as well! I only had about 30-45 minutes, so I feel like I missed out on quite a bit the Galleries Lounges have to offer.

  15. @@mrsoaroundtheworld: Yes, actually, now that you mention it, the products in the shower were Elemis and they were distinctly the nicest part about the shower room 🙂

  16. Just ask for champagne and you get taittinger in LHR BA galeries lounges!
    Although there are not really waiters, you have to ask it to the people who are stocking the food or cleaning the tables, which is not so inviting.

  17. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you’re travelling LAX-LHR-AMS (even on separate tickets) you shouldn’t need to clear immigration since you’re not actually entering the UK. That’s why the bus beats the train since you stay in the transit zone the entire time (plus you get cool tarmac views on the ride).

  18. @Arcanum: You’re exactly right, but I needed to pick up a TEP Wireless device that I’d rented online, which was only available for pickup in T3 after clearing immigration.

  19. Just so you know it is often quicker to take the tube between t 3 and 5 as this train runs every 3/5 minuites. No charge for going between terminal.

  20. @Matthew poole – You need an Oyster card to use the Tube as a means of transferring between t3 and t5.

    @Nick – Entertaining read as usual, but shame on you for not doing your research 🙂

  21. @Andrew, actually you only need a contactless credit or debit card now.

    I’ve actually never been in the north lounge at T5, though I’ve been in every other T5 lounge many times. Of the club lounges, it’s worth the trek to the B terminal. All of the lounges have been overly hot lately given the overcrowding, even the first and CCR lounges.

  22. Thanks for these reviews, from one Nick to another!

    Quick question for you (or anyone else out there)…I’ll be traveling a similar itinerary in November on VS Upper Class from MIA, connecting to Club Europe on BA on a separate ticket. We will be checking bags; do VS and BA have an interline agreement that would allow us to stay airside, or would we need to reclaim our bags and recheck them?

  23. The BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 South lounge has great wines and horrible food. Quite the opposite from Emirates: their lounges have 5 amazing foods, but the wines suck.

  24. It would be worthwhile adding a further line or two to this review to clarify that you were in Galleries North and not Galleries South. The “South” lounge is the larger of the two. Without a full review of Galleries South the reader is not really getting the true picture of BA lounge facilities at T5.

    Readers should also know that champagne is available in BA’s Club Europe lounges – you simply ask a member of staff to bring you a glass and they oblige – usually with great courtesy. Up until recently they were serving Piper Heidsieck but have just changed brand to one whose name I can’t remember.

  25. This has to be the worst Lounge ever.
    I asked a question of the lady at the Client Services desk – but my flight was Qantas so she responded that she worked for BA so could not help me.
    I then tried unsuccessfully to charge my phone. Another client told me that he had tried but the outlets did not work.
    Thinking this would be useful information, I reported it to the staff who nodded and carried on staring at the computer screen.

  26. Too hot!!! I don’t think it is overcrowding, I think they are trying to save money, even the attendants said they find it hot. The people at the service desk obviously rule the roost and discussed my asking politely if the temperature could be lowered with another passenger. North lounge

  27. Waiting time is too long, and food items and choices are very less. There is no place that you can take rest. Just set almost 5 hours. My flight has not announced my gate number, so I asked them, are you guys going to announce? And front desk staff gave me very roughly answer, and said you have to find out your own.
    This is my last visit and travel with British airways that is sure.

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