Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, Trip Reports

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The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class experience at Heathrow has historically been one of my favorite business class ground experiences in the world, and I was looking forward to seeing how it was holding up.

I’ll keep this review relatively brief, and won’t fully be reviewing the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, since I’ve done so before, and not that much has changed. Rather I’ll focus on what stood out to me, and what has changed since my last visit.

Our flight from London to New York was departing at 12:30PM, and we decided to get to the airport at around 9AM, so we had time to have breakfast and work from the Clubhouse.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing & Check-In

Virgin Atlantic operates out of Terminal 3 at Heathrow. When facing the terminal, their check-in is located to the left.

Heathrow Terminal 3 exterior


Heathrow Terminal 3 exterior

We hadn’t checked in online, so we had to go to a counter to collect our boarding passes. The agent who checked us in was incredibly friendly — I found this to be the case with every single Virgin Atlantic employee we interacted with the entire day, both on the ground and in the air.

It’s so refreshing and such a pleasure to fly with an airline where employees seem to not only care, but also seem to enjoy their jobs.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class check-in Heathrow

We had our boarding passes in no time, and were invited to use the Upper Class Wing. There was an elevator (with a red carpet and velvet ropes) just to the side of the Upper Class check-in leading up to that.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing Heathrow elevator

Once outside the elevator there was another door you had to go through to enter the Upper Class Wing. To enter you had to scan your boarding pass. The Upper Class Wing is available to Upper Class and Delta One passengers.


Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing Heathrow entrance

The Upper Class Wing also has a dedicated check-in facility. You could just pull up directly there if arriving at Heathrow by car:

  • Full fare Upper Class passengers get complimentary chauffeur service, so that would drop off there
  • If you’re arriving by a car you arranged on your own you can also be dropped off there

Since we arrived by bus from a hotel near the airport, there was no practical way to be dropped off there.


Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing Heathrow

The reason we even entered the Upper Class Wing is because it has a dedicated security channel. There are two lanes, though only one lane was open when we used it. We were through within about five minutes.


Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Wing security

Unfortunately the Upper Class Wing doesn’t actually let out at the Clubhouse, as you still have to go through the duty free maze and terminal to get to the Clubhouse.

The Upper Class Wing is a nice feature, though in the meantime British Airways has caught up with their First Wing in Terminal 5. That’s arguably even a bit nicer, as it lets out directly in the lounge. In fairness to Virgin Atlantic, there’s no practical way they could let you out in the lounge, since it’s on the opposite side of the terminal.

The catch with the First Wing is that it’s only open to first class passengers and oneworld Emerald members, while this is open to all business class passengers.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is located one floor up from the terminal, one level above the American Admirals Club.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow stairs

We were welcomed by a friendly host, who informed us that we should head to our gate around 11:40AM.

I was expecting the lounge to be incredibly packed, as I had heard the lounge had gotten much busier in the past few years, particularly with Delta passengers. To my surprise, the lounge wasn’t crazy busy. I wouldn’t say it was quiet either, but we had no trouble finding seats.


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse seating


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse seating

The first order of business was having breakfast, so we headed to the dining area. There are several distinct sections to the dining area.


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining area


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining area


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse dining area

Something that people will either love or hate is that virtually nothing in the lounge is self serve. I quite like that, since the staff in the lounge constantly check on you, in my experience. No matter where you sit, you’ll constantly be offered drinks.

In the dining area there’s a small deli counter with food to choose from, and then everything else is a la carte. The deli counter had bread, pastries, muffins, cold cuts, cheese, salmon, yogurt, cereal, and more. You simply had to tell the person behind the counter what you wanted, and they prepared it for you.


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse deli counter


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse deli counter

We sat down at a table, and ordered off the a la carte menu, which read as follows:

To drink I had a cappuccino, which was really great.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse breakfast

To eat I had the shakshuka, which I enjoyed immensely (and I literally just ordered shakshuka for lunch as I’m writing this… mmmm!).


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse breakfast

Tiffany had the avocado and poached egg.


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse breakfast

We decided to stay in the dining area for a while so we could work from the table, and the server constantly checked on us.

A couple of points of frustration, though:

  • The wifi signal in the lounge was inconsistent and often slow, which seems like a very basic amenity they should get right
  • They make constant boarding announcements in the lounge, which drives me bonkers, sometimes even announcing the same flight three times; I understand the priority is to make sure that everyone makes their flights, but this takes away from the ambiance so much (I really like that United has chosen not to make boarding announcements in Polaris Lounges, for example)

Beyond the dining area, I love how many different zones the Clubhouse has, from a relaxation/entertainment zone…

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse entertainment area

To an upper level area that feels like a loft…


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse seating area

To a beautiful terrace, with great plane views.


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse terrace


Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse terrace view

For that matter, the entire lounge had great plane views.

Virgin Atlantic 787-9

One of the other popular features of the Clubhouse is that they have a spa. I’m not sure when the change was made, but they’ve definitely cut back on the range of services they offer for free. It used to be that you could get a 15 minute massage for free, while now massage treatments are chargeable.

I didn’t take pictures of the menu because it’s posted online and I figured that was up to date, but it appears that it’s not. So I ended up getting a hand treatment, which was one of the few remaining free treatments.

This included sitting in one of those face down massage chairs and basically having various creams massaged into my hands.

The treatment was nice, and mainly I was just happy that they had availability on short notice, which you’ll almost never find in British Airways’ lounge.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Boarding

Our boarding passes indicated boarding was scheduled to start at 11:35AM, though it was only around that time that the departure gate assignment was posted. So we headed over to our departure gate, about a five minute walk from the lounge.

Virgin Atlantic departure gate

Each gate here is a sterile area, so they scan your boarding pass and check your passport, and then you’re already considered to be on the flight.


Virgin Atlantic departure gate

Ah, the beautiful A350-1000!

Virgin Atlantic A350-1000

Boarding started at 11:50AM, with Upper Class passengers being invited to board first.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow Bottom Line

All things considered, the Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ground experience at Heathrow is excellent. Every employee we interacted with was genuinely friendly, and the Clubhouse is a great business class lounge with a good vibe.

I would say that we got lucky in the sense that the lounge wasn’t too crowded, as I’ve heard from others that it can be so crowded that there aren’t any available seats.

The only real feedback I have is that the wifi was slow and that I wish they wouldn’t make so many announcements, which take away from the relaxing ambiance. I’m also not thrilled that they cut back the range of spa treatments, though I can’t blame them too much.

All things considered I actually think I prefer the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse to the British Airways Concorde Room.

If you’ve visited the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. I agree with you that the Club House is one of the nicest J class lounges anywhere.

    But I think you’re being kind by arguing the journey to it is almost on a par with BA — the BA First Wing is utterly brilliant for people like me who hate shopping and just want to get to the lounge as soon as possible, far better than the Virgin experience.

    But my only real criticism of the Virgin Club House is because I’m an old man: every chair outside the dining zone has incredibly low seats. Designers love them because they look elegant. But old farts like me find them really difficult to get out of.

    But that’s minor in the great scheme of things. The Club House is great.

    I’ve always thought the Virgin flight experience is below average though, so I’m hugely looking forward to the next part of your review.

  2. Echo these sentiments 100%. I’ve found myself there maybe 6 or 7 times in the last few years and while some of the wood paneling on the V-shaped seating area near the spa is starting to show a fair amount of wear and tear, it has maintained its overall look and appeal very well. Same with the self-serve aspect, or lack thereof. I’ve never wanted for anything and the servers roam constantly. If I’ve even had so much as an expression of interest for something, servers have picked up on it and made their way over. It’s such an amazing place to while away the time. It’s one of the few lounges I’ll arrive SUPER early to enjoy. Had one of the best haircuts ever at the spa, too. Was great. I could prattle on indefinitely about how great this lounge is.

  3. Great review!

    I’ve had flights departing at ~5pm and ~8pm, and the Clubhouse has never been crowded before those departures.

    And I concur, they seem to be cutting down on the free services available in the spa. I believe they also removed the spa from the Virgin Arrivals lounge as well.

  4. Are all T3 gates at LHR sterile?

    I used the Upper Class Wing once, for me it was a real let down to clear your private security channel, only to discover you still had to walk through all the shops etc in order to reach the lounge. Certainly the First Wing does it better.

    I do like the Clubhouse but I wouldn’t arrive at LHR five hours before my flight for it.

  5. Just so you know there is a special entry when you arrive by taxi that takes you to a different place where you are welcomed by Virgin personnel that takes your bag from the taxi and ask for your passport. While you wait on couches drinking coffee they do al the check in and when all is ready they escort you to the security line. The best place at this lounge is close to the bathrooms where there are some recliners and it is pretty quiet. Food is always excellent.

  6. I recently visited the club as well and agree it’s very nice, with an excellent selection of food/beverage.
    One small correction: They also let Delta Diamond Medallions enter the club as well, even if you’re not flying Upper Class/Business.

  7. @moke you don’t like modern design then what did you expect ? Ionic pillars and mosaics. With “Cave stultus” engraved at the entrance You’re an expert on brothels ?

  8. It was a very nice experience to enter the Upper Class Wing through the hire car entrance up the ramp to the second level where Virgin personnel greet you at curbside. Check-in and security was a breeze. My lady friend and I enjoyed the Clubhouse so much that we almost missed the flight to EWR which was at the far end of the departure gates. We were the last to board, but the champagne came before we settled down. We were Virgin Virgins to Upper Class back in 2001 when they had in-flight massages, but always fly with them now.

  9. They also allow DL Platinum/Diamond to access the Upper Class Wing security and the Clubhouse, plus one guest

  10. I absolutely prefer the Concorde (BA) over the Clubhouse. Clubhouse is way too busy and service is spotty. Concorde much more relaxing. Clubhouse wcs are much better though. Check in with BA First Much superior compared with Virgin. Staff I find excellent at both. Food excellent at both. But for me Concorde is superior and my first choice. Sure it is a bit apples to oranges (first vs biz) but that is what was mentioned in the post. No knock on Clubhouse but I’ll take Concorde every time.

  11. “every chair outside the dining zone has incredibly low seats. Designers love them because they look elegant.”

    That and it helps the space look bigger than it is.

  12. @KDENFLyer

    Moke seems to have a fixation with brothels. And, for some strange reason, despite his obvious extensive experience, he doesn’t like them.

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