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Turning right, not left?
The Concorde room is one of the most exclusive lounges at Heathrow airport – and it is certainly the most luxurious of all the T5 lounges (as well as most BA lounges elsewhere). Designed to give you 5-star hotel feel, it is much more elegant than the other lounges, with some interesting attempts at art work…
It is accessed by an entrance on the right hand side, immediately after you have passed through the security on the south side of the terminal (it is conveniently the security nearest the First check-in desk, so you shouldn’t need to travel far from check-in) – note there is a security point on the north side of the terminal too (but this is nowhere near the First check-in desk, so unless you go for a little wander around the landside part of the terminal, you should be directed through the security on the south side, landing you on the doorstep of the entrance to the Concorde Room). I always think from first glance the staff at the entrance look a little intimidating, but they’ve always been pleasant and polite when entering from my experience.
Only passengers travelling on a First class ticket are generally admitted, unless you are a Concorde Room cardholder – there is another First Class lounge for Gold/Emerald members not flying on First tickets.
The lounge is a lot smaller than the other T5 lounges, but certainly spacious and airy in feeling. You can choose more intimate seating areas around faux fireplaces, sit in the bar area to people watch (we’ve seen one or two celebrities during our visits to the lounge) or opt for some ‘outdoors’ airport atmosphere on the terrace, where you can experience the noise and hustle and bustle of T5 but from high above.
There are seating areas spread throughout, from reasonably comfortable settees and arm chairs; some arranged in little cosy enclaves to give you the feel of a little privacy, some looking outwards to oversee the hub of activity (or inactivity) that goes on in the lounge. You can also choose to prop yourself on a bar stool either at the bar or on one of the several high tables in the central area of the lounge. The smaller enclaves around faux fire places are my preference, but they do get taken up pretty quickly, so you have to be quick if you spot a free area.
If you fancy a little more privacy, you are able to pre-book a cabana that come with their own ensuite facilities and day beds (we’ve not felt the need to do this so far, but lots of people seem to do so, particularly those on connecting flights from T5 with families).
There is the usual British Airways range of predictable newspapers and magazines available, as well as numerous TV screens (particularly if you manage to grab one of the more secluded seating areas) to while away your time there.
There is usually a concierge available, where you can leave you luggage (guarded), so you do not have to worry about traipsing around with it, especially if you want to venture out of the lounge. Quintessentially, the travel company, also have a desk in the lounge, to assist you with travel bookings should you need them – personally, not needed to do so, so cannot comment beyond their presence.
If you walk through the lounge itself, there is another entrance connecting the Concorde Room with the other BA lounges on the south side of T5. The Elemis Travel Spa is immediately on your right as you exit the Concorde Room from this exit, where you can go and get a 15-minute spa treatment before you fly. If you are travelling in First class you can book up to 28 days in advance for a treatment, and I would highly advise you do so, as turning up on the day (from experience) often leads to disappointment. I wouldn’t say the treatments are mind blowing by any stretch, but it is a nice treat, especially before a long flight. You also get to sit in one of those chairs that ‘massages’ you (aka squeezes your body very tightly…) if you opt for one of the facial treatments so sort of a double whammy. There aren’t actually specific treatment rooms; instead there are ‘booths’ separated by floor to ceiling curtains, so still giving you privacy, but not total peace and quiet.
The food is a little ‘take it or leave it’ for me – it’s fine, and an a la carte menu is offered for you to order from, rather than the typical buffet you find in most lounges, but the food is nothing special for the lounge. You can opt to dine in the separate dining area, tucked away in cosy little booths and be treated to silver service, or sit in the hub of things – I prefer the latter as I like people watching, but the dining area is a good choice if you are after a little intimacy and quiet.
Wine selection is reasonable, and better than the Galleries lounges, but I was little disappointed to discover the alleged ‘as advertised’ cristal was non-existent (I wanted a treat for my birthday…), but otherwise a nice champagne selection – and unlike the other lounges you don’t have to track someone down who then has to go find champagne for you…some of the staff will happily come round and top up your glasses (but keep track of how many you have…).
The first time we experienced the lounge, some of the staff were a little stand offish, but the bar man was great; but more recently we’ve been extremely well served – very friendly (a little too free with the champagne pouring…) and helpful staff – chatty if you wanted to chat, but receptive to realise not to when people wanted to be left alone.
I’ve read on other sites/blogs that the over-riding experience of the Concorde Room is disappointing, with unfriendly staff and over capacity. That can sometimes be applied to British Airways across the board, but I have to say the few times I’ve been in the lounge, I’ve had only positive experiences – really friendly, helpful staff and not over-crowded (I don’t fly at peak times though, so that may be a factor). The thing I have noticed with T5 lounges in general is that they can be a nightmare in terms of the number of people trying to use them – but I suspect this is because T5 is purely for BA flights – other terminals have different lounges for different carriers, which isn’t the case at T5 (although Aspire have recently opened up at T5, so maybe that may ease the pressure on the Galleries lounges). I think there is no contest when it comes to the other T5 lounges, so as far as T5 lounges go, the Concorde Room wins hands down if you can access it.