As frequent flyers, on a short hop to Europe or exploring the far East and West of the Globe, we’re always in search of a bargain to travel in style! The joy of travelling should start from getting to the airport, and we got hooked on the trappings of business class travel and everything that comes with it; lounges, lie-flat beds, food & wine, and free-flowing champagne! We’ve come to realise that traveling in style doesn’t have to break the bank.

Neither of us are millionaires and we’re continually looking to achieve our flying dreams by spending as little cash as we can. Be it a seat sale or miles redemption for reward flights, we tend to let our wallets tell us where we’re going next rather than having a fixed agenda...

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ASPIRE Longe in London

The Aspire lounge Heathrow Terminal 5 is for Priority Pass card holders and anyone willing to pay. We visited the lounge before we flew with British Airways from London to Dubai in Premium Economy, and in this blog we review our experience of using the lounge. If you’re uncertain about whether you should pay to use the lounge, read on, as we have assessed whether it’s worth it. The lounge is open from 05:00 – 22:30 daily and cost £31.49 per adult.

Reception

Queues outside the ASPIRE Lounge
The queues outside the Aspire Lounge

We arrived at the lounge in the morning (~10:30 am) and the queues were snaking outside the entrance. It didn’t come as a surprise given that Heathrow T5 is one of the busiest terminals in the world. 210,273 flights flew in and out of T5 in 2018, carrying a grand total of 32.8 million passengers. That’s a lot of people! As the only Priority Pass lounge in the terminal and one of two lounges you can access by paying, the demand for these lounges is very high.

The two receptionists tried to ease the queues by checking people in as fast as they could. They were polite and apologised for the wait. Before we got into the lounge, they issued us with a word of warning to help manage our expectations!

It’s really busy in there, be prepared to share seats with other customers please.

Word of warning from the Receptionist at the Aspire Lounge

Given that the lounge was already very busy, as Priority Pass holders, we thought they should’ve prioritised paying passengers to ease the congestion in the lounge, but they squeezed us in anyway.

Score: 5/10

Comfort

The Aspire Lounge at Heathrow T5 is set up in such a way that accentuated the feeling of being in a long hallway or corridor. Seats were lined along the L-shaped lounge.

The range of seating was split evenly between bar tops with stools, bistro-style dining, and booth seats.

Finding a seat was a bit of a challenge, people were hesitant to share their space and used their cabin luggages as blockers on empty seats. Finding a seat for two people was difficult and we weren’t prepared to sit on other passenger’s laps! It was uncomfortable to make use of what the lounge had to offer and, by the looks of other seated guests, it didn’t look like they were having a good time either.

If you could find a seat, the views of the planes were great. For a busy airport like Heathrow, there were a lot of planes to watch moving in and out of the terminal.

Score: 4/10

People traffic

Busy. We struggled to get a seat in the small lounge, as it wasn’t built to cater for large passenger numbers. There were queues for food, drinks and coffee machines.

For paying customers, there was an option to book a table in advance, but it’s hard to justify considering how busy everything was. When we were at the lounge the biggest table was reserved, however it remained empty the whole time we were in the lounge. Put simply, the lounge appeared to be uncomfortably full, to the point where the terminal outside felt less congested!

Score: 3/10

Food Options

At breakfast time, a small hot food buffet was available. It included bacon, baked beans, sausages, and muffin rolls. We thought the hot food counter was a nice touch but you had to queue to get to the small buffet area. There were also no where to eat this. The quality of the food was also just average. There was a self-service pancake machine that looked interesting. A selection of pastries and fruit were also available.

Heathrow Terminal 5 has a range of restaurant, bars and eateries. Ranging from formal seat dining like Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food and Wagamama, to grab-and-go eateries like Pret-a-Manger and Itsu. You’re never short of food options there. If you are hungry and wanted a proper meal, we would not recommend paying to eat in the lounge, as you’ll get better options in the terminal.

Score: 5/10

Beverage Options

There was a good selection of non-alcoholic beverages, which we helped ourselves too. Alcoholic beverages had to be ordered from the bar, which was probably a ploy to ensure the number of drinks were managed by the bartender. There was only one bartender serving, so if you’re intending on having a few, be prepared to wait. You could have standard spirits, red, and white wines, and beer.

The first glass of Prosecco was free in the lounge and if you wanted more it would cost £12.99 per bottle or £4.99 per glass. Premium drinks were extra money. Champagne was available at £50 for Moët Rose and £40 for Moët Brut. A bottle of Moët Rose champagne costs about £35-40 in the supermarket, so the price wasn’t astronomical.

Score: 7/10

Toilets and Showers

Instructions for using the shower
Instructions for using the shower

Showers were available in the lounge, however, they come with an additional cost at £20 per person. They can be booked for a restricted 30-minute limit. Unless you’re desperate for a shower and you’re transiting through Heathrow, we thought it was hard to justify paying £20! We thought it was very cheeky to expect customers to pay more money for using the showers and left us feeling like Aspire were trying to extract as much money as they could. Not surprisingly it was the only facility without a queue!

There were no toilet facilities inside the lounge. Toilets were found outside in the main terminal.

Score: 3/10

WiFi, Power & Productivity

There was a dedicated work area for business travellers, it had high bar work desks, fitted with charging points for UK, US and USB ports, allowing for different devices to be plugged in. It was the only area in the lounge that was quiet. Perhaps, no one wanted to do any work that day! WiFi was available free of charge with a consistent speed (↓ 3 Mbps ↑ 0.95 Mbps) – not terrible, but far from good for a city like London.

Score: 6/10

Little Extras

The added extras like the shower and spa, came an extra cost. The pancake machine was probably the only meaningful added extra… which says a lot about the lounge!

Score: 1/10

BG1 Verdict

For us, Heathrow T5 is one of the best airports when it comes to choice of restaurants, bars and shops. If you’re travelling as a pair, accessing the lounge will set you back a hefty £63. With the crowdedness of the lounge and not much else to make up for it, we would recommend spending the money elsewhere. We wouldn’t eat and drink more than £63 worth of average food and beverages, and so we don’t think it represents good value for money.

We would recommend having a nice meal with a decent bottle of wine at a restaurant. Where you would be guaranteed a comfortable seat, be served with decent quality food, and cost about the same money.

Total: 34/70 (49%)

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