After a long-haul flight back to the UK, it’s nice to be able to freshen-up before you set off for a full day in London, or embark on a journey in the car. The British Airways Heathrow Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 5 caters exactly for this, offering a place to get clean and recharge the energy levels. Having visited a several times, we decided a review was long overdue.
In this review:
- Locating the Lounge
- BG1 Verdict
Locating the Lounge
The British Airways Arrivals Lounge is found land-side in the public arrivals area, after you’ve collected your bags and cleared customs. It’s up on the first floor, so you’ll need to take the right lift/escalators to reach the entrance. Look up for the yellow sign denoting the South Meeting point. Once you’re under the South Meeting point, you’ll see signs to the Airline Lounge pointing up the nearby escalators. There’s a lift beside the escalator, which may be easier if you’ve heavy bags.
Important: if you’ve an onward connection with British Airways, this is not the lounge for you. Check the protocol for your connections as you will probably need to stay airside and follow signs for Flight Connections on arrival. Head to the airside British Airways Heathrow lounges for a fuller experience.
Arriving at the British Airways Heathrow Arrivals Lounge, we were met by the familiar British Airways check-in desks, where you’re asked to prove your eligibility for access. British Airways First and Business class (Club World) passengers arriving on long-haul flights (over 6 hours), or those with BA Exec Club Gold (or Oneworld Emerald) status can use the arrivals lounge.
The lounge opens 5am until 2pm each day. While most long-hauls arrive into Terminal 5 within these hours, you’ll be flat out of luck if your flight arrives after closing time.
Right next to the check-in desks was a free bag-check facility. We tend to head straight to the showers with our bags, then drop them in here before we have some breakfast. Staff on reception don’t tell you any of this, but their efficiency also means no lining-up to gain entry. If you have any questions, they can always help.
The lounge was split into four distinct sections. The showers were at the far end. Next to them was the lounge seating area. Moving nearer to the entrance was the dining area. Finally, to the left, was the Elemis Spa area.
The lounge area was furnished with rows conjoined armless chairs and curvy sofas, punctuated by in-built coffee tables.
The lounge was effectively windowless and did suffer from the absence of natural light. While one side of the lounge area had floor-to-ceiling windows, they look out onto the arrivals hall. Artificial lighting in the lounge felt sufficiently bright, although it really could be any time of day and your body clock wouldn’t know.
While we didn’t see any sleeping cabanas or quiet areas, there were some quieter looking seats near the Elemis Spa.
We arrived midway through the morning rush of flights and found the lounge was fairly busy. There were no queues for the showers, and the Elemis Spa looked fairly quiet. The seating and dining areas were well-occupied and we struggled to find a seat while we were there. Most people tend not to hang-out in the arrivals lounge, so space tends to free-up quickly. The crowds seemed to buck the trend on this visit as it felt as thought there were plenty of people camping out in there!
We found a good quality hot and cold buffet breakfast underway when we arrived. The restaurant staff told this would be served until 12:30pm.
The hot items comprised of all the bits needed to assemble a full English breakfast. Brown sauce and ketchup were available in ample measures!
Pastries, bread, fruit, yoghurt, and cereals were also laid out.
Often, we’ll skip the breakfast service on our flight into London. This avoids us being woken 1-2 hours before the flight arrive and allows us to maximise sleep until the seat belt sign goes on. We then grab breakfast in the arrivals lounge, after a nice shower.
Concorde Breakfast Room
Passengers arriving into T5 on a first class ticket can use the Concorde Breakfast Room, which was located next to the arrivals lounge dining area.
An a la carte breakfast is served at your table. Menu items include eggs cooked to your liking, eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, and kippers!
At the time of writing, champagne was available on request.
There was an extensive range of hot and cold non-alcoholic beverages. While we’re not 100% sure on the convention for arrivals lounges, we felt comfortable about there not being a bar. We’re not animals!
There were a couple of Union Coffee machines, dispensing a range of caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks. Twinnings tea was found adjacent, along with cold semi-skimmed milk. A sign said dairy-free alternatives were available if you ask.
Chilled juices, still/sparkling water and cans of fizzy drinks completed the range of soft drinks on offer.
As there was no booze, this lounge failed the Bloody Mary Challenge. It wasn’t “that kind of lounge” so no marks are lost for this. Coffee was where we felt the lounge could’ve picked-up more marks. Many like to start the day with a good coffee (caffeinated or not), so barista coffee would be welcome. One person on a machine would be sufficient to serve a lounge of this size.
Toilets and Showers
Let’s start with the showers, as we don’t go looking for arrivals lounges to use the toilets. British Airways know what their passengers show up for and they don’t disappoint. Showers are managed from a desk at the far end of the lounge – turn right on entry and keep walking to the end. You’ll see a white desk with the Hydrotherapy Zone sign behind it.
While the showers were starting to look a little dated, they were in abundance (94 in total) and do the job well. At peak arrival periods there can be a short wait, but we’ve never found this to be more than 20 minutes. When called, we were assigned a room number and sent into the maze of pods and coloured lights. Each pod was self-contained wet rooms with a sanitary, faintly medical/care home appearance to them. They were equipped with a toilet, wash basin, shower, hairdryer, and a radio! That’s right, after days or weeks off the grid, you can tune into your fave radio station to start your day. A fresh towel and mat were hanging on the rail.
There’s a magic door set into the room’s door. While you shower, hang a garment you need ironing, close the door, and the service team will ensure it’s pressed for you. Very convenient when your suitcase has creased your only clean shirt.
If you’ve got some time to burn, ask whether one of the luxury bathrooms is available. They’re primarily reserved for First Class passengers, but are offered to all passengers if space is available. These rooms are a little larger and feature a dressing area and a bath tub.
After exiting the showers, there was mineral water on a side table and a shoe-shine machine to finish the rejuvenation.
At the other end of the lounge, toilets were on the far side of the Elemis Spa. We found them clean and stocked with Elemis Spa hand soap.
WiFi, Power & Productivity
Like the rest of BA’s lounges at Terminal 5, the Wi-F speed was decidedly lacklustre. We got a feeble 3 Mbps down and 0.9 Mbps up. Streaming and video calling will suffer at these speeds.
There were lots of charging points throughout the main lounge seating area. Mains 230v and USB sockets were set into the built-in coffee tables in the lounge area. The notable exceptions were the curvy sofas in the Hydrotherapy Zone waiting area, and the chairs outside the Elemis Spa.
The British Airways Heathrow Arrivals Lounge at T5 didn’t strike us as an easy place to work. What few counter-tops and tables was saw were largely needed by those dining. People were trying to work, but the hushed atmosphere made phone calls awkward and laptops were mainly on laps. The lounge is fine for sending a quick email, but for anything more involved our advice would be to get showered, get a bite to eat, then get yourself to the office. The lack of daylight in there isn’t going to to help matters!
Like all of BA’s flagship Heathrow lounges, the Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 5 featured an Elemis Travel Spa. Subject to slots being available, you could choose from a list of treatments on the menu. Club & status guests pay for their treatment, while First passengers get one on the house.
As we mentioned a little earlier, there was a cloak/bag check desk beside the lounge check-in desk. You’re able to leave small and large items of luggage with them right up until the lounge closes.
A range of daily newspapers were offered in two locations and featured both UK and international broadsheet and tabloid press.
Finally, there was a bottle warmer next to coffee machines. We thought that would be super helpful for those doing the unenviable task of transporting a human tadpole across the globe. You often have to ask for lounges to warm bottles, but not here.
Purely for its practicality, we like this lounge a lot. It serves as a perfect pit-stop before you head off into the Big Smoke. It’s not large and it’s by no means the fanciest lounge – the American arrivals lounge in T3 beats on presentation. It does, however, always have available showers and a good breakfast. We think that’s why the British Airways Heathrow Arrivals Lounge at T5 is a good place to land.