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Review: Inside the British Airways Concorde Room Heathrow [Aug 19]

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This review provides an in-depth look at the lounge for British Airways First Class passengers at Heathrow Terminal 5 – the Concorde Room. I share my latest experience (August 2019) and how to get maximum luxury out of your First Class pre-departure experience!

Inside the Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5

The Facts

Eligibility: Must be flying a British Airways-operated long haul flight in first or business-class (Club World). Executive Club Gold Members flying long haul in any class on a British Airways-operated flight are also eligible. Or hold a Concorde Room Card, which you receive after earning 5,000 tier points in one year (the equivalent of 12 return flights to New York in First Class!). In which case you probably don’t need this review because you have done a whole lot of flying with BA.

Location: London Heathrow Terminal 5, through the First Wing and Galleries First

Opening Hours: 5am – 10:30pm

Services: Bar, waiter service, à la carte dining, private cabanas with showers and room service (reservation required), wi-fi, spa, business suite.

Getting Maximum Extravagance

  • Turn up early: If you want time to experience the champagne, à la carte dining and your complimentary Elemis spa treatment, I’d recommend for your first time in the Concorde Room to aim for at least 3 hours before your flights. Also, try and get a spa reservation shortly after arriving, or a little before your departure. That way, you aren’t risking having to split up your meal!
  • Think about when and what you want to eat: When flying to Nashville, I arrived during breakfast service and held out for when the lunch/dinner kicks off at 12pm!
  • Maximise the drinks you can’t get elsewhere! Of course, of course, it’s down to taste and don’t drink the £££ for the sake of it. But since you asked, the most costly and exclusive drinks are the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle (or any of the champagne cocktails which use it!), Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Glenlivet 18 year old and Otard XO Cognac.
  • Remember your reservations: Make sure to reserve your Elemis Spa appointment, which is part of your First Class experience, 28 days before departure. You can also reserve a private cabana as soon as you have booked.

The Experience

Me thoroughly enjoying my spot at the Concorde Room bar!

A quick scan of your First Class ticket at the Concorde Room reception and you pass through into a quintessential British lounge. The Concorde Room feels bright, but cosy at the same time. I liked it, as you feel like you are part of something special, rather than in the middle of an airport terminal.

The Lounge has a bar area, lots of comfy sitting areas, group tables, a dining/restaurant area, a business suite and a big bright mezzanine. So you will hopefully find an area and free space that suits you. When I arrived at 10:30am in the height of summer holidays, the lounge certainly wasn’t dead with quite a few people in it, but it did not at all feel busy.

Bar & Drinks

I headed straight to the bar at the centre of the Concorde Room and received a bright welcome. The bar staff were very professional but gauged quickly that I was up for a bit of a chat and a joke. I was asked about what mix of hair dye I use to get such a nice shade of green! (Crazy Color Pine Green & Adore Electric Lime if you’re interested).

There was a bit of confusion on the sparkling wine/champers situation. There are two whites on offer – Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle at around £130 a bottle and Hattingley Valley English Sparkling Wine a significantly less £40. There was also a Henriot Rose Champagne at £52 a bottle. However, when asking what the choices were, I swear I heard Dom Perignon! I asked “what about the Grand Siècle” and was informed they don’t do that one. Anyway, I asked for the bottle and it was the GS. It may have been my hearing or pronunciation, but got there in the end! From that point on the service was great and my glass never had long to be empty.

If you prefer to not sit at the bar (what’s wrong with you?) then waiters will serve you no matter where you choose to sit (except the business suite). Out in the mezzanine, which overlooks the concourse, there was also a self-serve table, including champagne on ice.

The Concorde Room also serves an exclusive cocktail menu. I sampled the Tanquery BA175, which is the signature cocktail; Tanqueray No. TEN with apricot brandy, pink grapefruit juice topped up with Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle champagne. It was very tasty, but I think it had a dangerous dose of alcohol in it, so be careful!

The BA175 Signature Concorde Room Cocktail

Dining

At the bar is also a selection of crackers, cheeses, nuts and sweet treats. There is also a bar food menu, which is not the same at the full dining menu. I, therefore, did not try these items. I’d say skip the snacks and go for the three course meal!

The dining area is made up of a set of restaurant-style booths, which feel fairly private. I say fairly, because people can look in on you if they are direct across the aisle. The booths are available on a first-come first served basis – plenty was available when I was there.

View from my table in the Concorde Room dining area.

It is a full waiter service as if you were at an actual restaurant (without the paying bit). It really made the whole experience as if you weren’t just waiting for a flight, but actually already on holiday.

For the starter I had pan seared scallop served on black pudding with pea veloutéand and crispy pancetta. The portion was tinnnnnnny with more sauce than anything else. But it was very, very tasty. My favourite course was the confit of British duck on a bed of cavolo nero and roasted butternut squash purée, with a rich blackberry jus. It fell off the bone and the sauce was super tasty. I finished with black forest timbale, which was also delicious.

You can have a look through the full menu below, although menus are updated regularly.

I wasn’t given a wine list to review, which was a bit strange. I guess I could have asked for one? However, I had the champagne with the scallop. For the duck, I requested a Chianti red, which they were able to supply with no problem and it was really really lovely. I then requested a dessert wine, which was a great end to the meal.

The food was the best experience of airport lounge dining I have had to date (I really would love to try Air France’s First Class lounge in Paris through – one day!) Service, however, was a bit hit and miss. There was a really long gap between my main and dessert. So much so, that I saw someone order theirs after me, and they got it first! So something went wrong. In the end, I had to complain.

Facilities

Not exactly part of the Concorde Room (as it is available to business and elite customers too), but as a First passenger, you can pre-book an appointment at the Elemis Spa 28 days prior to arrival.

I did not sample the other Concorde Room facilities, but there is a business suite if you are the kind of person who doesn’t know how to make the most of the First Class experience (or if you do it far more than I do!).

If you have a really long connection / wait, or just want a bit of privacy. There are private cabana that can be reserved ahead, or booked on the day (but be careful – there are only two). The cabanas have their own shower, but no just a kind of futon rather than a bed. I didn’t bother because I like to socialise and they look super dated, compared to the Concorde Room itself. You can reserve a private cabana after making a booking using this form.

The Conclusion

The Concorde Room was my best lounge experience to date, with friendly but perhaps a little unpolished service. All in all, though, I loved it and I’m not sure I’d exchange the banter for a super uptight atmosphere. The vibe was relaxing and the time flew by. I can’t wait to go back!

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