London’s Heathrow Airport was the first ever international airport that I flew into, and my main (and really only) memory of Heathrow Airport is that it was huge with so many shops and so many restaurants! Well, I’ve been back twice this year and my memory holds true! With five terminals, Heathrow is London’s largest airport and home to many flights between the US and London.
A lot of travelers coming thorough Heathrow will have a long layover and want to venture into London, which is doable only if you have at least a six hour layover (read about it here!) If you cannot make the trip out of Heathrow, do not be concerned – Heathrow has a lot of shops, restaurants, and amenities to keep travelers busy,! Its also home to a number of lounges, many of which are accessible via Priority Pass! Terminal 5 is the most popular terminal for long-haul international flights, including those to and from the US, and its home to one lounge that is covered by Priority Pass – The Aspire Lounge and Spa (it used to have another Priority Pass Lounge, but that seems to have closed down).
Dan and I briefly visited the Aspire Lounge and Spa earlier this year when we flew out of Heathrow. Before planning your visit, know that if you are flying out of Terminal 5, Terminal 5 is spread out into three sub-sections, sections A, B, and C. The Aspire Lounge and Spa is located in section A of Terminal 5, or the most commercial part of Terminal 5 and that closest to security. If you are flying out sections B or C, you will need to take a shuttle to your gate, which can take up to 20 minutes. Be prepared.
Check-in to the Aspire Lounge and Spa was quick and easy; we just showed our passport and boarding pass, and we were in! We were also surprised to learn that anyone can buy a pass to the Aspire Lounge, which is really convenient for non-Priority Pass holders on an extended layover.
Upon entering the lounge, I was a bit surprised at the size of the lounge – its really small! The lounge wraps around in sort of an L-shape with decent views of one of the runways. While there is not a lot of space, the lounge has made the best of the space, setting up booths, chairs, and bar stools to use as much of the space as possible.
Another thing that surprised me is that the Aspire Lounge and Spa is also home to a Bliss Spa, where travelers can purchase treatments or a shower, which is especially convenient for coach travelers with a long layover in London! The cost of the shower is £20/person, but totally worth it on a long layover!
After checking out the lounge, we grabbed what appeared the final two seats, located were located in a both close the entrance of the lounge. While small, the both did have a lot of outlets for electronic charging and most of the seating seemed to share this amenity.
I next went to check out the food and drink options, becuase what else would you do in a lounge?!
The bar in the Aspire Lounge and Spa is the centerpiece of the lounge and it really is a pretty bar. However, it has some odd rules that I have not seen in other lounges. For example, the bar tender was checking ID (which I have never seen done in a lounge!) and travelers are “limited” to two drinks per person, although there were multiple bartenders and no one seemed to be enforcing this rule. At the bar, all travelers get a free glass of sparkling wine, and then “unlimited” wine and beer, but more sparkling wine and mixed drinks appeared to cost extra. However, the bar had an excellent beer selection, including Guinness! I would recommend that!
In addition to the bar, the Aspire Lounge and Spa had a soda machine, which I LOVED and mini fridges with juice, milk, and sparkinlg water. There was also a coffee stand, complete with an espresso machine!
In terms of food, in late afternoon/early evening, the Aspire Lounge set up a decent sized cold bar that was actually a lot better than my pictures portray! There was a decent amount of cold salads and a tasty selection of cheeses.
There was also a hot bar, with meat samosas (not recommended – they were burnt), quiche and two types of pasta, including one wiht cheese and bacon! I obviously went with the cheese and bacon, which was actually really good for a free airport meal! The bacon was more European panchetta than American bacon (I mean, I was in London!), but in a great way! I may have had seconds… Wedding schmedding…
Around the corner from the buffets were fruit, cookies, buts, and bags of Corkers British chips! There are signs everywhere stating that you “cannot take food to go,” but I managed to take a couple bags of chips without problem. Side note – Corkers are super delicious (especially the Cheddar and Chive)!
Would I come back to the Aspire Lounge & Spa? Yes, definitely on Priority Pass. I would also consider buying entrance if I had a really long layover and needed a shower. However, the one thing that I did not like about the Aspire Lounge & Spa is that there is no restroom in the lounge. Weird, but you have to leave to use the lavatory!
STEAL OUR LOUNGE
Aspire Lounge & SpaAspire Lounge & Spa. Heathrow Terminal 5, post-security, in section A departures, near Gate 18. Open daily 5:00 – 22:30. Priority Pass members enjoy free access, as do VIP flyers on certain airlines. Individuals can buy a day pass on the spot from £34,99 per adult.
ON A BUDGET
The Aspire Lounge and Spa has a decent selection of food and wifi, and the Heathrow Airport, like London in general, is rather expensive. Depending on how long you are in London and if you are in need of food, the Aspire Lounge and Spa could be a good option!