Inside the New Qantas Lounge at London Heathrow
While it’s fair to say that hanging out at the airport isn’t usually a pastime to write home about, the new Qantas lounge at London Heathrow makes killing time at Terminal 3 prior to your Australia holiday an experience to remember.
Opened in anticipation of the first non-stop flights from the UK to Australia (launching on 25th March 2018 to Perth), it is Qantas’s first foray into the lounge world in London – despite operating flights to and from the capital for over 70 years! The lounge offers the perfect reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the terminal and, luckily for me, I was able to experience it on a recent trip…
Stepping inside, I was immediately struck by the feeling of calm and relaxation. As soon as you’re welcomed in and the doors shut behind you, the noise of the airport beyond is forgotten. Perfect for sufferers of airport anxiety. Ahead is a huge bar, lined with dozens of spirits including a selection of top-shelf gins. If you only have time for one drink, make it a gin cocktail – The Botanist, with its large Aperol-infused ice cube, is visually impressive and deliciously refreshing, perfect for getting in that holiday spirit.
Beyond the bar is a dramatic staircase made up of a decidedly familiar style of flooring. If you’re thinking it looks like the terrazzo you see in London’s Underground, you’d be right – the idea behind the lounge is to combine Australian influences with a recognisably English style. The fusion of high ceilings, the open stairwell and well-spaced seating really gives a feeling of vastness too, something which you often struggle to find at the airport.
Speaking of seating, the lounge spans two floors and has space for 230 people. There’s restaurant seating for the a la carte meals and an abundance of laid-back sofa-style seating both upstairs and downstairs. For business travellers looking to get some work done before their journey, there’s free Wi-Fi and workspace seating upstairs. Aviation geeks will love the window seats too; staring right out onto the runway, you can watch as your flight arrives. There’s even a special room for VIP travellers with, you guessed it, more seating!
Despite that, I never felt on top of anyone else. Each area has been carefully thought out – particularly the business element, with miniature side tables designed for laptops, and an almost excessive amount of plug sockets and USB charging ports.
After setting up camp in the perfect seat, there was only one thing on my mind: food. And there is plenty of it here. Two flights to Australia depart from Heathrow each day, and the service in the lounge reflects that with two a la carte sittings – brunch and evening – served downstairs. The menu varies but features signature Qantas dishes like salt and pepper squid with green chilli sauce, all lovingly crafted by the team of 13 kitchen staff. In fact, the lounge is the only place in Heathrow that makes all of its own food fresh, in-house. Even the bread is baked here! The highlight for me, though, was the chance to sample the most delectable home-made Scotch egg with pickled onions.
If you happen to miss out on the a la carte offerings, never fear. Upstairs is a hot and cold buffet, offering more fresh and healthy options, as well as British and Australian classics. I’m happy to say I indulged in a flavoursome chicken tikka masala followed by a tasty scone with jam and clotted cream. There really are few better ways to start your Australia holiday.
Of course I’ve touched on the gin bar a little bit already (that Aperol ice cube really is impressive), but there’s more to experience here beyond your first drink. From the Beefeater London Dry to the Sipsmith Sloe cocktail, it’s all-too-easy to work your way through the menu here.
The sleek, marble bar upstairs – with its own selection of cocktails designed by Qantas Rockpool Mixologists – helps too. In fact, the sheer drama of its circular style, epitomised by an impressive custom-made chandelier, really rivals the one downstairs – I wouldn’t dare choose a favourite.
For those who prefer something a little softer, be sure to grab a drink from the ‘Quench’ station at the upstairs buffet, designed to encourage hydration before and during your flight. You can also sample a range of coffee blends, from flat whites to lattes, and afternoon teas, served in kitschy crockery by Noritake.
Want to freshen up before your flight? Then you’re in luck: the six shower suites here are magical – spacious, smartly decorated and with a large mirror as the focal point. Attendants will provide fluffy towels and you can spend as long as you like in your cubicle, making the most of those stylish Aurora Spa amenities.
The new lounge is available to Qantas passengers flying First Class and Business Class, as well as Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold Qantas Frequent Flyers. Eligible oneworld and Emirates passengers are also allowed access. Want to start your Australia holiday off in the lounge? Talk to our First and Business team about our latest Business Class flights to Australia.