Setting off in style: Experiencing London Heathrow Clubhouse
Who said stylish travel should only start when you’re handed the keys to your plush hotel room? So asks traveller Suzanne Bearne, who believes luxury should be part of the journey itself.
Sipping cocktails, enjoying the bubbles of a jacuzzi and being pampered no longer have to be pleasures waiting for you when you reach your destination. They can be part of the journey thanks to many of the airport lounges across the globe.
Here in London, Virgin Atlantic really has knocked up one of the most sumptuous of lounges. If you’re lucky enough to be flying Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic, access to its Heathrow Clubhouse is complimentary and for Premium flyers, it’s £60.
So is it really worth forking out for? Oh hell, yes. Particularly, if you want your holiday to start with an extra dollop of glamour. Unlike some other lounges that just offer a few sofas, a couple of computers and a basic buffet, the Virgin Clubhouse really does have va-va-voom.
The central feature of the Heathrow Clubhouse is its long bar where bartenders get their creative juices flowing and serve up cocktails or your favourite drink on the rocks. I perched myself on one of the many seats dotted around the vast lounge, with a view overlooking the planes.
Before long, a member of staff asked me if I’d like a drink. It was 11am. For want of avoiding dehydration before boarding my flight I selected a fruity concoction. So yup, there I was supping mocktails before I’d even arrived on my holiday.
After taking in my surroundings it was time for brunch. The deli has a mean selection of food and drinks, which are all complimentary, so take full advantage.
I sifted through papers and logged onto one of the computers in the office section of the lounge with its many devices and laptops points. The whole lounge is wireless so don’t worry about missing on an email or not being able to upload a picture of your mocktail onto Twitter and making your friends green with envy – you can be connected up until the final moments before your flight is called.
A lounge quite simply isn’t a lounge without providing a haven for some R&R. That’s where the Cowshed Spa comes in. Guests can receive a selection of complimentary services, from a short massage to a quick facial. Longer (paid-for) treatments are also available. There's also a couple of complimentary offers at the New York founded hairdressing salon Bumble and Bumble, where jetsetters can fit in a quick blow-dry or haircut before takeoff.
For those feeling a little indifferent to the thought of being pampered, entertainment is provided in the ‘Den’, with its large cinema screen, video games consoles, or for kids, a small playground. Otherwise slump back on the velvet-covered chaise longues.
And if all that isn’t enough to tempt you, then why not get to know your fellow travellers a bit better by jumping in the spa’s jacuzzi?
The only problem with this luxurious lounge is that it can make you a little reluctant to leave. Perhaps hearing your flight being called for a destination such as New York, Miami or Barbados, is the only thing that’ll pull you away from this haven.
Suzanne Bearne is a freelance journalist specialising in retail, digital and travel. She’s also a travel blogger and can be found blogging at www.devotedtotravel.wordpress.com.
For details on how you can fly with Virgin and access the Clubhouse, visit www.flightcentre.co.uk or give our consultants a call on 0208 045 4186.