So is it worth it? The lowdown on the Virgin Upper Class Clubhouse…
After visiting friends, collecting currency and a jolly time in London, it was time to spend far too long in the Virgin Clubhouse at London Heathrow.
There are particular steps to follow to GET to the Clubhouse. Virgin has tried to make each of them a little bit glamorous (okay, a LOT glamorous!).
If you’re taking the chauffeur-driven car, or phone them up in advance to advise them of the type of car and number-plate being used to drop you off, you can use the private drop-off zone which connects to the private security area.
If you don’t take this route (I didn’t), go to Terminal 3 as normal, but use the Upper Class check-in zone. Verdict on welcome: 4/10. Pretty unfriendly.
After check-in, you get to use a private lift that takes you up to the private security channel and you can see the atrium where the cars pull up. It looks nice, but I was glad I didn’t go to any extra trouble.
Apologies for the rubbish photo below – but this is the security channel. It ends up at a normal security scanner and grumpy security staff. One tenacious woman was determined to prove that my quart-sized liquids bag wouldn’t accommodate an extra shower gel bottle that I’d forgotten to pack. Her determination proved fruitless!
After security, you come out into the main part of Terminal 3. So the whole Virgin security thing is great for getting through quickly, but not THAT different to regular express check-in.
The Clubhouse is in Zone H and it’s pretty well sign-posted.
There are stairs to walk up, which was just about OK with a heavy piece of hand-luggage. I’m sure there’s a lift, but it wasn’t obvious where it was. But that light fitting was fairly dramatic! Gotta love a sparkle!
Here the process ends… you show your boarding pass and then you’re in to enjoy the Clubhouse!
When I arrived, around 4pm for an 8pm flight (I know, I like to get value), there were very few people around. There is some work going on to improve some aspects of the Clubhouse, but it wasn’t too obvious.
This area had charging stations for iPhones and Android phones – but none of the sockets worked. FAIL!
The Deli was just fantastic. Lots of kinds of salmon, bread and cold cuts. Service score: 5/10. Cold and smile-free.
Could I face some tapas later in my visit?
A main meal seemed a bridge too far as there would be a full service meal on board…
Virgin has a thing about lighting (both in the Clubhouse and on the plane). I’m sure it works to make you feel calmer! Or maybe that’s the champagne!
A complimentary treatment is available in the Clubhouse Spa – but you MUST book it as soon as you arrive – you snooze, you lose! I chose a hair trim but started with the 30 minute stress buster (paid – 35 quid). The specialist was firm – maybe too firm and that bed (see below) was very uncomfortable. The masseuse disclosed they hated them when I had to move and they were due to be replaced.
One note: the treatment rooms are open overhead and you can hear every word of the conversations that the hair stylists and masseuses are having. No problem with people at work having a friendly chat – but this was deafening. Not relaxing.
The hair salon looks pretty snazzy!
I was offered a fresh glass of champagne (okay!) but it never arrived.
Me and my new do!
However, drinks are never far away and a glass turned up eventually!
I chose two tapas for my snack – this one (below) is a yorkshire pudding wrap filled with a Sunday roast – i.e., some beef and veggies with a gravy dip. It was tasty and the wrap was quite heavy, but still nice.
A little chicken gyoza starter was just delicious.
That’s it! If you get the chance to visit, do! I was there because of a reward flight and so every part of it was good for me, even the bits which were slightly unfriendly. The concierge desk made up for any other unfriendliness, though, by printing out a paper I wanted to read before reaching Johannesburg.
Overall a WIN, but with minor tweaks could be an ever bigger win!