A few weeks ago I had some time to kill so I headed around the various British Airways’ lounges at Heathrow’s terminal 5. If you want to see what the Galleries Club lounge is like (BA Silver and Business class) then head over to this article.
This is the review of the Galleries First lounge which is in the South lounges complex. You can enter directly through the first wing which is the first-class check-in area or through the main Galleries South entrance which is downstairs after check-in, near Fortnum and Mason’s.
Entry and opening hours
Entry is restricted to those who are Gold cardholders or above and those travelling in First class. You can, of course, use the Concorde Room if you are travelling first. However, if you are in a rush and just want to grab something, the first lounge can be better now there is help yourself food and drink back.
The lounge is open 5am-10pm daily.
The airport was very busy when I was there but there were still a few seats available. There is also a terrace which tends to be a bit cooler.
There are some new chairs in glass partitioned areas which I thought looked quite smart.
Food and drink
There has been a fairly big change over the last few weeks with not only drinks available to pour yourself but now a rather tempting looking buffet has appeared. This actually looks a bit better than before! It’s situated by where the sandwiches used to be next to the (empty) newspaper rack and TV screens rather than at the back where the food used to be.
This had a wide selection of food to choose from including:
- salads with a choice of dressings
- sloppy joes jackfruit with nachos
- BBQ chicken wings
- penne bolognaise
There is also a hydration station with various infused waters.
Further down there are chilled cabinets with still and sparkling water as well as fruit and muffins.
By the luggage storage area, there are also coffee machines with pastries available.
There is still a table ordering service using the QR codes at the table. Here was the main courses menu when I was there last month:
And here are the drinks you could order:
There are plenty of spirits and wines to help yourself to as well. They have a selection of Mr Lyon’s pre-made cocktails too.
There were three types of champagne/sparkling wine: Canard Duchene (fairly decent), Hattingley Valley (excellent English fizz) and Lanson Rose (not a fan).
There were also the same wines from the list available to help yourself to.
Here are the pre-made Mr Lyon cocktails – note the Aviation gin in the background which is also relatively new.
I was pleased to see that there are now more work facilities. As well as a few desks by the entrance to the terrace, there is a dedicated area at the very back next to the sleep pods. This tends to be the quietest and coolest area in the lounge. Instead of the champagne bar, there is now a series of sockets with a worktop and stools.
There are no longer magazines and newspapers but you can use Press Reader to read hundreds of publications on your mobile device.
There is now also shopping brought to your seat which I think is a great idea. It’s only available for Fortnum and Mason’s and Burberry but you order through the app like food and then it is brought to your seat.
The Forty Winks nap area is also still there at the back of the lounge and you can also access Restworks audio relaxation content through the lounge app.
Sadly the Elemis spa closed permanently during the pandemic but BA continue to look at future options for wellness. You can also use the app to see shower availability. The showers are outside the lounge towards the Concorde room. If they are full on the app, head over to the shower reception area.
While BA has had its challenges operationally, the First lounge has actually improved to be better than before the pandemic in my opinion. Now, as well as having DIY options you can also get table service and it’s good to see a choice of cocktails and some drinkable fizz too.
It’s a shame the spa went but let’s hope eventually it comes back.
The bigger issue facing BA is keeping people using their planes. They’ve hiked pricing so high this year that the product is just not worth the cost.
Surely I am not the only person looking to use other Airlines F products?
The spa is no great loss, to be honest. It was always tricky to get a convenient appointment and the offer was limited (despite the size). They’d be better off using the space for a more targeted fitness / wellness / relaxation area (or go all Finnair and throw in a huge sauna lol)…
The issue was not enough staff. The VS one always worked well with a mixture of paid and free treatments.
The lack of papers and magazines – apart from High Life, displayed like tinned goods in a Pyongyang shop circa 1988 – is tacky and unwelcome. A first class experience ought to be about luxuries and scrolling through one’s already overused device to read is the very opposite of this.
Access is also available for oneworld Emeralds.
Can agree less with scott, with ” fitness / wellness / relaxation area” instead of spa… VS have fitness (peloton) instead of a spa (at the moment) which sits idle most of the time, whilst the vs spa was always booked out… Whilst I’m sure there are some people that like a quick workout before boarding a flight, these people would be the minority… bring back the spas!
The spa is no loss- I could never get any kind of appointment which just made it feel like a con. On the one occasion I got some kind of head and neck treatment, it was poor. The VS Clubhouse is really the blueprint for an impressive, innovative experience.
I recently used both the Heathrow first lounge and the one at Gatwick, on both occasions they did not have any Cognac/ Brandy available and on the Gatwick Flight (to Turkey) there was also none available, the comment from both the Lounge & Cabin crew was that none had been sent with the usual drinks delivery. Do you know if this is a permanent decision by Management or just a Logistics glitch.
Well there is no cognac printed on the menu which suggests it is a long term issue rather than a short term supply issue. However I will see what I can find out. It’s been like this for the last couple of months.
I agree with most of your comments, except for the buffet. Too much cold leafy stuff, and a very limited selection of hot food. The wings were overcooked. I don’t know why they couldn’t just reinstate the previous set up at the back of the room, hot buffet, soup and salad counters, and burgers to order. The online menu has been cut back to a few items. The full english has disappeared from the menu, I am never there first thing in the morning so I don’t know whether they are offering hot breakfast dishes on the buffet earlier on.
I love salad so maybe I’m biased!!
You were lucky, Michele, on your visit. I have used the F lounge twice since travel restarted. On both occasions it was crowded and difficult to find two seats together. I ordered a plate of scrambled eggs with salmon on soda bread toast. The egg was overcooked and inedible and the toast was hard as granite. Very disappointing. The Hattingley sparking white is good though.
When I calculate the cost of earning and retaining Gold including our CW fares and assess the value derived, my feeling is we should either book economy and either a pay-as-you-go lounge or an upmarket eatery at the airport or book business class with the most competitive carrier offering the destination we want to fly to.
Can hardly br a better First Class lounge if they have removed the champagne bar area and replaced with work tops. Not everyone wants to work when they’re at the airport/ lounge. Also the champagne list you detail are not that great (probably relatively cheap) compared to the previous selection. If I’m flying First I will definitely be using the concorde lounge. First class lounge is just always full of Gold members primarily and I guess they’ve changed it for such. The business class lounge is pretty mediocre and to be honest I’d rather use the Amex lounge in T5 the business class BA lounge
No one ever sat in the area at the back. The previous work area was replaced by the Forty Winks. Which meant there were only a couple of desks to work at in that massive area. So now this just brings it back towards what they had before Covid. But in fact it’s still less workspace than pre Covid. But yes it’s designed for Gold Cardholders rather than those in First. Although if you are in a hurry and just want to grab a sandwich it can be quicker.
No mention of the awful toilets ! They are so overdue refurb – could have been done in 2021, but no – BA wait till the lounge is heaving again !
Good point! I didn’t actually use them as I went round all the lounges. But yes BA’s NHS toilets live on…. ????
Update on the breakfast. I am in the lounge earlier this morning and the online breakfast is actually very good, including the full English. The online hot beverages AM is also excellent. The hot breakfast on the new buffet is pretty bizarre, two lines of rashers of bacon with a line of sausage patties in the middle, no eggs, so it’s butties only.
Is this the First lounge Graham?
Further update, this is the best yet. The main hot item on the new buffet tonight is scotch pies. Now I happen to like scotch pies, but I’m not sure they will be too familiar or appetising to an international clientele . Also if you are going to have scotch pies you also need to have brown sauce and small pickled onions. You can’t have them “naked “.
NB. The Rosé champagne in Galleries First is Lanson Rosé Extra Old (RRP £70) rather then standard Lanson Rosé (£25-£30 in Tesco).
Personally I rather like the Lanson Extra Old, although I agree that Hattingley Blanc de noirs is probably the standout fizz of the three ????
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