‘I always like to arrive at the airport early to enjoy breakfast and lounge about so that when I get on the plane all my travel fever has disappeared’ – Julian Fellowes
I’ve never thought of us as extravagant travellers, far from it in fact. There’s many a time we’ve plumped for a hostel or a camper van over a hotel to save some dough. However one thing we have come accustomed to since our honeymoon in 2013 is booking into executive lounges at airports.
To be honest I never even knew you could book into a lounge at an airport with out a special ticket, paying a fortune or knowing the secret handshake but as almost every UK airport has a lounge now it’s easier than ever to get away from the hustle and bustle of departure lounges.
On our recent holiday to Norway we decided to treat ourselves. We were flying from Edinburgh at about 9pm so figured after the 2 hour drive up from Newcastle we’d be very likely to need some tea and extremely likely to need a drink. They have two lounges on offer, the Aspire Lounge (a chain we’ve frequented when flying from Newcastle) at £22 a head and the No1 Lounge £2 more expensive.
We plumped for the No1 Lounge for a change as they offered hot food off a small bar menu, a staffed bar rather than self service and fast track security passes. It seemed like quite a bit extra for only £2 more.
It was quiet when we arrived, so getting a seat was no problem, if anything it was a little too quiet, half the fun of an aspire lounge is the excited atmosphere of people flying off on their jollies, we definitely needed to behave in here.
The hot food selection is very limited, and we went for a fish finger sandwich (me) and bacon roll (Dave) which were both fine however I was a little disappointed with the limp Birdseye fish fingers that I was presented with. A gastro pub this isn’t.
The self service station had some soup, bread rolls, pasta and salads if the hot food option doesn’t fill you (it didnt) and some brownies and flap jacks for those with a sweet tooth. Everything we tried tasted fine although I’d be interested to know how long it had all been sitting out for.
Let’s be honest the bar area is where you’re be most likely to get your money’s worth. Wine, beer and spirits are all free (prosecco or champagne is extra). Wine is approx a 125ml glass, although beer is on draft you only get offered a half pint and spirits are single measures. Whilst I appreciate they want to discourage people from getting absolutely wankered before a flight, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to trust a grown adult with a pint over a half.
If I were to sum up our No1 experience it would be using the word ‘fine’. Everything was fine, but that’s all it was, just fine. Considering what we ate and drank I do think it worked out cheaper being in the lounge rather than just eating and drinking in a pub in the departure lounge. However although the hot sandwich and fast track through security are nice bonuses on reflection I think we prefer the self service element of the Aspire Lounge and the fact you can get more beer friendly snacks like cheese, nuts and crisps.
The staffed bar and small measures means if suffers from the ‘all inclusive’ effect and makes you feel a little judged going up to the bar time after time. Turns out we’re not as posh as we thought we were and are much happier with a baileys coffee and a bag of golden wonder crisps.
I did Aspire Lounge Plus when I went to Barcelona and that was super, great food, platters and free prosecco without judgement 😉
Yeah I agree Aspire is far better, never tried the Plus version but sounds right up my street!
Thanks for this – we’re going to try our first ever executive lounge when we travel to Cuba from manchester next year – Aspire it is! (although we have a morning flight so not too much alcohol – booo)