‘Everything has changed. The flying has changed. The airports have changed’ – Eydie Gorme
My mum always said that holidays start at the airport and were as most of the time I would tend to agree, I’ve never been a massive fan of hanging around in busy departure lounges and paying twice the price for a whopper at Burger King.
Checking in to an airport lounge has become a relatively new thing for us since we treated ourself to the Aspire lounge in Newcastle when going on our honeymoon in 2013. Since then it’s something we do almost every time we fly. In fact I’m amazed more people don’t do it as well as it makes so much economical sense!
The last lounge we stayed in was No1 at Edinburgh Airport and I should have known better than to veer away from the trusted Aspire brand but the promise of hot food and the higher price tag swayed us into thinking it might be better. You can read the full review here but needless to say we were underwhelmed. Aspire in Manchester’s Terminal 1 is far superior in almost every way and certainly got our recently holiday to Thailand off to a flying start (see what I did there?)
Flying at 7pm meant were were almost certainly going to be in need of some nourishment before our 16 hour journey and there was plenty of food on offer. There are always 2 hot dishes available which changes on a monthly basis. We had the option of pasta carbonara or vegetable curry which were both tasty. I mean it’s not Michelin Star or anything but certainly decent enough. The showstopper for me is all the other snacks on offer; olive, nuts, cheese and crackers, a salad bar, crisps, scones and cakes all available to help yourself to as much as your little heart desires. The vanilla sponge cake was particularly delicious!
The Aspire Lounge in Newcastle always used to be self serve which suited us better as we could just help ourselves to beer wine and spirits without feeling judged however it was a staffed bar at Manchester. Not that we felt judged in the slightest of course as staff were happy to keep us topped up with gin & tonics beer and wine, all completely free, well, included in the price. There’s also tea, coffee, juice and soft drinks available which are self serve.
The Aspire lounge is part of an executive lounge complex within the terminal so the toilets are just outside the main door. In terms of other non food & drink related services there’s free high speed wifi and plenty of sofas, booths or bar style table and chairs to sit at with charging points to keep all your precious electronics juiced up before your flight. If you happen to be visiting on the one day a year it’s not raining you’ll be treated to some nice air side views too.
A special mention should go to the staff who really made our stay enjoyable. The lounge was kept spotlessly clean with tables being cleared away almost as soon as someone left and the bar staff were really friendly, asking where we were going and giving tips on what to expect. They even remembered our order by the end of the stay – a sign of a true professional!
I would say the only thing to be marginally conscious of is that because they want to maintain a quiet, chilled out atmosphere, you can’t her announcements in the lounges so be sure to keep an eye on the boarding screens; it would be easy to get carried away and miss your flight!
I get that some people may look at the £21.99 price tag and think that the best part of £50 for two people on top of what you’ve probably forked our for on top of your holiday is a little excessive. And if you’re the kind of people who are happy with a meal deal and a bottle of water from Boots in the departure lounge then you’re probably right. However if you’re like my mum and think your holiday really does start at the airport; and regularly shell out for a few pints and an over priced Burger then chances are you end up spending more than that already. See, economical sense.
And don’t get to have any vanilla cake. Sadface.
Our stay in the Aspire Lounge was complimentary but all views are my own.