‘I always think it’s kind of fun to get to the airport early, check in, and then go and have a meal before getting on the plane’ – Art Malik
*This is a collaborative post. Our visit to the aspire lounge was complimentary in return for an honest review*
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that when you’re going on holiday, everything really starts at the Airport. As soon as you’re checked in and safely through security it’s off to Burger King for a whopper and an obligatory smug airport check in/pint picture for your socials.
Traditionally airport lounges were only for the elite or people on a certain type of ticket (not the type of ticket that someone like me has ever or will ever possess). Somewhere to get away from the burger king eating, pint drinking, last minute toiletry shopping general public. Now of course most airports have executive lounges which are open to everyone for a small fee. A fee which, if factoring something to eat and a few drinks in the departure lounge, it’s actually pretty good value.
At the beginning of the year the Aspire group invited us to try out their executive lounge at Manchester Airport
and give our honest feedback. We had a lovely time and couldn’t fault the experience at all so were thrilled when we were able to review the Aspire Lounge at Newcastle airport too. Have the home team advantage and everything it’s probably the airport we fly out of most frequently however in recent times have always been hiring a care the other end so free flowing beer and wine never felt like the smartest idea. So we slummed it in the departure lounge with everyone else. Until now.
The Aspire Lounge in Newcastle is split into two areas; The Aspire Lounge and The Aspire Lounge Plus, the latter being an adults only area. So naturally, this is where we gravitated towards. Both areas have recently undergone a bit of a makeover so now instead of what was a large open plan drs reception style waiting area, is more reminiscent of a cosy cocktail bar with lower seating and more private booths.
They’ve installed both single and dual occupancy ‘snooze pods’ which replicate the swanky seat/bed type things you see on first class flights which have reclinable beds, smart TVs and charging facilities. The whole area is very business orientated offering free high speed wifi throughout and charging port at every table, perfect for making sure my phone was fully charged and I could settle down to watch a couple of episodes of Geordie Shore on the flight without fear of running out of juice!
The bar is mostly self-serve (which we prefer) however if you want spirits or prosecco (all free in Aspire plus – prosecco and premium spirits are extra in Aspire) you have to ask at the bar. Food was also varied with two hot options (macaroni cheese and chicken curry) which change on a monthly basis and a veritable platter of antipasti; olives, bread, soup, sundried tomatoes and cheese. If you wanted to indulge your sweet tooth (which I did) there was two types of cake as well and scones with clotted cream.
Service was good and our tables and empty glasses were cleared away quickly however we did notice that staff flit between Aspire and Aspire plus meaning there wasn’t always someone available to serve behind the bar. I waited for a good 5 minutes for some prosecco before giving up and pouring myself a glass of wine instead (first world problems!).
Honourable mention has to go to the Spey Whiskey bar which is exclusive to Aspire Plus. In the interests of science I made Dave try some and he was suitably impression, if fact if ever a ‘session whiskey’ were to be invented, this would probably fit the bill nicely.
If, when you go on holiday you like to start it off the second you get through security and treat yourself to some food and a few drinks in the bar then I can’t stress how good value these lounges are. If we’d paid for what we had in the regular departure lounge it would have cost it in excess of £100 easily (and that’s a crack on how expensive the lounges are rather that how much we drank!) i can also thoroughly recommend Aspire Plus if you wanted somewhere a little quieter without children if you have a long layover or needed to get some work done.
You can book you spot in a lounge for your next holiday from most airports in the UK here: www.executivelounges.com