Like most business travellers, we at AusBT appreciate a good arrivals lounge – especially after a long flight with an early morning touchdown.
That's when arrivals lounges come into their own: grab some freshly prepared breakfast and a much-needed coffee, maybe freshen up with a shower, send off those emails you wrote on the flight and catch up with news from home, and then – when you're feeling back on top of things – make your way into the city for the first meetings of the day.
So how does the British Airways Arrivals Lounge at London's Heathrow Airport T5 measure up..?
Location & Impressions
The Arrivals lounge is located on the upper floor of BA's home in Heathrow Terminal 5: grab your checked luggage, clear customs and turn left, then look for the "Airline lounges - Invitation required" sign and make your way upstairs to T5's mezzanine level.
The lounge is much larger than at first glance, and well laid out: spa and work areas off to the left...
... dining directly ahead...
... with bays of seating just to the right...
... and a bank of some 94 shower suites (that's no typo – 94!) and baths further along.
If you've just stepped of the BA16 flight from Sydney via Singapore, or the BA12 direct from Singapore, the lounge will be relatively empty – things start to really pick up from 7am as more of BA's long-distance flights touch down.
Stow your checked luggage in the secure bag area directly to the left of the reception desk – especially if you intend to have a shower, as the shower suites are on the small side – and pop straight into the Elemis spa to book a treatment if that's your fancy.
The BA Arrivals lounge is available only to British Airways passengers coming in on 'long-haul' flights: Asia and the Americas make the cut, of course, but most flights from Europe don't qualify.
If you're in BA business class, the give-away is that your cabin will be tagged as Club World: if it's Club Europe, then this is a 'short-haul' flight without arrivals lounge access.
British Airways Executive Club Gold members travelling in any class on a long-haul flight are allowed through the doors, and access for BA first class goes without saying.
One catch: no guests are allowed. BA tends to be quite firm on this rule.
For me, this is what arrivals lounges are all about.
On a long overnight flight from Australia I prefer to skip breakfast on the plane and maximise my sleep, and use the lounge to tuck into a fresher breakfast with much more variety of dishes.
BA's Arrivals Lounge hits the spot, with a buffet decked out with hot and cold dishes including a hearty English breakfast – we're talking porridge, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, pork sausages, kippers and even black pudding.
There's also a selection of cereals, pastries, yoghurt and cheeses, fruit and juices.
In all, it's easily the best breakfast spread of any arrivals lounge.
Alas, there's no barista to conjure up your morning caffeine hit – just one of the self-service coffee machines familiar to all BA lounges.
First class passengers can sequester themselves in the more posh surroundings of the Concorde Breakfast Room.
It's quieter and more comfortable than the main part of the lounge, of course...
... with several cooked to order dishes available, such as Eggs Benedict and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs...
... although much of the menu is also available in the 'common' dining room.
A 'business centre' tucked away past the Elemis spa provides benchspace with PCs and printing and a bit of room where you can plug in your own laptop.
WiFi is free, of course, and up to snuff for business needs.
Want to freshen up post-flight? There are a staggering 94 shower suites – yet even so, they can be in high demand from 8am or so.
The showers are arranged in a maze-like layout, thankfully with colour-coding and signage to help find the suite allocated to you by attendants when you book your shower (bring your boarding pass but leave your bags behind – as we've mentioned, the rooms are quite small).
Some toiletries and Elemis products are provided, although if you're intending to have a shave, pack your own razor – in our experience the disposable razors supplied at airport lounges (and most airline amenity kits and hotels, for that matter) are best avoided.
Along the outside of the 'shower zone' are recliners where you can relax.
If you're seeking something more self-indulgent, ask about booking a cabana. There are only six of them, and while first class passengers have first dibs they're available to anybody.
The cabana rooms are very spacious – there's much more room for dressing compared to the shower suites – and feature an 'infinity bath' with a waterfall tap, so that water can run over the edge of the bath onto decking below (with a drain concealed beneath that).
There's no shower, however - just a shower-head that's guaranteed to see water splashing all over the floor if you try to use it. But if you've got plenty of time before your meeting or hotel check-in, why not do the very British thing and have a nice long soak?
(Expert tip: as the baths are quite large and the water pressure's well short of Niagara Falls-grade, start your bath running and then pop out to grab a coffee or juice.)
The showers and cabanas also offer a complimentary valet service: open the double door, hang your items and press the 'Valet' buzzer and inside of ten minutes they’ll come back wrinkle-free so that you're looking sharp for the day ahead.
Up to three items can be pressed for free – that's typically a jacket, shirt and pants – but you can't hand over three of the same item (such as three shirts).
Another relaxation option is the Elemis Travel Spa, which offers a free 15 minute facial or neck-and-shoulder massage while an 'intelligent massage chair' gives the rest of your body a pummelling.
There's also a range of paid services such as a 'power shave' for men and brow shaping for women.
The available Elemis Spa treatment slots fill up quickly and to be honest, we could easily skip that in favour of more time relaxing in a Cabana bath.
Is the British Airways Arrivals Lounge worth a post-flight visit? If you're coming in on a flight from Sydney, Singapore or Hong Kong and can't be 100% certain of an early checkin at your London hotel, then absolutely stop here for an hour or two. A proper English breakfast, a soak in the tub while your clothes are pressed, and you'll be feeling human in no time.
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