Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge – Heathrow T5

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow T5

I’ve reviewed the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 before, and I’ve visited it quite a few times, but I’ve always seemed to visit in the morning – I don’t think I’ve ever been in the lounge after 11am. This trip changed all that.

The British Airways Galleries First Lounge is at the south end of Heathrow Terminal 5 and is open between 5:00am and 10:30pm 7 days a week. Once you’re through airport security you’ll find yourself on the upper level of the terminal – you’ll need to go down one level and head towards gates A18-23. Go up the escalators just past the big Fortnum and Mason bar and the lounge is on the first level you reach.

heathrow-terminal-5-mapHeathrow Terminal 5 Map

Entry to the lounge is based on the cabin of travel or your OneWorld status – if you’re traveling in First Class or have OneWorld Emerald status you and one guest are allowed in. Business Class passengers and OneWorld Sapphire status holders may use the Galleries Club lounge one level up.

The lounge is pretty big…and it needs to be with the amount of traffic that goes through it. Broadly speaking the lounge is laid out in the shape of the Greek letter Pi (π) with the main seating area across the top of the π, the food and dining area down the left side of the π and more seating, the BA help desk, a champagne bar and the business centre down the right side of the π.

Galleries First T5 – Main Seating Area

On the left side of this are is a seating area divided off from the rest of the lounge by a glass partition….

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If I’m being entirely honest I’m not really sure what this section is meant to be for…but it’s usually one of the quieter parts of the lounge, the last area to fill up and it has the better views of the apron.

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 31View from the British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow T5

In the main area of the lounge, on the other side of the glass partition, the seating area starts…

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….and this is where the first of the two Champagne bars is to be found:

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This is the bigger of the two Champagne bars as this one incorporates a good selection of red and white wines as well.

There’s a small work area to the side of the Champagne bar which incorporates a couple of PCs….

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…and a copier/printer station:

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Most of the rest of the top of the π is taken up with more seating….

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….with access to USB ports and power sockets that accept plugs from a number of countries:

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At the other end of the top of the π the seating thins out considerably.

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This area houses a bar with mineral water and glasses:

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And opposite this is a long bar stocked with spirits, mixers, soft drinks and a small wine selection:

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I wish British Airways would do a little more with this area as there’s a lot of wasted space here. There are times when it’s hard to find a seat in this lounge thanks to the number of OneWorld Emeralds that use it (that would be people like me) and more seating would be a welcome addition.

Galleries First T5 – Right Hand Side

This is probably the least interesting and least used side of the lounge.

Towards the top end of this side is a small seating area and is also where you’ll find the bathrooms.

Further down is the British Airways help desk and, further still, is the second and often overlooked Champagne bar:

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 20Galleries First T5 Champagne Bar

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 21Galleries First T5 Champagne Bar

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 22Galleries First T5 Champagne Bar

Adjacent to this Champagne bar is where the business centre is located. There are a few PC stations (out of shot) as well as numerous areas for guests to plug in their own devices.

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 23Galleries First T5 – Business Centre

Galleries First T5 – Left Hand Side (Food & Dining Area)

The last part of the lounge is the food and dining area which is down the left of the π shape that the lounge is arranged in.

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The seating options vary from “family-style”……

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…to high stools and tables….

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 08Galleries First T5 – Food & Dining

….to more comfortable cafe-style seating:

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 25Galleries First T5 – Food & Dining

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For once I was in the lounge at time where breakfast was not the meal being served so I finally got to see something other than sausages, bacon and scrambled eggs on offer.

The selection was pretty good and, although I completely forgot to check what the a la carte options were (I’ll get those on my trip next month), I did manage to get some photos of the buffet that was out:

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 17Galleries First T5 – Food & Dining

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The hot options were:

  • Thai green vegetable curry
  • Moroccan spicy beef
  • Slow cooked pork belly with sweet apple jus
  • Scottish salmon & horseradish filo parcels
  • Spinach and mascarpone penne pasta
  • Steamed rice
  • Broccoli & butternut squash
  • Herb roasted parmentier potatoes
  • Baby potatoes

And the cold options were:

  • Superfood salad
  • Seasonal leaves
  • Horseradish coleslaw
  • Beetroot, onion, carrot and pumpkin seeds
  • Cauliflower tart
  • Cucumber/Tomato
  • Prawn, crayfish, cucumber, dill & melon salad.

That’s a pretty good selection and one that would surely have something for most people.

As well as the buffet there were soups laid out on one side….

galleries-first-heathrow-T5 - 07Galleries First T5 – Food & Dining

…and an assortment of cheeses and fruit too:

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For those just looking for a snack there were mini-sandwiches…which were clearly ok because they kept disappearing pretty quickly!

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The sandwich selection included:

  • Free-range egg mayonnaise & sun-blush tomato with spinach
  • Smoked ham, cream cheese and caramelised onion
  • Coronation chicken (chicken in curry sauce) & spinach
  • Tuscan tuna with spring onion, sun-blush tomato & black olives

There were a couple of desert items alongside the sandwiches:

  • Orange and burdock cannelloni
  • Passion fruit tart

As well as all the above there were the usual coffee makers….

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…together with a selection of teas….

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…and cookies/biscuits:

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Lastly, there’s a good selection of water, juices and other soft drinks to choose from:

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Bottom Line

The Galleries First lounge at T5 is probably the best British Airways lounge in their system. Some will throw up their hands at that comment and claim that the Concorde room is better…but it isn’t. At least not in my opinion.

The biggest issue with the T5 Galleries First lounge is that it can get very crowded and, at those times, it really doesn’t feel very premium at all. The rest of the time however it’s a perfectly nice place to relax. The food offerings appear to have improved (although I’m happy to defer to more regular users of the lounge on that one) and the alcohol selection isn’t bad all all (Blue Label whisky and Sinatra Jack Daniels are expensive drinks to be offering) so there isn’t that much not to like about the lounge.

It’s better than any US airline lounge (by a long way) and also better (mainly due to its size) than the American Express Centurion lounges that are slowly popping up around the US. But it’s nowhere near as good as the very best lounges around (Qantas Sydney and LAX, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong etc…). Those lounges have a premium feel to them that the British Airways offering at T5 simply doesn’t have.

The British Airways Galleries First lounge is a very, very good lounge by Business Class standards but it falls short of the standards set by the better First Class lounges I’ve tried.  Having said that, it’s still not a bad place to start a trip 🙂

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