Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark (EWR)


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My visit to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Newark was the second thing I was doing for the first time in the space of a week (the first had been flying in Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy cabin). Had reviewing a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse been uppermost in my mind when booking this trip I would have made sure I was flying out of New York’s JFK airport (where the Clubhouse is said to be very good indeed) but, instead, I had chosen to fly out of Newark so that I could try out the Virgin’s Upper Class product on the 787 Dreamliner (the fare on the 787 out of JFK was far too expensive).

Access

Virgin Atlantic operates out of Newark Terminal B and the entrance to the Clubhouse is to your right just after you clear security.

Entry to the Clubhouse is granted to:

  • Virgin Atlantic Upper Class passengers + 1 guest each departing on the day of access.
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members + 1 guest each departing on a Virgin Atlantic flight on the day of access.
  • Delta SkyMiles Diamond, Platinum and Gold Medallion members + 1 guest each departing, on the day of access, on a non-stop Delta or Virgin Atlantic flight to the UK.

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse At Newark

As soon as you’re through security at Newark Terminal B you should see the signs for the British Airways Galleries Lounge and the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in the first corridor you come to.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

The lounges are one floor above the main terminal level and they’re accessed via a pair of elevators.

The Clubhouse is hard to miss one you’re out of the elevator (the BA lounge is directly to its left):

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Joanna was traveling with me on this trip and a lounge agent checked our boarding passes before asking if we would be needing access to the Virgin Atlantic “Revivals Lounge” when we arrived at Heathrow. As much as I would have liked to review yet another lounge for TFM we had to decline as we had arranged for a car to pick us up when we arrived.

As we entered the lounge a second lounge agent asked if we’d like to stow our bags stowed as we walked in. I handed over my main carry-on but, as I’m never comfortable being separated from my MacBook, I kept that with me.

We were just about the only guests in the lounge at this point (we had left Manhattan early to miss the traffic) so, after a brief game of musical chairs while we decided where to sit, we chose a sofa and armchair in the far corner of the lounge.

As we sat down a member of the lounge staff asked if we’d like drinks and bar snacks – we both chose sparking water and popcorn.

At this point I left Joanna to her own devices as I went to take pictures for this blog.

The lounge is arranged over two levels (the difference between levels is just a few steps) and as you enter the lounge on the upper level this is the sight that greets you:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

The sofa and chairs looked pretty comfortable (here they are seen from the reverse angle):

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

To the left is the first sitting area we checked out…..

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

…but we ended up deciding against sitting here because we figured it could get claustrophobic if the lounge filled up.

Further into the lounge (and still on the upper level) there are more seating options on the left…..

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

…while, at the far end of the upper level, are chairs facing a big-screen TV and the sofa we ended up occupying during our stay:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Power ports are not exactly plentiful and the ones in our area were of the US-type (not really a surprise!) and in the floor:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

On the lower level of the lounge are some pretty ornate (but also comfortable) seats…..

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

…a dining area…..

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

…and a manned bar which sits in the very middle of the lounge (stairs up to the upper level are either side of the bar):

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

The bar appeared to be very well stocked (various gins, whiskeys etc…) although I didn’t spot anything particularly high-end.

Just past the bar was an area with the brightest colored seating I’ve ever seen in an airport lounge….

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

….and the bottom level of the lounge is topped off by one last seating area with bench-style seating and a couple of chairs:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

After taking as many pictures as I could before other guests came flooding in I went back to where Joanna was sitting and ordered a glass of Lanson champagne….which was perfectly ok if nothing special.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse offers a la carte dining – which is impressive considering this is “just” a Business Class lounge – and the options looked ok:

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport – Food Menu

The drinks menu was ok too. Nothing to get excited about but, as Business Class lounges go, this selection is pretty good.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport – Drinks Menu

The tea selection was impressive….. 

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Newark Airport – Drinks Menu

…..but as I don’t get the attraction of Craft Beer I can’t comment on how good or bad those are.

I should probably add that there was also a small selection of items for kids…. but I’ve been remiss in that I haven’t got a copy of what was on offer to include here.

Lastly it’s worth mentioning that, although the Newark Clubhouse doesn’t offer a spa (which you’ll find at the JFK, Heathrow & Gatwick Clubhouses) it does offer a couple of shower cubicles.

These seemed to be in pretty high demand so I decided not to ask to see them and risk having someone miss out on using them before their flight (I’ll get pictures when I next pass through).

Thoughts

Negatives:

  • The lounge didn’t appear to have any windows so, while this isn’t a major issue if you’re here at night, it could feel dark and uninviting if you’re here on a bright sunny day.
  • Two shower cubicles don’t appear to be enough based on the number of people I saw asking to use them.
  • The lounge seating is mainly geared towards accommodating groups (lots of sofas and chairs arranged around a single table) so solo travelers may not find it easy to find somewhere to sit that is away from others.

Positives:

  • Staff were friendly and checked if we wanted or needed anything quite frequently
  • Good selection of complimentary drinks for a Business Class lounge
  • Nice to have the option of a la carte dining – this isn’t something you see all that often in a Business Class lounge…and especially not in the US.
  • The seating was comfortable and there seemed to be enough available for everyone who wanted to use the lounge while we were there.

Bottom Line

If you’ve never been to a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse before this probably isn’t the one to start off with as it’s easily the least impressive…but it’s still an ok lounge. I’m not sure I’d be too keen to spend a lot of time here if the sun was shining outside (it’s nice to have natural light coming in to a lounge) but the staff were friendly, the drinks ok and the seating comfortable so it’s hard to complain too much.

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