Last week I flew from London to Paris to review the Mandarin Oriental there (my full review of the hotel is here). I decided this was a prime opportunity to check out the brand new Business Lounge at London City Airport that had opened earlier that week.
I routed my flight out of London City and was glad I did as it turned out Tricks of the Trade got the first UK Press look at the new lounge since it had opened a couple of days earlier.
Those of you who regularly fly out of City will be familiar with the lack of lounge(s) at the airport. This newly opened Business Lounge (which will sit alongside the existing First Class Lounge) will go some way to alleviating that issue.
The Business Lounge can be used by passengers travelling on any airline and is located within the Private Jet Centre away from the main terminal building.
I arrived at the Private Jet Centre about 1 hour and 35 minutes before my flight and was duly buzzed in. Business Lounge customers will pass under a sheltered walkway and round to the back of the building to enter the lounge.
The feeling immediately upon entering the lounge is that you have walked into somebody’s living room. It felt warm and pleasant although the fact that there was nobody else using the lounge at the time may have helped!
There was a selection of newspapers available but that pales in comparison to the ‘reading wall’ available next door in the First Class Lounge!
The lounge is not huge by any means and will accommodate up to 30 people at any given time. I am concerned that it could feel quite tight if there were that amount of people in there despite the clever positioning of the seating.
I get the feeling though from talking to the “powers that be” at the lounge that this setup will be used to gauge interest with expansion definitely a possibility should the demand require it.
In terms of the food offering, currently there is only a selection of cold food options however they are looking to evolve very much according to the preferences and wishes of their patrons. If there seems to be a demand for hot food they will look to facilitate that. The food on offer will vary depending on the time of day. I was there mid-morning or so and there were wraps, sandwiches as well various pastries.
Here are some pictures of what the food and drink offering currently looks like – with a special inclusion for those with a sweet tooth!
There are also shower facilities available at the lounge and these are included in your lounge access fee.
Meeting rooms are also available upon request at an extra charge of £50 per hour for First Class Lounge users and £100 per hour for Business Lounge customers.
Passengers are kept informed of their flight’s status via an information board in the corner of the lounge and staff will liaise with you to determine your preferred time to depart for the terminal. Note that you still have to clear security at the terminal when using the Business Lounge.
When it is time to depart you will be driven from the Private Jet Centre to the main terminal – it is quite literally a 2 minute drive.
While at the Private Jet Centre I also had an opportunity to take a look at the First Class Lounge which has been open since May of last year and is situated next door to the Business Lounge.
The First Class (FC) Lounge is part of a ‘full VIP service from kerb to aircraft steps’. It provides private security screening and means you can circumvent the main terminal and the accompanying hustle and bustle altogether.
If you are flying BA however they do not allow passengers to be driven to the plane. This unfortunately means that BA passengers are unable to use any part of this VIP service including the FC Lounge. Previously these restrictions had left BA passengers with no options if they wished to enjoy the comforts of a lounge at London City.
The Business Lounge featured above however is open to all passengers on any airline no matter whether you are flying economy/business class.
The FC Lounge service is available to departing and arriving passengers and the arrivals service in particular may be especially worthwhile during seasonal periods where the queues for luggage and immigration can be appalling. Customers using this VIP service will face none of this and can clear immigration peacefully in a room at the Private Jet Centre and enjoy the lounge and perhaps a shower while awaiting their luggage.
I really like what they have created at the FC Lounge and I would have no problem spending a couple of hours there – there is certainly enough reading material!
The majority of the food options in the FC Lounge are housed in a smaller second seating area off the main room. Again no hot options are available but if the demand for it is shown then it will be introduced.
Both of these lounges are a concept that will work very well for some and others will simply not see the point. At £35 for the Business Lounge and £95 for the First Class Lounge, they are not cheap and you will have to weigh up whether this makes sense for you.
I could certainly see a situation whereby, given the mediocre state of Business Class on intra-European routes across most airlines these days particularly BA, I would decide to save myself £200 by flying in Economy and instead putting half of that towards this VIP service which will ensure a pleasurable and relaxed start/end to my holiday.
I also feel that the Business lounge is filling an important niche, given the complete dearth of lounges in the airport terminal itself. Many will see the entrance fee as a bargain in exchange for the chance to have a quiet drink and read the paper in peace without having to put up with the heaving crowds, especially during peak travel times.
There is currently a special opening promotion available when booking the Business Lounge. If you use voucher code f1fbca6a you will receive 5% off your booking. This offer is valid until 10th April 2017.