Qantas has opened the brand new Qantas London Heathrow Lounge. A large two level lounge, the London Qantasclub is the Flying Kangaroo's first dedicated Qantas lounge at the UK hub airport.
Qantas has opened its brand new Business and First Class lounge at London's Heathrow Airport. Open to Silver Frequent Flyer BA Executive Club members, plus Qantas gold and above, it is well worth the wait, with two separate levels, dominated by two large bars.
Lux-traveller popped in for a tour of the new facility, a couple of days after it had opened, once operations had bedded down, to bring you an exclusive review.
The premium Qantas lounge occupies a split-level space in Terminal 3 that has the capacity for over 230 passengers. From the back of the top bar there are views over the apron at Heathrow, the second busiest airport in the world. However, most of the lounge is inside, without windows.
In today's December gloom, with snow fluttering outside the windows, the lounge clearly reflects the brief of London at Twilight, which designers Woods Bagot used to great effect with warm-coloured timbers, and deep tan sofas. Alas, what should be the lounges signature feature, the vast marble staircase, is a leftover from the days when the lounge was run by SAS and Air Canada, and it was hastily patched when Qantas took over. Mind you, it does have some retro cocktail bar chique.
For most of the lounge there are the same chairs sofas and other furniture we've grown used to in Los Angeles and Brisbane, with Woods Bagot working on both of those lounges.
Next to virtually every seat are mains power sockets (UK design only) plus twin USB outlets, which light an LED to show they are on when you plug into them.
There are six full shower suites, in designer white marble, and Aurora Spa amenities. There is also a small business area, with one solitary PC and a printer. Wifi is free, and fairly fast.
There are also two private rooms, at the back of the top floor, but given they have no windows can be a little stuffy.
The London Qantas Lounge has the signature features of Qantas' award-winning facilities in other ports with local touches such as local food and beer, which make for a distinctively UK experience.
Indded, it is the menu and drink which single out this Qantas outpost. The new lounge features the same Rockpool menu as found in Sydney and Melbourne, giving the same dining experience many passengers have grown used to in Australia.
In the Qantas London lounge there is a morning menu, until 11am, and then a lunch menu from 1pm, with menus on the tables for the a la carte service in the dining room, with 23 tables against a banquette.
There are five seats at the bar on each side, but the ones on the far side are perhaps a little low. Those who just want a gin are at the seats on the other side.
Most passengers will be there for the breakfast on the Melbourne flights, with a large buffet spread, including fruit salad and yoghurt pots with fruit toppings, chia pudding, and bircher muesli. Hot options include a mushroom and goats cheese tart, home made muffins, and a wide selection of pastries.
Hot Brunch plates are brought to your table, with eggs benedict, quinoa kedge with smoked salmon and a poached egg, and an omelette with roasted mushrooms and tomatoes all on the menu.
From 1pm there is hot food upstairs, with a vast array of that British staple, curry. It includes chicken tikka masala with all the trimmings, piaf rice, vege biryani, and tomato and thyme focaccia. There is a vast salad bar with a chicken and broccoli salad, potato salad, and mixed leaves.
Pastries, including a great Victoria sponge, is available.
In the evening the menu changes again, with a selection of Australian and British dishes, including the green chilli sauce drizzled over salt and pepper squid which is a firm favourite of the Qantas First Lounges in Sydney.
If you are there for afternoon tea, don't miss the tea cups and saucers by Miranda Kerr for Royal Albert. Tea, of course, is served in a proper pot, and there are scones with Devon clotted cream, served on plates by David Caon.
However, it is the two staffed bars which are the highlight of the lounge. lux-traveller was able to access to the sleek new lounge to try both of the best watering holes in the thriving Terminal 3.
The Qantas London Lounge at Terminal 3 feature a full-service round marble cocktail bar beneath a brass chandelier upstairs serving cocktails designed by the Rockpool bar in Sydney's Hunter Street. Variants include the famous Rockpool Bellini, a Pink Lady, hopped Pina Nueva, a Blood Rum Punch, Italian sour, and a great Chipotle Margarita. Indeed Rockpool cocktails dominate, with drinks similar to the famous Rockpool bar in Sydney's Hunter Street.
Ask for a cocktail menu, and the staff will oblige.
Downstairs, it's all about Gin. Not content with the usual London staple of Gin and Tonic, there are a dozen gins to try, including the best of the Hampshire gins, Beefeater. Bombay Sapphire is one of the few of the gins of the Solent not to appear. Other British gins include Hendricks, Tanqueray No 10, Sipsmith Opihr and Islay's The Botanist gin.
It also has some uniquely Australian gins, including Four Pillars from Victoria, and the famous Green Ant gin from Adelaide, plus Sullivans Cove Hobart No 4 single malt, and Byron Bay Dry Gin.
Both bars serve barista-pulled coffee, however this is the shortfall, as there is nowhere to just walk up and get a drink yourself, other than at the Quench water bar upstairs. For a simple cup of tea, you have to ask the waiter, who asks at the bar, and then the barista makes it. Service can be slow.
There is no Champagne, but there is sparkling wine for Platinum of First Class customers, however they need to know this, and request it. It is the Petaluma Croser, a non-vintage sparkling wine. This classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offers a delicate bouquet of fresh citrus and white peach with a light yeastiness on the nose. There is a dry long finish, with every ounce of the Adelaide Hills it is from.
Given the lack of Champagne, some customers are likely to decamp to the Emirates lounge, where Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label sits around for all Business Class customers. The rules for accessing the London Heathrow lounges changed on the day of opening, and now any customer with Emirates Gold/Platinum Skyward Members on Qantas or Emirates can access either lounge. Previously Qantas passengers with a QF ticket, but flying on Emirates aircraft, were directed to the Emirates lounge. Now they can (on request) be admitted to the lounge. However, as we found, none of the staff appeared aware of this change on the Qantas website.
As Lux-traveller first revealed when the lounge was announced, the lounge is a joint Business and First Class lounge, and as such is open to Gold and Platinum Qantas Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members, as well as British Airways Silver and Gold members, and first and business class travellers.
This will result in there being no less than seven oneworld lounges available for passengers at Terminal 3, with two British Airways lounges (First and Business Class), two from Cathay Pacific (First and Business Class, both newly refreshed) and American Airlines throwing in their newly revamped LHR Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge.
"The Kangaroo Route is at the heart of Qantas' identity and London remains one of our most important destinations," said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce at the opening. "We want the first dedicated Qantas lounge at Heathrow to be something special."
"Our lounges in Australia and overseas are often named among the world's best. Customers love them and we make regular improvements based on what they tell us they'd like to see next," he says.
Qantas currently runs two daily flights out of London Heathrow, with an evening A380 flight to Sydney at 20:45, and a lunchtime flight at 11:55 to Melbourne. As a result, the lounge opens at 8am, until 8.30pm. During the day we found it remarkably busy with British Airways and Finnair customers.
The new London to Perth non-stop flights start in the spring, when the lounge will no doubt become a firm favourite first stop before the long haul.
Lux-traveller paid its own way for this opening Report. All images copyright and protected, lux-traveller