Tried & Tested

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

11 Mar 2017 by Tom Otley
Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

Background

This lounge underwent a large refurbishment a few years ago and is much improved as a result. It is the only lounge at Luton, located after security and clearly signposted from the main shopping area of the airport.

To access the lounge go through the double doors and then walk along the short corridor. There is a good size (wheelchair accessible) lift on the right. In times past, this was reserved for wheelchairs but now anyone can use it. Or you can take the stairs.

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

Who can access?

Anyone if they pay, or have got an arrangement with their airline (for example El Al business class uses it).

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

What’s it like?

Excellent. I use a Priority Pass for this lounge, and since refurbishment have probably been in there half a dozen times both for early morning flights and, on this occasion, for a lunchtime flight. I’ve never had a bad experience in there since refurbishment, and before then only suffered from the cold one year while they were carrying out the extension work. I think the staff are great considering what they have to put up with (customers).

There’s nothing outstanding about the design, but there’s a good use of lighting during the day with purple uplighting around the bar, good lights on the glass cabinets behind the bar and good spot lighting above the table where you work. There are plenty of plug points – not for every seat, but for a lot of them, and there are several areas with dividing walls, and areas where you can pretty much be in private for a meeting.

The food offering changes during the day, though I’m not sure everyone notices. I’ve seen groups of men drinking Tiger lager at six in the morning, and people eating an all-day breakfast (or at least sausages with toast) at lunchtime.

On this occasion it was a Tuesday lunchtime in March and the lounge was busy without being uncomfortably so. There were several staff walking around, clearing up and replenishing items, which is quite a job given the rate of consumption going on.

In fact some people were so eager to eat that they did so on their way up to the self service, finishing their previous food, and then would eat on the way back as well. One amusing moment was when a man took a handful of nuts from a giant bowl (he used the scoop to put them into his hand) then as he walked nonchalantly back tried to palm them into his mouth, but mostly missed, showering them over someone working at a table. When I look back on my travelling life, rather than dawn breaking over the New Territories, it will be snapshots such as that I hope I remember.

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

Food and drink

The food selection changes during the day. Morning is breakfast items until 1100, then there is an all-day dining menu including hot item (normally pasta of the day). When I was there the sausages were still in evidence (and looking very tempting). There was also a wide range of salads, some breads and also some complimentary meals, made to order, including an ASPIRE Bento Box of “continental meats or salads with sun-dried tomatoes, mixed peppers, fresh salad leaves and breads”.

Talking of drinks, as well as Twinings tea and coffee from a machine (rather good, I thought), there are spirits for self-serve at the bar (Gordons gin, Smirnoff vodka, Bells whisky as well as Bacardi and Three Barrels Cognac). There were also beers. I imagine the exact selection differs, but you can view the range on the website (below). The list there includes: Guinness, Heineken, Tiger Beer, Kronenbourg 1664, London Pride as well as Baileys. It mentions Greenall’s London Gin and also Spey Whisky. Perhaps these premium brands are available on request.

For nibbles, there are Corkers crisps (couple of choices of flavours), and three bowls filled with green olives, salted nuts and a more healthy collection of mixed raisins and nuts. There are also lots of choices of soft drinks, with Coca Cola and Diet Cola available on stream at the bar, but also cans and bottles of mixers (Britvic), as well as red and white wine.

In fact, the longer I sat there (my flight was delayed because of an French Air Traffic Controller’s strike, a statement which is unlikely to date this review any time soon), I began to wonder if Aspire could be making any money from this lounge. The standard stay time is a maximum of three hours, but you can eat and drink a huge amount in 180 minutes on this evidence. There was a laminated notice on the bar pointing out that if people appeared drunk they might be denied boarding, but nothing about the long term effects (diabetes etc…) of eating at this pace for three hours and then sitting on a cramped low cost carrier heading to Europe or beyond.

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

Spa

The refurbishment of the lounge also saw an improvement with the introduction of a Bliss spa. From a business traveller point of view I can’t imagine who would be flying from Luton and wanting a spa treatment before they leave, but then I don’t take my holidays from this airport. It has meant that whereas previously you had to leave the lounge to use the toilet outside, now the toilets (and showers) are in this area.

In the far corner there is also a sleep zone, though these are pods with 20-minute programmes (free to use) rather than somewhere you can spend several hours.

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

Wifi

Wifi is free and quicker than that of many lounges, and you don’t have to put your email in and receive marketing from the lounges to access it.

It’s also fast enough for Facetime, which allowed a new entrant to start telling his friends how he’d paid £56 for him and his girlfriend which was a bargain because “Mate. It’s a free bar. A free bar. Mate.” He then video-streamed himself walking to the bar, getting a drink, coming back, then going back for another, and coming back, and then going to get his food, and then eating it, all on camera.

I’d say something along the lines of “You don’t get this in the British Airways lounges”, except you do.

I once sat in the restaurant of the Concorde Room at Terminal 5 and endured a 30-minute performance as an elderly man conducted a conversation on his laptop using Voip on a speaker with a relative in New York. It was no less boring.

Lounge review: Aspire Lounge Luton

Verdict

The flight appeared on the screen eventually and I left the lounge. It was another very good stay at this lounge. Luton Airport is a building site at the moment with all the expansion so the price of entry here is definitely worth it. Just take it easy.

Price:

From £26 for three hours and all you can eat.

executivelounges.com

Or with a lounge access card such as Priority Pass

 

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