Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Galleries Business Class Lounge, Terminal 5 Heathrow.

After venturing through the Galleries First lounge, I realized I still had time to do a little more lounge hoping, so I decided to downgrade further to check out the Business class lounge, located right above the Galleries First Class Lounge and the Concorde Room.  I was only able to visit during breakfast hours however, as my lunchtime trip was spent dining in the formal dining area of the Concorde room.

Just like when I entered the Galleries First lounge, I presented my boarding pass, was smiled at, and was reminded that I could use the Concorde room.  I felt in no way that they didn’t want me to use the other lounges, it really seemed like they genuinely wanted to make sure I was aware that I had other options.  I said that I just wanted to see the room, and was again encouraged to come and go as much as I liked.

It was fascinating to compare the two Galleries lounges.  While the Concorde Room and the Galleries First are clearly just totally different models of lounge, the Business lounge is really just a slimmed down version of the First lounge.  Except, it was absolutely packed, even though the lounge is massive, occupying the same floorspace of both the other lounges combined.

I’m sure the main terminal is more chaotic than this lounge, but it felt like night and day compared to the First lounges.  The space was huge, yet almost every seat was filled.  It was loud.  People were sprawled out everywhere.  This was not a relaxing, peaceful environment.

As a First Class customer, there is absolutely no reason to visit this lounge.  (Ok, not exactly true, there is one reason.  And I’ll get to that soon.  But spoiler: it involves ice cream!)
Seating area.
The seating was not quite as nice as the Galleries First lounge, in terms of comfort or aesthetics.
Cereal Station.
I laughed when I saw the cereal station.  It had exactly the same cereals as the First lounge, except, lacking the one choice that I enjoyed: the granola.
Warm Baked Goods.
And then I cried when I saw the baked goods.  The exact same offerings as the First lounge, minus the brioche buns, but here, they were kept under a heat lamp.  First class customers don’t get warm baked goods, and business class do?  Not fair.
Fruit, Yogurt.
The fruit and yogurt station was about the same in the two lounges, with a fruit yogurt and a plain greek yogurt.  I tried both, and they were fine, but not remarkable.

You might wonder why I’d even try yogurt, but, I've really enjoyed yogurt on a few occasions in Europe, as their full fat yogurt is just so much better than what we have in the US, and I was hoping for something like that.  Alas, no.
Porridge, Fruit.
There were also two large vats of porridge, with minimal toppings, only cinnamon and raisins.

I felt compelled to try it.  I honestly have no idea why.  I think it just sounded really comforting to me.  And, indeed it was.  Probably my favorite of any of the breakfast items I had, in any of the lounges.  It was warm, it was creamy, and the oats were stone ground, rather than large flakes.  I loaded it up with dried fruit and cinnamon, and really quite enjoyed it.  I’m glad I tried it.

Next to the porridge was whole fruit, only apples and bananas.  In First, they also had oranges.  Again, just a reduced offering.
Bar, bar snacks.
The business lounge also had the same trio of snack mixes, along with a greatly reduced bar offering.  Still quite good, but lacking many of the better options of course.
Ice Cream Freezer.
At this point, you might still be wondering why I said there was one reason to visit this lounge.  Sure, the warm baked goods are better than the cold ones, but the baked goods weren’t very good to begin with, so that isn’t it.

The reason is: they have an ice cream freezer.  I quite enjoy ice cream, even at breakfast.

I also loved that when I walked into the lounge, there were actually signs pointing my way to it.  I'm clearly not alone in visiting the lounge for one reason.

The freezer was stocked with local Kelly's of Cornwall Cornish Ice Cream.  Sadly, they only had vanilla and chocolate, which initially deterred me.  The most boring flavors ever, particularly without any toppings.  Plus, it wasn’t even 10am, I’d been sampling my way through the lounges, I wasn't exactly hungry.  It was totally unreasonable to eat ice cream at this hour, right?  I almost walked away.
Makings for an affogato.
In fact, I did walk away.  I took exactly two steps, and found myself beside a coffee station.  A lightbulb went off in my head.  Vanilla ice cream.  Coffee.  Affogato.  YES.

I felt a bit ridiculous, but grabbed my little tub of ice cream, had the machine make me a coffee, and gleefully took a seat along the window looking down into the terminal.  Below me, people were scurrying about, stressed, dealing with security, and here I was, about to enjoy an affogato.  I was clearly doing it right.

The ice cream was creamy, very rich, yet super fluffy.  I actually think I would have even liked it plain, which is really saying something for vanilla ice cream.  But with my coffee, it was totally perfect.  I was so proud of myself.

Sure, I could be in the Concorde room, having eggs benedict made to order, like Emil.  Emil thought I was ridiculous for even going to the Business lounge, and I admit there really was no reason to go there.  Except, ice cream.  To be fair, I probably could have ordered it in the Concorde room, even if it wasn’t on a menu anywhere.  In retrospect, this was probably the same "Cornish ice cream" we had served with our desserts on our lunchtime visit to Concorde room.

But I was quite pleased with my discovery, I enjoyed it more than anything else in any of the lounges, and I’d totally do it again.
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