a room with chairs and tables

Rankings are incredibly subjective, but let’s be honest – they’re fun. Of all the competitive airport terminals in the world, there’s one that offers more high end lounges than just about any other, with very few exceptions. The airport lounges in London Heathrow Terminal 3 are some of the finest in the world, with competition from: Qantas, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Emirates, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and more.

a room with a lamp and chairsWinner: Cathay Pacific First Class

X-Factor: seclusion, a la carte food and tarmac views.

Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge LHR

The Cathay Pacific Heathrow T3 Lounge offers a first class and Oneworld Emerald area, and it’s quite hard to beat the environment. Design elements mimic the airlines flagship “Pier First” lounge in Hong Kong, featuring an a la carte dining room, reclining chairs and tarmac views. Come for the dan dan noodles, leave with a well cooked fish and chips, and tuck into one of the vintage champagnes before the flight.

It’s a winner in terms of views, a winner on food and beverage and since it’s exclusively for first class or Oneworld Emerald passengers, it stays relatively quiet at most times. If you need a shower, there’s no better place in Terminal 3…

a room with a couch and a tableRunner Up: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

X-Factor: waiter service throughout, inventive food and drinks, spa.

Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse LHR

We live in a time of style over substance, but the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse offers both, in spades. The decor is unlike any other space you’ll find in an airport, but what makes this lounge pop is the friendly waiter service at every seat, offering a la carte food from any perch. The deli counter provides lighter options too. The Clubhouse is always partnering with top mixology joints to bring new cocktails, so even if you’re there with regularity there’s always something new to try.

The lounge features a full service spa, a hair salon, excellent shower facilities and spaces with enough variety for any occasion, whether you’re hiding from paparazzi or conducting a business meeting. Oh, and don’t forget that there’s an outdoor viewing deck…

a room with chairs and tablesOn The Podium: Emirates Lounge

X-Factor: direct boarding from lounge, amazing views.

Review: Emirates Heathrow Lounge

As far as first world problems go, no one likes leaving the comfort and seclusion of an airport lounge to weave through a crowded terminal en route to their boarding gate. At Emirates Heathrow Lounge, you don’t have to. This expansive lounge, which can now seat up to 400 guests, offers brilliant small plates, great bubbles and million dollar views out over the tarmac and Heathrow runway. When it’s time to board, you just make your way to the boarding gate inside the lounge, directly to the Upper Deck.

For those in need of sleep on their flight to Dubai, Emirates has nailed the pre-flight dining, with a steady mix of healthy and hearty options like halloumi salads and rich stews. Small plates are on display for the taking and a glass of Moet washes things down nicely, with plenty of comfy seats to tuck into…

a group of people sitting around a round barHonorable Mention: Qantas Lounge

X-Factor: super chic bar, gin menu.

Review: The Qantas Lounge LHR

Qantas tends to excel in the world of lounges, particularly at their first class outposts in Melbourne, Los Angeles and Sydney, but they don’t fall far off the mark with the London Heathrow Qantas Lounge in T3 either. The lounge is open to business and first class passengers, as well as Oneworld Sapphire or above. Inside it’s hard not to love the ultra chic bar, replete with massive gin selection, or the a la carte dining area. Upstairs features plenty of creature comforts, and a dedicated cocktail bar too.

The salt and pepper squid is a must, even if it’s not quite what you’d find in Melbourne, and service is generally great, even if things get a bit chaotic before an actual Qantas flight time. If you’re a gin fan, this lounge could easily jump up two or three slots, but if you’re not obsessed with things like finding green ants in your gin, the order stands.

Watch this space, literally…

American Express will soon open a Centurion Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3, bringing the lounge battle to new heights. This is absolutely a terminal to watch in the years to come, but for now, these are your best bets…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. When we went to the CX First Class Lounge at LHR T3 back in August this year, there was a really bad mouldy smell from the air conditioner in the dining area. Hope they have managed to fix this. Other than that, the lounge was fabulous.

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