It is hard to believe that it is over two weeks now since we set off for Alicante in Spain for our second round of fertility treatment. This time the plane tickets and accommodation were booked well in advance such was the organisation of our clinic – plus we were well aware that we would have to be travelling for much of that weekend as we were attending my mum’s 70th Birthday meal. The upshot of this was that we would have a lot of hanging around at Bristol airport. However, Executive Lounges came to our rescue with the offer of the use of their Aspire Plus Lounge service.
The Aspire Plus lounge is easy to find. Once you are through security and made your way through the huge duty free shop (this isn’t hard to miss, just follow your nose!), you walk over to the escalator in the far left-hand corner, turn left at the top and the Aspire Plus lounge is first on the left. There is also an Aspire Lounge which is more family-orientated, allowing children, and this is situated a little further down the hall. It still offers food and drink, but has slightly less variety available. However, it is a great, cheaper alternative.
The Aspire Plus Lounge
Upon arrival, our details were taken and we were allowed to take up residence on any of the varied seating options. There were sofas, armchairs and table and chairs. We found some of the spaces a little odd. The most private one was well-secluded but offered you a view of a corrugated roof. We decided to move further down the room to some very comfy-looking armchairs with footstools and sockets built into the arms. They didn’t disappoint!
As you entered the room, the bar and food counter was straight ahead of you. There was a variety of different drinks options on offer including both alcohol and soft drinks, a host of different types of tea, beers, Prosecco, fruit juices and milk. The counter held pastries, scones, crisps, nuts, bread and, as you went round to the other side of the bar, there was both hot and cold buffet food to choose from.
To the left were the toilets. (Stupidly, I hadn’t realised there was a private one and went out of the lounge and next door – I didn’t make the same mistake twice though!). To the right the room extended into the seating areas. Dotted around were tables holding both newspapers and magazines and there was a large TV on the wall showing Sky News.
The Food and Drink
As we arrived at 3pm, we had access to the lunch menu which was available from 10.30am until close of business. This included two types of Bento Box (prepared for you), a cheese board consisting of Roast Pepper and Mozzarella Terrine, Chicken Liver Pate, Somerset Brie, Stilton and Mature Cheddar and Double Gloucester, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli, a trio of pies which included Beef and Ale, Chicken and Tarragon and Mini Cottage Pies, and a selection of salad dishes.
As I stated above there were many drink options available. Soft drinks including cola, lemonade, juices, cordials and mineral water. The complimentary alcohol included Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Tiger Beer, Kronenberg, Port, Vodka, Bacardi, Gin, Prosecco and Baileys. What a shame we weren’t drinking! The policy was clear regarding this though – their staff have a duty to control the amount of alcohol consumed by any passenger as those that appear drunk may be refused the right to fly under European Law. Champagne and cocktails are available for an additional charge.
The Finer Details
There is a misconception that you have to travel first class to enter an airport lounge. Not so! All travellers, whichever airline or class they are flying, can have access to either of the lounges. You do have to adhere to their smart/casual dress code which means no sportswear – such as tracksuits, football shirts – or clothing with offensive slogans. Smart, tailored shorts are accepted. I wore my jeans and Ross wore his canvas trousers and we were both comfortable. The lounge has got a flight information screen but flight announcements aren’t made by the lounge staff – understandable given how many were displayed! – so we made sure we kept an eye on when ours was due to come up. You can stay in the lounge for up to 3 hours before your departure time, and you’re welcome to go in and out during that time if you want to do a bit of duty-free shopping. You also have access to WiFi.
The Aspire Plus lounge costs £29.99 per person. I would say that, at first, it may sound a bit pricey but if you bear in mind that you can eat and drink as much as you like (a bottle of Prosecco costs almost the price of the entrance fee at all the restaurants in the terminal) plus take into account the exclusivity, then it is worth it.
I would definitely recommend an Aspire Lounge if you want to get away from the complete furore of an airport terminal. The peace and quiet it offers is wonderful. The chairs we chose were comfortable and, even though we were next to a group of 4 people clearly going away together to celebrate, there was no noise or anything to detract from our peace and quiet.
It is important to note that the lounge offers snacks and light meals and not the full menus that the cafes and restaurants have within the main terminal. The food in general was very good. The pies were bite-sized and not as big as we thought they would be – but they were tasty nonetheless. There was a fabulous selection of offer and I really liked the fact that you could go up and help yourself from the counter and the fridges underneath. A food tip – do not ask them to warm up your scones when having a cream tea. They clearly used a microwave and the scones resembled rock cakes (rock being the operative word!).
I have to admit that I was a little disconcerted when the lady on duty took my details and left my boarding pass within easy access of anyone entering the lounge, however, the service overall was very good.
If you are celebrating, if you want to treat yourself and someone special, or if you are simply looking for some peace and quiet with easy access to food and drink before you fly, then I would definitely recommend Executive Lounges for airport travel.
Disclosure: Thank you to Executive Lounges and their representatives for providing us with access to the Aspire Plus Lounge at Bristol Airport in return for an honest review. Please note that all words, images and opinions have been formed by the owner of this blog and have not been influenced in any way. Please do not reproduce any of the content or images on this post without prior agreement from Verily Victoria Vocalises.