The consumer champion’s rankings of the aviation hospitality suites gave just one star to the Essex airport, which failed to deliver with a £45 entry fee on the door and no shower facilities, quiet zone or sparkling wine for flyers to enjoy.
Ratings were given across 10 categories, including food, drinks, cleanliness, space, facilities and price, with only six out of 20 airport lounges visited by Which? inspectors deemed to be worth the money.
Meanwhile, Manchester Terminal 1 Escape, Gatwick North Plaza Premium and Birmingham No1 Lounge scored just one and a half stars for their departure services.
The top-rated lounges drew in a three out of five-star score: Heathrow Plaza Premium T2, Gatwick No1 North, Machester Terminal 1 Aspire and Edinburgh Aspire Lounge led the pack for decent pre-flight spots.
These “pleasant” places to relax or enjoy a “peaceful meal” were considered worth the money, but premium drinks often came with sky-high prices.
Inspectors found that Aspire lounges were around 40 per cent more expensive than their last check-in in 2020. To lounge for less, the experts suggest investing in a Priority Pass that covers most airports for £69 your first year, using an Amex Gold Card for free lounge entry four times a year, or a Barclaycard Avios Plus to enjoy most areas for £18.50.
In August, the annual Which? survey named the UK’s worst airports to jet off from between June 2022 and June 2023.
Manchester’s terminal 3 found itself at the rock-bottom of the list with a host of one-star rankings, closely followed by terminals 1 and 2 of the northern aviation hub.
A statement from Which? said of its latest research: “Airport lounges are likely to be most appealing at the worst airports. If you’re visiting a smaller airport, you’re likely to spend less time hanging around – and they’re generally better anyway.”
So if you’re looking to “hide from the chaos” it might be worth forking out between £35 and £40 for a less-than-luxury lounge experience.
Best airport lounges 2023
Heathrow Plaza Premium T2: 3 stars
Gatwick No1 North: 3 stars
Manchester Terminal 1 Aspire: 3 stars
Edinburgh Aspire Lounge: 3 stars
Inverness Aspire: 3 stars
Gatwick No1 South: 3 stars
Worst airport lounges 2023
Southend Skylife Lounge: 1 star
Manchester Terminal 1 Escape: 1.5 stars
Gatwick North Plaza Premium: 1.5 stars
Birmingham No1 Lounge: 1.5 stars