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Airports lounges labelled ‘dingy’ and ‘bland’ in new study

Southend Skylife Lounge promises to let passengers ‘live the high life’, but had the lowest score of just one out of five.

Pay-as-you-go lounges at British airports have scored an average rating of just 2.4 out of five in a new study.

Inspections of 20 lounges – which charge up to £50 – found many offer no more than a glass of cheap wine and a handful of crisps, according to magazine Which? Travel.

Southend Skylife Lounge promises to let passengers “live the high life” but had the lowest score of just one out of five.

It was one of only a few lounges offering no hot food, but piles of pre-packed sandwiches instead.

Aspire runs more than a dozen UK lounges, but none of the ones visited as part of the study were deemed worth the money.

Luton Airport was rated the best Aspire facility at 2.5 out of five.

Inspectors described the lounge as “bland” and “claustrophobic”, but deemed it a comfortable alternative in an airport short on seating.

The No1 lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 was found to be living up to its name by being ranked the best overall with a score of four out of five.

Reviewers praised its cinema, complimentary a la carte menu and L’Occitane toiletries in “spotlessly clean” bathrooms.

The second highest rated lounge was the adults-only Manchester 1903 at Terminal 3.

Despite the lounge being £10 more than the Escape facility in the same terminal, reviewers felt the well kept service bar and freshly prepared specials were worth the extra outlay, although the two-hour time limit was “stingy”.

The foyer at Aspire Edinburgh was described as “dingy” and the food “bland”.

Inspectors advised passengers should only visit the two out of five rated lounge if they have secured a very good discount on the £33 walk-up fee.

Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “A pay-as-you-go lounge to start your holiday early might seem like a great option if you are willing to fork out a bit extra.

“But as our research shows, in many cases, you might be better off with a pie and a pint in the airport pub.”

A spokesperson for the Airport Operators Association said: “Airports work with the independent operators of paid-for lounges to ensure passengers have a range of options to step away from the busy terminal.

“As surveys from Which? and others show, passengers are very satisfied with the high-quality service in UK airport terminals.

“We will continue to work with lounge operators to ensure their facilities meet passengers’ needs and expectations.”

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