Usually travelling can be quite stressful, especially if you are on a long-haul flight. And the long wait at the airport lounge to board the flight leaves even the most mild-mannered of travellers frustrated.
But the Virgin Atlantic's lounge for business class passengers at Heathrow Airport is simply mind-blowing. Passengers who have experienced it once make sure they land hours before the flight so they can enjoy the wide range of facilities it offers. And once the boarding is announced, people are reluctant to leave the Clubhouse – as it is rightly called.
Special features at the Club House include a spa pool, multiscreen style cinema, pool table, a library with an Opus on Mohammed Ali for you to browse through, concierge service at the touch of a button and delicious food at the restaurant.
You can have a haircut in the Bumble and Bumble salon, choose a spa treatment in the Cowshed or do some airguitaring. Little wonder that it has made it to the Forbes list of best business class lounges.
Andrew Fyfe, Regional Manager, Middle East, Virgin Atlantic, told Emirates Business: "The space has been kept as open as possible, to maximise the Clubhouse's sense of scale. The layout features a series of landmarks and vistas to encourage passengers to stroll and explore their surroundings."
The Den is the dedicated games area and is equipped with a pool table, retro video games consoles and a state-of-the-art multiscreen style cinema, which shows a variety of programmes, films and sporting events. Fyfe said: "The area is furnished with aubergine leather and velvet covered chaises-lounges and extra-deep sofas."
The Sky Lounge, located at the top of a white staircase, leads to a hideaway mezzanine, which has deep-pile sky-blue carpet, champagne leather seating, yellow loungers and tan leather Hockney day beds. Full-width sloping windows offer views of aircraft taking off. Fyfe said: "From the Sky Lounge passengers can access the Roof Garden, adorned with trees and plants, and is the perfect place to watch the airport action."
Adjacent to the Den is a playground. The brightly decorated room has a wide selection of toys and games for children as well as a TV with children's channels showing through the day.
The Lodge has a convivial après-ski vibe. The oyster shell of the enclosure has rough-hewn limestone blocks, set in angled cliff like bedding on the outside and topped by a fringe of tinted glass. It is lined with iridescent mosaic tiles and houses cushioned banquettes with blush leather bolsters.
Tucked away behind a glass partition are the Office and Library. With timber ceiling and velvet wall panelling, this business centre features eight work stations with dark green leather Eames Soft Pad executive chairs and is equipped with faxes, phones, printers, photocopiers and recharge stations.
The Clubhouse, which is fully wireless, offers eight Sony laptops with internet access as well as laptop points dotted around the space.
From the Observation Deck, facing south-west and outwards, one can view the runway and the sunset. White leather Karuselli chairs and shapely Gigi seats alternate with club chairs and daybeds covered in a range of soothing greens, each lit by classic floor lamps.
Fyfe said: "The Poolside Lounge is also an oasis of tranquillity. A ceiling-to-floor Japanese water wall runs gently into the pool, and Globe lights float above the water and soothing images play on the plasma screen, next to Swan chairs and Bubble hanging seats.
Beyond the water wall is the new spa, Cowshed. With its dark grey, Welsh slate floors, black glass mosaic tiled walls and splashes of autumnal colours, passengers will instantly feel like they have entered a haven of tranquillity and luxury. Cowshed is the Soho House spa brand and passengers can treat themselves to a selection of exclusive Cowgroom treatments including a facial, massage, manicure, pedicure or wet shave for men, all using Cowshed's natural products.
"Situated within the spa area is a hairdressing salon Bumble and Bumble at the Cowshed where hairdressers offer stylish pre-trip haircuts and treatments.
"Passengers can also choose to take a dip in the spa pool, enjoy a sauna or use the steam room. Those in need of a pre-travel glow can use the new St Tropez tanning booth," Fyfe said.
The new Clubhouse has a professionally equipped kitchen on site, too, offering meals and light bites to suit every taste. Passengers can enjoy a wide selection from the brasserie menu and choose to have breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can eat at their seat or for a more formal dining experience The Brasserie area has a continental feel with individual tables and raspberry velour-lined booths.
So next time you are returning to Dubai via Heathrow ensure that you make use of the Virgin Clubhouse – this is one lounge experience you will never forget.