Oneworld Lounge Hopping at London Heathrow, Terminal 3 – Which Lounge Is the Best?

QF Lounge LHR Bar oben 1

Some topics that frequent flyers discuss might raise eyebrows among other groups of people. One of them is arriving extra early at the airport to try out the lounge there. Or: Choosing a flight with a layover just because you enjoy being at the airport. Even worse: Opting for a connection with an 8-hour layover just to engage in intense lounge hopping in London.

As you may have guessed, there are individuals in the Travel-Dealz team who are that crazy. So, it was only logical to optimize the flight to San Francisco not only in terms of Tier Points (MAD - LHR - HEL - JFK - SFO) but also in terms of lounge access.

We certainly had fun during the 8 hours at Heathrow trying out 7 lounges. And since some of them can be skipped altogether, here’s a review with some insights.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge

You can never go wrong with Cathay lounges, no matter where you are in the world. This is especially true for the first lounges, of which there are only three in the world: two in Hong Kong and one in London. Access is not only granted with a first ticket but also as an Oneworld Emerald.

Accordingly, the lounge in London resembles the one in Hong Kong, just on a smaller scale. There are several armchairs and sofas for seating, from which you can comfortably watch Qantas, Cathay, and others take off into the distance. The furniture may seem a bit worn in places, but the atmosphere is overall refined and cosy.

CX F Lounge LHR Sitze

The food offering in London is also divided: there is a selection of snacks in the Pantry, along with a secluded Dining Room offering à la carte service.

In the Pantry for breakfast, there were Pastel de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts), croissants with Brie and ham, muffins, and frittata. Additionally, there were cold cuts for sandwiches, Bircher muesli, etc. Overall, a solid selection of snacks, but the main attraction is, of course, in the restaurant area.

There, I was able to take a quick look at the breakfast menu at 11:40 am, but couldn’t order anything anymore:

CX F Lounge LHR Karte Fruehstueck
If you want eggs benedict, you’ll need to go to the Qantas lounge next door

From 12 noon, lunch is served. Here’s the menu from April 2024:

Together, we could once again enjoy trying out the dishes. The salmon rillette and (of course) the dim sum basket were excellent. The burger is always a solid choice. However, the braised steak resembled more of a mediocre goulash.

The service was particularly attentive in the restaurant area, but empty plates were also quickly cleared away elsewhere.

Cathay First Lounge London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

Overall, the Cathay First Lounge scores some points for the food in the restaurant area and the cosy, quiet atmosphere. What’s lacking are decent places to work. That’s why we moved on to the adjacent business lounge afterwards.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

The business lounge is much larger than its first counterpart. Entry requires a business ticket or Sapphire status. Thus, there is a spacious atmosphere, and you don’t feel like you’re disturbing other guests with your laptop. In the entrance area, there is the Noodle Bar. All the food available here could theoretically also be ordered in the first lounge.

I opted for a second round of dim sum and this time also a baozi (fluffy dumplings with pork filling). There’s a buzzer to signal when the order is ready. In my case, that wouldn’t have been necessary. I had just sat down, and the food was already prepared.

The buffet is located in the large living area behind. There are also numerous additional seats, some overlooking the apron. And since the lounge is so huge, you should always find a seat. Or even a 4-seater table all to yourself.

We had no luck with the “proper” workspaces in the Bureau at the end of the lounge. When we entered, there were 4 or 5 employees sitting there, staring at us as if we had just interrupted a meeting of the Russian intelligence service.

The food at the buffet looked decent, but of course, it’s not comparable to the à la carte dining next door. Nevertheless, there is also a high-quality selection of pastries, cheesecake pudding, etc.:

Overall, the lounge is a solid choice for business guests and frequent flyers with Sapphire status. However, the first lounge next door is more enjoyable. And since The Bureau (the workspaces) was occupied, we went straight on.

Cathay Business Lounge London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

Cathay can score not only with the first lounges but also in the business segment. If you have “only” Sapphire status or a business ticket, the business lounge is one of the best options. Here you can enjoy Chinese cuisine, but you can also relax in one of the armchairs and watch airplanes if you wish.

Qantas Lounge

Since 2017, the Australians have operated their own lounge at London Heathrow. It is conveniently located right next door, not even a minute from the Cathay Lounge. Access is granted to all passengers with Oneworld Sapphire status or business ticket (and above). From 2025, by the way, a Qantas first lounge is supposed to follow. Hooray!

QF Lounge LHR Logo 1

The lounge extends over two floors and is visually appealing. Even the (fake?) marble toilets are an interesting experience. It is very quiet here during the day, and there are numerous seating options with and without tables. In a corner upstairs, we finally found the hoped-for workspaces with power outlets and stayed there for almost 2 hours.

Unfortunately, the buffet offering is very limited and not even particularly good. A visit is therefore primarily worthwhile at the following times:

  • Breakfast from around 09:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Dinner from around 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

So, we returned promptly at 5 p.m. and were pleasantly surprised. Here’s the menu, which also includes various wines from Australia:

QF Lounge LHR Evening Menu

Qantas (first) lounges worldwide are known for their salt & pepper squid, a type of calamari. This was also excellent in London (and luckily hardly any pepper was noticeable). The braised beef was also a good choice and much better than at Cathay. There were strawberries, brownies, and cheesecake at the buffet, and the service was attentive. Qantas even managed to procure strawberries that not only tasted like water but actually like berries.

During the above times, I can highly recommend the Qantas Lounge. The quality and selection of food may not quite match that of the Cathay First Lounge next door, but it is “only” a business or Sapphire lounge. Outside dining times, the Qantas lounge is not worth it, or only for the selection of gins:

QF Lounge LHR Gin 1
There’s no gin shortage here
Qantas Lounge London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

There are two good reasons to visit this lounge. The best one is the food offering in the hours before Qantas flights. The food here tastes better than on the plane for sure. The second one is the extensive range of seats in a pleasant atmosphere.

If you visit the lounge for lunch, you can mentally deduct two stars from the food. The selection of dishes is then very limited.

American Airlines International First Class Lounge

The “First Class Lounge” of American Airlines had convinced me during my last visit with a delicious duck breast filet. So, this time, I headed directly to the small dining area. For this, you need Emerald status or a ticket in first class.

Unfortunately, the selection was less convincing this time. The menu only featured three main courses, and one of them was already out:

  • A “pie” with Beef Bourgignon (the crust was just laid on top) and Gruyere baguette
  • Marinated mussels (out)
  • A tartlet with caramelized onions
  • A mille-feuille (puff pastry cake) with pickled berries
AA F Lounge LHR Speisekarte

The pie gets a B grade from me. The tartlet was excellent, only the combination with the jelly balls (reminiscent of bubble tea) was somewhat peculiar.

In addition, there is a buffet, which, however, does not convince particularly in terms of selection or quality. Also, the interior of the lounge appears rather outdated and has little in common with a first lounge. However, the dining area is quite chic.

AA International First Lounge London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

Overall, the AA Lounge fell short of expectations this time. But if you have the time, you can at least stop by briefly and take a look at the menu.

American Admirals Club

For the sake of completeness, the Admirals Club of American Airlines should also be mentioned here. It is open to any passenger with Oneworld Sapphire or a business class ticket.

Originally, the Admirals Club was supposed to have been renovated and turned into a “Flagship Lounge” long ago. But COVID thwarted those plans, so everything remains as it was. In other words, the decor looks outdated, and the buffet is comparable to that of a Lufthansa Senator lounge.

Nevertheless, the selection is at least better than what one would expect from an Admirals Club in the USA. There were several hot dishes, salads, and some pastries.

Seating is plentiful. However, in this sterile train station atmosphere, it’s not particularly enjoyable to spend time here. So, the Admirals Club is more of a fallback option if Qantas or Cathay get too crowded.

AA Admirals Club London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

I can’t think of a reason why one should necessarily visit the Admirals Club when there are many better alternatives just a 2-meter walk away.

Amex Centurion Lounge

Although we are here for Oneworld Lounge Hopping, a brief mention should be made of the American Express lounge. The Centurion Lounge by Amex was opened in 2021 and is in good condition. Access is granted by an Amex Platinum credit card (including guest). Unfortunately, there are no windows.

The food offering is roughly what is offered in the USA. There is an extensive salad buffet and some hot options. However, I was more impressed with the desserts: a good chocolate mousse and a pastry with white chocolate cream.

Since the lounge was quite crowded, we have no photos of the seating areas. But if you know one Centurion Lounge, you know them all. There are numerous tables at the buffet (quite close together), large tables with power outlets, stools at the bar, sofas, and much more. However, there is so much hustle and bustle here that you won’t find any peace anywhere.

It can get quite crowded here at times, or even lead to waiting times. On a Wednesday afternoon, the lounge was quite full, but finding a seat was no problem.

Amex Centurion Lounge London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

The Centurion Lounge doesn’t do anything fundamentally wrong, but it also doesn’t excel in any particular aspect. Moreover, it was by far the most restless of all, so relaxation might be hard to come by. For Amex cardholders who don’t have access to the alternatives, it’s a solid option.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge

British Airways primarily operates from Terminal 5, but some flights also depart from Terminal 3. Therefore, BA operates two lounges here: The Galleries Club Lounge as a business class lounge and the (slightly) more upscale Galleries First Lounge. The latter was visited with Emerald status.

On the positive side: The lounge is comparatively large, offers many seating and working areas, and usually, hardly anyone is here. The downside: The latter is because, apart from the seating and the exclusive atmosphere, the lounge has nothing noteworthy to offer.

There is only a buffet of mediocre quality. While AA at least serves a few higher-quality dishes on request, there is nothing of the sort here.

Previously, a few dishes could still be ordered via smartphone. Meanwhile, the First Dining is located in the same place. This is only for passengers with a first ticket (and Gold Guest List members in the Executive Club). Let’s hope the food there is better.

BA F Dining LHR Eingang
Only for first passengers

There is one small advantage here: there is a large play area for children with video games, etc.

BA F Lounge LHR T3 Kinderbereich
Children will be happiest at British Airways
British Airways Galleries First Lounge London-Heathrow (T3)
  • Food
  • Ambience & comfort
  • Service & extras

The designation as a “First” lounge is a joke. Only the atmosphere can partly keep this promise. If it’s not about the children’s play area, you can safely skip this lounge as an Emerald frequent flyer.

Which lounge is the best?

After the numerous short reviews, one question remains: Which lounge is the best? We were relatively unanimous and came up with the following ranking, which also roughly correlates to the short star ratings above:

  1. Cathay First Class Lounge
  2. Qantas (Business) Lounge – during the dining times
  3. American Airlines First Class Lounge
  4. Cathay Business Class Lounge
  5. Amex Centurion Lounge
  6. British Airways Galleries First Lounge
  7. American Airlines Admirals Club
  8. Qantas (Business) Lounge – outside the dining times
    (great ambience but barely any food available)
  9. British Airways Galleries (Club) Lounge
    (not mentioned in this article, but even worse than the first lounge next door)
Lounge Auswahl T3 LHR
A lot of lounges to choose from

Of course, the ranking also depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to work, the Cathay First Lounge is not the best choice. If you have very little time, you’d better opt for the business lounge next door, and so on. Therefore, below is a brief, expanded decision-making aid.

Recommendations with Emerald status or a first ticket:

  • Cathay First Lounge, for the overall best experience
  • American First Lounge, if you want to take a gamble with the (limited) menu
  • Qantas Lounge, during their meal times

Recommendations with Sapphire status or a business class ticket:

  • Qantas Lounge, if you’re lucky to be there during meal times. Alternatively, if you want some peace during the day
  • Cathay Business Lounge, for dumplings, Asian noodle dishes, and a fairly extensive buffet

We did not consider the selection of alcoholic beverages, as we simply lacked the expertise. Maybe the BA First Lounge would rank a bit higher in that case.


By the way, there are a few other lounges in the terminal that were not considered in this post. These include the No. 1 Lounge (Priority Pass), Club Aspire (Priority Pass), the Emirates Lounge, and the Virgin Clubhouse.


London Heathrow is a paradise for lounge hopping, at least if you depart from Terminal 3. For me, this is one of the reasons why I prefer to fly with American Airlines rather than British Airways to the USA. Because if you depart from Terminal 5, you don’t have access to the lounge paradise (it may be possible in some cases, but not recommended).

It may not have to be eight hours, but you can easily spend three or four thanks to Cathay, Qantas, and Co. If you’re lucky, you can also experience the lounge offerings in Terminal 3 with a flight within Europe because some British Airways flights (such as to Vienna or Prague) also depart from Terminal 3.

When Qantas opens its own First Lounge in 2025, the cards will be reshuffled once again. I’m not entirely sure why there needs to be another Emerald Lounge in Terminal 3, but who can say no to that?

Translated – and also tested – by Ditmar

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Comments (3)

  1. Nicolas says:

    Hi Ditmar,
    Thanks for the clarifications provided.
    I believe such an issue cold be (eventually) interesting for your review readers. As some people (like me) are rather interested by a glass of a decent wine / champagne than by food options 🙂
    Warmest regards.

  2. Nicolas says:

    Dear Peer,
    Which lounge is the best for a good wine or some high range spirits testing?

    • Ditmar Lange says:

      Hi Nicolas,
      both Peer and I don’t know much about alcoholic drinks, but to me, Qantas and British Airways seemed to have the best alcoholic offerings at their lounge bars.

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