It must be a decade since the gal graced a Virgin club lounge, called Clubhouse, and this was certainly a first, anyway – the Clubhouse at Gatwick. Those who have not been here before need to be warned, it is extremely difficult to find. Can you imagine any luxury hotel whose entrance is obscured by a prior assault course of shopping and human bodies lugging enormous outsize suitcases and Duty Free shopping bags? Actually, trying to find the entrance of Nobu Las Vegas, hidden as it is in amidst Mandalay Bay‘s casino, is almost as taxing. Anyway, get in, finally, to the Clubhouse and it is an haven of calm, a long room with big windows all down one side.
One of the first things you walk past is the bar, entirely decorated with a rear wall of Lanson, which is amusing since the onboard Champagne is Gardet. I was greeted on arrival by a friendly woman who asked me if I had been there before, got me seated, said someone would be right over to take my order, and sure enough within a minute a fairly mature server asked if she could get me tea or coffee before I got started, and here is the breakfast menu. The breakfast menu is copious and even though I was not hungry I asked for an egg Florentine, and it was cooked to perfection. From where I was sitting I could see the extent of the room.
Looking down the length of the Clubhouse, I see it is L-shaped, with a tiny foot, so I go exploring. The spa is really impressive, separated from the main room by glass that nearly covers the whole wall: live plants hang from its ceiling, matching the living trees, in pots, in the main area. Less impressive is the shoe-shine alcove, unmanned, but I do like the kids club, another glass-wall separation and it looks really fun inside. A family of three came in, two adults and a toddler, all dressed in identical white on black Adidas track suits: the toddler is in a baby-pink buggy that matches mum’s bejewelled iPhone (and her finger nails). I wonder if they will be onboard with us (they are)?
Down at the gate it is mayhem. This is a totally-full 747, and when they call Upper Class and priority boarding every tom, dick and harry – and mary, margaret and marthia. including several wearing Sunday-best-church-hats and lots with Bo Derek hairstyles, rush as if called to a football scrum. No luxury hotel has to put up with crowds almost fighting to get in, as is the case here. This will be an interesting flight, I think.