Aspire Belfast Lounge Review feature image

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Airport Review

In March 2024, I visited Belfast from London on an assignment for work. I flew with British Airways in Business Class, which granted me complimentary lounge access.

Before flying back from Belfast to London, I spent three hours in the Aspire Lounge, which is the main lounge that George Best Belfast City Airport offers.

I enjoyed the lounge, finding it much quieter and more peaceful than lounges at busier airports like London Heathrow. The interior is tasteful, with a dusky pink, brown, and muted blue color palette. While limited to two main tables, the buffet was also still impressively varied. 

Inside Aspire Belfast Lounge
Screenshot

The Aspire Lounge was only launched in 2020, so it’s a relatively new adjustment to BHD. I’ll run you through some general information, including the Aspire Lounge brand and how it came to be at this specific airport, plus an honest review of my personal experience.

Snapshot Verdict

Access to the Aspire Lounge in Belfast is free for Business and First Class passengers. For non-eligible passengers for complimentary access, anyone is welcome for an entrance fee upwards of ÂŁ32.99.

It opens from 5am daily, with closing times varying between 6:30pm and 8:30pm depending on the day, and you can access the lounge three hours before your flight departure time. 

Entrance fees include complimentary buffet food, soft non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, and hot drinks.

This lounge is in a convenient location and furbished beautifully – it has a trendy interior design with runway views, and a door that provides immediate boarding access.

Where Is The Aspire Lounge In Belfast City Airport?

The Aspire Lounge at BHD is located immediately as you exit duty-free, right next to Gate 4.

You walk through duty-free, passing WHSmith and a general seating area before seeing a corridor on your left. You’ll see the lounge entrance straight ahead, with a clear banner announcing the Aspire brand.

It takes less than a minute to find. Belfast City Airport isn’t exactly known for its size!

The Story Of The Aspire Lounge At Belfast City Airport 

Originally, this was a British Airways lounge. However, in 2020, the airline handed the lounge over to Aspire — an international chain of lounges. 

The lounge had a shaky start and desperately needed investments in refurbishments. So, in 2023, Aspire invested nearly $1.5 million to completely switch up the lounge’s aesthetic. 

The lounge you see today is that refurbished lounge. However, certain aspects of its original layout remain, like the doorway straight to Gate 4, where BA planes fly from. It’s a nod to the lounge’s earlier history.

Getting Access To Aspire Lounge Belfast City Airport

Anyone can get access to the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport. Aspire has an open-door policy, meaning all passengers of all fare types can simply buy access on arrival if they’re not granted free access with their Business or First Class boarding pass.

Prices start at ÂŁ32.99 ($41.09) – which I would confidently say is worthwhile, especially as there’s no booking fee.

You can book online to guarantee access, but to be honest, I don’t see it ever selling out of space. It seems a low-risk gamble to just rock up on the day. 

As I’ve mentioned, you can access the Aspire Lounge for free via your fare class. If you fly with British Airways in Business Class or above, full access comes included. This is a nice touch and another nod to Aspire’s partnership with BA.

Certain eligible passengers on KLM and Aer Lingus can also access the lounge on a complimentary basis, so double-check your fare details.

Inside The Aspire Lounge 

Emerging from security, it is a brief minute’s walk up a flight of stairs and through a modest duty-free section.

I’d heard that the lounge was next to Gate 4 and, sure enough, immediately on my left, there it was. It is a little hidden away, but BHD is so small that you’ll have no problem finding it.

The check-in process was a breeze. I handed over my boarding pass, and a smiling lady quickly entered some details into a computer before waving me on in.

As British Airways partnered with Aspire and I was flying Business Class, I received complimentary access, which felt great.

First impressions are very good; everything is friendly, smart, and organized. The lounge is partially open-plan, separated by shelving-style walls and columns, creating a sense of privacy with quieter corners to find yet abundant natural lighting.

Aspire Lounge Belfast

As I wanted to do some work on my laptop before the flight, this was the perfect atmosphere to walk into.

The color scheme consisted of dusky pink, muted blue, and natural wooden brown. Aspire’s refurbishment had been achieved with class – the environment felt super trendy with that all important touch of style. 

There are many places available for seating, including booths, tables, and comfortable armchairs. The fact that Belfast City Airport is so quiet also helps, as the lounge stayed near-empty the entire time I was there. 

In fact, I’m pretty sure it was only me and my fellow passengers there. I recognized almost everyone onboard the plane in Business Class. So, if you want somewhere quiet to relax and work, this lounge is definitely a peaceful corner of BHD.

There are bathrooms inside the lounge, all decked out with bright white walls and lighting. It felt airy and clean, welcoming you to freshen up without worrying about a grumbling queue. 

I picked a comfortable booth with a table to set my laptop down, making use of the row of under-seat chargers.

Eating At The Aspire Lounge

The buffet table set up at the Aspire Lounge is a little limited. I’m also a vegetarian, which is usually a bit of a kicker at lounges, which typically massively cater to less fussy eaters. I’ve got to admit, I had my reservations and doubted I’d get much of a selection looking at the table sizes.

It was a pleasant surprise, though. At 1pm, it was that awkward lunch time, where nobody typically knows who fancies a piping hot main meal or a light brunch.

It cleverly struck a balance between both: offering a table dedicated to hot dishes (although admittedly only substantially offering curry and rice) and a table for lighter dishes.

I preferred the lighter-dish table, which offered a ‘picky lunch’ type of situation. The salad selection was gorgeous, and there was a moreish selection of cheeses and crackers. I ate a small fortune in olives and blue cheese.

I stuck to a cappuccino for a drink. However, there was a huge selection of alcoholic beverages at a self-serve corner bar. You could pour yourself prosecco or a spirit and mixer — the selection is pretty grand and set against a striking white bar. 

There are also two coffee machines and a selection of tasty herbal and standard teas, so I headed there for a quick ‘wake-up’ caffeine fix.

It would be interesting to see how the menu changes throughout the day. At 1pm, there wasn’t too much pressure for me to get food: I’d eaten lunch in Belfast and was eating on the plane. But you can see why the lounge does catch some criticism for limited food options. 

I’d suggest treating it as a place to have a light meal rather than a chance to fill your boots. The staff were always on hand to top things up, and the whole buffet was kept spotless, so full points for the service and efficiency.

The Atmosphere

As I’ve mentioned, the atmosphere at BHD’s Aspire Lounge is honestly perfect for remote working. My pet peeve is overrun lounges, where you can’t find a charging point, and the noise levels are too high to work productively anyway.

This isn’t the case with this lounge. Because of Belfast City Airport’s small size, there is barely anyone inside the Aspire Lounge. I traveled on a Sunday afternoon, and it was peacefully quiet.

Seats at Aspire Belfast

Three hours before departure, there were only me and two other passengers (both of whom were on the same plane) in the lounge. There was a rather fabulous-looking older lady in a bold leopard print dress, spectacles, and natural gray hair in a blowout. She sat quietly reading on her tablet, and another gentleman sat typing on a laptop.

Even as it got busier, only a maximum of 10-15 people were there. The loudest it got was a man making a phone call and a couple of friends chatting in a lowered tone.

The layout is really clever, with the illusion of private spaces but an open plan that provides natural lighting. The runway views are also spectacular, with an entire wall boasting floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the planes lined up for departure.

It’s quiet enough to concentrate, but well-designed enough to inspire you and feel a bit indulgent. 

There are large boarding information screens, which are ideal for keeping track of your flight. And furthermore, there’s a separate door that takes you straight to check-in if you’re flying with British Airways (who always fly from Gate 4). I loved this feature as it meant I switched off from boarding. It is a relaxing setup that makes the whole process hassle-free.

The atmosphere was by far my favorite quality of this lounge. I’d actually recommend paying for access just to make use of it as a co-working space. 

To Conclude: Is It Worth It? 

All things considered, I would recommend the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport. Its best factor is its atmosphere, and the fact it’s so quiet means you actually get value out of what you need from a lounge — bagging a quiet workspace and a peaceful pre-flight experience. 

Looking at the pre-upgrade design, it’s amazing to see how much the investment has revolutionized the interior and atmosphere. Before, it had a bit of a dull look, but now it has the appearance of a boutique lounge.

It feels fresh and inspiring, where you can enjoythe pre-flight experience. 

At 1pm, the food was of great quality, albeit slightly limited in its quantity. But honestly, you can still find a dish that works for you; just don’t go in expecting an all-you-can-eat experience and measure your expectations. The blue cheese and olives combination gets my vote.

The Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport is a bit of a wallflower. Its atmosphere is quiet and its design is pretty, and it’s a recommendable place to spend your pre-flight experience. 

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