01 – The Second Honeymoon
02 – Conquering Medieval Stairs
03 – Urinating in Brussels
04 – On to Paris
05 – Seeing Louvre
06 – A Police Story
07 – The Sun King’s Blingy Home
08 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky
09 – Hangin’ with Our Royal Neighbors
10 – Sending Ourselves to the Tower
11 – Raining on the Parade
12 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky Again
On our previous vacations, the last day of the trip was always reported as something like, “Okay we spent the entire 50-hour day to get home. Made it alive. The end.” This one would be slightly different.
First, though, we had to get to the airport. The underground station next to our hotel offered a straight shot to our terminal, so that was great. Like the Chicago L to ORD and the New York subway to JFK, the London underground to LHR was by far the cheapest and objectively the fastest option to the airport, yet it was a little hard to appreciate the experience because the train made about 500 stops along the way.
Terminal 5 was enormous and seemed to serve exclusively British Airways. We walked a long way from one end to the middle of the terminal, and had not seen a single sign for first class check-in. We assumed at this point that the Brits didn’t offer such service, and turned to a kiosk. I made a stupid entry error and was sent to see an agent. Really sleepy and tired at this point, we just stood in the regular check-in line and waited. When it was our turn and the agent found out that we were flying first class and came to his counter, he jumped in shock. He explained to us that there were first-class counters even further down the terminal (can’t believe there wasn’t a horse carriage to take us over there), and probably while secretly judging our cluelessness, urged us not to miss the first-class security line and the Concorde Room.
Okay, of course I knew about the Concorde Room… British Airway’s flagship first class lounge, that BoardingArea bloggers overwhelmingly gave poor review to. We walked in with mild expectations… and found ourselves jaw-droppingly impressed.
Concorde Room was quite spacious
Concorde Room bar & lounge
Table service dining in a private booth! We had some doubts about the food actually being free
One of the best fruit salads ever, in a cute bowl that I regret I didn’t steal
Elemis Spa, where we each got 15 minutes of massage.
It was a rather mediocre massage, but let’s not be so snobbish.
A mediocre massage is infinitely better than no massage, especially at an airport
Morning cocktails in the name of sampling the Concorde Room service
This was another instance where I found myself completely puzzled by the reviews I’ve read. What kind of out-of-the-world high standard must one have to be critical of the service at this place? Everything was fabulous. Okay, maybe the bartender gave me some attitude for not ordering my drink with the James Bond command of confidence, but I was too in awe with everything else to care. Spoiler alert – bloggers also like to make fun of BA’s first class flight, but we loved it to death.
Our boarding gate, with a long
line queue that we did not wait in
On board our first first class flight! I was so excited with our space that I immediately started to hope that our flight would take longer
Gender-specific amenity bags, on a huge arm rest
The haves vs. have-nots problem… on United economy there’s usually not enough room for my knees; here I couldn’t reach the end of my foot rest
Media control, USB ports, and… RCA? Should’ve brought my Super Nintendo
Cute menu. Almost put it in my bag
From there I ordered a glass of Champagne named in honor of the Sun King Louis XIV
The fold-out eating platform was a full-size restaurant table for two. On top of the nice tablecloth were shakers and butter that I never used, and some real utensils
I asked for soup instead of a lobster appetizer, mainly because the idea of having real soup aboard a flight seemed almost like a weird concept. Delicious
Steak. Not as impressive as the soup
Johnny Walker Blue Label (mainly because I could), and water
The cutest thing was that the flight served afternoon tea. So British! I seriously lost sleep over it as I wanted to wake up sufficiently before the end of the flight, to enjoy my tea. No tower (duh, would’ve blocked the TV) but it was otherwise legit. The tea was out of a fancy tea bag, and the food was not far off what we had at the Goring. The tea came in a real pot, which was pretty much all I cared about. I loved it, but at the same time I couldn’t fully understand this first class experience… wouldn’t silverware and fragile dishes be a hazard in the event of turbulence?
British afternoon tea at an altitude far higher than the Shard, accompanied by a rather silly but entertaining Tollywood movie (Loafer)
Nine hours later, we handed in DFW, our connecting airport. We certainly did not prefer connecting on AA to go home, but that’s what the first class award availability limited us to. The upside was that we got to use the Centurion Lounge here, famous for having a spa akin to the Concorde Room. Each of us got another 15-minute mediocre massage… because, hey, that’s what you do before and after a first-class flight.
Centurion Lounge DFW
Shower at the Centurion
Then we went home. The last leg was on a small plane operated by AA. Still “first class”, but the experience warranted only two pictures. I’d just say that it was a good thing we had gotten real tired by this point, and slept almost the entirety of it.
Left: a face of shock
Right: a sarcastic smile
AA first class magazine holder
Well that concludes our lovely and enriching trip! Heading back to work from all this certainly isn’t expected to be easy, but we’re grateful for this wonderful experience. To recap some unique highlights:
- For us Americans, Western Europe isn’t as exotic as India or the Middle East, but the rich history can be equally fascinating
- We flew first class for the first time, and finally grasped how it’s possible to enjoy being on a plane
- We stayed at one of the legendary category-7 Park Hyatts, and I learned from my more sophisticated half that “turn down service” doesn’t mean refusing service
- We ate good food, and for the first time in memory I experienced what people say about not being able to button their pants
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