Heathrow Airport boasts some seriously impressive dimensions – it covers 1227 hectares, each air bridge can serve 133 aircraft stands, and it’s home to 84 airlines travelling to 203 destinations.
As Britain’s most bustling airport, it processes over 80 million passengers annually and 1.7 million metric tons of cargo.
And as one of the world’s best-connected air travel hubs, Heathrow it could be your launchpad whether you’re picking up diamonds in Antwerp or xylophones in Zurich.
But whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, there’s one thing sure to set you up for an unpleasant pre-flight experience – a lack of food to tantalise your taste buds, flare your nostrils and fill your stomach.
And once you’re sat inside the aeroplane cabin, you’re almost completely at the mercy of whatever’s on the menu that day – it’s a game of roulette with your stomach at stake.
So with the wellbeing of jet setting connoisseurs in mind, here are six great tips for Heathrow gourmets.
You can’t eat cabin luggage (unless you’re really desperate!), but if you’re a food-focused traveller, buying the likes of a Samsonite Prodigy case from Going Places means you’ve got ample space to stash some survival snacks like Kettle Chips, oatcakes and organic chocolate. This is a savvy stitch in time that ensures you won’t be stuck if you can’t eat at home and time’s too tight to stop anywhere beforehand. Plus and if you’re on a flight where snacks aren’t gratis, it means you don’t have to pay over the odds for fare that probably doesn’t compare to your own selection in terms of quality. Be warned though – one disadvantage if this strategy is that once your tuckbox is open, jealous fellow passengers might beg for a nibble of the treasures inside.
Other coffee shops are available, but for us, the coffee from Caffe Nero tastes stronger and more fulsome than many of its competitors. With outlets at Heathrow terminals 2, 3, 4 and 5, you’ll never be stuck for a steaming hot latte or a choc-covered cappuccino. And furthermore, their cakes and pastries are also pleasurable for your palate – the Sicilian lemon muffin definitely shouldn’t be overlooked and the sweetcorn fritter with chutney and coleslaw flatbread is a compact snack that packs a tasty punch.
Sometimes you need to treat yourself and sample the finer things in life – which is exactly why heading to Terminal 3’s Caviar House Oyster Bar is such a superb idea. Don’t forget to order some premium bubbly to wash down that delicious seafood and don’t worry about missing your flight, because this quality outlet has a 15 minute menu that keeps everything ticking along perfectly punctually.
A calming and cathartic cocktail at Heathrow’s Fortnum & Mason Bar is one of the best ways to while away some time before catching a flight. Sit back and sip on a perfectly-mixed Kir Royale accompanied by a chopped chicken salad with cheese board from the Hamperling menu. There’s one caveat to pre-flight cocktails though – a couple will make you feel suitably cheery, but go overboard and you might be deemed unfit to travel. Therefore, tread the fine line between feeling slightly refreshed and wired to the moon with extreme caution.
Heston Blumenthal has become famous for otherworldly cuisine creations like desserts served in giant bubbles and entrees that are literally explosive. But at Heathrow, Heston’s Perfectionist’s Café rejects the pyrotechnics, pomp and ceremony in favour of simply specialises serving fine food fast. So whether you want breakfast, lunch or dinner, expect something special on your plate in the proverbial blink of an eye. Not sure what to choose? Try the secret smokehouse smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, pickled cucumber and pickled lemons – divine.
Arrive for your flight without pre-booking parking and you’re set for the perfect storm of stress and indigestion – meaning that when you eventually stow your car, you’ll be too upset to enjoy even the most delicious airport fare. But book Heathrow parking with SkyParkSecure and you’ll skip towards your favourite eating emporium feeling completely calm and collected – when you know you can slot your car smoothly into a safe space on arrival, you’ll be glowing with that holiday feeling from the moment you leave home.
In times past, airport food suffered from a bland and boring reputation and the limited choices provided even in major airports were a constant source of complaint. And when airline meals were also as dull as dishwasher, this created a dire double whammy which meant many people didn’t enjoy anything decent until arrival at their destination.
Things have definitely changed – this sextet of super cuisine tips will please the palate of the pickiest Heathrow traveller and set you up for a hassle-free flight where you feel completely satisfied.
So ends our list, but please share your own Heathrow eating tips in the comments section.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia