Review of No 1 Lounge Gatwick South

This is our review of the No 1 Lounge in the South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport.

It is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

It is now just over four months until the big terminal switch at Gatwick.  On 25th January 2017, British Airways will move overnight from the North Terminal to the South Terminal.  easyJet will move across to the North Terminal, consolidating their entire operation under one roof for the first time.

British Airways is building a brand new lounge complex in Gatwick South for status and premium passengers.

If you are travelling in economy without BA status, you won’t be getting in.  The good news is that No 1 Lounges opened a brand new facility in Gatwick South in February.  You can get access to this using a Priority Pass (with American Express Platinum or bought outright) or Lounge Club (two free entries with American Express Gold) card.  You can also buy passes directly on the No 1 Lounge website.

Last week I went on holiday to Croatia to spend a week on the gorgeous island of Vis (I will spare you a review of my independent 2* hotel, with a bed so bad I spent one night sleeping on the floor).

Flying Norwegian from Gatwick South to Split, we decided to give the new No 1 Lounge a try.  We bought access for cash and No 1 Lounges was not involved in this review in any way.

The No 1 lounge is located upstairs next to Dixons.  You need to walk along a hallway to reach the reception desk.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-location

The first thing you notice is the size – this is substantially bigger than the old No 1 Lounge at Gatwick South – and different sitting arrangements.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-tables

The middle bit is the restaurant:

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-dining-area

and next to the table area is the bar where you can order drinks and food.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-bar

There were nuts, apples and cakes for self service.  All other food had to be ordered from a menu at the bar.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-cake-fruit

There were two coffee machines and a good tea selection in the lounge.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-coffee

At the far end of the lounge were very comfy sofas.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-lounge-area

The lounge also has a meeting room where kids under the age of 12 are not allowed.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-meeting-room

This is the TV room.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-tv-room

The work area in the No 1 lounge has got two desktop Macs:

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-computer

Food

The food menu very good and the dishes were freshly prepared. If you have got enough time, this definitely makes for a great lounge experience. However if you are under time pressure you may find the wait annoying – during busy times you will need to wait 10-15 minutes for your food.

As our flight was delayed (good old Norwegian) we had enough time to try almost the whole menu ……

The spinach and ricotta pasta shell was delicious, but the portion size was more starter than main.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-pasta-dish

…… that’s why I also tried the superfood salad mezze with quinoa. If you like healthy food, this is my recommendation.

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-food-superfood-salad

Here is the full food menu (click to enlarge).

no-1-lounge-gatwick-south-food-menu

Conclusion

The No 1 lounge at Gatwick South is a great way to start your holiday. The atmosphere was very calming and relaxing and the food quality was great.  I think British Airways passengers without lounge access will be pleasantly surprised by what they find here after 25th January.

The only thing that could get annoying when the lounge is busier is the queue at the bar and the time you have to wait for your food to arrive.  In order to make the most of it the lounge, I recommend arriving at least 90 minutes prior to departure.

You can find out more, and buy entry passes, on the No 1 website here.

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Comments

  1. Off subject post

    I am on way to Copenhagen for Qatar R fare to Sydney. Am currently sitting in Luton airport thoroughly regretting my choice of positioning flight out! I found very very cheap flights with Ryanair biz plus and felt like the big difference in price compared to flying out if LHR was worth it. Only a short flight, right? NO!!! I’m an idiot. This airport is a nightmare. I don’t even know where to begin but overcrowded, unsafe and Cheap with a capital C sums it up best. If anyone else is considering doing this, don’t!!! I ignorantly thought it would be similar to Gatwick.

    I honestly think part of La C’s downfall is Luton. If you’re flying business it’s surely most of all about reducing the stress/hassle and adding comfort. If your drop off point is 500m from the terminal in the rain it’s not a great start, let alone what goes on inside the terminal!

    Grumpy at Luton 😉

    • LTN is indeed ghastly.
      It has far too many flights for its very limited land area.
      It is certainly worth paying the GBP5/3 for Fast Track security, but best avoided altogether.

      • SEN on the other hand, is a delight – it’s all slightly primitive, but currently has so few flights that one can get through extremely quickly.
        I fear that if it gets to have significantly more activity, it may become as unpleasant as LTN.

        • I agree its very easy to move through (although having to go upstairs just to pass through security and then straight down again is a terrible design choice considering how much unused floor space there is on the ground floor anyway), but they only ever have one security lane open and the security are incredibly slow. There were about 20 people in front of me in the line but it took 20 minutes to get through security. Even with only about one flight per hour they need to be able to process a lot more than 60 pax per hour!
          I think the problem is that the security staff are country-folk locals that work slowly, love a chat, are very laid back etc. They’re not used to the fast pace of London. Its fine for local folk going on their once a year holiday and arriving at the airport 3 hours before the flight but for the quick weekend away from London its an inefficient airport.

        • Lady London says:

          You are right zsalya.

          What you say about SEN now, is exactly what I would have said about Luton 30 years ago.

          IMO Luton has for some years now been a thoroughly unpleasant airport, that I would avoid like the plague.

          Even Gatwick I struggle with.

      • I survived! Happily ensconced at the CPH airport Hilton.

        I really feel foolish not realising you tend to get what you pay for! The flight was on time but seats dirty, tiny and the plane seemed older than I am!

        Will definitely never book anything at Luton again! I really feel that surely Luton had a major part in their failure. If I’d paid £1000 to fly in comfort/lack of stress I’d not have been impressed! Even at £25 with priority seats, boarding etc I am swearing never again. I really am not a big BA fan but after today I’m their new biggest fan!

        I could rant on about all the bad things but am glad to have it over with now! Can’t wait to try Qatar’s business class and hopefully have opposite experience! Will aim to fly back elsewhere on return.

        Thanks for the tips about other airports and sorry for the complaining! If it saves just one person from the suffering at Luton though, I will feel vindicated ^_^

        • Luton is Luton. Been a couple of years since we used it on EJ, but I didn’t see it had too many problems other than very busy and a bit unexciting. Obviously needs upgrading but hardly a hell-hole.

          Probably Fridays are one of the worst days. You could probably put together a strategy to bear it if you don’t like common people https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuTMWgOduFM , ie fast-track —> lounge —> plane

          I personally like Bristol – I used to use it in the 90s when it was basically a few sheds in a field with lot of car park space right next to the departure area 🙂

          Now it’s modern & efficient – they do, however, advise 3 hrs arrival before departure and it’s good advice.

        • I really wanted to fly out of Bristol, I’m in Bath so it’s the local airport. But there aren’t any direct flights at the right time 🙁 am hoping to try easyjet sometime in winter from there as my previous experience with them is far better than Ryanair!

          I know their planes are modern but I wonder about the interior? It really felt run down, dirty and old. I’ll definitely recommend them to people who are just after cheap fares and don’t mind being in the smallest seats I’ve ever experienced and most awful airport. Because they are amazing value. It was foolish of me to not realise it would be so much worse!

          Glad to hear there are improvements being made to Luton. Hopefully it will help. I saw unattended baggage being left for ages by lax staff not bothered it seemed. Hope that will improve!

        • “the plane seemed older than I am!”

          With the average age of the Ryanair fleet being 5 1/2 years, I’d say that’s rather unlikely!

          Ryanair are well known for not doing old planes, unlike say Jet2.

          One thing to note re Luton is that it’s currently in the midst of an expansion project – after it’s done there should hopefully be note space and a less chaotic atmosphere in the terminal.

          Also the road into the terminal is being dual carriageway-ed, which should relieve side of the access problems. There is also apparently serious talk of a people mover system to take passengers between the railway station and the terminal. The current shuttle bus service (run by the train company) is not up to scratch!

    • I agree – Luton is my least favourite London airport (I’ve used all 6 in the last 4 months including SEN). I get its purely an LCC terminal but its terribly inefficient to get to and from (queing for that awful bus to the train station in the carpark) and as you said, it has a lot of flights in a small space. The train tickets to Central London are never discounted even in advance meaning its easily £18 one-way for that convoluted journey. The PP lounge there isn’t great (small and cramped).
      I too got a very cheap FR flight LTN-CPH (£9.99!) and for that price I really cant complain but I now actively avoid Luton in favour of all 5 other airports. La Compaigne was insane for choosing that as their London base – why did they think business travellers would ever want to go there?
      I think Stanstead actually strikes a nice balance for an airport – it doesnt have the multiple terminals with slow connections of Heathrow, the huge sea of people of Gatwick or the cheap, nasty, time wasting of Luton. I read just this morning Stanstead only operates at 50% capacity which would explain why its actually quite pleasant.
      My London airports in preference:
      LCY
      LHR T2 & T5
      STN
      LHR T3 & T4
      LGW
      SEN
      LTN

      • The cheap price didn’t stop me complaining…you’re a greater person than I!! I’ll have to try LCY soon since you recommend! Ty

        • If it’s a 787 you will have a lovely experience in Business 😉 along with great food

        • Yes 787 and A380. Just my third time doing long haul business and first time with Qatar … But far too many times long haul economy! Super excited! 😀

    • Were there no Avios Reward flights on BA? Usually availability for CPH is good and only 4500 Avios + £17.50.

  2. I remember staying in a crappy hotel in Viz once, just vaguely. Best to do Croatia in a boat.. so getting to Hvar and the other islands isn’t a issue, and you have your bed with you.

  3. Slightly OT – I have a hospital bill to pay soon aprox £800 but they don’t accept Amex, I’m currently trying to achieve an AMEX spend target and having recently done the barclaycard hilton visa for their free stay, mbna virgin atlantic for their 10k points Im in need of a suggestion if anyone can help!!

    • Paypal?

      • it needs to be a card payment so visa or mastercard unfortunately – i consider the virgin black card but the 140 quid fee is off putting, i thought about if there was a kind of pre pay mastercard or visa that i could top up from an amex….

        • Axel heyst says:

          If its a uk spire hospital you can present a visa but ask for the invoice to be sent by post. You can then pay the invoice by amex over the phone.

          Paying for hospital is similar to hotel bookings, you can switch cards.

        • brilliant I will have a go at that angle, thanks!

  4. Slightly OT. BA is currently refurbishing its Gatwick North 1st lounge. Wife, I and our 2 year old flew out to Bermuda in 1st on Tuesday (partly due to getting extra avios via HfP thanks). We were offered access to Club Rooms, No1 or another lounge. We ended up in Club Rooms and ended up having to pay for Champagne which we’ve never had to do before on 1st class tickets as you’d expect it to be included. There were two couples in there having a go at the staff as they were in the same position as us. One couple were in their 60s claiming they’d been flying 1st for 30 years and have never had this ever happen before. Anyone else had a similar experience?

  5. Slightly OT but my daughter has made a booking at the Luton Aspire lounge via the HFP Lounge Buddy link.On the confirmation email she has received it says her 3 hours starts at 10.25 but the lounge has to be accessed before 11.25 (i.e.2 hours before her flight)? She will not arrive at lounge until after this time and is worried they will not admit her. Has anyone else come across this?

  6. Planeflyer says:

    I was in there in April and it was ram packed on a Saturday morning (not school holidays) and had the same ambience as the North Terminal. No window seats to be had, no computers available, no sofas….for a single traveller! Plenty of screaming kids too.
    Anika, you got VERY lucky having it so empty. I think this article is misleading, selling this lounge as being “a great way to start your holiday” without a “NB, this lounge is often HORRIBLY busy”.
    I was in there thanks to status flying Air Europa, and WOULD NOT have been happy had I paid. I think these NO.1 lounges have fairly violent peaks and troughs, so predicting busy times isn’t easy, and you probably can’t guarantee an “atmosphere [that is] was very calming and relaxing”.

  7. Arrived at the lounge at 8:30am this morning to be told that is full to capacity already. Only way to get in was via reservation. I asked if there was a wait list I could be put on or a time to come back but this apparently is not possible. Staff on the reception were not particularly helpful but it just seems if your names not down you’re not coming in.

  8. @Adam B I arrived at the lounge at 5.40am this morning and had, word for word, the same experience as you. I have the feeling that something is up as this is the first time ever No 1 Lounge has said it does not have a waiting list despite me highlighting my many experiences to the contrary…

  9. Back to BA lounge at LGW – I will be flying out of there in November, so still North terminal. What’s the score with lounge access there as I’m silver?