If you don’t have airport lounge access via your flight ticket, your elite status, via a Priority Pass card from American Express Platinum or via a Lounge Club card from American Express Gold, your best fall-back option is usually No 1 Lounges.
No 1 Lounges is the largest network of premium independent lounges in the UK. We have reviewed all of them in the past (click for the review):
- No 1 Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3
- No 1 Lounge Gatwick North
- My Lounge Gatwick North and #2
- No 1 Clubrooms Gatwick North
- No 1 Lounge Gatwick South (photo below)
- No 1 Clubrooms Gatwick South
- No 1 Lounge Birmingham
- No 1 Lounge Edinburgh
All lounges include free hot food, free drinks (some premium food and drinks carries an extra charge), free newspapers and magazines and free wi-fi.
No 1 Lounges has generous tie-ups with both avios.com and Virgin Flying Club. This allows you to buy access to their lounges at a discount and earn points in avios.com or Virgin Flying Club at the same time.
The Avios offer has recently been improved, in a special offer which runs until 30th September.
If you pre-book lounge access, you will pay a flat fee of £22.50 per person in Birmingham and Edinburgh and £25 in London. This saves up to £15 depending on airport.
You will also receive 1,000 Avios points in avios.com. This is up on the standard reward of 750 Avios points.
I think this is a good deal. Stripping out the value of the Avios takes the net cost down to around £12.50 to £15 and the lounges are definitely worth that if you have a couple of hours to kill. Gatwick, Birmingham and Edinburgh packages also include fast track security.
Handy hint: the Avios are awarded per booking. If you are booking for multiple adult guests, make multiple bookings. Experience has shown that you can put your own avios.com number on each booking, even if the passenger has a different surname to you.
The Virgin alternative is not as good, but may be your only choice
Virgin Flying Club is the only way to earn miles if you want to book the (funkier) My Lounge or (premium) Clubrooms at London Gatwick.
There is a tiered earning structure, per booking:
- 400 miles at Clubrooms
- 350 miles at No 1 Lounges
- 200 miles at My Lounge
The special Virgin Flying Club pricing is:
- £25 – No 1 Lounges
- £12 – My Lounge
- £35 – Clubrooms
This is nowhere near as attractive as the Avios offer if you want to book a No 1 Lounge.
If you are looking at Birmingham or Edinburgh, you are clearly better off with the Avios deal which is £2.50 cheaper and gives you more miles. For the No 1 Lounges in London, the pricing is the same with both offers but you get more miles with Avios.
For My Lounge at Gatwick North or the Clubrooms at Gatwick North or South, however, the Virgin deal here is your only option.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.