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Review of the (gone downhill) No 1 Lounge airport lounge at London Gatwick’s North terminal

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This is my review of the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick airport, in the North Terminal.

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

It turns out that we haven’t reviewed the No 1 Lounge in Gatwick North since 2014, surprisingly.  After my week in London for the Head for Points Summer Party and a raft of meetings, I headed over to Hamburg to spend a few days with my family.  This ended up being substantially more time than I planned as my passport got damaged and I had to get a new one, but that’s another story …..

No1 Lounges

As I booked at the last minute I had to take an (cough) easyJet flight from Gatwick North.

Worried that I’d have to spend a lot of time waiting in line at security and possibly being denied access to a lounge due to overcrowding, I paid £5 to pre-book Premium Security and guaranteed access to the No 1 Lounge.

I got access via one of the two free Lounge Club passes that come with my American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card. You can also get in using Priority Pass which comes with the American Express Platinum card (see our review). Of course, you could also pay – but dig out a discount code and pre-book as on the door its £40 ….

(The link to pre-book No 1 Lounge access at Gatwick is here.  Whilst it is frustrating to pay £5 to guarantee access to a lounge which in theory you can access for ‘free’, the addition of fast track and my desire to have somewhere to sit meant it was £5 worth paying.)

The official website for the Gatwick North lounge is here.  It has a better set of photographs than this review because they took them when it was empty!

All you need to know about the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick North

Here is the lounge in a nutshell:

The lounge is very big (oldies will remember it from when British Airways used this space as the lower level its North Terminal lounge, before halving the space and retrenching to the upper level)

There is a huge amount of light

There are lots of different seating areas

There is a spa (not free)

There is a small cinema showing childrens films

There is also a small kids playroom with beanbags

There is a full size bar. Not all drinks are free and, given that I’m pregnant, I didn’t investigate too much.

I was in the lounge during the early afternoon.  It was VERY busy in the lounge when I was there, which made it very difficult to take photographs.  I have re-used a few from Rob’s 2014 review where the furniture is unchanged.  Only in your wildest dreams will you ever visit this lounge and find it as quiet as this PR picture:

What confused me was that there was only a cold and hot buffet available.  It didn’t look like you were able to order a free ‘cooked to order’ item from a menu which is the normal policy in No 1 lounges.

The hot options on the buffet were a lentil stew, chicken stew, potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese.  Opposite the hot buffet and constantly surrounded by people (hence no picture) was a salad buffet.

No 1 lounge gatwick north

Here’s my plate (I’ve made it my mission to find the best mac ‘n’ cheese and this one was pretty good):

No 1 lounge gatwick north

I am guessing that the reason there was only a buffet was the sheer volume of guests in the lounge.  If everyone ordered their free ‘cooked to order’ plate of hot food, they would be struggling to cope.

Here’s one of Rob’s pictures with part of the breakfast buffet from his old review – I don’t know if there are still ‘cooked to order’ items in the morning:

No 1 Traveller Gatwick bar 1 review

Here is more of the dining area:

No 1 lounge gatwick north

Here’s a picture of the main sitting area:

No 1 lounge gatwick north

And a better one Rob took a few years ago,with fewer people:

No 1 Traveller Gatwick lounge 2 review

With the main areas being too crowded and my flight being delayed by an hour, I decided to spend the remaining time in one of the quieter corners away from the buffet.

No 1 lounge gatwick north

and

No 1 lounge gatwick north

There was a long desk with sockets and lamps which used to be a further drink and food area in the past. To be honest this doesn’t seem like a smart move as it is quite a walk from here in order to get a drink and some snacks and you may be unhappy leaving your belongings unattended.

No 1 lounge gatwick north

Here is an old picture from quieter times by Rob of some of the funkier furniture:

No 1 Traveller Gatwick lounge 5 review

…. and the small cinema:

No 1 Traveller Gatwick cinema 4 review

Rob was quite happy with the lounge a few years ago when we last wrote about it, but I found it too packed, dirty and more like the lobby of a three star all inclusive hotel.  It wasn’t a business lounge where you could get some work done, or indeed just relax.

I should also add – to give a full picture – that we have had many reports of HfP readers with a Priority Pass or Amex Gold Lounge Club card being refused access at busy times.  We’ve also had reports of the ‘3 hour maximum visit’ rule being enforced with staff asking passengers to leave.

To ensure that you will get in, we do recommend pre booking for £5 – plus you will be able to use the Premium Security lane.

No 1 Lounges is also in Gatwick South – and I must say two years ago when I reviewed it, it was much better than the North lounge.  Rob was also impressed when he visited it.

You should also remember that there are two other lounges in Gatwick North which are accessible with a Priority Pass or similar cardMy Lounge, which I reviewed here, and the new Club Aspire lounge.  Both are likely to be quieter but have fewer facilities.

You can find out more about the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick North, and pre-book cash visits, on the official website here.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

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 a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

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.

Comments (41)

  • Rich says:

    It’s been a buffet for more than a year in my experience. Not worth it unless you can get heavily discounted ie Caxton card. The Emirates Lounge is still great…..

  • Bariummeal says:

    This review confirms my last visit to the lounge – and the description ‘lobby of a three star all inclusive hotel’ is an excellent succinct summary. I stayed ten minutes and left, horrified at what a scrum it was.

  • Shoestring says:

    Quite strange, as No1 T3 LHR is always very calm & well-behaved, a great lounge in fact – that I’d give 9/10 or more to every time, the only real issues being getting in & the menu system of ordering 1 q small item (for free) is OK only as long as the free buffet selection stays replenished regularly

    Must be that we T3-ers are intrinsically pleasant folk

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