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Review of the (gone downhill) No 1 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 …..

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

And 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

And 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.

(If your flight is delayed, you are allowed to stay beyond 3 hours but only on payment of an additional fee.)

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.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Let’s be honest – everything about Gatwick is crowded. The station booking hall can be a zoo with long lines. Security and immigration can take a long time. And of course just having one runway causes congestion in the air and on the ground. Hell is probably a lot like Gatwick on a summer week-end.

    It’s mostly just a holiday/leisure airport, I know, and it shows. The only really nice lounge there is the BA First lounge at the South terminal, and even that gets busy.

    Programmes like Priority Pass are great, but now that almost everyone has “free” access to these lounges via their credit cards, the quality inevitably declines.

    • Lady London says:

      Personally I think Luton and Stansted are much worse than LGW for ground experience. LGW does have some.quality facilities/food providers.

      LTN and STN have a couple of reasonable food providers (nice new Italian one at LTN has cheered me up it’s on the right soon after you get into the shopping area).

      STN is really in need of a further nicer lounge option than the single lounge that exists there as it’s quite a bit worse than No.1 Gatwick North.

      And let’s hope No.1 Clubrooms ups their game at LTN following the largely not-very-good-in-execution reports we had so far

      • The LTN clubrooms was ok when I was there 9 days ago, service was a bit glitchy but it was quiet and the food offerings were ok. It’s much better than No1 lounge at Gatwick which isn’t pleasant these days. Isn’t there a lounge on the left, instead of turning right , which was very good but that was a couple of years ago I visited that and they served food via a menu.
        I have never had any problems with the escape lounge at STN

    • Lady London says:

      Dont get me started on that station booking hall in LGW!!! Even if you buy a rail ticket online, in Britain IT seems you still have to queue up to collect your ticket from the machine in the booking hall because there doesnt seem to ne any website that can well you a train ticket that you can juste use on jour mobile in the UK!! You have to get a paper ticket.

      For past year or so there are loudspeaker announcements that you can use your Oyster IR crédit card on thé entry gates. But that doesnt work for a lot of journeys and can’t deal with every discount card so when i triés IT i was massively overcharged.

      If anyone knows of a website that can sell train tickets you can just use on your mobile in the UK and that would avoid still having to collect a papier ticket at the station even though I’ve already booked and paid online then I’d be all over it

      • I recently started using Loco2 which provides e-tickets for the major UK train operating companies. An exception I’ve found is if you book really close to the train time, in which case it might give you a reservation number to collect from any ticket machine

        You can also get a fiver off your first booking if you’re referred (I hope Rob doesn’t mind!)

        https://loco2.mention-me.com/m/ol/oa2lv-a7b31b9b65

        • Lady London says:

          Thanks @Ali I will give loco2 a go. IIRC loco2 has been recommended in the past as a good alternative to the former raileurope.co.uk ,(sncf-voyages) site for booking European rail tickets also.

          • Shoestring says:

            always introductory codes around eg LOCO2FIVE

          • Lady London – Loco2 are indeed very good for booking trains both in France and elsewhere in Europe. They seem very reliable and well run, starting as a small team in the UK, which they probably still are, despite being actually acquired by SNCF a year or so ago.

          • P.S. re using Loco2 for booking trains in France – their euro prices always match the ones on the official SNCF web-site.

            They also offer the ability to pay in pounds. Their exchange rate may be better than paying foreign transaction fees on a UK credit card.

          • Lady London says:

            Tx Lyn

      • Imbruce says:

        You can get an E ticket on your mobile phone on Virgin Trains and also Heathrow Express

      • Trevor says:

        The secret with buying a ticket, or extracting your pre-booked ticket, at Gatwick is to avoid the main ticket hall altogether. There is a single ticket machine in the “other “entrance to the station which is closer to the BA check-in area and provides direct access to platforms one and two as well as lifts to all the other platforms. That if you people seem to know of this machines existence – ordered until now!

      • Trevor says:

        The secret with buying a ticket, or extracting your pre-booked ticket, at Gatwick is to avoid the main ticket hall altogether. There is a single ticket machine in the “other “entrance to the station which is closer to the BA check-in area and provides direct access to platforms one and two as well as lifts to all the other platforms. Few people seem to know of this machines existence – or did until now!

    • When did you last go to Gatwick?? I have not found any other airport in the world (and I have been to many) where the security and immigration is as efficient!

  2. I went through Gatwick N on Wed 24 July with my daughter and her baby son, visiting No1 lounge for preflight relaxing. All was very similar to the above report, pretty crowded but we found suitable and good seats available, hot buffet food exactly the same as reported .. mac n cheese, chicken something, lentil something and roast potatoes. Salad selection was good, fresh and regularly topped up. Cakes and biscuits looked ok but not exciting and but didn’t try. Fresh fruit bowl offered mandarins, apples and pears. Cocktail snacks were ok.
    The bar only had one girl on duty, working her socks off, particularly to the half dozen or so sitting on bar stools propping up the bar and seeming to get regular top ups in preference to the others of us who came up less often for occasional drinks!
    Toilets were good, clean and available.
    Newspapers available were Times and something else not noted.
    In all busy but ok, served its purpose for us.

  3. Used the North Terminal lounge this week. It has gone downhill massively, like a zoo at feeding time. Breakfast ‘buffet’ was worse than a school canteen and the queues longer.
    Packed to the rafters with people trying to consume their not inconsiderable weight in alcohol. Many were being turned away at the door, they had a lucky escape. You’d have more fun taking your Pret to an empty departure gate…

    • Imbruce says:

      We were in No 1 lounge in April for breakfast they don’t serve eggs at breakfast which I thought was odd.
      We are going to Gatwick tomorrow morning but we won’t be going to a lounge as it’s not worth it during school holidays

  4. Toppcat says:

    I was in No1 Gatwick North on Friday. It was like a zoo. Absolutely rammed, food empty, male loos were disgusting. Oddly they closed the MyLounge while I was in No1, which would have taken some of load off No1. Really not worth paying for – okay if you have a PP. Which is a shame, as a number of their other lounges are much nicer.

  5. Shoestring says:

    Rhys – you got pregnant? – how is that even possible?

  6. 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…..

  7. 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.

  8. 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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