Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: the new Club Aspire airport lounge at London Gatwick’s South Terminal

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is my review of the brand new Club Aspire lounge at London Gatwick’s South Terminal (the British Airways terminal).

This is part of our collection of UK airport lounge reviews, which is nearing completion!  You can find all of our UK airport lounge reviews here.

If you think we’ve been talking about this lounge for pretty much ever, despite it just opening, you’re right.  Club Aspire at Gatwick South has suffered from excessive delays due to problems with the contractors – it was due in early 2019 and announced in 2018.

It took over part of the old Virgin Atlantic lounge – the rest became MyLounge, which has been open for months and which we reviewed here.

Club Aspire is a much needed lounge at Gatwick South.  If you can access the British Airways lounges then you’re fine (see my review here of the EXCELLENT new BA Gatwick lounge complex).  If you are relying on Priority Pass etc, your only option has been the No1 Lounge (reviewed here).  The problem is that No1 Lounge runs to 100% capacity most of the time and you are unlikely to get in unless you pay £5 to reserve a slot.

Last week I went down to London Gatwick’s South Terminal to take a look.

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

Inside the Club Aspire lounge at Gatwick South

The lounge is easy to find, as long as you stay upstairs.  Once you have cleared security at Gatwick South, you head towards an escalator which takes you down to the lower level.  Don’t go down this.  All of the airport lounges – BA, My Lounge, No1, Club Aspire, Clubrooms – are on the upper level.  You will see a corridor to your left just before the escalator.  This is where you should go.

Once you pop out in the terminal, the entrance to the Club Aspire lounge – see above – is on your right.  Be careful not to confuse it with the My Lounge entrance which is the first one you come to.

The good news is that I had no trouble getting in to Club Aspire at 6.30am using my Priority Pass card.  There is no option to pay £5 to reserve a slot with Aspire lounges if you are using a lounge club card – if it is at capacity, you’re stuck.

Even when I left at 8.15am it was still far from capacity.  Word does not seem to have got around yet, although I don’t expect that to last for long.

The woman on the reception desk, and indeed all the other staff I interacted with, were exceptionally friendly.  Aspire has found some good people.

To be honest, when I walked in I was surprised.  The lounge simply is not very big.

I know that the old Virgin Atlantic space has been separated, but in my head – knowing how big My Lounge is – I thought that there was more space left for Club Aspire than there actually is.  It may even be smaller than My Lounge.

This is not quite the entire lounge, but it is most of it.  Behind me, not shown, is a large communal work table but nothing else.

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

This is looking in the other direction.  I am not quite at the back of the lounge here, but I am nearly there:

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

If I turn around from where I took the photograph above, there is this small sofa area.  Don’t ask why that net curtain is there ….

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

In terms of standard seating, that’s it.

Let me just talk about wi-fi at this point.  It isn’t working yet.  We were told to log on the My Lounge network – I hope No 1 Lounges knows this!  The problem is that, unsurprisingly, the signal strength coming through the wall from My Lounge on the other side is not too great.

Here is the bar which is off to the side – not surprisingly it was unmanned at 6.30am although the staff would have got you something if required:

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

One wall of the lounge is glass, giving views out towards the parked British Airways aircraft:

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

Now we come to the weird bit.  Off to your right, at the top of the lounge, is a small opening.  When you walk through it, you find this:

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

There are eight … well, I’m not sure what to call them.  They are not sleeping pods.  They are not work pods.  It is a semi-comfy chair in an open cubicle with some frosted glass.

Very, very odd.  And totally unused.  I took the photo above just before leaving, at 8.15am, by which point the main room was getting busy.  Not a single person was in this area.

There are also these odd seating areas to the sides:

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

Whatever the original plan was, it doesn’t work.  This area needs to be replaced ASAP with something that people will actually use.

The lounge has its own loos and one shower room.  It is an accessible shower and is in the same area as the accessible loo.

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

There was a decent breakfast spread, with a buffet which looks like it took its design from a Hampton by Hilton or Holiday Inn Express hotel.  In the foreground below you have fruit, yoghurts, juices etc:

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

…. whilst to the side you have fruit and cereals …..

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

…. and at the back you have a decent supply of hot food.  There is nothing radical here but it does for job.  For clarity, there are no ‘cooked to order’ options at all.

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

There is one more thing I should mention.  The lounge has decided that newspapers are yesterdays news and does not stock them.  Well, to be precise, it stocks exactly one copy of three different newspapers.  That’s it.  If you like to stock up for your trip in the lounge, you are in trouble here.

Review Club Aspire lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

Is the Club Aspire lounge at Gatwick South worth a visit?

I’m in two minds about this.  Club Aspire has done at excellent job with the decoration and design.  The quality of the food on offer is also good.  On the downsides, however:

you have wi-fi issues, hopefully only temporary

no newspapers

it is a surprisingly small space to spend time in and

the weird area off to the side which tries to be a cross between a sleeping pod and a working pod and fails dismally at both

Whilst My Lounge next door is theoretically aimed at the youngsters and Club Aspire at an older clientele, in truth I think I prefer the former – especially as My Lounge has now metal cutlery and proper plates instead of the old wooden cutlery.  If you’re appealing to a slightly older base, newspapers are also a key requirement in my view.

My Lounge does not accept Priority Pass or Lounge Club (it does accept DragonPass).  For lounge card holders, your choice is between No1 Lounge – where you will struggle to get in without paying the £5 reservation fee – and Club Aspire.  Purely on the grounds that it is quieter, I would take Club Aspire.  You also have the option to get a £15 credit off your bill at the Grain Store Cafe in the main terminal by flashing your Priority Pass.

You can book for cash via the Lounge Pass website here.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2023)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK 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.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

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

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get four 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Neal says:

    Nothing has changed. The lounges are in cahoots. The extra capacity hasn’t eliminated the need to pay a £5 booking supplement. I tried 2 weeks ago with Priority Pass and despite walking into half full ( at best) lounges I was still turned away for not having a reservation. I dont see a Priority Pass as a benefit much these days.

    • Lady London says:

      And before anyone believes their excuse of contracted airlines departing soon needing the seats, Aspire and MyLounge both had most of the lounge empty behind them with far more capacity free than needed for that. If Advance reservations was part of that excuse then they seem not to be allowing for ‘breakage’ at all.

      • Rob says:

        It makes no sense though. These are fixed cost businesses. They need a LOT of guests to breakeven and, once they’ve hit breakeven, every extra guest is pure profit (more or less) and you want to get in as many as possible.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          That would probably be the CFO’s view. The staff on the door may prefer to run it to give themselves an easy life….

          • xcalx says:

            I agree, I was at LBA last month and got talking to an elderly couple who had been in the lounge for over 5 hours (delayed Jet2 flight), they claimed that at any one time there were never more than a dozen guests in. I was at first refused entry but did manage to blag my way in. This was a Thursday at 15.30 ~ total guests in at that time 7.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          There must be something to it because of all the reports of people being turned away from lounges only half full.

          Is the PP deal a limited amount of walk in customer per hour/day?

          • Shoestring says:

            I don’t think it’s that at all – I think the lounges are playing it straight with contracts and looking after their guaranteed revenue flows

            so they agree a deal with an airline that they will provide (say) 25 places for Business customers between x & y, charge somewhat low (maybe £10-£15 each) as some of them won’t turn up

            the lounge can guarantee the revenue stream plus cut costs on staff a bit & also cost of goods (food & drink)

            the lounge is actually very happy to be empty half the time as long as an airline contract is in place for the empty times!

            playing it straight because the lounge could obvs allow in a few more people at times they know will usually be half empty but where they have an airline contract – but they are choosing not to cheat on the contracts with airlines, if they contract to/ say they’ll leave 25 etc places empty ‘just in case’, that’s what they seem to be doing.

  • Daniel But says:

    Big fan of this lounge and although not as big as No1 lounge – it is (for now) a much quieter. Nice choice of food and choice in the buffet is definitely better than No1.

    Does anyone know if this lounge will be used for Business class passengers at Gatwick. One of the main reasons why No1 is always full is because other airlines send their business class passengers there. China Airlines has a A350 flight every evening and as a result the lounge is always full until that flight has left.

  • IslandDweller says:

    I’ve made a written complaint to Priority Pass about how useless the membership now is. Refused entry to five different lounges in the space of three weeks. All claiming to be full with pre booked customers.
    No reply from them yet…..

    • Lady London says:

      Only 5 times?
      I will take a guess that once costs are covered (whether by a slug from an airline for their business class pax, or by people who reserved quite a few of whom won’t turn up), the lounges have run the numbers and decided Priority Pass isn’t paying them enough. So they’re now developing other channels of revenue which appear predominantly leisure oriented.

      Good luck to them but their focus on non-PP channels has made Priority Pass simply not giving the near-certainty of availability of somewhere to work with light refreshments available that didn’t have to be counted and paid individually, that worked with PP before. Plus the mediocre level of many lounges and their awfulness when rammed. PP lounges don’t work for frequent flying for work anymore.

      • Russ says:

        I don’t like what I’m hearing about these cards of late. It seems particularly nasty if people it’s hurting most are those who can’t afford business class seats and purchased a card believing they would get in. Surely it’s time to raise the benchmark so you know you are either going to get access or a partial refund?

    • mvcvz says:

      The only purpose that will serve is to demonstrate your own ability to write.

      I have a couple of credits left on my Priority Pass before it expires just before Christmas. I probably won’t attempt to use them, and certainly won’t be renewing.

    • Anna says:

      We’ve cancelled 2 gold and 2 platinum Amexes in the past couple of years and blamed PP each time! Never had any kind of follow up on this either from Amex or PP.

  • Russ says:

    Does anyone know how long the Lounge passes you get with Amex Gold are valid for. I have six from different cards. Thanks

    • Shoestring says:

      12 months

      • Russ says:

        Quick off the mark as usual Mr Shoestring “tips hat’

        • Shoestring says:

          it’s use them or lose them

          also – the new 2 Lounge Club passes turn up the day your Gold card gets renewed – you may be intending to stick around for another month if you got some bonus coming – worth timing it to use your 2 new passes before you cancel

  • Kim says:

    slightly OT- we are planning to use the 2 free Lounge Club passes next week, after which my husband is going to cancel his Gold Card and obtain a pro rata refund of the fee. I am wondering if it is worth him referring me for a gold card before he cancels his. I already have a BA Amex card so I know I wont get any bonus points but I’m unsure whether or not he will still get the bonus referral points so I’m hoping someone might know? I’m also guessing I wont need to spend the required £3000 in the first 3 months.

    • Harry T says:

      He should get the referral points unless he has already used up all his referral points for the year. The referral bonus is given if you are accepted for the card; it is not dependent on you being eligible for a sign up bonus.

  • Alan says:

    If they consider the Daily Mail a ‘newspaper’ (as they seem to from the photo) then no bad thing there’s only one copy of that deplorable rag!

    • Lady London says:

      I’m ever curious as to why The Daily Mail is always the first one out of stock on any day in Waitrose then.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.