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Review: Is the new, FREE, O2 Roam Freely Lounge at Gatwick North any good?

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This is our review of the O2 Roam Freely lounge at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal.

You may remember we wrote about the pop-up O2 Roam Freely Lounge at Gatwick Airport following a surprise announcement last week.

It is a smart marketing move by O2, who presumably got a good rate on the former (but almost brand new) Club Aspire lounge which closed in 2021.

review of the O2 Roam Freely lounge at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal

Entry is FREE to O2 mobile customers and anyone else who gets access to O2 Priority. This includes Virgin Media customers, but not Virgin Mobile.

You MUST pre-book your free visit on this page of the O2 website. Visits are restricted to 60 minutes.

Helen, a long-time friend of HfP, has written this mini-review for us after she visited the lounge with her family this week. Over to Helen:

How to book

Booking the Roam Freely lounge via the O2 app is a very simple process. All you have to do is specify the hour you wish to use the lounge and number of people joining you. You can bring one guest per O2 Priority account, plus your kids.

The lounge is open 6am – 3pm.

Where is the O2 Roam Freely Lounge?

You will find it airside with the other lounges on the 1st floor, accessible by lift or stairs.

O2 Roam Freely Lounge

At the desk, you provide your name and booking reference and are issued with wristbands for adults and one voucher per person (including children). These can be exchanged for a drink and snack at the bar.

Inside the O2 Roam Freely Lounge

As it was the first week of operation, everything was recently refurbished with brand new furniture, albeit more at the IKEA end of the spectrum. You can’t complain for a free lounge, though:

review of the O2 Roam Freely lounge at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal

Some tables included charging points. There is a a good amount of natural light although not particularly exciting views.

The area includes high and low tables, a deckchair area where selfies and check-ins are welcome and a manned bar. There is a room off the the main area with beanbags where Disney films are screened on a loop:

review of the O2 Roam Freely lounge at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal

There are toilets (no showers) including a disabled toilet and baby change facilities.

There are plenty of departure information screens, so you won’t miss your flight.

Free drinks vouchers

In exchange for the vouchers issued to each person you can have a drink and small snack. The drink selection was quite limited but with some decent options including Brewdog IPA, Peroni or prosecco.

review of the O2 Roam Freely lounge at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal

Soft drink options were limited to diet or regular Coke or orange juice plus Nespresso coffee machine options.

In terms of snacks you had to choose from either crisps or a packet of biscuits. There was also a self service water cooler. Service was at the bar and staff were happy to bring the drinks to your table if required.

Conclusion

The lounge wasn’t busy when we visited at 11am, with plenty of free tables. Staff were very friendly with a warm welcome and explanation of the drinks vouchers at reception.

The bar team offered some extra snack items for the children and gave possibly the most heavy pour of prosecco I’ve ever seen / enjoyed!

If your hour is up and the lounge is busy, you need to leave after your allotted time. I was advised that this wasn’t enforced during quieter times, although you are somewhat limited by the number of drinks vouchers issued.

Given it was free of charge, this was an excellent lounge to spend a hour prior to departure and currently very quiet unlike many of the paid options.

Whilst you can’t expect a full meal or large drink selection, the O2 Roam Freely lounge offers a quieter space to relax and would be particularly good for families with the Disney TV room option. I was told it was busy during early mornings with some queues but towards mid morning it gets much quieter as per our experience.

The lounge remains open until the 9th October, unless O2 chooses to extend it. You can find out more, and prebook, here.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 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

60,000 points, £200 travel credit 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 Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply 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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

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

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 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

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 (38)

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

  • lumma says:

    Was booked to visit this morning, until I checked my easyJet boarding pass and for some reason I’m flying from the South Terminal (I think it’s operated by a different airline)

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      BA loaned easyJet some slots for the summer so temporarily they’re now spread over two terminals once more. Presumably BA thought it was better that EZY use the slots than another competitor getting a foot in the door T LGW

      • lumma says:

        Ah right, it was operated by Smartwings Malta anyway. I only noticed when getting on the National Express at Victoria and the ungodly hour of 3.30am due to the train strikes.

  • Andrew J says:

    Presumably means that O2 has no plans to introduce roaming charges seeing as this lounge is here to advertise their free roaming.

    • The Original David says:

      See what happens when the lounge closes on 9th October…

    • John says:

      Not sure why anyone pays for EU roaming when there are so many roam free options around (usually at lower cost than the big 4 networks).

      • vol says:

        Hi John – on the EU Roaming free other than the big four – do you have any recommendations?

      • Dave says:

        Three still has free roaming on payg sims.

        • Lady London says:

          ….but put their per minute and per Gb charge on PAYG go up to horrendous levels on 10th July or so. It’s now 35p per minute to call on Three PAYG I think. After over 15 years and many, many contracts and SIM-card only deals (including dual large data contracts running together for work) with Three, that has finally pushed me to stop with them and just pick the best deal available in the market when I need to.

          Haven’t decided where to – it’s a tossup between O2 / an O2 MVNO like GiffGaff or Tesco, or Lebara. Smarty is a Three MVNO IIRC so not sure how long they will keep free roaming now that Three broke their own promise on that

          • Lady London says:

            So with Three, the one remaining product worth considering might be their prepay data packs.

        • PIC says:

          I think that this might only be for legacy 3 Payg agreements before a cut-off date. I have an old Payg sim from some years ago which continues to have free roaming for me in the EU but my son’s 3 Payg sim set up earlier this year charges him for EU roaming, although he has batter UK monthly package deals

          • Lady London says:

            Sadly not the case PIC. I’ve kept a 3 PAYG whatever else I’ve had with them, I think my oldest PAYG was purchased from them shortly after they bought Mercury 321, it just missed being a Mercury number I think. So had it since well before 2010. This did not stop them texting me on 12th July to say that from 11th July calls would cost 35p per minute.

            Since Three went back on their promise of no roaming charges every policy step I’ve seen them take has been anti-consumer. I’ve got a lot of time for Hutchison as a business but as a longstanding loyal consumer through thick and thin enough is enough.

          • Lady London says:

            @PIC to be clear. My Three PAYG does indeed still have free roaming. But I take umbrage at 35p per minute as the basic per minute call rate. The last time 35p per minute was an acceptable rate all phones were bigger than a brick.

            They also limit roaming to max 2 months I think, if I’m travelling longhaul I am not going to pop back to the UK every.2 months just to please Three.

    • G says:

      O2 has made it a central chunk of their marketing for months that they don’t intend to bring back EU roaming. O2 also offer the widest range of inclusive international destinations as part of their high data destinations (inc USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico) compared to other providers. I don’t know why anyone who travels frequently would bother with any other network.

      • Matty says:

        Remember the Three bus? The one with ‘Deal or no deal, our customers will save £187 million on roaming charges… If the law changes we’ll give you free EU roaming just the same’? Three scrapped that 9 moths after the UK left the EU.

        • CarpalTravel says:

          I have had two lines with Three for very many years. It was their USP, I cannot fathom why anyone would choose to take out a new contract with them now. I all I wanted was cheap and slow, I’d go with GiffGaff.

          I still have the screenshot of the Three press releases page, where it detailed their scrapping of the roaming service, all whilst having a big pictured link to their bus and roaming savings article directly underneath. Still gives me a small chuckle.

          • Matarredondaaa says:

            Giff gaff part of O2

          • CamFlyer says:

            This is why I’m hanging on to my legacy Three SIM only contract!

          • CarpalTravel says:

            @Matarredondaaasays – I know, but you don’t get the full fat service with their piggy-back version. I know as my business mobile is now on O2 and have compared speeds.

        • dst87 says:

          Haven’t we all learned by now to take promises on buses with a big pinch of salt?

      • David says:

        “ I don’t know why anyone who travels frequently would bother with any other network.”

        Because there’s no signal at home, where I also need to use the phone?

        • BlueThroughCrimp says:

          Exactly. My work phone is o2.
          I’ve never been convinced to sign up for any o2 powered provider on the first hand use.
          And I’m not convinced EE has been a better move for me since I moved from Vodafone, they’ve both got ups and downs.

    • Numpty says:

      For ex EU travel its worth understanding what tariffs qualify.

      The below is from O2 website for the ‘Travel Inclusive bolt on’, which is separate from free EU roaming, and also different from their ‘International Bolt On’.

      “If you bought a 12 month sim only tariff of 100GB and above on or after 3 September 2020, you’ll be eligible for O2 Travel in our Inclusive Zone.

      If you are upgrading to a sim only tariff of 30GB – 99GB on or after 5 November 2020, you’ll be able to choose O2 Travel in our Inclusive Zone as your Extra.

      If you have bought any other sim only tariff, including the 30 day sim only, you won’t be eligible, even if you move to a higher tariff.”

      • lumma says:

        O2 allow you to “upgrade” your SIM only tariff whenever you want and as often as you want so there’s no point in moving to a higher tariff. If you want the extra countries, upgrade to a 100gb+ tariff before you go, if you don’t need the data after the trip you can “upgrade” back to a lower one.

        It starts a new 24 month contract of course but if you ever want out you can choose to upgrade to a 30 day one and leave.

        I tend to upgrade every 6 months anyway as I keep getting Disney+ for free from them.

        • Numpty says:

          Thanks, I read that about upgrades, but having just joined 5 days ago haven’t had the experience to be able to talk about it. My plan is to upgrade up in advance of trip to USA, but i also want to make sure there is a good tariff to downgrade to, as at the moment i am on a USwitch tariff with 50gb for just £12.

    • John says:

      Is anybody aware of a UK network that offers inclusive data roaming in South Africa?

      • Soloflyer1977 says:

        Only Vodafone’s sim only unlimited xtra plan (£39 pcm!) offers inclusive SA roaming. You best bet might be to get a local Sim on arrival. Depending on your provider, you might be able to receive calls for free on your UK sim in SA (o2 Travel enabled or Vodafone roaming). Good luck!

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    Are drinks also available to purchase or is it strictly one per person?

    • Helen says:

      There’s no payment option so yes limited to only one per person. My tip would be if travelling with children, to bring drinks for them and use their vouchers for additional alcohol/coffee!

  • Mikeact says:

    Only open until Oct 9th ?

    • Rhys says:

      Yes, it’s a pop-up lounge

    • Mike Hunt says:

      Do we think another mobile provider will takeover the lounge after Oct ?

      • Rob says:

        It would be interesting if it became a rotating thing, with companies running it for a few months at a time. That said, there aren’t that many loyalty schemes which are aggressive enough to do this.

  • James says:

    How do virgin broadband customers request access? Or is it only for O2 customers specifically?

    • Rob says:

      “Got an O2 number? Or a Virgin Media broadband account? Then Priority is already yours – you just need to register.

      Download the free Priority app or go to Priority online to start making the most of exclusive rewards, perks and experiences. We change it up for you every month – with a few surprises thrown in too.

      Download the free Priority app now. Or if you’re withO2, text PRIORITY to 2020.”

  • ADS says:

    Shame that it closes at 3pm

    Don’t think i’ll bother with it for my 5.30pm flight from Gatwick in a couple of weeks time !

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

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