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Review: the Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick’s North Terminal

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This is our review of the new Plaza Premium lounge at London Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal.

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

Formerly the London Gatwick outpost of Virgin Clubhouse, Plaza Premium took over the space after Virgin Atlantic stopped flying from Gatwick in September 2021. It is the only Plaza Premium lounge at Gatwick.

Plaza Premium lounge London Gatwick Airport North Terminal

Now that the lounge is owned and managed by Plaza Premium it is open to all. Free access is granted to anyone with an American Express Platinum credit card or a DragonPass membership. Plaza Premium is NOT available through Priority Pass.

You can also pay cash on the door or book in advance via this link – the rate is currently £44 per person.

The Plaza Premium lounge in Gatwick North is open from 4am until 8pm daily.

Where is the Plaza Premium lounge in Gatwick North?

Getting to the Plaza Premium lounge is pretty easy, as Gatwick Airport has smartly grouped all of the North Terminal lounges together. The four other lounges are the No1 Lounge, the No1 Clubrooms, the Gateway Lounge by easyJet and the Emirates lounge. See our lounge reviews page here for details of those.

To find the lounges, simply follow the directions towards gates 45-55 and 101-113 by turning left from duty free:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

As you can see, the terminal was remarkably quiet on a Tuesday morning and a far cry from the crowds you often see at Gatwick South. The North Terminal generally seems to be a bit less jam-packed.

Do not go up the escalators, but follow the corridor underneath:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

Then turn to your right and you’ll see the signage for all the lounges:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

The Plaza Premium lounge is on the top (4th) floor, so head straight to the lifts and take them one floor up.

Inside the London Gatwick Plaza Premium lounge

As this is a converted lounge, it doesn’t feature Plaza Premium’s traditional design or colour scheme. Instead, the Plaza Premium Gatwick lounge benefits from Virgin Atlantic’s previous investment in materials and design, with the layout and furniture almost identical to how it was as a Clubhouse.

It is a very clean, white design. Here is the lounge reception:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

To the left is where the former Clubhouse Spa used to be, but is currently blocked off by a tensabarrier. Opposite, I was pleased to see the magazine rack fully stocked with copies of the Financial Times, New York Times, City AM and Metro:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

Of all the lounges in Gatwick North, Plaza Premium has the best location. Being on the top floor it is flooded with natural light and has floor to ceiling windows across two aspects. It is noticeably brighter than the rest, although No1 Lounge comes close.

On the right hand side you have one seating area, including three semi-circular sofas facing out. These were very popular and were occupied throughout my visit, so I wasn’t able to get a closer look.

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

In the centre is the buffet and bar, plus a few dining tables:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

Again, the marble bar has been retained from the Virgin Atlantic days, as has the bird-like chandelier:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

A curving wall creates interest with a row of stylish green booths:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

In the corner you have more seating, ranging from a row of dining tables along the window to iconic red armchairs. The black and white tiled floor adds another layer of interest:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

and

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

Finally, in the far corner, is the children’s section:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

This was used by a couple of families whilst I was there, and it’s a great addition to the lounge. However, there is just one problem: there is no glass divider or anything else to separate it from the rest of the lounge. If a child decides to throw a tantrum, as one did when I was there, everyone knows about it.

That is – fundamentally – it. Plaza Premium benefits from the money Virgin Atlantic spent on the fittings, which are still in incredibly good condition. Even the toilets are smart, with black terrazzo tiles:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

Food and drink in the Plaza Premium lounge

The buffet and bar are, unfortunately, less impressive and do not match the high standards of the hard product.

The buffet itself is relatively small, although it is conveniently located:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

I arrived at around 11am when breakfast items were being replaced with lunch / all day dining options. The breakfast was not hugely inspiring – some eggs, hash browns and beans. Key items such as bacon seemed to be missing.

For lunch, hot options consisted of chicken tikka masala, Keralan chickpea curry or penne mac and cheese:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

There is also a small salad bar:

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

Whilst cereals, yoghurts, fruit and bread and pastries rounded out the offering.

Review Plaza Premium lounge in London Gatwick's North Terminal

At the bar, you can get complimentary servings of house wine and beers, as well as basic spirits such as Gordon’s gin, Smirnoff vodka, Bacardi and Famous Grouse whisky.

Prosecco is considered ‘premium’ and charged at £5 a glass whilst a bottle of champagne will set you back £40. That’s not unusual for an independent lounge like this – No1 Lounge downstairs would also charge for these things.

One thing that didn’t escape my notice was the lack of a uniform cutlery set. Instead, Plaza Premium uses a range of different, cheap looking and cheap feeling cutlery that looked like it had been bought in a charity shop. This felt particularly downmarket and not in-keeping with the high standards of the rest of the lounge.

Conclusion

Despite strong competition, the Plaza Premium lounge at London Gatwick’s North Terminal is generally excellent.

It features, by far, the classiest design thanks to Virgin Atlantic which clearly spent a lot of money. The lounge is extremely bright and features a range of seating options depending on your mood, with luxury fittings such as the marble bar and colourful seating injecting a bit of fun into the space.

According to the lounge attendant it is also currently the quietest lounge at Gatwick North, something that certainly held true during my stay. (The No1 and Gateway lounges downstairs, on the other hand, were rammed.)

Whilst the hard product can’t be faulted, things start to fall down when it comes to both food and service. Despite signs to the contrary, the toilets were not particularly clean and did not appear to be checked very often.

The food offering is average, and the lack of proper cutlery cheapens the experience. I have seen both of these things done better at other Plaza Premium lounges, including the excellent one in Edinburgh (reviewed here) so I’m not sure why that’s the case at Gatwick.

Overall, the Plaza Premium Gatwick lounge gets top marks for design and comfort, but with marks knocked off for food and service. Despite that, this is still a quality lounge. I’d definitely come here first, if only because it is so light and airy compared to some of the alternatives.

You can book a visit for cash on the Plaza Premium website here.

Travelling from Gatwick North? Here are your lounge options….

Gatwick North Terminal has a number of premium lounges to choose from, including several independent, airline-agnostic lounges. We have reviewed them all:


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 2024)

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 1,500 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 £24.  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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 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 (29)

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

  • Nick says:

    It’s great to get something for ‘free’, but I’m not sure it’s worth all the effort (and definitely not £88 for a couple!) to get the food you’ve pictured with charity shop cutlery and filthy bathrooms. The food at a Wagamama or Shake Shack is just in a different league – heck, for Plaza Premium price you get smoked salmon, champagne and change back at the Caviar House!

  • AlanC says:

    Breakfast at Edinburgh Plaza Premium was blitzed at 5.45am last Wednesday. No hash browns and only a couple of spoonfuls of beans and scrambled eggs left. Staff managed to rustle up some toast though. Again poor value if paying but used the Plat card.

    • Stu_N says:

      Wondered how breakfast would work – sounds like “not very well” is the answer.

      I think for Edinburgh the root of the problem is that there isn’t a lot of space for a buffet in the design inherited from No.1 lounge. The No.1 model was a “made-to-order” table service when they ran the lounge so the buffet was to supplement that. So either Plaza Premium need to get the table service sorted or expand the buffet, otherwise it just isn’t going to work.

      I know the HfP review from opening said the food to order was coming – best get their skates on, I say!

      • His Holyness says:

        Breakfast is quite decent at the next door Aspire. OK the sausages are more bread than meat, but that’s a typical hotel sausage these days anyway.

    • AlexF says:

      Especially disappointing as everyone was pointing to Edinburgh as the Plaza Premium stand-out – wonder if it’s a case of putting on a good service while the reviewers are visiting and then paring it back to their usual low standards a few weeks later…

      • Rob says:

        I was there in January in the evening and I thought the food selection was very impressive. This was during the quiet New Year period though.

  • Ben says:

    “No1 Lounge downstairs would also charge for these things” – actually, they have a bigger free selection and sparkling wine is free… would recommend hiding away in the quieter “Library” section

  • Chris W says:

    I guess Virgin will never be returning to Gatwick then….

    • Rob says:

      Seems unlikely. In discussions with Shai I would say that, in some ways, covid did them good – allowed them to make big strategic moves (slash bloated headcount, cut Gatwick, cut the 747s) which would otherwise have never got done or taken years.

  • Steve Shacklock says:

    I was there in May 2022 and it was awful
    The breakfast was pretty poor and overall service was pretty appalling
    A lot of the toilets were also out of service and those that were available were not clean
    Based on my experience I would not use again ( I did get a refund , eventually)

  • Geoff says:

    I was there last month and wouldn’t go back. Arrived to be told there was no coffee and be quick if I wanted tea as they only had a few tea bags left.
    Quality of the hot breakfast was terrible. 3 members of staff hanging around chatting, definitely not clearing any tables, mostly complaining about the agency they work for and wanting to leave.
    At least half the toilets were locked out of use and the others were a mess.
    Only good thing it was quiet, compared to the queue past the lifts to enter No1 lounge.

  • Faroz says:

    I used the Plaza Premium lounge at Heathrow T4 last week, complement of business class travel on Saudia. Very average food in terms of quality and variety. Hardly any choice. Hot food only lukewarm. I wouldn’t pay to use that lounge.

  • MBA1313 says:

    The food is just very mediocre for the price you are paying. I was there a week ago and while I appreciate it wasn’t busy, fairly quiet, the food/drink options is just not on par on the interior/furniture design.

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

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