As frequent flyers, on a short hop to Europe or exploring the far East and West of the Globe, we’re always in search of a bargain to travel in style! The joy of travelling should start from getting to the airport, and we got hooked on the trappings of business class travel and everything that comes with it; lounges, lie-flat beds, food & wine, and free-flowing champagne! We’ve come to realise that traveling in style doesn’t have to break the bank.

Neither of us are millionaires and we’re continually looking to achieve our flying dreams by spending as little cash as we can. Be it a seat sale or miles redemption for reward flights, we tend to let our wallets tell us where we’re going next rather than having a fixed agenda...

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The Clubrooms at London Gatwick South Terminal are open to all who are willing to pay the entry fee, making it a great option if your airline doesn’t offer lounge services.

Described as “the ultimate jet set departure with its hosted table service” the Clubrooms Lounge at Gatwick South Terminal set high expectations from the very beginning. We dropped in one morning before our flight to Portugal to see if the hype matched a typical guest experience.

Reception

After passing through security, turn left to leave and then keep to left. You’ll see a doorway with signage for “Airline Lounges”, head that way and you’ll skip the duty free shop melee and find yourself on the upper level of the departures area. Walk around the left edge of the balcony to reach the shared entrance for the BA Gatwick Lounge, No1 Lounge and Clubrooms.
The Clubrooms entrance foyer is shared with No1 Lounge – they’re both owned by No1 Lounges Ltd. It’s smart and has a high-class hotel feel to it. Rather than the usual counter, the hosts greet you from a central pillar. This probably makes the experience feel more informal.
There was only one person in front of us paying to enter, so we were quickly greeted.
Check-in was efficient and very courteous.
Paid entry was being accepted at a cost of £50pp for 3 hours (£38 booked in advance)
When we left, staff were turning guests away as they said they were at capacity.
The lounge is open 05:30 to 21:00 daily.
Children under 12 are not permitted, so this isn’t really a family-friendly Lounge. If you’ve got the kids in-tow, head to No1 Lounge next door.

Score: 7/10

Comfort

The best way to describe the decor theme is “bougee Mayfair club”. If you like your champers served to you on a deep, plush sofa that you can sink right into, you’re going to love Clubrooms London Gatwick South. Before you get too carried away, there’s no DJ, and you won’t be staying until 2am!

The lounge is split into 4 sections: There’s a main room with a very large plush sofa curving around the outside with low tables in front and a handful of smaller sofas. This room also contains the serving stations and fridges from which the staff will serve you.

There’s a smaller room behind the main room with a collection of matching sofas. Finally, there are two smaller rooms – almost private rooms – that sit to the right of the main room. It’s not clear whether you can specify which room you sit in when you book or arrive.

One of the smaller side rooms

What strikes you as your host sits you down is the size of the lounge; Clubrooms London Gatwick is quite small.

There aren’t any dining tables and all food is served on the coffee table in front of your designated sofa. Looking at the menu options available, this enforced “TV dinner” approach to dining somewhat contradicts the high-end message they’re pushing. There might be a hint here that this lounge is more about lounging with drinks than it is about eating….

The temperature and noise levels in the lounge were comfortable throughout.

Speaking honestly about our experience, the lounge was at capacity and we did feel as though we were sitting on top of other guests. We don’t think the sofa seating throughout helps matters when the lounge is full. We were practically all touching shoulders, and we even joked the way we were seated has us feeling like were all waiting for the burlesque show to start. When it’s quiet, it’s a completely different story; it’s lovely.

Score: 6/10 – you’re assigned a comfortable seat and that’s where you sit. It can feel a little restrictive but, more importantly, it can feel like an uncomfortably full waiting room when busy. That defeats the point of a premium lounge. We think the big shared sofa is a mistake and denies guests a space of their own.

People traffic

The lounge was very busy when we visited – we were the last guests to be seated before the hosts closed the lounge to new arrivals. While service holds-up, the lounge feels crowded when full. The staff do a great job at maintaining a calm atmosphere and ensure everyone’s glasses stay topped-up – if you’re planning on sinking lots of champagne or cocktails, you’ll be in luck.

Score: 7/10 – We think it’s great the capacity is strictly enforced, but they might want to consider dropping that number by 5 – about one table – to allow more room between groups.

Food Options

Now we reach the bit where Clubrooms London Gatwick South Terminal can claw back some lost ground. It’s all á la carte in Clubrooms and this sets it apart from all the lounges in Gatwick South, even the BA First Lounge! No buffet was to be seen when we visited, we were instead seated and handed a large menu with breakfast items ranging from toast, to porridge, to Eggs Benedict, right the way up to a belly-busting full English. A PM menu operates after midday, serving a variety of hot and cold plates that includes Chicken Laksa, Beef Burger, Pasta, and even a cheese plate. Although we didn’t test the theory, it seemed as though we could order as much we liked.

The Clubrooms breakfast menu

The food we ordered was delivered promptly, was hot, and tasted good. It wasn’t high-end restaurant food, but better than any lounge buffet and on a par with the quality you’d find in the nicer terminal restaurants.

Vegetarians and Vegans were well catered for, and allergens appeared to be flagged.

Score: 9/10

Beverage Options

Bloody Marys! Yes, they suggest them on the menu alongside the Mimosa’s. For those not feeling the boozy brunch, there was unlimited tea, coffee, juices, and a standard range of soft drinks.

The menu gave the impression beers, wines, and spirits weren’t available until the “PM” menu comes into effect at midday. The chap serving us quickly dispelled that myth and said we could have it if they stocked it.

Free-flowing Veuve Devienne Brut and Rosé fizz was included, although an upgrade to Moet et Chandon or Veuve Clicquot champagne cost £40/bottle. Disappointing that the £50 couldn’t stretch to proper champagne.

Remember to go steady in here as you’ve still a flight to catch. Some airlines get hissy at the sight of an inebriated passenger.

Score: 7/10 – It was a good show on the drinks service. The free-flow Bloody Marys, Mimosa definitely made it feel like a classy brunch venue. Points deducted for no champagne, though. We thought this was supposed to be “the ultimate jet set departure” ??

Toilets and Showers

The toilet facilities are shared with the neighbouring No.1 lounge. Leaving the Clubrooms, we had to cross the foyer and start walking along the corridor to the No.1 Lounge to find the toilets on right.

The toilets smelt and looked clean, and the individual sinks in each cubicle offered a high level of privacy and comfort. High-end Vervaine L’Occitane hand soap and moisturisers were provided.

Unfortunately, the electric taps were defective on a number of sinks, leaving people walking to other sinks to wash soap off. This is something a lounge should fix overnight as a matter of urgency.

There are no showers in the lounge, although the sinks inside cubicles afford some privacy for a light wash or to brush teeth.

Score: 5/10

Wi-Fi, Power & Productivity

The Wi-Fi was impressively good. Speeds were frighteningly similar to those in the neighbouring No1 Lounge, leaving us suspecting they’re sharing the same equipment. Up and down speeds are good enough for cramming your device with iPlayer downloads before you fly. We got 20 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up.

Plugging in is a sorrier story. While there are a few mains power points dotted around the lounge, it was inconsistent and some tables had nothing. There didn’t appear to be any USB points.

Look extremely closely and you might see a socket

If you’re hoping to get some work done, it’s laptops on laps. You could try meeting in one of the private side rooms, if they’re available. Locating power sockets and low tables are still going to make it a struggle.

Score: 5/10 – This is absolutely not a lounge to work in, but the Wi-Fi is good enough to sustain a video call or download Jane’s 30mb PowerPoint file.

Little Extras

This is the section where lounges can pick-up bonus points for doing something a little different that improves the airport experience for passengers.

A Clubrooms reservation comes with access to use the Gatwick Premium security lanes. Gatwick Airport sell this separately for £5.

National press and magazines are provided for guests to take with them.

Views are constrained to a flat roof and the last few yards of the eastern end of the runway

The lounge windows don’t offer much in the way of views. Head across to the neighbouring No1 Lounge London Gatwick South if you want to see the airport operations while you wait (the toilets are in there, so you’re perfectly welcome).

Score: 6/10

BG1 Verdict

The space, decor and appointment of the lounge, left the impression that they’d made a concerted effort to create a luxury feel. The service is excellent and the food and beverages is of above average quality.

Clubrooms London Gatwick isn’t really another pre-flight lounge. It’s something quite different. It’s bougee in an airport! Go in expecting a Mayfair members club, or late-night lounge bar in a posh hotel, and you’ll not be disappointed. You don’t shower in a club, and you won’t here either! If you’re expecting space, views, serve yourself booze, a wash, or the ability to work, you’d best shuffle along.

Moving past those issues, the biggest problem is the experience will be affected by how busy the lounge is and you won’t know that until you get there. We got there super-early to get these pictures, but the lounge filled-up soon after. With that in mind, we wouldn’t book in advance for this lounge. Stick your head round the door; if it’s quiet, pay £50 on the door and enjoy it at its best. If it’s busy, we’d probably avoid. Avoiding £38 on the online price, meant we could put that towards the £40 door price of the larger capacity No1 Lounge.

Clubrooms London Gatwick South Terminal
Total: 52/70 (74%)

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