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.

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The No1 Lounge London Gatwick South Terminal is the largest of the paid-entry lounges. On their website, No1 Lounges Ltd said it was a “tranquil retreat” with “unrivalled views of the runway”, so we thought we’d better go along and see for ourselves. Here’s our honest review of No1 Lounge London Gatwick South Terminal.

Reception

The entrance foyer was very smart and had 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. We used Priority Pass, so just had to scan our card and boarding pass, then sign on a screen.
We were handed a menu that we were told to give to the bar tender when making our food order.
Paid entry was being accepted at a cost of £40pp for 3 hours, or £32 when booked in advance.
When we left, staff were turning guests away as they said they were at capacity.
The lounge is open 04:00 to 22:00 daily.
Children of all ages are permitted.

The main walkway through the No1 Lounge

Score: 7/10 – The 3-hour time limit on the visit, and being handed what was essentially a meal ticket, both took the shine off.

Comfort

Entering along a narrow corridor where the toilets are located, we emerged into a large room. There were two tiers; a raised one around the edge with seating and a lower level where the bar and buffet are located.

Away from the central dining area there is plenty of low lounge-style seating, laid out in clusters of 4-6 around coffee tables.

Sofas on the upper level around the edge of No1 Lounge London Gatwick South

Those wanting rest weren’t well-catered for. There were a couple of places in The Library to go semi-horizontal, although these seats were right next to the co-working desks. It appeared to be a more studious, tap-tap-tap library than the sssssh kind.

The Library area of the No1 Lounge

Spotters should head straight to the furthest right-hand corner of the room, where two stools and a high table provide a commanding view over the aircraft stands, apron, and Gatwick’s sole runway.

The lounge offers unrestricted views of the runway and apron

There are flight information screens mounted on walls throughout the lounge, making it easy to keep track of flight and gate information.

Score: 8/10

People traffic

Even at 07:45 the lounge was very busy, although, the lounge appeared to be operating without much congestion. It was, however, a Monday morning. We did question whether “tranquil retreat” was an accurate description, although anywhere away from the mayhem of Gatwick South Terminal Departures will seem relatively tranquil! The vibe was definitely relaxed. We are, however, planning to visit again on a peak holiday weekend to compare.

The lounge was busy, but there were spare tables and it felt calm

Score: 7/10

Food Options

Food in the No1 Lounge London Gatwick South was a mix of buffet and limited á la carte.

There was a buffet island in the centre of the lounge offering cereals, porridge, fruit, and yoghurt from generously filled bowls. On a neighbouring island were croissants and other breakfast pastries. We could help ourselves to as much of the buffet as we wanted.

Warm items were only available from the menu handed to us on entry. After making a choice, we had to place our order at the bar. The bar tender then gave us a table number in exchange for our menu – the menu is essentially a hot food ticket.

Order food at the bar

Á la carte breakfast options were:

  • Poached Egg and Avocado Muffin
  • Classic Sausage Sub
  • Toast & Preserves

One of us ordered the poached egg and avocado muffin. After 15 mins, we chased the order with the manager, who we must add was very courteous and quick to help. It arrived shortly afterwards.

Poached egg and avocado muffin

The portion was adequate for a modest appetite, but hungry passengers would’ve been disappointed. If not everyone in your party is eating, you could order another plate. If everyone has already ordered, the buffet is the only place left to fill-up before you fly.

Like their sister lounge, Clubrooms Gatwick South, the No1 Lounge operates an AM and PM food service. AM is breakfast until midday. The PM menu kicks in after midday with á la carte hot plates including:

  • Smokey chicken & chorizo stew
  • Butternet squash curry
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Mezze salad
  • Cheese & biscuits

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

Score: 6/10 – The hot breakfast options were very limited and the portion sizes were too small.

Beverage Options

There were 2 tea/coffee stations spread around the large room. Douwe Egberts coffee was dispensed from machines. The cappuccino was drinkable, but barista coffee fans might not be pleased. A selection of Twinings teas were also available to help yourself to – if you forgot to pack teabags, this might be your saviour!

The full-service bar was well-stocked and well-staffed, even so early in the morning. Bottle corks were popping and the draft Amstel was flowing (half pints only). While there’s no prosecco per se, there was a sparkling French called Veuve Devienne Brut. It was too early for us, but the bartender assured us it tastes OK in a mimosa. He also assured us he made a good Bloody Mary, so the lounge passes that test.

There was also self-serve fruit-infused water on the back of the bar.

If you want Champagne, you’ll need to stick your hand in your pocket, as champers isn’t free-flow and is charged by the bottle.

Score: 8/10 – it was a full service bar and it was running at 08:00! The absence of Prosecco and Champagne from the inclusive drinks lost marks.

Toilets and Showers

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 – Although the facilities were clean, sloppy maintenance and absent showers let this lounge down.

Wi-Fi, Power & Productivity

Wi-Fi performed well in the test we ran – a solid 20 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up.

There were plenty of sockets beneath the booth and bench seats – generally around the edge of the room. We didn’t spot any USB charging points.

For those wanting to work, there were a few desks and working areas scattered around the lounge and the dining area also provided suitable space for working on a computer or co-working with colleagues.

Overall, this felt like a lounge you could work in. We do, however feel sorry for those folk trying to sleep in The Library. The low-lighting and recliner chairs next to bank of desks is a complete contradiction of the space’s purpose.

Score: 7/10 – USB ports on the sockets would’ve been a plus, as would a dedicated co-working area.

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 selection of daily British newspapers and magazines were provided for guests to take away, although there were no international press.

National UK press options in the No1 Lounge

Score: 3/10

BG1 Verdict

For £40pp we think this lounge falls way short of the mark at breakfast time. Toast should’ve been on the buffet, not offered as one of three measly á la carte items. Speaking of which, where’s the full English breakfast?! Unless you’re planning on getting tanked on alcohol at 09:00 there’s little way you’ll get value from this lounge. If the terminal is busy, it might be worth it, but South Terminal isn’t normally too bad first thing in the morning. A family of three could have a lovely breakfast, in one of the higher-end terminal restaurants – including some fizz – and it’d come in below the £120 No1 Lounge would be asking.

From midday onwards, the No1 Lounge London Gatwick South may represent better value for money, particularly if the bar is the main attraction.

Finally, there was no excuse for the bathrooms to be in such poor working order in what is a hospitality venue.

Total: 51/70 (73%)

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