Review: No1 Lounge London Gatwick South Terminal

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I headed from the Hilton Gatwick to the airport at around 3:30AM. My flight to New York was departing at 6:05AM (the earliest westbound transatlantic flight, as far as I know), and the No1 Lounge opened at 4AM, so I wanted to be among the first there so I could review it.

I quickly found the Norwegian check-in counter. I was flying Norwegian Premium, and while that comes with all kinds of premium services, there’s not any priority check-in included. That wasn’t an issue at all, since the counters were still empty.

Norwegian check-in Gatwick Airport

Within about a minute I was issued a boarding pass to New York. Norwegian Premium comes with access to fast track security, though that checkpoint wasn’t yet open so early in the morning. As you’d expect, there was no line at the regular checkpoint so early, and I was through in a matter of minutes.

Gatwick Airport security checkpoint

After that I made my way through the forced maze of duty free shops, as seems to be the case at so many airports nowadays.

Gatwick Airport duty free shops

I then found myself in the central part of the South Terminal, and followed the signage in the direction of the lounges.

Gatwick Airport terminal

The lounges in the terminal are located one level above the main concourse.

Gatwick Airport terminal

The British Airways Lounge and No1 Lounge Lounge are in the same general area of the terminal, at the top of the escalator and to the left.

Gatwick Airport entrance to lounges

I arrived at the lounge right as it opened. The No1 Lounge Gatwick South is open daily from 4AM until 10PM. Norwegian Premium passengers get access to the lounge.

Other airlines also use this as their contract lounge, and on top of that, this lounge is also part of Priority Pass. The catch is that the lounge often has capacity restrictions for Priority Pass members, given that it’s not very big. So if you are a Priority Pass member, you can always head to the Grain Store Cafe & Bar instead, where members get a £15 per person credit.

Lastly, you can pay cash to enter the lounge, with rates starting at 32GBP (this allows you to book in advance, so you won’t be turned away if the lounge is too crowded).  That’s a lot ways to enter this lounge, so I’d make sure you find the best option for you to gain airport lounge access.

No1 Lounge Gatwick entrance

I had visited the No1 Lounge Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, so was curious to see how this lounge compared.

While fairly small, the No1 Lounge is actually really nice. The lounge consisted of one main room, and in terms of design reminded me a bit of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow.

Near the entrance to the lounge was a dining area, with a dozen dining tables seating 2-4 people each.

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick South seating

Just past that was a bar area, along with some couches.

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

Then there were stairs leading up to a higher level, where there were seats along the windows. Half of the lounge has windows overlooking the apron, which I quite like. As you can see, there were tons of couches, as well as other types of seats to add some variety.

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick South seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick South seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick South seating

No1 Lounge Gatwick South high-top seating

Back towards the entrance was a small business center with a communal table and some rolling chairs.

No1 Lounge Gatwick South business center

Also in this area was a quiet room, though there was someone in there, so I didn’t take a picture.

No1 Lounge Gatwick South quiet area

While the lounge wasn’t full at 4AM, I know it tends to fill up, so it’s worth noting that there were quite a few areas that were marked as “reserved.”

No1 Lounge Gatwick South reserved area

No1 Lounge Gatwick South reserved seating

As far as the food and drink selection goes, the lounge had a couple of drink stations, with coffee machines, a tap for water, juice, and a soda fountain.

No1 Lounge Gatwick South coffee machines

No1 Lounge Gatwick South soda & juice

No1 Lounge Gatwick South coffee machines

Then there was an area with croissants, pastries, and tea.

No1 Lounge Gatwick South food

The main area with food was right in the center of the dining area. The selection was fairly limited, and consisted of cereal, some fresh fruit, yogurt, and crackers.

No1 Lounge Gatwick South food

No1 Lounge Gatwick South food

No1 Lounge Gatwick South food

On top of that, when I entered the lounge I was presented with a menu, and was told I could order one thing off of it (I believe all guests are entitled to this). The menu read as follows:

I would have ordered something, though nothing really sounded appealing to me.

I believe alcohol is only available at the bar. Given how early in the day it was, it’s also possible that there’s a self serve selection later in the day.

My boarding pass indicated that boarding was due to start at 4:45AM, a full 80 minutes before departure. That seemed awfully early. I asked at check-in if they actually start boarding that early and they insisted they did, so I decided to obey that, since I was hoping to be among the first aboard to get pictures. I was still skeptical, though.

So I headed into the terminal shortly after 4:30AM, and the departures board indicated that a gate would be posted at 4:35AM.

Gatwick Airport departures board

Sure enough, at that time it was posted that my flight was departing from gate 13, so I headed in that direction. The gate was about a five minute walk away.

Gatwick Airport gates

Gatwick Airport gates

It wasn’t really surprising, but in reality 4:45AM was only the time at which the gate opened. So my boarding pass was scanned and passport checked, and then I was in the gate area.

Gatwick Airport departure gate

The gate area filled up significantly over the next 30 minutes. I saw the crew board at 5:15AM, and then at 5:25AM passenger boarding began.

No1 Lounge Gatwick bottom line

The No1 Lounge Gatwick is a really nice contract lounge. It’s a beautiful space physically, with an alright buffet and a nice a la carte menu (though it looks better for lunch and dinner than breakfast).

The major catch is that it’s my understanding that the lounge tends to get really crowded. Obviously I didn’t face that issue at 4AM, but I’m sure if I had been there later in the day it would have been a very different experience, and I might have headed to the Grain Store for a meal instead, using Priority Pass.

If you’ve used the No1 Lounge Gatwick, what was your experience like?

  1. Lucky, you reference the forced maze of shops at LGW South. If you turn left just before the escalators leading down to the shops you can walk straight down a corridor on to the upper level and head straight to the lounge.
    Surprised no premium check-in. I pass through Gatwick daily and normally see some dedicated desks. Perhaps you were just too early.

  2. I used this lounge prior to CI70 (departs @ 9:15pm) in mid-December and it is was quite busy at that time of the evening. Agree with the food options: menu not very enticing and self-service was limited in choices (fruit, nuts and pretzels). The bar tender was kept busy with all the visitors. It’s OK for a short while and more comfortable than elsewhere in the South Terminal.

  3. Earliest westbound transatlantic flight depends on your definition of “earliest”. Some flights from MAD to South America depart just after midnight.

  4. I hate lounges where you can only get an alcoholic drink via a server. Not only does it create a bottleneck, but it means I can’t get my drink exactly as I want it.

    I am fine if there is a tended bar, particularly if you want cocktails made professionally. I just think that there should always be beer, wine and spirits available on a self-service basis as well.

    Same with food. Although I sometimes like to be served, I also want the option of self-service. So that I can pick my own items for a full breakfast or buffet lunch, for instance.

    All that said, pretty good that Norwegian gives you access with Premium fares given that they still aren’t very expensive.

  5. Wow – I need to visit there at 4am! I can assure you the experience is nothing like that from 9am until 8pm!

    I still think The Grain Store beats it hands down ; P

  6. You wern’t forced to go through the shops you could have stayed on the same level by taking the little exit just about security marked ‘access to lounges’ or words to that effect and I’m sure there are logos of the various lounges as well.

    It even says on the lounge website

    “After security follow signs for No1 Lounges and Clubrooms. Located between Dixons and JD Sports”

    I thought you’d been to LGW before or you could have done a post asking for advice about flying from LGW and got an answer!

  7. Yes it gets busy but if using PP you can pre-book for £5 on the website. Like it or not that’s the way to avoid being turned away with PP access – though I guess you’d be okay at 4.30am. You can also pay an extra fee to access the “Clubrooms” (at both terminals) which are run by the same management but on the floor below, accessed from the same entrance – you can see the sign in the photo above. I think it’s about £15 or so, you get a full a la carte menu and unlimited fizz/cocktails. I’ve not been for a while and only ever for breakfast. I’d say the food and drinks to be the same quality as the Virgin Clubhouse.

  8. I’ve been to this lounge twice, and both times it was hellish. First I waited in line to get in amid the protests of Priority Pass holders who were being turned away.

    Once inside, it was more like a Greyhound station than a lounge, with people sleeping on the couches or otherwise spread out as though they were camping. There were trashy day-drunks, people smoking in the restrooms and dirty service items everywhere.

    Food took forever, but the bartenders were pleasant and doing their best to keep up.

  9. Who were the ‘reserved’ spaces meant for? My experience of this, in other lounges etc, is that they remain unused for the entire duration of my lengthy stay, while every other portion of the space is heaving with guests looking for anywhere to sit. A brash acquaintance of mine heads straight for these reserved seats as if they are meant for her, and has never been asked to move on! Go figure, as the Americans say…..

  10. I loved your photos especially the photo of the back seating area on the left side. It reminded me of where my parents and I sat last May. It is an all right lounge with very limited choices. Yes. All guests are entitled to one meal off the menu list including PP guests.

  11. It’s always packed and you wait in line to get checked in behind all the tourists with 23 children paying for lounge access or flying Norwegian “premium” – one of my least favourite lounges in the world…

  12. I pass thru GTW about 2X a month and find the way this lounge is run unacceptable. Most of the afternoons the reject PP members unless holding reservations yet the club is only 50% occupied. The hostesses at the lounge are about as rude as can be. I found The Grain Store to be the best option. Decent food, good service, and no wait.

  13. Your comments would not have been quite so kind if you had entered later as it gets packed and yes sometimes with a load of unruly children running around. The food can be stale and the bacon butties are minute, you need to order at least 2. There is no self service bar which is good in the fact that it stops the early inebriates getting more inebriate, but yes it can cause long waits. The one thing that amazes me is the fact that they don’t serve Chardonnay…..a basic wine I would have of thought as opposed to their disgusting Pinot Grigio. I would not pay the exorbinate fee to use this Lounge.

  14. Looks like you missed the sign leaving security that would have diverted you to the left – rather than down the escalators – so you can bypass most of the shops on the way to the lounges!

  15. I fly Norwegian premium a lot and there’s always a (very fast) dedicated premium queue and desk. Maybe it was just so early

    The No 1 lounge does fill up but my experience is much more positive. I’ve always found the staff friendly and the food orders fast. Alcoholic drinks are available at the bar (not just from the servers) but I’ve never seen self serve. The food (from the menu and the buffet) is pretty OK

  16. I think one of the reasons that lounge is nice is because it was the lounge BA were using for quite some time after the North/South swap with EasyJet. They basically had to make it at least a BA Club standard and did a decent job with it.

  17. A totally pointless review as a quick check of Tripadvisor will give a much truer picture of the horrors of No:1. Many, many years ago it was a fairly pleasant experience but now it’s been massively oversold with the double whammy of cost cutting. You can’t please all the people anytime must be the company motto. Unless free with your ticket I’d suggest using one of the restaurants at airport for a far nicer time.

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