After a whirlwind 24-ish hours exploring London, I headed back to the airport to catch my flight home. My flight in Norwegian Premium Class included lounge access. Therefore, I tried to arrive a little early to check it out, the No 1 Lounge Gatwick South Terminal. Despite a slight delay due to Gatwick Express track works, my 2:10 PM arrival provided plenty of time before my 4:20 flight.
No 1 Lounge Gatwick South
The lounge is located immediately past security on the upper floor, though it is a bit tough to find. Follow the signage for the No 1 Lounge; look for the corridor between Dixon’s and JD Sports. Hopefully, the diagram below will help you find the lounge.
The No 1 Lounge (actually a chain with locations in several UK airports) is a contract lounge. Therefore, members of various membership programs, such as Priority Pass, Lounge Club, and Diners Club, may access the lounge. In addition, any passenger, regardless of airline or class of service, may visit for a fee of £28. From what I could tell, all premium/business class passengers departing from the South Terminal may use the lounge. Please keep a few important notes in mind:
- The fee noted above applies for online bookings only, while day passes at the door run £35.
- Although the website suggests a three hour time limit for visits, I’m not sure how strictly the attendants enforce this.
- As discussed below, the lounge gets quite congested. As such, I’ve read elsewhere that access is frequently refused to Priority Pass cardholders showing up at the door. However, the lounge allows cardholders to pre-reserve a spot online. Do note that a £5 fee applies.
- In addition, the lounge’s website claims that admittance begins only three hours prior to a passenger’s flight. Once again, I can’t speak to how strictly this is enforced.
The Norwegian check-in agent directed me where to find the hallway to the lounge. I found the corridor with no problem, though quickly discovered construction at the entrance. A friendly agent took my lounge invitation at the makeshift check-in desk and welcomed me inside. Because of the construction, guests must first navigate a dark, narrow corridor to reach the lounge.
The lounge itself features a square shape, with one large seating area flanked by a bar on one side.
Meanwhile, you’ll find a self-service water/coffee station on the side closest to the entrance. The station contains both hot and cold water, as well as a selection of tea bags.
In addition, in the center of the lounge next to the bar, there are a few self-serve snacks and cookies. The lounge also offers a selection of newspapers behind the snack station. Though difficult to see in this photo, a flight departures screen is located on the back wall behind the station.
All other food and beverage must be ordered at the bar. However, except for champagne and prosecco, all items, including alcohol, are provided at no charge. Supposedly, guests may also order food and drink from roving waitstaff, but good luck finding one. I failed to see a single one in my area for the entire duration of my visit. The food menu varies seasonally; below is a sample menu from the lounge website.
Because I wanted to fully sample Norwegian’s Premium Class food offerings, I didn’t order any food in the lounge. Based on this sample I found online, though, the food seems fairly decent.
Though I didn’t partake of any food, I did enjoy a glass of Bailey’s.
The adult beverage selection in general seemed decent, with a fair selection of liquors, as well as local beers.
The lounge provides free WiFi for all guests. The connection was surprisingly fast – good enough to support a Vonage call to say hi to the baby back home. Of course, even with good WiFi, a lounge needs quiet spaces if you need to get work done. This, unfortunately, is where the No 1 Lounge falls short. As you can probably gather from the photos, the lounge suffers from overcrowding. I struggled to find an empty table anywhere. In addition, due to the crowds, noise is a significant problem. In other words, it gets loud in here. I did notice a library room kind of behind the bar, if you need a quiet spot to escape.
So yes, overcrowding is a major negative. On the flip side, though – just check out these incredible ramp and runway views from the back window.
Get ready for pure avgeek heaven – if you can find a seat by the window, that is. During my 45 minutes or so in the lounge, they were all taken; I had to quietly slip between occupied tables to snap these photos.
No 1 Lounge Gatwick South – Overall Thoughts
In the final analysis, the No 1 Lounge Gatwick South is – OK. The food and drink selection is good, and the lounge features some fine planespotting for avgeeks. But the noise and overcrowding is a serious problem. No, I don’t expect a whisper-quiet environment and a room all to myself, but the noise level here rises to the level of unpleasant. Not to mention, if you have Priority Pass through a credit card, don’t expect to avail your benefit here. Thanks to the crowding, chances are they’ll turn you away. Hopefully the construction involves an expansion to add more space…
Note: this post is part of a multi-part trip report series covering my short trip to Europe in November, 2016. Click here for the introductory post and trip report index.
Photo at top and of menu courtesy No 1 Lounge Gatwick South website (link in first paragraph).
Photo of waffle: “Delicate made to order waffle” by Stefan Krasowski, via Flickr Creative Commons, license CC BY 2.0.