I recently wrote a very positive post about the work trip I took to Ukraine. It was a terrific experience, but the food I ate there was sometimes mysterious, and often pretty dire. Based on my previous experience of the regional cuisine — the abiding memory of which is of eating only Chupa Chups and losing half a stone on a week-long school trip to Russia — I had predicted this in advance, which is why I was glad to know that at least I would be getting a delicious last supper.
And by supper, I mean breakfast and lunch. Fortunately, No.1 Traveller had invited me to experience their Gatwick lounge, where the majority of food and alcohol is free. After exploring both the upstairs and downstairs areas I tucked myself into a cosy little nook and set up my laptop.
Being the busy business person I sometimes purport to be, I had arrived at Gatwick with some work to get through. As such, having a quiet table to myself with a plug socket and free Wi-Fi made all the difference, and meant that I could file news stories pretty much up until the moment I had to get onto the plane. I would say that for this alone the price of the lounge (only £25 in advance) is worth it if you have any kind of business to attend to.
Of course what helps even more is the fact that you get to use the fast-track security lanes if you’ve pre-purchased lounge entry. This makes the whole journey through the airport much faster and more streamlined, giving you extra time to work/sup free wine.
But now to the important part — the food. I had arrived a full three hours early in order to make sure I could settle down and concentrate on writing, so I managed to fit in both a late breakfast and an early lunch. As well as helping myself to bits and bobs from the buffet table, I also ordered a waffle with berry compote for breakfast. I’m fussy about waffles after spending six months becoming an expert in the field when I lived in Brussels, but I’m pleased to say that this one was up to scratch.
For lunch I had a chicken ceasar pitta and a sneaky glass of wine. Oh, and some biscuits, again from the buffet. You could get more substantial food by ordering and paying more, but I prefer to eat little and often when travelling rather than having to dash to the gate and cram myself into an aeroplane seat with a full tummy.
If you wanted nicer wine than the just the house tipple, you also had to pay — so no champagne and Petit Chablis on tap, as per the Air France and KLM lounges I visited recently. This is not to the lounge’s detriment, however. It struck me that given how much most people spend at airports on food and drink, No.1 Traveller really does offer excellent value for money.
Add to all of that the squidgy sofas, friendly table service and spacious, stylish surroundings and you’ll find that No.1 is the ideal affordable airport indulgence — either for a business trip or to kick off a holiday. I can see it quickly replacing the Heathrow Express as my number one guilty travel pleasure.
Disclaimer: I was given free access to the No.1 Traveller lounge at Gatwick South in order to review it, but views are, as always, completely my own.