We’re probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when we tell you that “going to the airport” isn’t exactly on everyone’s bucket list. But just like every destination is different, so is every airport. And just as navigating a new city is challenging in and of itself, so is navigating a new airport. How do I get from one terminal to the next? What are the best airport restaurants? Is there anything to do if I have a long layover?
If you’re anything like us, then these are probably the types of questions you have that perhaps you don’t get push notifications for. But never fear, because we have answers to your airport questions with our series of guides to the world’s top airports. Today we bring you the TripIt airport guide to London Gatwick Airport (LGW).
While Heathrow Airport may have the star power as one of the world’s most popular airports, London Gatwick is equally as important; it’s one of Europe’s top-10 busiest airports and one of the busiest single-use runways in the world. LGW has two terminals, North and South, which are served by an inter-terminal shuttle that runs every few minutes. Gatwick is a base for a number of European airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet, though many of the major international airlines have routes to and from Gatwick, as well.
Gatwick is located 28 miles due south of Central London, making for about an hour ride by car. As such, the quickest journey between Gatwick and Central London is the Gatwick Express, a non-stop 30-minute train ride to Victoria. To save a few pounds, travelers can book their tickets online. Taxis, as well as rideshares like Uber, are also available. However, note that it can be a long and expensive ride to and from Central London by taxi.
London Gatwick has several restaurants that frequent international travelers are probably familiar with, such as Starbucks, Pret a Manger and Caviar House & Prunier, which is a mainstay of many major international airports. Each of these restaurants has a location in both terminals. Jamie Oliver, who is arguably one of Britain’s most famous chefs, has numerous restaurants, including Jamie’s Bakery (North), Jamie Oliver’s Diner (South), Jamie’s Italian (North), and Union Jacks (North). Other North Terminal restaurants include Comptoir Libanais for Middle Eastern, The Nicholas Culpeper Pub & Dining, The Red Lion, Wagamama for a Japanese-inspired menu, YO! Sushi, and EAT, a London restaurant franchise. South Terminal restaurants include Giraffe World Kitchen, Grain Store Café & Bar, itsu for sushi, The Beehive pub, The Flying Horse pub, international-themed Wondertree, and Nando’s, which is a beloved South African chain known for its “peri-peri” chicken.
Many of the pubs mentioned above are also your best option for grabbing a drink. This is Britain after all! Those bars include The Nicholas Culpeper, The Red Lion, The Flying Horse, and The Beehive. Otherwise, Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks is one of the best spots for a drink at Gatwick, featuring a menu full of wine, cocktails and beer. Meanwhile, The London Bar, located in the South Terminal, is more of your classic airport cocktail lounge. For drinks of the more non-alcoholic variety, there’s Shake-A-Hula (North) for milkshakes and coffee, and numerous other coffee shops, including Joe’s Coffee House (South) and Jaime’s Coffee (North).
As with most international airports, London Gatwick has a wide selection of shops. These include Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Ray-Ban, and for the drink lover, World of Whiskies. If you’re traveling with kids, or shopping for kids, there’s The Harry Potter Shop in the North Terminal. Unique to Gatwick are hotels that are actually at the airport, including BLOC, located mere steps from South departures, and YOTELAIR, located in the South Terminal arrivals hall. See a full list of Gatwick hotels here. If you have a few hours to burn, visit the Gatwick Aviation Museum, which is located next to the airport. Finally, a unique perk to Gatwick: free newspapers and magazines provided by Green Bug Media at several locations around LGW.
London Gatwick has a number of airport lounges in both terminals. This includes No1 Lounge and Clubrooms, which for an entry fee includes an array of drinks, food and other amenities. Book in advance on LGW’s website to save on entry fees. Elsewhere is Club Aspire Lounge, which is located in the North Terminal. Otherwise, several airlines, including Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, have their own dedicated airline lounges for those with status, priority tickets or for certain card holders.
Use TripIt’s interactive airport maps in the app to discover shop, restaurant, and bar locations. You’ll also have everything you need to navigate your way with estimated walk times and step-by-step directions.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he’s not traveling, he’s perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.