Having missed its planned opening at the end of January, the new British Airways lounge complex at London Gatwick – part of its move to the airport’s South Terminal – is now up and running. This brings to an end the temporary arrangements at the No. 1 lounge and Speedbird lounge that have been in place for the airline’s First and Club World / Europe travellers and Executive Gold / Silver card frequent fliers.
Like its Heathrow equivalent, the lounge complex offers separate spaces for First Class and Gold card holders and Club World / Europe and Silver card holders. Having looked at the First lounge (and how to navigate to the lounges from security), we’ll now make a right from the shared reception area into the Club lounge.
If on paper the First lounge is the more exclusive space, the Club lounge counters by being visually more impressive. The new lounge includes both British design and art. The furniture is by UK manufacturers Boss, using Scottish leather by Andrew Muirhead and fabric by Osborne & Little. The lighting is by British lighting designers Tom Dixon, with Elstead Lighting creating bespoke copper ceiling pendants and table lamps.
It’s not all British, though. The bar stools and table lamps are by Philippe Starck, there is pendant lighting by Moooi (Dutch), Porcelanosa tiling from Spain and Italian Carrara marble. Art works are by Sir Terry Frost, Chris Ofili and John Hoyland.
Not immediately obvious, there are a few seating areas to the left when walking in, followed by a high table with leather bar stools opposite a coffee / tea station. Looking up and ahead, past the spherical light fixtures above, there is the first sign of what follows just after: a significantly larger space with double-height ceiling, opening up to include a mezzanine level accessible by two separate staircases.
Continuing on, the main food and drink stations are underneath the mezzanine – like in the First lounge, these are very similar, if not identical, to what’s found at Heathrow. Seating circles all the way around the mezzanine, running alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows giving views of the aircraft movement outside. On the other side, the lounge has a few internal windows overlooking the terminal below.
The main floor of the lounge was fairly busy during our early morning visit, with only occasional seats unoccupied. This in contrast to the mezzanine, which was almost completely empty, and probably a good spot to seek out for those wanting to be somewhere more quiet.
With the exception of the blue leather swivel chairs, the distinctive lighting above the centre bar and a few other details in the First lounge, furniture and design is shared between the two, leaving the feel of one lounge complex rather than two distinct offerings.
While the First lounge has hot breakfast items and its waiter menu, the Club lounge runs out at bacon and egg salad sandwiches (along with pastries, yogurt and fruit) at this time of day. The buffet dishes change towards the afternoon and into the evening.
There is one WiFi network, and while the Club lounge does not have a dedicated business centre, there are plugs at every seat. The Club lounge offers showers alongside its toilet facilities and has a kids’ play room as well. During the winter schedule, the Club lounge opens at 05.15 and closes at 20.00.
Paul J. DeVries