Background No 1 Traveller is a bespoke service for airport transfers between London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London Stansted. The company also has two lounges – one at Gatwick and two at Stansted. No 1 Traveller launched at New York JFK International airport in 2007 and has plans to expand to all major airports in the UK over the next 18 months.
Travellers can book online or by phone – have your pick up address and flight number ready. Prices are the same whether you book in advance or last minute (up to six hours in advance). Individual travellers or companies can use the service and the fleet of E-type, S-type and Z-type Mercedes-Benz cars serve any address in the UK. I received email confirmation of my booking a week or so before my flight from Gatwick, with times of pick-up and drop-off to and from the airport. If you want to change the pick up time – to earlier or later then you can contact the team to confirm a new time.
The transfer My flight was from Gatwick at 1130 on a Friday. On Thursday evening I had a voicemail message from No 1 Traveller confirming a pick-up time of 0830 from my house. I thought at the time that this was when I would have left for the airport, had I been driving, so I was happy with the time. The next morning I received a phone call at 0800 from the No 1 Traveller team saying that there had been a problem with one of the cars and so my pick up would be about 15 minutes late. I was reassured not to worry and that I would get to the airport on time.
At 0850, my car had not arrived, so I called to find out what was happening. The driver was just around the corner and turned up five minutes later in an E-type Mercedes-Benz. The driver apologised for being late and once again assured me we would be at the airport on time. The driver explained which way he was going – you can request a different way if you wish – but as he had been on the M25 and there had been an accident we decided it would be best to go cross country. The driver was friendly and we chatted for a little but I did not feel I had to talk all the way, which was relaxing. We arrived at the airport on time at 0945, which was the time stated on my confirmation, and I was dropped off at the South Terminal for the walk through to the departure hall.
The lounge The No 1 Traveller lounge is located on the same floor as the Virgin facility, after security. The décor is modern with purple, pale wood and cream furnishings and a large light feature, made with what looked like upside-down over-sized wine glasses.
It is a lovely space and, when I arrived at around 1015, it was not busy. After showing my booking confirmation to the receptionist, I was told to take a seat and someone would be with me shortly to take drink and food orders. (Priority Pass, Airport Angel and Wexas cardholders can also gain access to the lounge for a discount depending on the details of their membership).
The lounge is on two levels and overlooks some of the gates. To the left there was a spiral staircase leading up to a quieter area with small armchairs and tables, and a TV room with sofas and glass walls you can pull shut for privacy. On the reception level below the stairs there were magazines and newspapers including The Times, The Economist, Travel and Food and Business Traveller.
There was also table football and a set of chairs and tables by a padded banquette. To the right, by the full-service bar, was more seating sectioned off with large comfortable sofas. The bar serves beer, wine and soft drinks free of charge. Champagne and cocktails are served at a price. Wifi is free in the lounge and there is a card on each table with the password details.
Food and drink There were pastries, yoghurt and cereal laid out on a small table with jugs of orange and apple juice, so I helped myself to a drink and sat down on the banquette with a window to my left and a view of the lounge. Shortly after I had settled down, a member of staff took my drink order.
A little later, another member of staff asked if I wanted anything to eat. Breakfast is served 0400-1100 and the menu offers a choice of eggs Benedict, a bacon roll or pancakes with Maple syrup. As I only had half an hour before boarding, I asked if I would have time, and was assured the food would come quickly, so I ordered a bacon roll. It arrived swiftly and was piping hot and delicious – served in a crusty white bap with tomato and brown sauce on the side.
It’s peaceful in the lounge as flights are not announced, so make sure you check your flight status on the screen at reception. For those travelling later in the day, there is the “Day and Night” menu served from 1100 to 2200. It offers soup, spicy chorizo and avocado salad, salmon fillet with watercress and mango, warmed chicken Caesar pitta, eggs Benedict or cheese and tomato tartlet.
The pick-up My return flight was late into Gatwick. My pick-up was due for 1730 and I was still waiting for my luggage when I received a text message from No 1 Traveller saying the name of my driver and that he was waiting with a sign in the arrivals hall. I saw him immediately and he was cheerful and took my trolley of bags from me as we walked to the short-term car park.
The journey home was pleasant, although it would have been a nice touch to have some bottled water in the car after a flight. I needed to stop at a cash point and my driver did this without question and helped me with my bags when I reached my house.
No 1 Card The No 1 Card gives discounts on lounge access and car services to its members. For £28 you get one free lounge visit (usually £17.50) and a 20 per cent discount for the cardholder and up to three guests on lounge entry, as well as a discount of 10 per cent discount on purchasable items (champagne and cocktails) in the lounge, and 5 per cent off airport transfers. You also get access to the VIP area and reserved seating in the lounge. If you visit the lounge ten or more times in a year, you receive a free one-year membership.
Corporate membership with No 1 card Corporate membership for five or more people gives each person a No 1 Card with discounts on cars, lounge access and free use of the concierge service, which can help with printing off documents, arranging a return journey and other details you may have forgotten to sort out at home.
Price A return journey from London Gatwick to my address in Kent (around an hour’s drive) was £60. Lounge access is £17.50.
Verdict An excellent service and great value, especially if there are two of you travelling for a few days – with the saving made on petrol and airport parking. For business travellers, the No 1 Card is certainly worth it for the extra benefits.
Although I had to call again to find out where my car was on the morning of my flight, No 1 Traveller had kept me informed of what was going on, and we arrived on time. I think the company builds in a little extra time for these occasions and you can also choose your pick-up time, so if you are worried, then select an earlier departure. My overall impression was of a professional and friendly service.
Contact no1traveller.com, +44 (0)8442 64 64 44