How to Survive a Layover at London Gatwick Airport
If you have to be stuck in an airport for an 8-hour layover, London Gatwick is the one to be stuck at. When our 6-hour London layover between Bergen and Boston was extended to 8 hours the morning of our travels, we were not looking forward to figuring out how to fill that time. Originally we had thought we would go into London city for a whirlwind few hours but decided it would be too much with having to go through passport control, customs, the expensive express train that could get us there and back, transportation in the city, and re-entering the airport. So, getting to know LGW it was.
Our flight was departing out of the South Terminal, so that is where we spent our layover. Between enjoying meals, people-watching, sipping drinks, perusing the bookstore and other shops, and getting some work done, the time actually went by rather quickly. Here is an outline of how we occupied ourselves throughout the day.
First things first. We arrived around 10:00am and immediately began our hunt for breakfast. We decided upon Wondertree and I was delighted with the array of options (especially for my vegetarian self). When traveling, it's easy to grow accustomed to the bland, unexciting, often unhealthy airport food, however this was anything but. I had a fresh fruit juice (pineapple, pear, banana, papaya, & orange) and a breakfast plate that consisted of poached eggs, avocado, hummus, roasted cherry tomatoes, labneh cheese, za’atar, baked potato wedges and basil-parsley oil. So good! In addition to the tasty meal, the atmosphere was really cool. There were high ceiling with fun lights, a partially open kitchen, and a large, illuminated tree which I can only assume is based off the restaurant's namesake.
Walking and Shopping
The very large South Terminal is home to a variety of shops such as Harrods, Ted Baker, Dixons Travel, Fatface, Boots, a huge duty-free store, and many more. One that we spent quite a bit of time in was The Bookshop by WH Smith. I could spend hours and hours in bookstores, and despite this one being fairly small in size, it was packed with interesting books. I keep an ever-growing list on my phone (The Goodreads app is awesome!) of books that I have read and want to read, so I must've added at least a dozen while I was in this store.
After a little bit of walking around and a little bit of sitting, we decided it was time for a drink. We'd seen Jamie Oliver's Diner right next to where we'd had breakfast and it had a nice-looking bar section, so we decided to head over there. They have a handful of different mimosa options (I got a grapefruit one), a solid beer list, and more. It was a fun spot to hang out for a while and listen to people talk about their travels while we reminisced about ours.
The Quiet Zone
After being surrounded by airport hustle and bustle for hours, we were beginning to long for some peace and quiet. We looked into a very unique and accommodating option that LGW has - YOTELAIR. These are tiny private cabins within the terminal that have beds, bathrooms, TVs, and wifi that are available for rent for a minimum 4 hour stay. We were very close to springing for this option, but ultimately decided against it. I am, however, really glad to know about it for the future!
Instead, we found The Quiet Zone. From the main terminal space, we were ecstatic to see arrows pointing towards a "quiet zone". We followed signs towards Gates 1-5 until we found an area dedicated to silence (ahhhhh). We plugged in our computers and spent a while getting some work done and relishing the quiet. I didn't take any photos in the actual quiet area, as it likely would have disturbed those working or resting.
We had worked up an appetite again and headed back into the main area to figure out where we'd like to have dinner. We decided on a restaurant called The Flying Horse, a pub with beautiful decor and a relaxing vibe. I ordered the feta & beetroot salad (YUM) and a bowl of chips (a.k.a. fries) because I can't help myself. My husband got fish & chips because when in London, right? I loved the ambience of the place which helped me feel like I wasn't stuck in an airport, but having an enjoyable dining experience at a nice London restaurant.
Can you believe a place this nice is inside an airport terminal? I was pleasantly surprised.
By the time we finished up at The Flying Horse, our layover had passed and it was time to make our way to our gate! We were ready to get back to Boston, but thankful for a satisfying day spent inside the London Gatwick Airport.
Have any of you survived a layover at LGW? Do you have any general tips for long layovers?