Review: The Grain Store, London Gatwick (Priority Pass Restaurant)

I won’t be writing many reviews for this site, firstly because Ben has reviewed just about everything, and secondly because his reviews will probably be far better than mine, but I wanted to write about The Grain Storebecause it is such a genius solution.

For some time, London Gatwick Airport has been a big problem for Priority Pass holders. The South Terminal does have a single Priority Pass lounge, the No 1 Lounge. However, while I’ve attempted to visit this lounge numerous times over the past two years, about 50% of the time I am turned away with a Priority Pass card, with staff citing the lounge is full.

Sometimes this seems justified, especially in peak periods like 6pm on a Friday in summer, however I was once turned away at 10am on a Tuesday in early December which is hardly a peak period. I tried entering again an hour later to be told again that the lounge was still full.

When I have gained entry, I’ve been disappointed. Daniel gave this lounge a fairly positive review but he was guaranteed entry as a Norwegian premium customer and noted the lounge was not allowing day passes to be purchased for the entire day. My experience has been that it has been filled to the brim with holiday makers sinking as much free prosecco and beer as they possibly can, before their flight (even if it’s at 9am). The made to order dishes are made by someone who hasn’t had much training in cooking, or cares much about the food they are preparing.

It’s loud, chaotic and not remotely relaxing.

And that’s when you can actually gain entry.

No 1 Lounge, London Gatwick South

The Grain Store

Fortunately, Priority Pass has listened, and early last year added a restaurant in the same terminal. The Grain Store is located just past security.

And it is FANTASTIC.

I’ve visited several times, and it is so good I don’t even bother attempting access to the No 1 Lounge anymore – I just make a bee-line straight to The Grain Store.

Priority Pass membership allows you £15 credit per membership, towards the cost of anything on the menu (food and or drinks).

Last weekend I flew Norwegian from Gatwick to Barcelona. The flight left at 19:45, so when I arrived at the airport around 18:00 I headed straight to The Grain Store.

When you exit the Gatwick South security, if you follow the signs to the Airport Lounges there’s a short-cut where you can bypass the duty free maze, and The Grain Store is immediately to the left, right outside the short-cut tunnel, only 20 seconds from security.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

You wait at the entrance to be seated – I’ve never waited more than 2 minutes even during peak periods. You do not need to advise the front desk if you are using Priority Pass or not.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

Like everything at Gatwick, the restaurant is huge, and I’ve never seen it completely full, even during peak periods. It is in a large “L” shape, with plenty of seating.

While everywhere at Gatwick is fairly loud, given it’s the second-busiest single run-way airport in the world, this restaurant is fairly quiet and peaceful.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

There is also a take-away area at the front of the restaurant where you can use Priority Pass for take-away items, which is perfect if you are short on time to board a buy-on-board flight.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
Gatwick is a busy airport!

As I was seated I was presented with a drinks and food menu. The food is modern British fare that you would expect at a major British airport – soups, burgers, fish, curries, salads, risotto and cakes.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal
The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

A few minutes later, a server returned to take my order. I ordered the Superfood Bowl with added Grilled Halloumi, and a pint of beer. I especially love that the menu specifically says if you are in a hurry they will serve you your meal within 15 minutes.

Despite not being in a huge hurry, I was served my meal in less than 10 minutes.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

As you can see, I enjoyed it. It was fresh, light and delicious.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

As a point of comparison, a few weeks ago I was there for breakfast and ordered the Halloumi and avocado with pita, tomato and greens, and fresh orange juice.

I advised that I was in a bit of a hurry and was served my meal less than 5 minutes after ordering.

Once again, it was fresh, light and delicious (and it appears I quite like halloumi?)

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

I asked for the bill which the server quickly brought. When I pulled out my Priority Pass card and credit card, she returned with a card machine, subtracting the £15 Priority Pass discount.

The staff are extremely used to Priority Pass customers, and have no issues accepting the cards, and applying the correct discount.

While the food and drinks aren’t cheap, they are in line with airport food and beverage prices.

The Grain Store, London Gatwick South Terminal

My meal was £21, reduced to £6 with the Priority Pass discount.

I asked my friendly waitress if they receive a lot of Priority Pass customers and she said:

‘Yes, lots. They all say the food here is better than the lounge and there’s no problems with access here.’

I paid my meal, thanked the polite and welcoming staff, and left within 25 minutes of arriving. That is exactly what I want when visiting a Priority Pass venue at a busy leisure airport.

Bottom line

The Grain Store is a brilliant solution to the Priority Pass capacity issues at London Gatwick Airport. I don’t even bother with the Priority Pass lounge there anymore, and head straight to The Grain Store for freshly prepared, good quality cafe style food, served quickly with a smile.

The food and beverage options are significantly better than the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick.

The staff welcome Priority Pass customers and I have never seen the place completely full – I suspect this is because of its size with almost 100 tables, as well as the fact that they can prepare and serve customers so quickly that they can turn the tables every 30 minutes or so.

I wish they would open a Priority Pass restaurant in each terminal at Heathrow, because I have no doubt they would be better than the Priority Pass lounges there.

Have you visited The Grain Store with a Priority Pass membership?

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Comments

  1. Cue Lucky saying you should have left a tip…and left a tip based on the full price of the food at that….

  2. Agree completely with your review. I’ve eaten there several times, it’s MUCH better than the No 1 lounge, and the food is better than the BA lounge too – better to eat here, then head to the BA lounge for drinks after.

  3. I’ve been there a few times when it’s been really busy, have been seated around the corner down the back.

  4. As I’m sure you may know, this was a sister restaurant to The Grain Store at Granary Square, near King’s Cross. That was a very good restaurant, but sadly closed last year, leaving this as the only one. And while it’s excellent news for Gatwick travellers, it’s now less than convenient for the typical Londoner. Assuming it’s a good as the one that was in King’s Cross, it will be a good restaurant, not just a good airport restaurant (there is a difference).

  5. I think that in UK the waiters get paid a lot more than in US, therefore they should be tipped less.

  6. There is no need to tip in the United Kingdom.
    This menu misspells whisky, which is a poor indicator of their appreciation of the stuff. At almost six quid for a pint, I would expect more.

  7. In the UK the minimum wage is set at a much higher rate than in the US, and the tipping culture is generally for much lower rates (typically 10-15%). Though they’ll usually not complain if you tip more. 😉

  8. We also flew Norwegian to Barcelona this past weekend for Sitges Pride, is that where you going by any chance ? 😉

    A few things, you can reserve a priority pass place for you and as many guests as you want for £5 at the no1 lounge. Food is definitely better at the grain store, but if we have enough time we would usually do food there followed by drinks at the lounge. The food at the lounge is freshly prepared and delicious, it is just the portions that are too small. Recently they have been sticking to their 1 dish per person rule, which they have never done before in my experience (another reason to visit the grain store first).

    No1 lounge is hardly any more ‘hectic/loud’ than the BA lounge, I usually find it to be better and we often travel for holidays on a Friday evening after work.

    The no1 Lounge usually has great bartenders who will make you cocktails like aperol spritz (including prosecco, for free) even though the prosecco on its own is not free (which is something you should correct in your article).

  9. Flew BA business out of LGW a few years ago in the midst of the terminal relocation, so BA customers were invited to use the No. 1 lounge because the galleries lounge was under construction. It was fairly terrible. They charged for prosecco which is not a deal breaker, but they had 2 choices for breakfast apart from croissants and fruits. It was beyond crowded, it was noisy, and a fairly unpleasant experience. I really have never been to a worse lounge, so I am very glad to see that there is another option for priority pass holders there.

  10. @ AG – I was in Barcelona for Sonar Festival. I know you can pay for entry to the No 1 Lounge but I think its insulting to have to pay for entry to a lounge I’ve already paid for via my Priority Pass membership. And it’s not a good enough lounge to pay for anyway!

  11. @ Montgomery – I never tip in a UK airport lounge so don’t feel the need to tip in a Priority Pass restaurant. Tipping in London is more for where you have a long meal somewhere and staff spend plenty of time with you – not where you are in and out as quickly as possible.

  12. >I never tip in a UK airport lounge so don’t feel the need to tip in a Priority Pass restaurant.

    James, I see the menu says they add a discretionary service charge of 12.5% for large groups. I thought that is an amount they expect as a tip from small groups. Will you request to remove that service charge, then, if you were in a large group? I’m not from the UK, so I’m unfamiliar.

  13. @ Maverick – some places in the UK add the service charge, others do not. It is always discretionary and if you were unhappy with the meal, it is perfectly acceptable to remove the service charge. Wait staff are paid a decent wage in the UK, unlike the US.
    In this case I was guided by the restaurant – the menu said a discretionary charge would be added for large groups. As I was dining alone, and the wait staff spent very little time with me, I did not feel the need to tip.

  14. Hi all from a UK resident. The legal minimum wage for employees aged 25 and over is just over $10. A lot of organisations including restaurants, have signed up to something called the real living wage which means outside of London they pay $11.50 and in London $13.45.

    Tipping is therefore very much discretionary and we tend to tip only for good service.

    As James says some add a service charge, some not and you can ask for the service charge to be removed. Some only apply a service charge for for large groups.

    Personally I do tip but only for really good service as I don’t want tipping to be become the norm and the staff then have to rely on being tipped. I want the business to pay a good wage.

  15. I did the long haul Norwegian LGW to LAX and stopped by this place for a to-go lunch to take on board as I was flying low-fare (aka no food). The bowl I purchased was fantastic and I also had a great experience with the staff. Also was rejected at Lounge No.1. This place is great!

  16. We were unexpectedly in Gatwick after our flights from Australia to Croatia changed due to delays and we were sent via the UK rather than Qatar. We ended up at the Grain Store after being told that the No 1 Lounge was full. As we were not expecting to have to use a Priority Pass Lounge on our trip, we did not have the PP card on us and were struggling to find a membership number and expiry date. The staff at the Grain Store were great and help us contact the PP people who told us our membership number and expiry date. I was really impressed that the Grain Store took the time to do this rather than just telling us that we should have our card. Thumbs up from me.

  17. Hi, what does Gatwick being the second busiest single runway airport int he world have to do with noise levels. BOM is the busiest, and its never that loud, especially after the new terminal was created. TBH, the old one was quite a dump, but the new one is not noisy.
    Noise levels are more to do with the design, and materials used for interior decor. Rant over

  18. I disagree with your interpretation of when a tip (or service charge) should be added or not in the UK. And I’ve lived in the UK for over 10 years. Tipping culture is very different from the US, but it’s good form to pay a service charge in a sit down restaurant and you get table service, even if you’re there for 20 minutes.

  19. Superfood bowl and a pint. Almost Millennial , but it’s a fail for not having some ghastly herbal tea instead of the beer.

  20. Your experience is pretty much inline with mine. Decent food, fast service. My wife and I were both able to use our respective priority pass cards, which basically paid for the food. Beer was another £50 or so, but we were there for 90 minutes.

  21. To be fair, everyone hates serving Aussies in London as they never ever tip. In the UK, many restaurants will expect their servers to tip out other members of staff based on their total sales for the day so this waitress who served James quickly and efficiently probably paid for the privilege of doing so.

    Getting an almost free meal and not tipping is disgraceful behaviour in my opinion

  22. As a British person, I normally leave a small tip of £2/£2.50 in such situations – I wouldn’t normally ever tip more than 10% and if I do it’s either (a) a mistake or (b) because the tip has already been added to the bill by the restaurant. I would never ever tip in a lounge.

  23. I just want to go back to the comment that started this whole tip debate and say that Montgomery Curruthers is executing poor form if he’s tipping on the discounted amount. $20 worth of service means a percentage tip on $20, not on a discounted amount that has nothing to do with the person providing that service (assuming Lucky typically refers to the US restaurants).

  24. Shame on you James – it is appalling that you did not tip the poor waitress and you should know that. It is not normal British behaviour to not tip at least something – it’s not okay and you will be regarded as ignorant – yes I know you are Australian but that’s no excuse, you live here. You are clearly just tight – and for our transatlantic friends’ benefit that means CHEAP. Perfectly appropriate NOT to tip in a lounge, but this is not a lounge it is a payable restaurant whether you have a card which is akin to a voucher or not.

  25. Evan – I have to, politely, disagree, it certainly isn’t appalling. In my 34yr experience, being born and raised in the U.K, it is perfectly normal British behaviour. If you’re with a group in a restaurant then a tip is almost always left by the group. Sat alone for a quick lunch? No. Would I tip the person serving me in Tesco who earns minimum/living wage? Of course not. If the service has been excellent in some way then people should feel free to reward that service. It should never be thought of as compulsory though.

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