London Gatwick Airport, usually known as ‘Gatwick’, is Britain’s second busiest airport, used by some 35 million passengers a year. Unlike London’s Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport has only two terminals, North and South serving over 200 destinations worldwide, ranging from national and European to long-haul.
The IATA airport code for London Heathrow is LGW.
Gatwick is located in West Sussex, some 28 miles (45km) to the south of Central London.
Reaching Gatwick by road
The airport is easily accessible from the M23 (exit at junction 9 and follow the signs) or the A23 London to Gatwick road. Terminal postcodes (for sat-nav users) are:
- South Terminal: RH6 ONP
- North Terminal: RH6 OPJ
Dropping off/picking up passengers
Drivers will find designated drop-off areas on terminal forecourts. Note that for security reasons there is no waiting allowed. If you plan to help with luggage or go into the terminal for any reason, then you will need to park in the Short Stay Car Park (available at both terminals). When picking up passengers you must also use the Short Stay Car Park – parking there isn’t cheap though, so keep an eye on the time.
Both airport terminals have a petrol station that is open 24/7.
Travelling by taxi
London Gatwick Airport’s official taxi partner service is Checker Cars (call 0800 747 737 or visit www.checkercars.com). There are booking offices in both terminals.
Many other taxi companies also serve the airport and you can find links to some of these on the airport website’s Taxi Listings page.
Gatwick is very well served by coaches with some 400 routes to and from the airport operating daily. You’ll find information and ticketing in the Arrivals area of both terminals.
The main coach station is at South Terminal (although main services also stop at North Terminal). National Express (Tel. 0871 781 8181, website: www.nationalexpress.com) is the principal operator and, in addition to its national city-to-city provision, runs a regular Heathrow Airport service from both Gatwick terminals, while its National Express Shuttle coach operates to and from central London’s Victoria Station. Another useful service is the Gatwick Flyer (01708 730 555), which runs from South Terminal to and from destinations to the east of London.
An alternative service worth noting is Dot2dot (0845 368 2368 website: www.dot.com), which specialises in minibus shuttle transfers to and from Gatwick and Heathrow airports and central London, and offers discounts for groups. Pick-up can be at any one of some 600 hotels in London, or King’s Cross, St Pancras and Liverpool Street stations, and also offices and private addresses within the central area served. This pre-booked service costs less than taxi travel. Dot2Dot also runs an hourly Gatwick/Heathrow transfer service.
You may also want to check out www.easyBus.co.uk, which operates cheap airport transfers between Gatwick North Terminal and London’s Fulham Broadway tube station. Check their website for luggage allowances as they refuse to carry certain articles.
For those travelling down from central London, the airport is well served by the Gatwick Express from London’s Victoria Station (Tel. 0845 850 1530 or book online at www.gatwickexpress.co.uk. This runs non-stop every 15 minutes from 05.00 until 23.45 (earliest trains from Victoria are at 03.30 and 04.30, and last trains leave at 00.01 and 00.30). The airport station is at South Terminal from where a free transit train can take you to North Terminal in a couple of minutes.
Earliest trains from the airport to Victoria leave at 04.35 and 05.20, and from 05.50 the service runs every 15 minutes, i.e. at 5, 20, 35 and 50 minutes past the hour, until 00.50. The last train is at 01.35. The journey time is just 30 minutes (35 minutes on Sundays).
Another handy service is the Thameslink (Tel. 0845 026 4700 website: www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk), which is routed to Central London’s King’s Cross station (a journey taking 50 minutes), via other stations. For general train advice you can consult the 24/7 National Rail service on 0845 748 4950 or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk).
For all services, 24-hour rail travel information is available from National Rail (Tel. 0845 748 49 50, website: www.nationalrail.co.uk). Also, check Thetrainline.com (www.thetrainline.com or 0870 010 1296) for significant advance-purchase ticket reductions.
Gatwick Airport Parking
Both short- and long-stay car parks are available at Gatwick. The two short-stay car parks operated by NCP (0845 050 7080 or www.ncp.co.uk) are linked to their respective terminals respectively by covered walkways. Long-stay car parks are located farther away from the airport and are cheaper. Don’t forget that you will need to allow extra time to park, check in and transfer to your terminal.
NCP also offers a pre-bookable ‘meet & greet parking’ (also known as ‘valet parking’) service, enabling you to drive straight to the terminal serving your flight. The premium price reflects the service level and convenience.
South Terminal parking
Long-stay parking prices reflect distance from the airport. Nearest to the airport are Long Stay Plus and Long Stay South (look out for the signs).
At Long Stay Plus you leave your car as directed, sign in at the reception desk and hand over your keys; your car will be parked for you. A courtesy bus will drive you to your terminal. Buses leave every 10 minutes or so and the transfer takes about four minutes.
At Long Stay South you park your car before taking a courtesy bus to the South Terminal.
North Terminal parking
On roads leading to the terminal look out for signs for Gatwick Summer Special Parking – a misleading name for what is actually a standard year-round car park! You drive in and leave your car (probably in a queue of others), dropping your keys off at the reception desk. A courtesy bus will transfer you to the terminal.
Other long-stay car parking facilities are listed on the airport website.
To ensure a space for your car, pre-booking is advised for all of the above. You can do this through the airport website, or by using a specialist company such as Holiday Extras (Tel. 0800 093 5478 or browse www.holidayextras.co.uk), Airparks (Tel, 0871 360 2243 or www.airparks.co.uk) or APH (Tel. 0844 871 7431 or www.APH.com).
Motorbikes can be parked free of charge in the specially designated spaces in the terminal car parks. They must not use car parking spaces and will be removed if they do so.
Gatwick Airport Hotels
Pre-or post-flight hotel stays can offer an attractive and comfortable solution to early or late flight timings. Hotels sometimes also offer parking deals that compare favourably with car park prices. To see what is on offer you can call hotels directly, use Gatwick’s online Airport Hotel Shop or check with Holiday Extras (Tel. 0800.093 5478 or www.holidayextras.co.uk) or APH (Tel.0844 871 7431 or www.APH.com), both of which offer accommodation and parking packages. Gatwick has two main onsite hotels, one at each terminal, and a wide choice of off-site options at different distances and prices.
If choosing a hotel (and splashing out!), you may wish to consider the ideally located London Gatwick Hilton Hotel (Tel 01293 518 080, website: www.hilton.co.uk). This is linked via a covered walkway to South Terminal and offers all that you would expect from a Hilton. The comparable North Terminal option would be the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel (Tel. 01293 567 070, website: www.sofitel.com), which also benefits from a covered walkway to its terminal. For something completely different, an intriguing alternative is the new Yotel (Tel. 020 7100 1100, website: www.yotel.com). Located in the International Arrivals hall in South Terminal, this is based on the Japanese ‘capsule hotel’ concept – ideally adapted for air travellers with variable time needs.
A range of other nearby options at different prices include the Premier Travel Inn (www.premiertravelinn.com) – which is a short walk from North Terminal, Best Western Gatwick Moat House (www.bw-gatwickmoathouse.co.uk), Holiday Inn Gatwick Airport (0871 423 4896 or www.ichotelsgrup.com), Renaissance Gatwick (01293 820169 or www.marriott.co.uk) and Skylane Hotel (01293 786 971 or www.skylanehotel.co.uk). When booking more distant hotels directly you will need to check whether they offer courtesy buses to the airport terminals or not.
To ensure hotel availability and to benefit from any special or promotional prices, it is usually advisable to book in advance, whether directly with the hotel or through an online service such as Holiday Extras (Tel. 0800 093 5478 or www.holidayextras.co.uk), Airparks (Tel. 0871 360 2243 or www.airparks.co.uk) or the Airport Hotel Shop (www.airport-hotel-shop.co.uk). All these companies will highlight hotel, parking and transfer deals.
For budget accommodation such as bed and breakfasts, you can look at online listings such as www.findmeabnb.co.uk or www.bedandbreakfast-uk.co.uk. Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.co.uk) may also offer some useful tourist feedback. Again, early booking is advisable.
Car rental at Gatwick
The major car-hire operators (Alamo, Avis, Europcar, Hertz and National) can all be found in the car rental buildings on the lower forecourt roads of each terminal.
To pre-book a car, call your chosen operator on their national number or visit their website, as listed below:
- Alamo (Tel. 0870 400 4562 or visit www.alamo.co.uk)
- Avis (Tel. 0844 581 0147 or visit www.avis.co.uk)
- Europcar (Tel. 044 (0) 208 564 3500 or visit www.europcar.co.uk)
- Hertz (Tel. 0870 846 0006 or visit www.hertz.co.uk)
- National (Tel. 0870 400 4581 or visit www.nationalcar.co.uk)
Thrifty (Tel. 01293 569 538 or visit www.thrifty.co.uk)