Eating aeroplane food (in Standard Class) is often like eating hospital food - there is never enough to fill you up and it glues your insides together. This is why it has become my custom, and the custom of so many others, to get something to eat before long flights. And I don’t mean grabbing a take-away burger before flying, but instead enjoying a proper meal. Gatwick Airport and its surrounds afford you every opportunity to do so.
Both the North Terminal and the South Terminal have family and fine-dining restaurants that offer proper, well-made food. If the airport is a place you prefer to spend a minimal amount of time in, then there is a selection of pubs, inns and restaurants that are a mere 14 miles away from the airport or closer; which should give you plenty of time to enjoy your meal before you head off to the airport, park and check in.
If you have discovered any hidden treasures close to Gatwick let us know on our Facebook page or by commenting in the comments box below.
On The Way To The Airport
The Gravetye Manor
For a sophisticated meal in the country, you can do no better than the Gravetye Manor. From garden lunches and High Tea to a four-course dinner, there is no doubt that the exquisite food (of which 95% is home grown) on these menus will delight your tastebuds. With Autumn arriving, so does a new seasonal menu. To transport you to the Highlands this Autumn, the Manor will be hosting a specialty Scottish Lunch on the 17th of November, so don't forget to book. Dining at the Manor is a very popular activity so it is strongly advised that you always make reservations in advance for lunch and supper (it is essential to book for High Tea). The Manor is just 10 miles away from Gatwick and well worth the detour.
Where: Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, RH19 4LJ (just off the B2028) Number: 01342 810 567
If you are looking for a contemporary dining experience then Restaurant Tristan is the place to go. The owner and Head Chef, Tristan Mason, believes that the old and the new belong together. This is evident in both the design of the restaurant and the menu. The 16th century building is juxtaposed with modern, chic decor, creating a feeling of the familiar mixed with the exciting new. The ever-changing menu creates the same feeling of creativity and passion by being essentially British with a modern French twist to it, that promises to give your taste buds a memorable experience.
Where: 3 Stans Way, East Street, Horsham, RH12 1HU (just off the A281)
Number: 01403 255 688
The Cowdray Pub and Restaurant
If you want a proper breakfast, but don’t have time to sit down, stop by The Cowdray. They will provide you with a freshly made meal with ingredients locally sourced - not something that is usually found 6.5 miles away from Gatwick. The Cowdray doesn’t just provide these fresh take-away breakfasts, but also a sit-down breakfast, lunch and dinner. Children are welcome, as long as they are well behaved, and there is a children’s special of a £5 meal on Sunday evenings. Whether you need food on the go or a relaxing meal, The Cowdray is an ideal place to go.
Where: London Road, Balcombe, Nr Crawley, RH17 6QD
(just off the B2036)
Number: 01444 811 280
The Cat Inn
The Cat Inn is the place to go if you need to unwind and relax before your flight. It is just 11 miles away from Gatwick, although you wouldn't believe it. The charming country village that surrounds it takes you far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Cat Inn is just as picturesque as the village it’s in and is said to serve the best fish and chips in the village. Another popular favourite and the Cat Inn's speciality that is so good it simply cannot be taken off the seasonally changing menu, is their steak, mushroom and ale pie. These local treats make the stop worthwhile.
Where: Queen's Square, West Hoathly, RH19 4PP (just off Selsfied Rd)
Number: 01342 810 369
The North Terminal
This Prunier and Caviar Bar has been described as the light at the end of the tunnel (of security checks) by one very satisfied customer. Others have called it a haven of fine dining with a relaxing ambience. And that is exactly what it is. Seafood serves only the freshest food and does it with the speed and efficiency that is rarely found in airport restaurants. As one diner put it, “Seafood Bar offers an island of tranquility and civilization”, making it the perfect place for all adult diners to relax before flying.
Where: Departure Lounge lower level, opposite Shoe Studio & Mango
Number: 01293 557 294
Joe’s Kitchen and Coffee House
Joe’s is a relaxed family eatery and coffee house with an atmosphere that is sure to help take the stress out of travelling. Open from 6am until 8pm Joe’s is both a sit-down and take-away kind of place. They serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and have a specialty evening menu that serves their house specialties, such as ‘Hot Wok’ stir fry and Club Sandwich. This is definitely a place to go relax and while away the time until your flight.
Where: Level 1, next to Globe Freehouse
and the public toilets
Number: 01293 555 560
The South Terminal
Bridge Bar is fine dining at its simplest. The food is British-traditional, served alongside complementary global dishes. They also have a well-considered wine list and a large selection of beers and cocktails. All the makings of a high-end London restaurant at Gatwick - talk of the unexpected. It is not just the food that is unexpected either, the staff are exceptionally friendly and even more helpful. They are knowledgeable about the menu and are always ready and available to recommend a good wine to go with your meal. This is definitely the place to go if you are looking for a mature and relaxed ambience in the South Terminal.
Where: Airside in the Departure Lounge upper level, opposite Apostrophe
Number: 01293 602 110
With Airside and Landside branches in the South Terminal, Apostrophe is available for both those flying and those picking up or dropping off family and friends. The Airside branch offers you a wide selection of seating choice: eat at the communal tables or grab an armchair in the concourse dining area. If you are travelling in a large group, there are also leather sofas available in the pink zone. At the Landside there are a selection of tables and booths available with plenty of space for large groups. The food is always freshly prepared and sumptuous. Apostrophe is well-known for
its sandwiches, particularly the BLT and Le Grec. It is definitely a favourite on both sides of security.
Where: Landside by Departures on Level 3, next to Giraffe and the public toilets. Airside in the departure lounge upper level, next to Costa.
Number: 01293 557 200 (Landside) - 01293 602 120 (Airside)
The Family Winners
The Air Balloon Pub and Restaurant
The Air Balloon Pub and Restaurant is a place that the whole family can enjoy. The restaurant is completely family-friendly and situated less than two miles from the airport. With the change of season comes some new additions to the menu, including the ‘Grill Festival’ which includes a two-for-£10 offer on the five ounce steak, as well as a buy two glasses of wine and get the rest of the bottle free (the special runs until the 20th of October). It’s not just the grown-ups that get all the special deals however, as half term brings with it free dessert for the kids with every meal bought (from the 21st of October until the 4th of November). There is definitely loads of good family fun and food to kick-start your trip at The Air Balloon.
Where: 60 Brighton Road Horley, RH6 7HE (use the A23 Brighton Road through Horley and it's on your left travelling towards the airport)
Number: 01293 820 188
For quick food service and a warm homely atmosphere, you can't go wrong with Giraffe. If you've never been before, it's a great place for families to have a meal before take-off. There is a range of kiddie-favourites on the children’s menu, while the the adult mains menu has a Mexican flavour to it. If Mexican isn’t for you, there is a range of salads and some good old British brunch options for you to choose from.
Where: Landside by Departures on Level 3, next to Apostrophe and Ticket presentation
Number: 01293 579 947
While restaurants are a great place to go if you have a few hours to spare, Airport Lounges offer a more exclusive and comfortable setting for longer waits. So if you are seeking the peace and quiet that comes with this exclusivity, take a look at our Gatwick Airport Lounges.