London Gatwick North Terminal

The tax-free travel shopping guide to Gatwick North

London Gatwick Duty FreeGatwick North has not benefitted from the same level of investment as Gatwick South, but the terminal has been given something of a makeover during the last year (and when we last went through the airport this was still underway in some areas). The result is that while North does not have quite the same ‘wow’ factor as South, the overall look airside is spacious and clean with easy navigation and a really extensive shopping and dining offer. Food and beverage is on the upper level, but there are also shops here including Mango (moved from downstairs) and JD….so don’t miss them.In the past, North Terminal clearly focused on affordable, mass-market fashion. Pre-security that this holds true with a very UK-centric offer, clearly targeted at so-called meeters and greeters and local residents as much as travellers. There is a definite focus on affordable, mass-market fashion with High Street brands such as Monsoon, Accessorize, Sunglass Hut and the ubiquitous Tie Rack. Rolling Luggage is a great place to pick up branded luggage and travel accessories, while M&S Simply Food is highly recommended for hungry travellers arriving in the UK, who need a decent bite to eat before their onward journey. Their sandwiches, wraps and salads are all goodOnce passengers have cleared security, the retail offer moves distinctly upmarket – indicative not just of the increase in long haul flights through this Terminal (it can handle the A380) but also the increasing level of business passenger now using low cost carriers such as easyJet which uses North for all flights beginning with ‘8’.

New fashion offers include the world’s first Ted Baker accessories-only store (as well as a clothes outlet), a repositioned and enlarged Lacoste store and an enticing Superdry. That’s in addition to Hugo Boss and Dune or – for even higher end choices – head to the Harrods store where you’ll find the likes of Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Paul Smith and Longchamp. But those on limited budget will be pleased to know that Accessorize is still there, along with a newly designed Fat Face store.

Sunglass Hut continues to offer a wide range of brands while Hour Passion is where to go for watches with brands from Swatch to Breitling, while if you need a new wallet or bag, head for Case where you’ll find offers from Converse, Kipling, Tintamar and several others.

If technology is more your thing then Gadget lovers and tech heads will love Dixons Travel, a former UK High Street electronics chain, which has gone virtual except for its bricks-and-mortar airport shops. It stocks a big range of cameras, camcorders, MP3 players, tablets, e-readers, speakers and laptops at VAT-free prices. The store layout is much like an Apple shop in that customers are encouraged to plug in and play. Whether you can get near any of these display models is another story of course given how busy the store often gets. If you’d like to browse the store before you arrive at the airport, check out http://www.dixonstravel.com/stores/gatwick.aspx. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, try ‘add’ where brands include the highly popular Beats, Apple, Samsung, M Monster and Knomo.There are two World Duty Free (WDF) stores in North Terminal. The main one, facing you as you enter the retail space is enormous and the range of fragrances and cosmetics is particularly impressive. A small army of promoters and hostesses are invariably on duty, championing the latest fragrance or make-up release. WDF claims its beauty prices are at least 20% cheaper than the UK High Street, but if you want to do a bit of price comparing before you travel, log on to the retailer’s excellent website: www.worlddutyfree.com. A second smaller WDF outlet is to the left as you approach the (sometimes very long) walk to Gates.Whisky lovers will find a World of Whiskies outlet which stocks an above-average selection of malt whiskies. Look out for some of the exclusive drams on offer, which you just won’t find anywhere else. Not all of these whiskies come in cut-crystal decanters and cost the earth – look our for promotions such as two for £60, two for £75, free gifts with selected brands, save £10 tickets and exclusive prices on every Malt of the Month. For all the latest releases and promotions see:www.worldofwhiskies.com.

After all that shopping you might need some proper sustenance before your flight. In the past, upstairs has been very congested but more options have now been introduced to alleviate the queuing and – at times – frustratingly crowded areas. The spacious 6,000 square-foot Jamie’s Italian restaurant has been well publicized and continues to be pretty busy, but head to the other end of the terminal (via Garfunkels) and you’ll find the Armadillo cafe grill and the first airport Comptoir Libanais all day dining. If you are pushed for time, there’s now a Starbucks or those craving a good old British pint can head to the completely refurbished Red Lion pub.

Downstairs there’s a seafood bar – or you can always buy a snack or two at the Boots Express or London News Co (WH Smith) as well as other reading and travel essentials. Pop up shops are all the rage these days and on our visit both No 7 and Bare Minerals were in place offering makeovers and advice.

Our advice is to leave some time for shopping and eating at Gatwick North. It’s worth getting up a little earlier for!