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Wetherspoon’s: the world’s most miserable pub?

Gatwick airport

Gatwick food court

Sometimes disappointment is inevitable. Flying out from Gatwick airport a few weeks ago, I was sure I’d find plenty of tempting things for lunch in its very large food court.

How deluded was I? After a browse around, I narrowed it down to two options: McDonald’s or Wetherspoons. Time after time, I think McDonald’s will be a guilty pleasure, albeit one that leaves me feeling sick and starving. And time after time, I find it’s grimly disappointing.

Not being familiar with the offerings of British pub chain Wetherspoon’s, I decided to give it a go.

Wow. What a hellhole. I sat at a table, was ignored for about ten minutes, then finally figured out that I had to order food at the bar. I went for what I craved: the fish and chips. It arrived reasonably soon, and although the battered fish was okay, the chips were totally inedible. They tasted as though they’d been washed in Fairy liquid, dipped in old congealed grease, and flung in a microwave. The peas were cold. Not lukewarm, but fridge cold. When I complained, the manager returned a few minutes later with a big bowl of warm peas, while the cold ones lolled awkwardly on my plate. The miserable portion of tartare sauce would barely have coated one cold pea. I must have been destined to take a Ryanair flight on a hungry stomach. Even the Ryanair sandwiches became appealing, but I couldn’t handle any more disappointment. Next time, God help me, I’ll go for the McDonald’s.

The very idea of a big chain pub sounds enormously unappealing, although I know they’re quite popular in the UK. Are all Wetherspoon branches this tragic, or is the airport branch simply taking advantage?


  1. Never been to Wetherspoon’s but on my last trip to London I did notice that a lot of bars, restaurants and cafes turn out ot be chains. I really hope things don’t go the same way here- people, support your independent eateries!!

  2. I have gotten nice food in a wetherspoons near camden before. It wasnt amazing, but it formed a suitable sponge for the later pints

  3. I’ve eaten a few times in a wetherspoons near teddington in london and alwats got good food. it was cheap, tasty and filling. However I ate at the branch in stansted airport last january and had a burger and chips which was horrible, i came away from the table thinking the only word for it was disgusting and i felt sick for the rest of the day. I’m hoping its only the airport ones which are horrible as wetherspooons is a good place to line the stomach before a night out!!

  4. They’re all equally vile. You would have been better off walking towards the train ticket kiosk where there’s a very good Cornish Pastie purveyor…

  5. Nope I think it’s the location. Edinburgh airport Wetherspoon was also not up to scratch, coupled with the obligatory airport markup 🙁

    However airports aside I am a big fan of wetherspoons pubs in general, cheap and cheerful. My favourite is Archibald Simpson in Aberdeen.

  6. I’ve visited Wetherspoons in Derry, London, Edinburgh. While it’s not the atmosphere I would generally go for, it’s where I’ve ended up when I need some hot food and possibly a pint now. My food has always been good, not outstanding, but you’re getting what you pay for. The staff have always been pleasant to me.

  7. I have visited Wetherspoons in Heathrow terminal 4 & 5 and found them grand, as Michelle said you get what you pay for and always had managers walk by asking was the food ok etc. Staff too are very nice and helpful

  8. Wetherspoons’ are the nadir of western civilisation. Really open-plan, crappy layout, and full of arcade games and the like to distract from the fact the art of conversation didn’t really catchon in Albion.

    And I don’t like the way that Wetherspoons (and English pubs generally) are owned by breweries, so they often don’t sell certain brands of beer. Irritating.

  9. I second the pasty idea for next time, or M&S (also close to trains) or, my personal favourite for Gatwick (although its on the way to departure lounges I think) Pret a Manger. Just sandwiches, salads, cake, etc. Airport and plane food is horrible.

  10. Tried Frankie and Benny’s on my last visit to Gatwick. Nice food and pleasant staff.