I love Crawley, I lived there for 4 years with my parents, worked and played there. I still visit as my parents live there, so I know that it is a town that largely relies on Gatwick Airport for work and bringing people to town but it is also a brilliant location for going to London and Brighton as well.
There are great transport links to Gatwick by bus from all over the town that runs 24 hours as it is used by people who work at the airport as well as people going on holiday.
If you have an early flight and want to stay at a hotel to save a long drive, there are a lot of hotels at Gatwick or you could stay in one of the nearby hotels. The best that I would suggest if you don’t want to stay too close to the airport is the Travel Lodge that is in Crawley town centre. You are surrounded by lots of different places to eat like Subway, Pizza Express, Turtle Bay, Harvester, Bella Italia, TGI Fridays, KFC, The Punch Bowl, Jubilee Oak which is a Wetherspoons and so much more.
You are also right next to a Morrison’s if you don’t want to go out and just want to get some snacks.
The bus stop is just a few minutes walk away from the hotel and you will be at the airport before you know it. The bus is only £1.20 each so if you don’t mind getting the bus, it’s a lot easier as you get dropped off outside the terminal and it’s cheaper.
A taxi from the town to Gatwick won’t be more than £10 unless there is lots of traffic. I have mainly got taxis very early in the morning and they have been between £6 and £9.
There is a fast train that goes from Crawley to Gatwick as well.
Brighton is only a 40 minute train ride or 20 minutes in a car. Although I would suggest booking tickets online for the train, it can be a very busy station and easier to just book online and pick your tickets up when you get to the station. You will have to change once at Three Bridges but the whole journey is still about 40 minutes.
London is about 50 minutes away unless you get on the fast train to Gatwick, although this will be quicker, it is more expensive. The last train to Crawley from London Victoria is 23:36 but if you do somehow miss that train, there are trains hourly to Gatwick throughout the night so you could get the train to Gatwick and then a taxi to Crawley. So you could see a show or go out for dinner and still not have to worry about getting back.
If you wonder into the town centre you will find Jubilee Square, a beautifully recently rebuilt area which just used to be a band stand and some fake grass has now been turned into a huge fountain that children run around in on hot days.
There are loads of shops if you want to do a bit of shopping, Crawley has a huge shopping mall and streets leading off of the square.
If you want some chill out time, there is a beautiful big memorial gardens. I used to have a job near the gardens one summer and loved having my lunches there in the sun.
Crawley's hidden gems
If you are looking for cheap and good food then I would suggest going to the Jubilee Oak, it’s a Wetherspoons pub so go in knowing that you will get what you pay for but the food is great and they have a family area to take the kids. It is very close to where the market is held which is very close to the town centre. Part of the menu is called Small Dishes with is 3 for £10, we love the spicy chicken wings and the loaded chips so what my husband and I usually do is get 2 plates of the chicken wings and 1 loaded chips so that we have a plate of chicken wings each and share the chips. They have a great app so that you can order food from your table.
If you are looking for big portions at a reasonable price, All Days Cafe should be one of your stops. They do brilliant food and because it’s a family run place, everyone is welcoming. They have indoor and outdoor seating, its lovely sitting outside in the summer. It is located in a parade of shops between the market and the town centre.
Looking for somewhere to just sit and chill but not feel like you are in a town centre? Go check out the memorial gardens which are incredibly close to the town centre. It’s great sunny day of chilling with a picnic. I used to love sitting there in the sun during my lunch breaks with a book. You can hear some of the traffic but you end up super chilled out so you don’t really notice.
This is one of my favourite places in Crawley, it is Turtle Bay. Not only is the food amazing but they do 2-4-1 cocktails and play reggae music all day. I spent many an afternoon drinking cocktails and chilling out with a few cocktails. The staff are always great and chatty, we always have a good chat with them. They also have an app so you collect points which you can put towards food. It is a 30 second from the Travel Lodge so nice and close if you have one too many Haha.
Fancy just sitting in a nice little pub and watching life fly by, check out The White Hart. Lovely pub that is like a tardis as it doesn’t look big from the outstanding but feels like it just keeps going once you are inside haha. It is opposite The Jubilee Oak so close to the town centre.
This is a little bit of a drive from the town centre or you can get a bus but it is so worth it because they have a zoo! They have pigs, chickens, meerkats, cows, otters, ponies, reindeer, donkeys, owls and so much more. It’s only £4 for an adult and £3 for 2-16 year olds and free for up to 2 years old. If you don’t want to go in the zoo, you an always walk around the park which is absolutely beautiful in the summer, it has a cafe, a lake, Go Ape and loads of stuff to keep kids entertained.
I hope that helps you on your little adventure to Crawley and gives you a little insight into this lovely town.
If you would like to find more hidden gems from cities and towns all over the world, check out Connie Ferris’ website!