OBJECTIVES: Previous research exploring the patient experience of awake craniotomy (AC) has yielded contrasting accounts. The current study aimed to explore the lived experience of having undergone an AC in the United Kingdom. DESIGN: This was a qualitative, semi-structured interview study. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). METHODS: Seven participants (three males, four females) who had undergone an AC in the United Kingdom took part in the study. Ages ranged between 26 and 41 years old at the time of interview. Time since AC ranged from 5 months to 4 years. RESULTS: Participants appeared to be satisfied with, and tolerant of, the AC experience. Three superordinate themes: use of self-preservation strategies prior to and during AC, a bizarre yet pleasant operation experience, and the need for more concrete information prior to surgery were identified. These themes appeared to be embedded in a core theme: relationship with the neurosurgeon. CONCLUSIONS: The relationship with the neurosurgeon appears crucial to the patient experience of AC. This knowledge underscores the need for effective doctor-patient communication skills which could lead to improved delivery of care and more positive outcomes.