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Los Angeles-based TPG Assistant Editor Melanie Wynne recently had a chance to check out the new Oneworld International Business Lounge at LAX… here’s her review!
Unveiled just yesterday, the new oneworld International Business Lounge at Los Angeles’ LAX is a real winner. Set on Level 5 of the sparkling Tom Bradley International Terminal (fully renovated as of June 2013) and serving Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways, the lounge’s overall design puts a modern spin on Southern California’s popular Mid-Century style, and the food is surprisingly delicious for an airport lounge.
The new business lounge presently seats 400, but by early 2015, it will expand to include a Qantas First Class Lounge, with an enlarged buffet area, full a la carte restaurant, and room for more than 200 additional customers. Built around a large central atrium hung with a splashy, multi-story art installation, the lounge manages a good balance of low lighting for those who want to rest or work/look at a screen, and sun for those who want a last dose of vitamin D before they board a long flight.
There are several different types of seating areas here, including long tables (both low and high) for those who want to eat, work or surf the net (the complimentary Wifi is blazing fast), and chairs that are either low-slung and padded, high-backed and leather-upholstered, or updated versions of the famous Eames plywood lounge chair. The most innovative decor feature is a circular couch surrounding a semi-covered gas firepit that’s set into a wide ring of marble, a play on the popular hanging fireplaces of the 1960s. Set away from the main action and near the bathrooms, this is an especially good spot for families with small kids to stretch out and relax.
Qantas in particular has partnered with Sofitel to ensure that the service standards here are consistent with those offered in its Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Singapore lounges. Elite perks for those traveling in First Class on any of the three airlines – as well as Qantas Platinum Frequent Flyers, Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond elites, BA Executive Club Gold elites, and oneworld Emerald members – include shirt pressing, shoe shining and priority access to the lounge’s nine shower suites. Bath products in the shower suites (and restrooms) are by Australia’s Aurora Spa, and include the softly fragrant Rose and Shea Hand Cream and the actually-detangling Grapefruit & Aloe Replenishing Conditioner.
The black-tiled full bar features signature cocktails that include a scratch margarita and non-alcoholic tropical fruit juice fizzes, as well as premium wines from Australia and California. Guests can hang out around the bar itself (where the service is friendly and you can have all the tasty raspberry thumbprint cookies you want) or wander to a low-lit adjacent lounge area, the firepit, etc. The vibe is a cross between hanging out in a hotel lobby and being at a cocktail party in someone’s home, albeit one where you just happen to have a suitcase with you.
The buffet menu, composed by Australian star chef Neil Perry, is frankly impressive, with a wide array of fresh salads, hot items, and desserts. Standouts include a salad of quinoa, feta, spinach and semi-dried tomatoes; a slow-roasted stew of beef short rib and figs (a strange choice in summertime, but yummy, nonetheless); two types of string beans tossed with roasted hazelnuts and a lightly sweet orange dressing; a fresh, seasonal fruit salad; and strips of key lime pie with a rich, buttery crust.
Bonus: remember that this is star-studded Los Angeles, so you just might find yourself rubbing elbows with a celebrity – like, say, singer Robin Thicke - at the chafing dishes.
The oneworld lounge’s menu is meant to highlight the produce and cuisines most prevalent in Southern California, including street food. Two stainless steel food carts feature hot dogs and tacos – both some of L.A.’s favorite meals – which are cool concepts in theory, but fall short in the authenticity department. The spicy hot dog itself is yummy, but its thick roll is pretty dry, and the topping combo of chopped-olive salsa, onions and black beans is nothing you’d find on an actual Angeleno’s link. The main attractions of the tacos (shredded tinga pork and Baja-style breaded fish) are spot-on, but you could find a better alternative to their cold, store-bought tortillas on any taco truck in Los Angeles.
Overall, this lounge is stunning, and makes me want to book a Business-class trip anywhere Qantas, Cathay Pacific or British Airways flies just to have a chance to hang out here for awhile. I can hardly wait to see it again when the First Class lounge opens next year.
Who Can Use LAX’s OneWorld Business Lounge
Note that those eligible to use this lounge must be booked on a Business or First Class flight on one of the three airlines – Qantas, Cathay Pacific or British Airways – or be an elite member of any of the following:
Qantas Chairmans Lounge, Platinum One, Platinum Frequent Flyers, Gold Frequent Flyers or Qantas Club
Marco Polo Club Diamond or Gold
British Airways Executive Club Gold or Silver
Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire