7 Centurion Lounges in 7 Days: The Results
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Alas, we’ve come to the end of my 7,500-mile journey, and I have successfully visited every Centurion Lounge in the US. My mission: to find out if Centurion Lounges in the US are living up to the hype or succumbing to the same fate as other domestic lounges. In typical TPG fashion, I spent the first week of August checking out the Centurion Lounges in San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Las Vegas (LAS), Houston (IAH), Dallas (DFW), Miami (MIA) and New York (LGA) — a new one in Philadelphia (PHL) is set to open later this year. Here’s a look at the route I took:
Access to the Centurion Lounge is complimentary if you have an American Express Centurion Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express — you can also bring in two guests. If you hold another American Express card (including those issued by other banks), you can buy a one-day pass for $50, though these can only be purchased in person on the day of travel and are subject to lounge capacity restrictions.
To get as close to an accurate representation of a typical day, I spent a minimum of three hours in each lounge and only visited during lunch and dinner time, evaluating the Wi-Fi, seating, food and beverage options, amenities and service. Now, it’s time to reveal the best Centurion Lounge in each respective category, and why fared so well. Note that these rankings are solely based on my personal observations in each lounge over a seven-day period, so it’s entirely possible that your own experience there will be different. Without further ado, here are the results.
Las Vegas (LAS)
The Las Vegas location offered the best seating options of all the lounges I visited. A large variety of seats, ranging from spacious arm chairs and private cube pillow seats to couches hidden in the wall, would satisfy solo travelers, business travel folks and families alike. Guests are also treated to beautiful views of the tarmac thanks to the lounge’s large floor-to-ceiling windows.
There were plenty of comfortable places to sit, whether you wanted to get some work done or lounge around.
The dining area also had a large booth that was unique to the Las Vegas lounge and provided even more spaces to sit while eating.
Here’s another look at the dining room.
Best Food and Beverage
San Francisco (SFO)
Out of all the lounges I visited, the San Francisco location had the best — and most delicious — variety of food and beverage options. When it comes to drinks, you can’t beat the Napa Valley inspired wine tasting, which is unique to this lounge.
As for the food, a menu designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Patterson included items sure to satisfy any tastebud. Main entrées for lunch included a fantastic combination of pork shoulder with coconut milk and a potato purée with infused rosemary.
If you’re not much of a meat-eater, a farro salad and sautéed kale with lemon chile flakes and extra virgin olive oil were also available.
As for dessert, you could get your fill of oatmeal cookies and creamy chocolate mousse.
In case you were still hungry after all that, you could always grab a slice of banana bread near the coffee and tea dispenser.
When it comes to amenities, the Dallas Centurion Lounge is second to none. As soon as you walk in, there are private lockers available to store your belongings in — something I didn’t see at any other location — while other amenities included a soundproof family room for the kids to play in and a private conference room with computers. The shower was spacious and incredibly clean, unlike some of the others I visited on this trip.
I especially appreciated the L’Occitane vanity set that came with cotton pads, shower gel and a shower cap.
Another highlight of this lounge was its included — and complimentary — spa services, including candles, warm towels and tea prior to your appointment. Talk about relaxation.
Once inside the spa, treat yourself to a 15-minute massage or a manicure.
Las Vegas (LAS)
Access to Wi-Fi is one of the most important considerations for any lounge guest and having the proper download and upload speeds allows you to get some work done or Netflix and chill out on a comfy couch during a long layover.
While American Express advertises high speed internet access in all its Centurion Lounges, that unfortunately wasn’t the case during my visits and many locations, including San Francisco, Houston and Dallas, had dismal speeds that barely reached 2 Mbps. Fortunately, the one lounge that blew away the competition — Las Vegas — had incredible speeds of 79.99 Mbps. It wasn’t even close. Check out those numbers:
I experienced great service in all the lounges I visited, but that should really be a given with the Centurion brand. In particular though, the Seattle location excelled in almost every single facet of service. As soon as I walked in, I was warmly greeted by the desk attendants. Once I was checked in, I was offered fruit and informed of where I could find the food and beverages. Once in the dining room, I noticed that food items were constantly replenished and tables were instantly cleaned by lounge attendants. The best part, however, were the bartenders, who operated smoothly under the pressure of a busy lounge and fast-paced cocktail orders. Any questions I had were answered and I was even told a little about the history of Seattle while I waited for my drink.
Best Overall Lounge
Las Vegas (LAS)
My favorite lounge during this trip was the Las Vegas location. In terms of The Final Ratings for the lounge, it scored the highest with 21/25. Not surprisingly, it turns out that beautiful tarmac views and plenty of available seating make a powerful combination. The food at this lounge was incredible, with honey lemongrass chicken being perhaps the single best entrée I’ve had at a Centurion Lounge. The Wi-Fi performed very well, with download speeds of 79.99 Mbps that more than lived up to the high speed internet access American Express advertises.
Even though there’s room for a few small improvements —more frequent food refills at 8:00pm and the opportunity to take a shower would have been nice — I still had an excellent time. Overall, the Las Vegas lounge excelled in the three most important categories — the seating variety and ability to find a spot, the food offerings and strong W-Fi — making it easy to look beyond its modest amenities and average service.
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Which is your favorite Amex Centurion Lounge? Tell us about it, below.
Editor’s note: This series of Centurion Lounge reviews was produced by one of TPG’s editorial interns this summer. Each was assigned an intern project. All photos by the author.