American Express has a restaurant in Sweden for premium cardholders: Here’s what it’s like
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Editor’s note: We’ve completely rewritten this guide after a writer visited the lounge herself for a meal before departing Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
While in Stockholm, I chatted with a fellow traveler over dinner. He mentioned being excited to use his Austrian-issued American Express card to visit an Amex restaurant before his flight the next day at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
After dinner, I looked up the restaurant lounge he spoke of and found the Pontus in the Air American Express lounge. In reading about the lounge, I discovered I’d have access with my U.S.-issued The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
So, I decided to give this Amex restaurant lounge a try before a recent flight back to the U.S. Here’s what you should know about this lounge, including my thoughts on whether Amex should expand the concept to reduce crowding at its Centurion Lounges in the U.S.
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What is the Pontus in the Air Amex lounge?
Swedish restaurateur Pontus Frithiof has a restaurant at Stockholm Arlanda Airport named Pontus in the Air. This restaurant is available to all travelers. But, within the restaurant, there’s a special American Express lounge area. This area has a smaller menu from which eligible Amex cardholders can eat and drink for no extra cost as a benefit of their card.
This special area within the restaurant is relatively small. So, when I visited at the start of a Swedish school holiday, the area was full and the host offered to seat us in the main restaurant instead. She ensured us we’d still have access to the complimentary American Express menu, drinks and self-serve buffet.
The Pontus in the Air Amex lounge is special compared with most airline and Priority Pass lounges because it serves complimentary, made-to-order, a la carte food. As I’ll describe in the next section, the food is restaurant-quality, which you won’t find at most other lounges.
Food and drink at the Pontus in the Air Amex lounge
The Pontus in the Air American Express lounge offers breakfast from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch or dinner from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
For breakfast, you’ll get a cheese and turkey sandwich, croissant, pain au chocolate, yogurt, Kullamust and coffee. However, if you have a Centurion Card, you unlock two additional options: an express-class breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and baked tomato or rye bread with crushed avocado and organic eggs.
For lunch and dinner, Platinum and Centurion cardholders can order any of the following:
- Roast beef open sandwich with Danish remoulade sauce, salad and fried onions.
- Chicken Caesar salad, croutons and crisp pancetta.
- Linguine pasta with mushrooms, asparagus, rocket and Grana Padano.
- Veal burger with potato puree, lingonberries, butter and green peas.
In addition to the meals, you also have access to a variety of other items, including:
- Red, white and rose wine, beer, soft drinks and juice.
- Digestif, mimosa or a gin and tonic — 50 Swedish kronor (about $5.30) for Platinum cardholders; included for Centurion cardholders.
- Fruit, biscuits and snacks from a self-serve buffet.
- Newspapers and magazines.
I tried the linguine pasta and rose wine while my husband ordered the veal burger and a beer. My pasta was fresh and light, but I loved the few bites I tried of the veal burger and potatoes. The veal was tender and mildly seasoned, while the potatoes were creamy and rich. I’ll order the burger next time I visit the lounge, assuming the menu hasn’t changed by then.
How to access the Pontus in the Air Amex lounge
The Pontus in the Air American Express lounge is in Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Terminal 5. Most international flights depart from this terminal, and the lounge is located before exit immigration, so you can visit regardless of whether you’re staying within the Schengen zone.
After clearing security in Terminal 5, head to the area between the A and F piers by Gate 4. Take the stairs up to the entrance on the mezzanine level. Turn right at the top of the stairs and you should see the restaurant and lounge entrance. There was a long shared line for the restaurant and Amex lounge that extended to near the top of the stairs when I visited. But the line moved relatively quickly, and I was seated within 16 minutes.
According to the American Express lounge website, you can gain access with an eligible American Express card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel and a government-issued ID. Here are the access policies as shown at the entrance to the restaurant lounge:
The information for the Centurion Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
You can bring one complimentary guest with you if you have a Platinum Card and two complimentary guests if you have a Centurion Card. And you can pay to bring additional guests at a rate of 500 Swedish kronor (about $53) for adults and 250 Swedish kronor (about $26) for children ages 3 through 12.
Should Amex expand this restaurant lounge concept?
The Pontus in the Air American Express lounge is best used as a place to eat a meal, not to relax or work. After all, the space is more a restaurant than a lounge. There are no power outlets at the tables. And, especially since space is limited, it’s best to eat and then move on.
As I was eating dinner at the Stockholm Amex lounge, however, I couldn’t help but think how opening similar restaurant lounges could help Amex reduce crowding at Centurion Lounges in the U.S. Plus, restaurant lounges could also let Amex provide quality lounge options at airports that don’t have Centurion Lounges.
So, I’d love to see Amex expand the restaurant lounge concept. Ideally, cardmembers could even make reservations in advance, with a modest fee charged for no-shows.
And if the restaurant lounges become too popular, Amex could limit cardholders to a set number of restaurant lounge visits per year. Amex could also limit cardholders to using just one lounge or restaurant lounge before each flight, similar to its policies in Phoenix for the Escape Lounge and Centurion Lounge.
I’d likely visit more traditional lounges to work before most flights, but it would be nice to have a restaurant lounge option before select trips. And I expect some travelers would happily choose a restaurant lounge over a Centurion Lounge if given the option.
Additional reporting by Ben Smithson.
Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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