Here’s your sneak peek of the Amex Centurion Lounge in Charlotte
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American Express is switching the executive chef of the Centurion Lounge outpost in Charlotte. James Beard Award finalist Chef Gregory Collier will now oversee the food service at the lounge.
The revamped menu focuses on Southern classics that honor Mississippi river valley foodways (Memphis; Jackson, Mississippi; and New Orleans). Highlights include:
- French toast topped with a golden raisin compote and black pepper whipped cream.
- Roasted cabbage with andouille sausage and hot honey.
2020 promises to be a big year for the Centurion Lounge network. Amex just opened its 10th location, in Phoenix, last month and it’s planning to add five more lounges to the network before the end of the year.
And now it’s gearing up to open its 11th location at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Monday, Feb. 24.
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I had the opportunity to get a first look at the new lounge and there’s lots to love about it, so let’s dive right in.
The lounge is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. For starters, you need to have The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee. See rates & fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or The Centurion® Card to access the Centurion Lounge. Visitors are entitled to bring two guests (or immediate family, if you carry a Centurion card), and lap infants don’t count against the two-guest allotment.
The information for the Centurion Card 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.
Cardmembers with other flavors of the Platinum Card, such as the Schwab, Ameriprise or international versions, also have access. Authorized users with a Centurion or Platinum Card can also enter — you can add up to three authorized users to the personal Platinum Card for a total of $175 per year (see rates and fees) — but those who have the Platinum’s complimentary additional Gold Card don’t have access. This is the best strategy if you need to get a family larger than three in the Centurion Lounge.
Note that Platinum cardmembers can only access Centurion lounges up to three hours before a departing flight. Platinum members also get access when connecting through the airport, but won’t get access without an onward boarding pass.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders receive complimentary access to the Centurion Lounge when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on any American Express card issued in the U.S. You’ll be able to bring up to two guests for a fee of $50 each.
RELATED: Why you should get the Amex Platinum
If you’re got the right card, then you’re welcome to visit any Centurion Lounge subject to a few access rules.
The lounge is located after security at the intersection of concourses D and E, on the top floor of a new airport expansion called "The Plaza." All gates are connected post-security at CLT, so you can enter the lounge regardless of what airline you’re flying.
To enter, you’ll take an elevator up to the mezzanine level, which opens directly into the lounge.
The first thing you’ll notice is the signature blue entrance wall with plenty of Amex branding.
The reception area is lined with a living wall. It’s located just around the corner from the elevators and features three check-in desks.
Fortunately, this lounge will participate in the mobile check-in feature, so there shouldn’t be too much of a wait to enter.
The first thing I noticed when entering the lounge is the refreshed color palette. There’s a lot more blue and burgundy and much less green than other Centurion Lounges.
There’s plenty of seating throughout. You’ll find a variety of couches, freestanding recliners and signature Centurion Lounge solo seats all around.
There’s also a long co-working table just by the entrance next to one of two media walls.
You’ll find more seating in the other rooms, including four blue chairs built into the wall.
Unlike the San Francisco location, each relaxation area is divided by walls and pillars to add some more privacy.
Amex also added special light fixtures and thick carpeting to keep the space at a relaxing noise level.
Thanks to the expansive windows and high ceilings, the space is filled with natural light. Even though Amex frosted the lower windows, the plane-spotting is great from the upper windows.
The best views of the airfield and Uptown Charlotte are from the cafe and dining area. Here you’ll find 11 freestanding two-top tables, five couch tables and nine seats at the counter.
As a solo traveler, I often enjoy sitting at the bar — and this lounge doesn’t disappoint. There are 13 barstools spread around the beautifully appointed L-shaped bar.
A unique design element is the custom 30-foot-long wallpaper mural adorning the wall by the buffet. Titled “the one you love is not far away,” Amanda Moody depicts her interpretation of the minute details of nature.
Overall, I thought Amex did a great job with the layout. At 13,000 square feet and a capacity for more than 250 passengers, this lounge is on the larger side.
I’m sure it’ll still suffer from overcrowding at times, but that’s to be expected when you build the nicest lounge in the Charlotte airport.
Food and beverage
The lounge’s culinary offerings put the nearby Admirals Club to shame.
Amex partnered with award-winning chef Joe Kindred at this lounge, and the menus sure sound appetizing.
And good news -- the food tasted as good as it looked. Some members of the TPG team sampled a selection of the all-day dining, including the milk bread French toast, buttermilk fried chicken, cauliflower steak, sweet potato hash and little gem salad, and we were all impressed.
The buffet is located just between the dining room and main relaxation area. I imagine it’ll get quite busy once the lounge opens, but hopefully, the kitchen can keep up with the demand.
The drink selection looks great too. The cocktail menu is curated by Jim Meehan from Please Don’t Tell in New York City. Wines are picked by renowned sommelier Anthony Giglio.
The lounge is still operating with a temporary liquor license, so the only liquid creation I tried was the Centurion Lounge signature cocktail Blue Door. I loved the mix of Johnnie Walker Black, Myers’s Dark Rum, Benedictine and lemon juice.
There are also four beers on tap, including some local favorites like Cavu.
You don’t have to go to bar to quench your thirst. There are three coffee stations spread throughout the lounge serving Durham, North Carolina-based Counter Culture coffee.
You could make your preferred drink using one of the Franke machines or simply grab some H2O from the filtered tap.
Though this lounge isn’t the amenity king (that’s Dallas), there’s still plenty here to enjoy.
To start, there are three uniquely designed phone rooms. Each one pays homage to the topography of North Carolina including the ocean, mountains and flora. The vibrant colors add a nice touch to the otherwise bland phone rooms.
Parents will appreciate the family room. It’s located in the far corner of the lounge near the restrooms and will be outfitted with children’s toys shortly.
The Charlotte location also excels at delivering the table stakes amenities, including large restrooms, plenty of well-placed power and USB ports and speedy Wi-Fi.
There are also two showers in this lounge, each featuring L’Occitane products.
What’s missing here is a spa, conference room and business center. I very much support removing common-use computers in exchange for more lounge space -- as long as there’s printing available somewhere in the lounge.
This Centurion Lounge is poised to become Charlotte's best lounge when it opens on Monday. With a beautifully appointed space, delicious food and drinks, and a slew of amenities, you may not want to leave.
Though the lounge is on the larger side, time will tell how crowded it gets. If it’s not too full, then there’s no better place to relax in the Charlotte airport.
All photos by the author.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.