Inside the exclusive — and much improved — Amex Centurion Suite at the US Open
The US Open is back, and so too is Amex’s VIP experience for its top cardmembers.
Each year at the nation’s most premier tennis tournament — hosted at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York — American Express, as one of the flagship sponsors, hosts an assortment of fan activations.
This ranges from a complimentary bag check to a contactless, checkout-free shop to quickly grab some nosh without missing a serve.
While the issuer has something for everyone — trust us, we visited it all — Amex’s top-tier card members are in for a special treat.
The issuer’s Centurion Suite, exclusively available this year by reservation through Resy, is open once again to cardmembers of The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Centurion Card.
Though the lounge will look familiar to anyone who’s visited before, it packs some mid-pandemic improvements, which I’ll discuss below.
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You’ll find the Centurion Suite located on the second floor of the Louis Armstrong stadium. It’s open daily from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. through Sept. 10 and until 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 and 12.
Once inside, you might close your eyes and imagine yourself in an airport in one of the issuer’s 14 Centurion Lounges worldwide.
That’s because much of the suite’s design is nearly identical to what you’d find in the airport, other than some tennis-themed branding like the rackets etched into the library wall or the lounge directory mapped with tennis balls.
Not much has changed aesthetically since the lounge first opened at the 2018 US Open. There are two main rooms for relaxation — the bar and buffet area with high-top seating, as well as the more formal dining and living room with two- and four-top tables.
There’s also a small covered deck, but you’ll need to specifically reserve an outdoor table to sit there.
In 2019, Amex surprised in-the-know cardmembers with a speakeasy built into the Centurion Suite, to celebrate the then-upcoming opening of the flagship JFK lounge (that features a large speakeasy, too).
This year, the speakeasy space has been reimagined.
While there’s still a mixologist inside, it’s been rebranded as the “1850 Gallery.” 1850 in a nod to the year Amex was founded, and a gallery to highlight the library you’ll find in Amex’s newest lounge, located just a stone’s throw away from the US Open in LaGuardia’s Terminal B.
Inside the 1850 Gallery, you’ll find travel-themed books curated by New York-based bookseller McNally Jackson.
While you’re perusing the space, the mixologist can whip up the daily special. When I visited, I was served the “Last Word,” a gin-based cocktail that draws inspiration from the Seattle area.
Why specifically Seattle? For one, there’s a Centurion Lounge there. But also, the gallery’s book of the day was “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple, which takes place in, you guessed it, Seattle.
You can expect similar city-themed cocktails inspired by different novels on other days.
Outside of the 1850 Gallery, the Centurion Suite offers a selection of chef-inspired light bites and cocktails.
Small plates, served by representatives at the buffet and enjoyed at your table, are designed by Ignacio Mattos and Cédric Vongerichten, the two executive chefs of the Amex Centurion Lounges at New York’s JFK and LaGuardia airports.
Everything I tried was tasty, especially the mozzarella and sun-dried tomato crostini.
As you enter the lounge, you’ll receive a complimentary drink coupon which can be redeemed at the main bar or inside the 1850 Gallery.
The bartenders are happy to whip up your desired creation, including my personal favorite and the US Open’s signature drink, the Honey Deuce.
Additional drinks are chargeable, though bottled Evian water is available for free.
Other perks of the Centurion Suite include upscale restrooms with Supergoop sunscreen and L’Occitane hand products, access to outlets and phone chargers and takeaway gifts when you leave. (There’s also unlimited air conditioning inside, which offered a much-needed relief from the late August humidity.)
Since this is the first time the Centurion Suite is open during the pandemic, some (largely positive) changes have been implemented to streamline the experience.
For one, there’s no longer an in-person waitlist to enter. Only those with confirmed reservations can use the lounge for a 60-minute window.
Combined with the 65% capacity cap, it makes the lounge feel considerably more spacious compared to before the pandemic.
Of course, it means fewer people can use the facility, but once inside, it’s much more comfortable than before.
This year, each reservation is assigned a dining table, so you can leave your belongings while fetching food from the buffet without worrying about your seat being taken — and struggling to find another one altogether.
In addition to a vaccine mandate to enter the US Open, Amex requires that masks be worn indoors when you’re not actively eating or drinking.
As mentioned, all food at the buffet is served by representatives, and the line moved quite quickly during my visit.
If you’re catching some tennis at US Open, be sure to snag a reservation at the Centurion Suite. (If you can’t find availability, monitor Resy for last-minute cancellations and standby availability.)
It’s Amex’s most premium cardmember offering at the tournament, and it shows — the light bites are delicious, the drinks are refreshing and the space is more comfortable than ever.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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