5 distinctive amenities in the Capital One Lounge that impressed me the most
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An airport lounge can be a place of respite amid the chaos of travel. But not all lounges are created equal.
For years now, American Express has stood alone among credit card issuers in crafting elevated airport lounge experiences with their popular Centurion Lounge network. Behind Amex’s iconic blue doors are sophisticated work and relaxation areas, kitchens serving seasonal menus created by celebrity chefs and even spas and other airport-specific features (like a speakeasy at the New York-JFK outpost). But Amex now has competition.
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Capital One is entering the airport lounge game. And it is looking to take on incumbents, including Amex, with its own high-end, curated take on the lounge experience.
I recently got to preview Capital One’s first airport lounge, a stunning 10,000-square-foot facility located at Terminal D of Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW).
Set to open in November to eligible guests, the lounge features a host of truly unique amenities — from a small Peloton studio to multifaith prayer rooms — that set it apart from others, including Amex. Here are the five distinctive amenities that impressed me the most at Capital One’s first airport lounge.
1. High-quality food to go
When you think of airport lounge food, you might automatically picture stale buffet items swathed in plastic wrap. But Capital One is taking its food in a fresher direction, with an impressive central dining area and a selection of regionally inspired dishes using items from local producers.
I sampled a variety of individually plated items from the buffet, including a hearty and flavorful beef bibimbap bowl and crunchy, cream-filled cannolis from the all-day menu, plus flaky croissants and a light parfait from the breakfast menu. All were delicious and worthy of being served at an upscale restaurant.
However, what’s truly unique is that Capital One has created an entire grab-and-go section so that travelers with tight connections can take food and beverages with them on their next flight. This is ideal for those with only a few minutes to spare before boarding.
From salads and grain bowls to sandwiches, mixed fruit and more, there is a comprehensive to-go selection, all individually packed in sealed containers. A variety of canned seltzers from Aha and bottled fresh juices are also available — along with no less than a dozen other beverages that are offered on tap.
I was particularly impressed with the selection of protein-rich bowls, including a rainbow carrot, chicken and crema one with the ability to evenly distribute the dressing with a few simple shakes. There was even a Nutella-and-banana sandwich that makes your average PB&J seem like a sad relic. Cold-brew coffee and draft lattes from one of my favorite cafes, La Colombe, are also available on tap.
Each lounge guest can also take a reusable canvas Capital One-branded bag to carry these items out with them in case they don’t fit in their other bags, which is a nice touch.
2. Sustainable toiletries in the shower suite
All Capital One Lounges announced thus far — Dallas (DFW), Denver (DEN) and Washington Dulles (IAD) — will feature shower suites where travelers can refresh before a flight. While an airport shower is always an appreciated feature, it’s not unique in and of itself. However, I was impressed to see Capital One partner with a company called Sunrise Session to offer a novel take on body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
Here’s an alternative to wall-dispensed soap AND single use plastic toiletries. @CapitalOne’s airport lounges have these neat water-soluble “droplets” from Sunrise Session in the shower suite. pic.twitter.com/LzkDWCImFS
— Chris Dong (@thechrisflyer) October 21, 2021
Sunrise Session’s toiletries are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastics, and also eliminate the need for the wall-mounted soaps that some frequent travelers loathe.
A few drops of water essentially dissolve the lining of what holds the soap, and a Capital One representative told me that guests will have access to more soap pods should they need them. Aside from the novelty of a dissolving shampoo pack, the products themselves looked and smelled really nice, so the next time I pop through the lounge, you can bet I’m going to test them out for myself.
3. Local artists on display
Capital One seems to have put a lot of thought into the overall ambiance and decor of its first lounge, with an eye toward highlighting the locale.
Immediately upon walking into the space, I noticed the array of art that hung on every wall. It almost felt like entering a gallery, with diverse perspectives and various mediums on full display.
In total, there are 55 pieces of original artwork, all by local artists, with some pieces created exclusively for the Capital One Lounge. Capital One worked with the Tappan Collective, an online gallery that discovers and promotes emerging artists, in curating the pieces for the lounge. Many of the works are intended to be thought-provoking conversation starters, and certainly aren’t your typical cityscapes or stock image photography.
One artist, Dallas-based Riley Holloway, has several pieces in the lounge and uses a traditional oil painting technique and bold lines to create depth within portraits.
“I started my career in Dallas so it’s nice to see my work featured as part of the permanent art collection within the space and I hope it creates interesting moments for those that visit,” Holloway told TPG.
4. Power nap in a sleep pod … or work out on a Peloton
An entire section of the lounge is dedicated to a so-called “wellness corridor” with amenities and spaces meant to help travelers recharge and rejuvenate.
On one hand, if you want to get some quick rest in, Capital One partnered with a company called Metropods on two rooms dedicated to napping. The pod itself is ergonomically designed and feels almost like a futuristic spaceship with a shell that swivels so you can have near-complete darkness. Then, at the touch of a button, you can activate the sleep sequence with meditative music and an array of programmed lights and vibrations.
I gave it a whirl and if you’ve used a meditation app such as Calm or Headspace, you’ll probably feel right at home in the sleep pod. The audio and visual components certainly took a moment to get used to but after a few seconds, I felt at ease and completely forgot I was in the middle of an airport terminal in Dallas.
In the room, there’s also a sumptuous sleep mask, plush blankets, a fully closable curtain and, most impressively, a ceiling that is supposed to emulate a starry night sky. Reservations are required for the roughly 20-minute slot and can be made upon check-in to the lounge.
The sleep masks are thickly padded and come from a brand called Sound Oasis. Meanwhile, the “star-lit” ceiling sets a calming mood before and after entering the pod itself.
Take a spin class
If you want to break a sweat instead, there’s a cycling and yoga room with mats, resistance bands and two Peloton bikes complete with runway views. While this isn’t the first airport lounge to feature Peloton, it’s still a relative rarity to find a post-security space where you can get in a preflight workout. Just make sure you stake out a time slot in that shower room after your workout!
5. Multifaith rooms and a focus on travel inclusivity
One of the more unusual airport lounge features, at least here in the U.S., is the two multifaith prayer and mediation rooms at the far end of the wellness corridor that also provide privacy.
These rooms are outfitted with amenities such as foot-washing stations and prayer rugs, and even indicate the direction of Mecca. For Muslim-identifying guests that would like to perform their prayers in a private setting, these are all welcome features. It makes sense considering Texas has one of the highest populations of Muslims in the U.S. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex alone has over 150,000 Muslims.
But of course, these spaces are open for all to use, whether it’s for prayer, mediation or just a moment of peace and quiet.
Capital One’s first foray into the world of airport lounges knocks it out of the park. I was truly impressed with the refined details and unique touches that set the Capital One Lounge apart from others. Now, we’ll have to monitor the latest access requirements and an official opening date for DFW and beyond. Hopefully, these lounges don’t become too crowded as the word spreads.
Application link: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card available with a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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