Wow: Inside Amex's glistening new Centurion club in midtown Manhattan
Picture yourself perched above Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan, walking around the 55th floor of one of the city's newest skyscrapers.
No matter where you turn in this space, you feel like you're in the center of the world. Exit the elevator and walk straight for an up-close view of the Chrysler Building. Turn the other direction, and you've got the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center in the distance.
Times Square, the MetLife Building, Central Park, you name it, and you can see it from this space. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of LaGuardia Airport.
And while the airport may seem like a world away once you've settled into the 55th floor of the One Vanderbilt building, this skyscraper actually shares one (big) thing in common with LaGuardia: both are now home to American Express Centurion lounges.
No, Amex isn't duplicating the airport lounge experience in midtown Manhattan. Instead, the issuer is opening a brand-new exclusive club designed for its top cardmembers in one of the city's tallest buildings.
Dubbed "Centurion New York," this 11,500-square-foot club is opening on March 9, and there's a ton to get excited about — even if you don't have a "black card."
Want a detailed peek inside? Come join us for a tour.
Centurion New York access
Centurion New York is located on the 55th floor of One Vanderbilt and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
One Vanderbilt is located just a few steps from Grand Central Terminal in the Midtown East area of Manhattan. Those entering the building to access the Centurion New York are asked to check in at the Madison Avenue lobby.
You'll need to bring your government-issued photo ID to enter the building and complete guest registration.
Reservations for Centurion New York are broken down into two groups: those who have a "black card" and those who don't.
Centurion Card holders have access to priority dining reservations, private dining and lounges, an onsite concierge, and member-only events. Centurion Card holders are welcome to walk in and can bring guests, subject to capacity, but reservations are recommended.
Centurion members can make reservations by downloading the Centurion New York mobile app or by calling the phone number on the back of their card.
Everyone else needs a reservation to enter the club. You can snag a table via Resy (at this link), or by calling 212-597-9070 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on weekdays.
If you can't find a reservation, you can add yourself to the Resy "notify" waitlist, and a representative will call you if a table becomes available.
Just note that due to high demand and limited capacity, reservations will undoubtedly be difficult to secure — there aren't currently any available as of press time.
Centurion New York layout
After the elevator whisks you up to the 55th floor, the doors open to a dimly lit corridor that's flanked on both sides by two signature views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.
On one side, you'll see the gargoyle-inspired ornaments of the Chrysler Building, and on the other, you'll find Bryant Park and the Empire State Building.
After spending a few moments being mesmerized by the view, you'll walk through this sleek, wood-lined hallway to the reception desk.
The host will confirm your reservation and usher you into one of three main spaces, all of which are arranged around the perimeter of the 55th floor to maximize the view. (By design, all back-of-house areas are located in the interior of the club.)
The first space is known as "The Salon," which is designed as a meeting area for everyone. It's the most informal room in Centurion New York and will likely be the buzziest. It's where you might want to take a call or meet a friend or colleague during the day, and it's the only area where laptops are allowed (before 6 p.m.)
Right next door is "The Studio," which is designed as a casual dining restaurant with an a la carte menu. Here you'll find a bar, along with a bunch of tables (none of which have white tablecloths).
As you transition through "The Studio," you'll make your way into the main dining room, dubbed "The Gallery." This is where the magic happens, so to speak.
It doesn't just boast some of the best views of New York's cityscape, but it's also where you'll enjoy the finest foods on offer here. (More about the culinary experience below).
Aside from the change in artwork lining the walls, the tables here are set with white tablecloths, which help demarcate this as the fanciest space in the lounge.
No matter where you turn, you're sure to be impressed by the bespoke design from famed studio Yabu Pushelberg and artwork curated by Hanabi: Art & Artists.
Every room has a different "feel" — the salon boasts art themed around New York City in the 1970s and 1980s from artists like Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus and Vivian Maier. Meanwhile, the gallery hosts an eclectic mix of works that range in color and subject matter, inviting guests to reflect on their own lives.
Regardless of where you're sitting, you'll definitely want to dress the part. Centurion New York has a "smart casual/chic attire" dress code, with no athleisure, inappropriate or offensive clothing allowed.
Once you step inside and see the design for yourself, you'll be glad you put on that fancy outfit. While Amex has been working hard in recent years to make its airport Centurion Lounges nicer and more luxurious, this space is in a league of its own.
From the couches to the dining tables to the rugs, Centurion New York feels more like you've stepped foot into a three-Michelin-star restaurant than a fancy airport lounge.
In addition to the aforementioned spaces, Amex carved out a few more areas designed exclusively for Centurion members. This includes two private dining rooms (adorned with custom-built chandeliers) and a larger dedicated event space with a bar — all of which can be reserved for meetings, weddings or parties on a first-come, first-served basis for an additional fee.
Furthermore, there is a special wine vault and cellar located near the entrance, which is also limited to Centurion members and their guests. Whether you're looking for a special wine tasting or a private dinner far away from everyone else, this space could be a great option.
As you're sipping your wine, take in the scenery from this corner room. From the outside, you've got prime views of Manhattan, and on the inside, you'll find framed works by one of The New Yorker’s most prolific artists, Saul Steinberg.
Centurion New York food and beverage
While Centurion New York might feel like an exclusive club, the primary focus is on the culinary experience.
To that end, Amex partnered with popular chef Daniel Boulud, best known for his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel, to curate the menus in every food and beverage outpost here.
While I didn't (yet) have a chance to try his creations, I'll be sure to report back once I snag a reservation when the lounge officially opens. (I'll update this story once that happens.)
Centurion New York amenities
Some of Amex's best airport lounges boast special amenities that include spas, exercise studios and phone rooms, but here at Centurion New York, food and drinks are the main offerings.
That said, the club does have a dedicated full-time concierge desk (tucked into a private office near the entrance) that can help with any requests, whether it be last-minute tickets to a sports game or Broadway show or finding the perfect bouquet of flowers for your loved one.
Note that there is just one concierge on staff, so you may have better luck calling your dedicated Centurion line if the in-person agent gets busy.
Other than the concierge, you won't find any other amenities here that you'd typically see in a members club in New York — no showers, phone rooms or gyms.
There are 11 all-gender bathroom stalls spread throughout the space, and they're all beautiful. Picture large, dimly lit rooms pumped with an exclusive Diptyque scent specially crafted for Amex, along with a small seating stool and high-tech hands-free flushing and sinks.
Fast and free Wi-Fi (with download and upload speeds over 300 Mbps) is available throughout the lounge, and you'll find plenty of power outlets (with USB-A and USB-C charging ports) neatly tucked away in the salon area.
When news broke that American Express was opening a swanky new lounge in midtown Manhattan, I didn't know what to expect. Would it be a replica of the airport lounge experience or something very different?
After touring the space, I can confidently say that Centurion New York is most definitely not an airport lounge. While the former is designed for a quick visit, the new club in New York City invites you to stay awhile — grab a meal, enjoy a cocktail, taste some wine and maybe mingle with a friend or colleague.
That said, Amex is no doubt flexing its lounge muscles with the opening of Centurion New York. The culinary offerings, design and art are all a step (or three) above what the issuer offers in 15 airports worldwide, and Centurion New York is sure to be a hit with those who hold the issuer's "black card."
Better yet, the space will be open to everyone, but good luck snagging a reservation. After all, it took me just one quick visit to tell all my friends to start setting notifications to get a table.
For more about American Express Centurion Lounges, check out:
- Amex is opening a swanky new lounge in midtown Manhattan — here's how to get in
- Your complete guide to Amex Centurion Lounges
- Latest details on the upcoming new and expanded Amex Centurion Lounges
- Is the Amex Centurion (black) card still worth it?
- Amex to start charging for most Centurion Lounge guests in February