A small, hidden gem: A review of the Phoenix Escape Lounge
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With the opening of two brand-new lounges, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport just got a lot more relaxing. The Centurion Lounge and Escape Lounge, both accessible to Amex premium cardmembers, are great choices for travelers looking to avoid the craziness of the airport terminal.
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We've already reviewed the Centurion Lounge, so in this post, we'll take a look at the neighboring Escape Lounge.
Sharing an entrance with the American Express Centurion Lounge, the Phoenix outpost of the Escape Lounge is also located in Terminal 4. Specifically, the lounge is located in the international pier on the upper level across from Gate B22.
Read more about why you should get the Amex Platinum
All gates at Terminal 4 are connected airside, so you don't need to re-clear security if you're flying from a different gate in the same terminal. However, if you're flying from another terminal, you’ll need to pass through security separately at Terminal 4 to access the Escape Lounge.
The PHX Sky Train connects Terminal 4 with Terminal 3, and you can walk from there to Terminal 2, though there are no airside connections to Terminal 4.
The Escape Lounge is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Escape Lounges in the U.S. are part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection.
This means that those who hold premium American Express cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, have complimentary access to Escape Lounges with up to two guests. Enrollment required.
If you fly through PHX often, this could be a great time to pick up the Platinum card. Amex just opened the brand-new Centurion Lounge next door, so you now have two very good lounge options in Phoenix.
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If you don’t have an eligible Platinum or Centurion Card from American Express, you can purchase a lounge pass ahead of time for $40 or at the lounge entrance for $45. Children under 2 years of age may accompany you free of charge, but all other children are charged the normal adult rate.
This Escape location also welcomes British Airways premium passengers flying to London and beyond. Unfortunately, this lounge will not become a member of Priority Pass.
In short, the Escape Lounge is the smaller cousin of the Centurion Lounge. When you enter, you'll immediately find yourself in the main relaxation area.
This area is quite compact, though it features a variety of seating types.
There are eight armchair-style plush chairs, a few small couches, seemingly Ikea-inspired white chairs and some high-top seating. Though there isn't much seating, everything is nicely appointed and well designed.
Behind the living room is the bar, which features some L-shaped counter seating.
Just past the bar is the lounge's buffet, as well as seven two-top tables that'd be great for travelers looking to eat and work at the same time. These tables are accented by the beautiful backdrop of the Arizona desert.
At the end of these tables is the lounge's "flex" room. This room is designed as a shared space between the Centurion and Escape lounges and will be converted into relaxation space for whichever lounge is busier.
Unfortunately, even with the added space, the Escape Lounge feels small.
The space features all of the classics you'd expect for a premium airport lounge. To start, there are plenty of power outlets and USB ports spread throughout the lounge.
Though physically adjacent to the Centurion Lounge, this space has its own Wi-Fi network, which is much slower than the one in the Centurion. I clocked speeds at 10 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload. So, if you happen to be seated in the Escape Lounge, but have access to the Centurion, I'd definitely recommend connecting to its Wi-Fi network.
This lounge shares a shower suite with the Centurion. While the shower itself is quite nice, there's only one for the two lounges. Basically, expect to wait.
There are two single-use restrooms in the lounge, which definitely won't be enough for the peak afternoon and evening demand.
You won't find many newspapers here because the lounge offers complimentary access to PressReader, which is a comprehensive digital library of more than 1,200 publications.
If you prefer to read in silence, the lounge just ordered three of the latest Bose noise-canceling headphones (I still prefer my AirPods Pro) for you to borrow during your stay. This is a unique feature that I haven't seen in other lounges.
Lastly, if you're traveling with children, be sure to ask for free kids' activity packs, coloring books and crayons.
Food and beverage
This lounge shares a kitchen with the Centurion, so it's no surprise that the food is curated by the same renowned chef Doug Robson.
While the Centurion serves food buffet-style, the Escape Lounge focuses on tapas-style. Most of the food items are similar, though the presentation is slightly different.
The full menu can be found below.
I tried breakfast at the lounge, which tasted similar to that of the Centurion. I particularly enjoyed the Mexican-style pancake and greek yogurt served in a small mason jar.
At 11:30 a.m., the food switched to all-day fare. I tried an assortment of tasty small plates and particularly liked the roasted cauliflower and el chino salad.
Though the food is mostly the same as the Centurion, the drink menu is quite different. Here, the liquor selection is chosen by Sarah McElroy, head mixologist of the Escape Lounge network.
All five featured cocktails sounded quite good. If you're looking to drink something else, the bartender was on hand to help quench your thirst.
There's also a Thermoplan coffee machine by the buffet to satisfy your caffeine craving.
My favorite part of the food offering was the Escape Lounge signature milk-and-cookie bar. There were two jars of cookies -- chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin -- as well as a jug of milk. In my book, there's nothing wrong with milk and cookies at 5:30 a.m.
The Escape Lounge in Phoenix is a hidden gem in the airport's busiest terminal. The lounge itself is nicely appointed, though it's a bit small. The food and drink selection is impressive, and the quality is well above-average. In addition, there's some cool amenities like noise-canceling headphones to borrow and children's activity packs.
If you've got a Platinum card, this is a great alternative to the neighboring Centurion Lounge. I'd avoid the Escape Lounge in the evening when the British Airways flight departs, but otherwise, if you're looking for an escape, you've found the right place.
All photos by the author.