When it comes to lounges, airports in the United States have historically lagged far (so, so far) behind Europe, Asia and the Middle East -- until now. Delta, United, American Airlines' and their affiliated partners have plodded along for too long with what they consider hospitality: uncomfortable chairs which could have been bought from any doctor's office fire sale in the 1990's, dark, weird work/quiet spaces and pathetic pabulum that passes for food.
But a resolute revolution has begun by American Express, determined to show their love for their customers -- and no longer in lounge partnerships with two out of the three major airlines. A few years ago the credit card company started building its own Centurion Lounges in select airports to show the others how its done -- and they've succeeded in ways we've only seen in London, Dubai, Shanghai or Tokyo.
The latest Centurion Lounge, which just opened this past weekend in Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), inside Terminal D, is fantastic.
When you walk into reception, there is a living wall of plants -- the space is clean, bright and relaxing.
The amenities include noise-buffering workspaces, a plethora of power outlets, private phone areas, a family room, comfortable seating, a computer bar, tranquility areas, access to high-speed Wi-Fi, showers and a custom art installation by local Houston artist Patrick Renner.
But let's talk about what I really care about: the food and beverage -- which is free (my favorite word).
The lounge's menu was created by James Beard award-winning Chef Justin Yu, a Houston native and Chef/Owner of Oxheart who said, "Growing up in a family that ran Cantonese restaurants, I learned to cook in an Asian style, but I also infuse a strong Southern influence in my food -- it's a quirky take on southern cooking."
Yu's custom menu will rotate regularly for variety and seasonality, and will include local Houston favorites such as griddled johnnycakes with strawberry and pink peppercorn jam, thickened cream, and honey along with braised chicken thighs in harissa with dried fruit, nuts, and avocado crema. Asian inspired dishes also include light mushroom broth with miso.
For more on this lounge, and the other amazing airport lounges that are actually worth your time, click HERE.