I’m not sure how, but American Express figured out I was going to be in Las Vegas for Memorial Day Weekend, so they were kind enough to send me an invitation to visit the Centurion Lounge in McCarran International Airport. As a platinum card holder, access to the lounge usually costs $50, but they gave me a one time pass to check it out for free. (Update: Now all Platinum card holders can access Centurion lounges with two guests). Here are my impressions:
What is the Centurion Lounge?
American Express is in the process of creating Centurion lounges in various airports, though currently the one in Las Vegas is the only one that’s operational. The premise is that AMEX’s most elite cardholders can have a lounge to access when they are on the go. Centurion cardholders receive free access to the lounge while Platinum card holders need to pay a $50 fee to enter. If you’re not one of those two types of people – enjoy the food court (AMEX’s words, not mine!). I’m not sure I understand their business plan, but then again I’m not a high roller like that – either way, they gave me a free pass so I got to check it out!
Seating and Ambience
I thought the seating in the lounge was modern and classy. They had some crazy looking chairs that actually were quite comfortable (contrasted with modern crazy looking chairs that are completely uncomfortable). There are a lot of different types of seating – areas to sit by yourself if you’re traveling alone, spaces for groups, and of course an area to dine. Everything looked pretty high end to my untrained eye, with nice pillows and decorative touches. Of course, being a rube, all that mattered to me was whether the seats were comfortable, and they were!
There is also a kid’s room with toys and an Xbox 360! I wanted to get in there to play but some adults had taken over the room – it looked like they were having an intense discussion. Come to think of it, that was kind of weird – so I didn’t get to play Xbox. Oh well.
We got there around 11 AM so we got to eat both breakfast and lunch. The food was pretty good – it tasted more like lounge food of foreign carriers as opposed to the cheap stuff you get in the lounge for US based carriers. I’m not a foodie so I don’t know how to describe the food except to say it tasted good and I got seconds. I especially enjoyed the roast beef sandwich.
There was a nice spread at the buffet which was constantly replenished and cleaned, and the bar was well stocked.
The Little Things
The nicest thing about going to a lounge is the little things people do to help out. There were Ipads that you could borrow, I did that just to try it out. My friend also needed to keep some steak he was taking home cool – one of the lounge attendants helped him to wrap it up in saran wrap and insulate it. It must have been a major pain, and I’m not sure she was thrilled about it, but she was very helpful and he said that steak tasted great that night when he got home! Overall I thought the service was great and I really enjoyed my time there.
I enjoyed myself so much at the Centurion Lounge that I almost missed my flight (for some reason, the airport boards never changed my flight’s status to “boarding”. Woops). It’s a great lounge, maybe the best one I’ve ever been to in the United States. Still, since I don’t have a Centurion card and don’t plan to get one, I doubt I’ll ever be visiting the lounge again. I also wouldn’t pay $50 for access, especially since there are two Priority Pass lounges in Las Vegas. But it was a great experience, and a great end to a fun trip in Vegas!