Review: American Express Centurion Lounge, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
American Express started opening airline travel lounges, inviting its members a place to relax before a flight. This is a crowded and expensive place to operate in, given the cost of airport rents, labour and food and beverage. American Express has done an outstanding job with their lounges that are located in high traffic airports around North America and the world. While the lounges are often busy places, they make up for these shortfalls in better food and beverage. Our visit to the American Express Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas was outstanding with the lounge providing a terrific space to occupy before any flight.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. This trip allowed us to earn through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA via Alaska Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Bellingham – Seattle
- Aria Sky Suites One Bedroom Penthouse, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Aria Sky Suites: Pool and Resort Amenities, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- The Lights of the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- American Express Centurion Lounge, Las Vegas McCarran
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Las Vegas – Bellingham
Review: American Express Centurion Lounge, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America.
Getting to Las Vegas McCarran:
We had an easy departure from the Aria Sky Suites. Despite many advertisements and recommendations to check out via email, sms, or via the in suite television set, there was no line at the front counter and our check out was handled quickly and graciously. I had pre-arranged an earlier transfer of 3.5 hours at the McCarran Airport, which was changed from the default 2 hours with our Sky Suites reservation.
Our return airport transfer (included) was via a nicely appointed beige Cadillac Escalade. I personally prefer this over the blingy Lincoln Town Car limo that we had arrived in.
Checking into Alaska Airlines First Class:
We checked in at the deserted Alaska Airlines desk at the First Class check in desk in Terminal 3. It’s much better departing out of the domestic terminal than the tired Terminal 1 that handles the international flights.
Locating the American Express Centurion Lounge:
At the time of writing, Alaska used the “E” Departure Gates at McCarran, which is in the same building as the check in desks at Terminal 3. Alaska First Class flights departing from Las Vegas don’t include lounge access (unless you are an Alaska Boardroom member). We had 3 hours to go before our flight so we elected to head over to the American Express Centurion Lounge in the “D” Gates, taking the short train over.
The Centurion Lounge is centrally located near Gate D1 and is well marked. You have to pass through the carnival of slot machines first though…
We eventually arrived to a sleek, contemporary and crisp entrance from the concourse.
Once inside, we were met with a soothing green wall that has become a feature of many American Express Centurion Lounges around the Americas and the world.
Accessing the Lounge:
The American Express Centurion Lounge is accessible by holding American Express Platinum or Centurion Cards. Access with these cards are complimentary up to three hours before your flight, and include up to two guests. Additional guests may be invited in for $50 USD. If you are on a connecting flight, you are exempt from the three hour time limit.
At the time of our visit, access was also granted for other American Express Cardholders (non – Platinum / Centurion) by paying a $50 entry fee, per person. There was reasonable opportunity to make your money back on this fee. Unfortunately, this is no longer offered by American Express thanks to heavy use of these lounges by their regular card holders.
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge:
After being processed through reception, we were welcomed in. We were advised by the host at reception of a Vodka Tasting event in the lounge today and given an introduction of the lounge’s features: complimentary wifi, free flow drinks and buffet by celebrity chef Scott Conant. We were given a jar of pickled pickles from MTO Johnny Dill Pickles as a welcome amenity- a first for me on a lounge visit.
The Centurion Lounge is an absolutely terrific domestic lounge. It is probably by far the best domestic lounge that I’ve ever been in, even beating out the old Air New Zealand Koru Club in Los Angeles Terminal 2. It’s fair to say that The Centurion Lounge blows all domestic lounges out of the water and raises the level of what an airline lounge should be like.
The seating arrangements are a bit odd, with cubby holes and bean bag cushions to sit on. There are various concerns with seating and some general areas. The lounge was quite busy on our visit. Once you got past that, the lounge as everything I could have asked for.
The lounge was nicely decorated with pictures of musicians over time. This added a bit of personality to the place. Most airline lounges have pretty austere decorating thanks to the influx of business travellers. IT’s nice to see American Express take things in a different direction and mix it up a little bit.
There were communal work tables available for those needing a proper work surface to work on. The décor was great. It was actually refreshing to be in a lounge that was young, hip and stylish.
American Express offers a Member Services Card Desk for any assistance needed. This is a consistent feature throughout their lounges. It’s always a nice touch to have help available when it’s needed.
Food and Beverage:
The American Express Centurion Lounges are known for their superior food and beverage. At least they put a bit of effort in to the product by attempting to pair with celebrity chefs and by offering better wine and spirits. The American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas had a large seating and dining area.
Thanks to a special promotion, there was pretty much all types of food on offer today. We were able to get quite filled up thanks to an excellent selection of fresh vegetables, charcuterie and hot and cold products. Not only was the food plentiful, it was of high quality. Possibly rivalling the food served at the Lufthansa First Class Lounge and Qantas First Class Lounges Sydney due to the freshness and higher turnover of the food. Amazing to get fresh charcuterie in a lounge that was actually tasty. You’ll be hungry after these photos.
As if all that food wasn’t enough, there was even a wide selection of desserts available.
The American Express Centurion Lounge offers a travel oriented bar. They are one of the few lounges that offer mixed drinks worthy of something you’d find in an upscale restaurant. I really appreciate this feature as it offers the ability to try something different and new. The bar area was also neat and a meeting place to actually socialize and strike up conversations.
The bar was excellent and offered great martinis. Thanks to all the great food on offer, we were able to replace a meal with snacks from the lounge.
Although not a quiet and exclusive environment thanks to the high volume, the lounge made up for it in quality of food and drink quality. We easily found things to occupy our time here. Sampling celebrity chef Scott Conant food made it much easier…
My Thoughts on the American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas:
The only thing that the lounge did not offer that was advertised was travel magazines. Not even a co-branded “Travel and Leisure”! To be honest, we really didn’t miss it that much.
I’ve been in a few airport lounges in my time. I’m happy to report that the Amex Centurion Lounge was the best domestic lounge experience ever. It is totally worth an extended visit if you have nothing else to do. We would easily make time to visit here on our next trip through.