Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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I had been waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the opening of the Centurion Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.
As soon as the new Centurion Lounge finally opened its doors in October 2021 (its opening had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic), including a flight departing from Heathrow’s T3 in my travel plans became a top priority so I could spend some time in the lounge.
Despite this being my first-ever visit to a Centurion Lounge, I had very high expectations given the great things I’d heard about the lounges from friends and colleagues.
Read on to find out whether my expectations were met!
What Are Centurion Lounges?
Each American Express Centurion Lounge is part of a global collection of exclusive airport lounges owned and operated by American Express.
The opening of the new location at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 brings the collection to a total of 24 lounges around the world, the majority of which are in the U.S.
According to American Express, this Centurion Lounge at LHR is the first of its kind in Europe, though Amex does have other lounges it operates across the European continent.
Hot Tip: Learn more about the American Express Centurion Lounge network in the U.S. and abroad, including where you can find other locations, in our complete guides.
Terminal 3 has long been my favorite terminal at Heathrow purely for its selection of lounges.
In pre-pandemic times, I’d enjoy a brunch at the Qantas lounge before heading up to the Cathay Pacific lounge after midday for a pre-flight cocktail.
Unfortunately, those lounges are both temporarily closed. No matter — the Centurion Lounge more than makes up for their current absence.
I’ve always found the lounges in Terminal 3 to be easy to find thanks to the excellent signage. However, the Centurion Lounge was still so new when I visited that it hadn’t yet been added to the signs posted throughout the terminal, so I had to ask where to find it.
If you’re planning to visit the Centurion Lounge, turn right upon entering the departures area, keep walking as far as you can go, and then you’ll encounter the lounge.
This lounge is somewhat unique because it’s located away from the terminal’s other airline-operated lounges that are found in the lettered zones closer to the departure gates.
The Centurion Lounge is by far the most exclusive in Terminal 3. You can only access it if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (when you book your Delta flight with your Delta Reserve card), Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (when you book your Delta flight with your Delta Reserve Business card), or Centurion® Card from American Express in your wallet.
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)
You can spend up to 3 hours in the lounge before your flight as long as you have a same-day ticket on any airline in any cabin class.
American Airlines (except for flights to New York-JFK), Delta Air Lines, and Virgin Atlantic all operate from this terminal, meaning anyone with an Amex Platinum card who’s flying to the U.S. on any of those airlines can access the brand-new lounge before their flight.
While checking in at reception I was asked if I had arrived on an earlier flight — something I’d never been asked before.
I explained that I’d flown in from Portgual that morning and then I was asked to show my boarding pass. I handed it (and my Amex Platinum card) over and was told I could make my way into the lounge.
My curiosity got the better of me, so I went back to the reception desk to ask why that happened. It turns out that even though I arrived at the lounge 5 hours before my flight, the fact I was connecting to another flight meant I was exempt from the 3-hour rule.
Hours of Operation
The lounge is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, though I was told the hours would likely expand with the continued return of travel.
This Centurion Lounge doesn’t feel at all like a typical airport lounge. It’s a far cry from some of the soulless, nondescript lounges I’ve visited around the world.
It’s immediately clear that there was a lot of time spent on getting the design just right, and the attention to detail is impressive.
After I set my belongings down, I gave myself a tour of every nook and cranny of the space. Partly for photos for this review, partly because I’m nosy.
I loved how much artwork there was throughout the space.
One of my favorite pieces was this map of London complete with Tube, Overground, and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) lines in their respective colors. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the Jubilee Line — London’s newest Tube line — wasn’t featured.
Another piece that caught my eye was this display of antique cricket bats. My dad and brother were big players, so it made me think of them, though I was never a fan of the sport.
Each piece of art was accompanied by a description — something you’d expect from an art gallery, not an airport lounge. A fine example of the attention to detail that’s so evident in this space.
There was an array of seating areas fit for the usual slate of airport lounge activities, including eating and drinking, working, and, perhaps most importantly, relaxing.
The main restaurant/bar area had several 2-top tables set up in the middle of the room.
The buffet area was on the right side of this area.
I set myself up on the solid wood high-top table at the opposite end of the room from the buffet.
The bar was lined with comfy stools that had power outlets between them.
Continuing from the dining area was an area geared towards relaxing with its softer seating options and furnishings.
This space featured various styles of seating to suit your activity of choice.
I thought the suitcases and globes were a perfect theme for an airport lounge, and the blue-dominated color scheme was a strong-yet-tasteful nod to the American Express brand.
Two of the walls were lined with small booths with space for just 1 person, making them great for working with privacy and for a little more separation from others in the time of COVID-19.
While there weren’t power outlets at every seat in this room, I liked that USB ports had been built into the arms of the sofa. Another thoughtful detail guests will be sure to love.
Back toward the main entrance of the lounge, there was a smaller, secluded area off to the right that featured a couple of booth-style seats with tables for eating, working, or enjoying a pre-flight beverage.
In the same room, there was a large wooden table similar to what you’d find in a meeting room in an office.
In non-COVID times, this would be a great spot to catch up on some work in a co-working-esque environment — if that’s your thing.
One area reminded me of a waiting room in a doctor’s office. It was separated from the main room with vertical wooden slats and fitted with a few sets of conjoined (and oddly designed) armchairs.
There were power outlets on the floor by each seat in this area.
Food and Beverage
If you’re a foodie, get ready to be impressed.
À la carte dining is usually reserved for first class lounges or top-tier business class lounges; some Priority Pass lounges even feature à la carte menus, though these tend to be limited and relatively basic.
I was honestly expecting an à la carte menu at the Centurion Lounge, but the quality of the options from the buffet more than made up for its absence here.
The presentation, flavors, and variety of dishes available were more on par with what you’d be served in a restaurant than the mediocre dishes you’ll commonly find at the buffet in an airport lounge.
Hot and Cold Food
There were 4 entrées available, though they were served in a small-plate format. Three of the 4 dishes included meat, and 1 had egg, so vegans and vegetarians would need to ask for versions of these dishes that would suit their dietary restrictions, or ask for an alternative.
As for the dishes themselves, they included a spinach and ricotta pasta and an all-day, brunch-style egg-and-mushroom dish cleverly named “A Lot of Mushrooms.”
There was also a “Festive Chicken” dish served with rice, as well as an Arabic-style beef option.
After surveying all the food options, I decided to start things off with a hearty bowl of potato leek soup.
I chose “A Lot of Mushrooms” for the main event. It was delicious (and a rather small portion), so I had to have 2 helpings.
For lighter options, there was a selection of cold plates that included bowls of mixed fruit and various salads.
If you like bread with your meal, then you’d probably enjoy these muffin-like rolls. Or were they some kind of muffin/croissant hybrid? I’ll have to try them next time to find out.
There was also an excellent assortment of condiments — better even than you might find in some restaurants.
The orange-labeled bottle contained Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, a staple ingredient in many British dishes like shepherd’s pie. Fun fact: a dash of this magical sauce is also delicious on top of a grilled cheese sandwich.
There were also miniature jars of mayonnaise and packets of ketchup and brown sauce (another popular condiment in the U.K.).
After feasting on as many small plates as you can, you must save room for dessert, which included everything from decadent cheese plates…
…to granola bars, hazelnut brownie bites, and oatmeal cookies.
There was truly something for every taste.
Chocolate desserts are my go-to, so when I saw this intricately decorated chocolate mousse feast, it was love at first sight. Not only did it taste spectacular — I may or may not have eaten 2 — but, once again, I’d expect this kind of attention to detail in the presentation and combination of flavors from a top restaurant, not an airport lounge.
Well done, Centurion Lounge.
Specialty Tea Cart
It wouldn’t be a true goodbye to the U.K. without the option of a spot of afternoon tea from this cart topped with faux grass.
Like any proper British afternoon tea, there were scones and a variety of cakes on offer as well. I was too full from the several dishes I’d just eaten, but I’m sure the afternoon tea would have been just as amazing.
Now, time for the beverages.
I was happy to find a bean-to-cup coffee machine. It was self-service and easy to use. The coffee was great, too!
There was also a great selection of Twinings teas.
At the same tea and coffee station, there was a faucet that provided cold, room temperature, and sparkling water. I prefer to see this option rather than refrigerators full of plastic bottles.
Unlike what you’ll find in many airline lounges, there were no grab-and-go fridges. Instead, guests are invited to request drinks of their choice from the full-service bar.
Everything at the bar was included: soft drinks, wines, beers (including Amstel, Moretti, and Neck Oil on draft), sparkling wines, and even cocktails.
Once the clock struck 5 p.m., I headed straight over to request an espresso martini from Borislava, who’d already confirmed she’d be happy to shake 1 up for me.
I was impressed with the attention to detail yet again with the addition of carefully placed coffee beans to finish off the cocktail’s aesthetic.
I give extra credit here for the recyclable straws and stirrers that were at the bar.
After sipping my espresso martini, I had just enough time before catching my flight to Prague (PRG) to sample the lounge’s selection of bubbles.
Premium drinks like cocktails and sparkling wine/Champagne come with an extra charge at many airport lounges — this is not the case at the Centurion Lounge.
Though on closer inspection, calling this French sparkling wine “premium” is a bit of a stretch given it retails at only around $20 per bottle.
This may ruffle the feathers of luxury travelers and Champagne connoisseurs, but I’m but a novice when it comes to the bubbly stuff, so I thought this French sparkling wine was adequate.
On both occasions that I visited the men’s room, it was exceptionally clean and tidy.
Soapsmith was the brand of choice for both hand wash and body lotion. It’s a local London company whose products are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, recyclable, and composed of natural ingredients.
Shower rooms were also available — I didn’t have to book a slot during my visit since the lounge wasn’t very busy.
As you might have expected, consistent with the main lounge area, these spaces were beautifully designed.
For guests with little ones, there was a baby changing station here, too.
The 2 coat pegs and singular coat hanger almost made up for the absence of a luggage rack. It might sound nitpicky, but I find that not having somewhere to sit and rest your suitcase makes getting changed a little awkward.
The shower unit itself featured quirky tiles as well as matte-black showerheads and fixtures that seem to be all the rage these days.
The shower amenities were also by Soapsmith and smelled delightful.
There was also a face cloth, hand towel, and bath towel at my disposal.
I popped my head into the so-called Wellness Room, which appeared to be a baby changing room that doubled as a storage area for high chairs.
As for the Wi-Fi, it was top-notch. Both the upload and download speeds were up there with the best I’ve seen in all my travels.
The One Thing This Lounge Is Missing
It’s apparent that I loved pretty much everything about this lounge, but there’s 1 drawback: there are no windows at all.
For some of you reading, that won’t bother you in the slightest. However, it does indeed bother me.
First of all, spending a large amount of time without natural light isn’t good for us human beings. For a guest who might spend up to 3 hours in this lounge, it’s not so bad. But for those working in the lounge for hours on end, the lack of natural light could have a noticeable negative impact on things like the ability to focus, blood pressure, and stress and anxiety levels.
Second, a favorite airport activity of many AvGeeks — myself included — is to spend time in a lounge gazing out across the airport’s apron and runways. This, sadly, is not possible in the Centurion Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.
Personally, the lack of windows means I’d likely only spend time in this particular lounge when it’s dark outside.
During daylight hours, I’d probably pop in for a quick drink and a small plate before or after visiting another one of the terminal’s lounges that boast a view.
Hot Tip: If your travels take you outside of Terminal 3, consider our guide on how to get between terminals at London Heathrow Airport [LHR] and reviews of the British Airways Galleries South Lounge at Terminal 5 and Star Alliance lounges in Terminal 2.
Staff and Service
Customer service and staff interactions while in an airport lounge are usually limited to a brief encounter with a reception agent on arrival.
This was not the case during my visit to the Centurion Lounge. Thanks to the combination of the lounge’s newness, the relative lack of guests during my visit, and American Express’ excellent selection of employees, I received exceptional customer service compared to most other airport lounges.
I’d like to personally thank the lovely receptionist (whose name I forgot to note) for being so welcoming and for answering my barrage of questions about the lounge.
The lovely Mihaela went above and beyond by personally engaging with me — and other guests — during my visit.
And, last but by no means least, my stay would not have been the same without Borislava and her incredible espresso martini.
I’d love to see the level of customer service I experienced during my visit to this new Centurion Lounge become standard in lounges across the world, though I do realize this simply isn’t possible given the sheer volume of guests and size of some lounges.
I didn’t notice the same level of COVID-19 protocols here that I have in other lounges during the pandemic. While there were sanitizing stations, I don’t recall seeing any social-distancing signage or a reduction in seating capacity.
During my visit, this was unnecessary as there were so few people. But as travel continues to pick up, I can see some sort of social-distancing measures being implemented if guest numbers were to increase substantially.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Centurion Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.
The food was restaurant-quality, despite being served from a buffet, and the all-inclusive bar makes for a great start to any trip.
From the décor and artwork to beautifully presented food and coffee beans on the espresso martinis, the attention to detail was enough to please even the most attuned perfectionists.
In many ways, the Centurion Lounge is far better than the average airport lounge and even the business class lounges of some well-known airlines. But, the lack of natural light and views of all the aviation goodness just outside is a real drawback for me.
All of that being said, I’m already excited to pass through Terminal 3 again so I can drop in and have another one of those excellent espresso martinis before a flight.
The information regarding the Centurion® Card from American Express was independently collected by Upgraded Points and was not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, click here.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Ross. All images credited to Daniel Ross unless where otherwise noted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is everything free in Centurion Lounges?
Yes, all food and drinks are free at the Centurion Lounge.
Can you get into Centurion Lounges with a Gold card?
Access to the Centurion Lounge is only granted to those who have an Amex Platinum card, Amex Business Platinum card, or Centurion card.
Can I access a Centurion Lounge without my card?
It’s advisable to always carry your eligible Amex card with you. However, should you forget it, you could try showing your digital card by logging into the Amex mobile app.
Does London have a Centurion Lounge?
Yes, London’s first Centurion Lounge opened in Terminal 3 at Heathrow Airport in October 2021.
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