American Express recently started building a network of airport lounges in the US, providing complimentary access to Platinum and Centurion card members as well as paid access to all other card holders.
Competing directly against the airlines and their expansive networks but often underwhelming facilities, American Express is raising the bar. The fourth addition to the network, the Centurion Lounge at San Francisco airport opened late 2014 right in the heart of United land in Terminal 3, but also, strategically, steps away from International Terminal G which is accessible through an airside connector.
American Express The Centurion Lounge SFO design
With its all-glass façade, tainted doors, elegant but bold signage, and signature two-story living wall, the Centurion Lounge makes a statement and draws attention even from outside. Passersby are left wondering what luxuries hide upstairs. The doors open to reveal an elegant hardwood staircase and an elevator, as well as a whiff of the Centurion Lounge’s signature scent.
The lounge boasts a modern, but timeless and chic design with hardwood floors, dark wood paneling, recessed lighting, designer furniture. There are several areas with different vibes.
Immediately adjacent to the reception desk is a small, intimate TV area designed as a personal living room, with seating for six. Behind the reception desk is the main seating area with couches, tables for two, luxurious leather chairs, and a wooden communal table. Travelers who seek more privacy will enjoy the four cube chairs with a side table. The décor is enhanced by photography and artwork with a travel theme, and no detail was overlooked, with power outlets at every seat, fresh flowers, fruit baskets, and pillows.
On the opposite side is the dining area, featuring a bar and a buffet. The ambiance is much more dynamic—noisier, too—but still exquisitely upper scale. The design highlights are the wine wall (complete with built-in automated dispensers!) as well as the gorgeous communal table made of natural wood that faces a marble bar adorned with American Express memorabilia.
The Centurion Lounge overlooks the concourse, but does not offer views on the tarmac. In fact, the amount of natural light is relatively limited, but the designers have done a skillful job at creating a space that’s positively relaxing and enjoyable nevertheless.
American Express The Centurion Lounge SFO amenities
The main draw of the American Express Centurion Lounge at San Francisco airport is its food and beverage offering. The dining area faces the open kitchen—yes, a real kitchen at a domestic lounge—which cranks out hot dishes designed by Michelin starred chef Christopher Kostow. The menu includes a variety of appetizers and salads, hot entrees, and creative desserts. (Hint: there’s typically a second dessert item on the small buffet in the reception area.)
When it comes to drinks, a full bar is available but the selection of signature cocktails steals the show. Feel free to ask the skilled bartenders to express their creativity, or to order the custom drink of your choice—they’re masters of their craft. In an innovative move, patrons may also ask for a coupon to get five pours from the automated dispensers built into the wine wall. The selection showcases Californian wines. All food and drinks are complimentary.
Adjacent to the reception is a small relaxation room with three comfy daybeds in a semi-private setting. Each bed is outfitted with a small side table and a power outlet. If you feel uncomfortable leaving your belonging unattended while you take a nap, feel free to store them in one of the automated digital lockers behind the reception desk. They easily fit a carry-on bag and a jacket.
A single shower suite is also available. While availability may be spotty, it is worth the wait: the large and elegant room comes with fresh orchids, L’Occitane amenities, plush towels, and a designer sink. Be sure to inquire early at the reception desk.
Other amenities at The Centurion Lounge SFO include complimentary Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, self-service computers and a printer, and a colorful kids’ room with toys and videogames.
American Express The Centurion Lounge SFO bottom line
With friendly and proactive service, an elegant design, tasty dishes, a gorgeous shower room, a full bar and innovative amenities such as the wine tasting wall, American Express has hit a home run. As far as domestic lounges are concerned, things don’t get any better than at The Centurion Lounge.
So what’s the catch? The club is smaller than it looks, and already proving too popular. Realistically, some amenities such as the shower suite and daybeds are unlikely to be available at peak times, and the dining room is likely to be busy. Lately, American Express has been reserving tables for Centurion card members, so that that their very best customers don’t have to wait for a seat.
Regardless, American Express Centurion Lounge at San Francisco airport is not to be missed. Here’s to hoping that American Express maintains their stunning service standards over time.
For information on possible alternatives, other lounges at SFO and rankings, check out our Definitive Guide to the SFO Lounge Scene.
The following is a typical sample selection; actual choices may vary. All food and drinks are complimentary. The menu has been designed by Michelin-starred chef Christopher Kostow. See thecenturionlounge.com for the latest offer.Breakfast (6:00am – 11:00am)
Lunch and dinner (11:30am to 3am)
- Whipped Yogurt with Passion Fruit, Olive Oil
- Hot Cereal of Grains with Sorghum Syrup, Dates, Almond Milk
- Steamed Omelette in “Potlicker Butter”
- Breads and Spreads (Assortment of Baked Breads, Sturgeon Rillette, Crème Cheese with Pickles, Shallots, and Dill, Confiture of Local Fruits, Chocolate and Feulletine Spread, Cultured Butter, Garden Radishes)
- Steamed Sacramento Rice with “Furikake” of Mendocino Seaweed, Dried Peppers, Tea
- Housemade Granola
- Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Apple Lees Vinegar
- Salad of Barley, Squid and Celery
- Fermented and Grilled Mushrooms with Vinaigrette of Charred Leek
- Salad of Bitter Greens with Winter Citrus and Olive Oil
- Pumpkin Cooked in Goats Milk Butter
- Chestnut Pudding with Roasted Chocolate
Cocktails (10:30am – 10:30pm)
- Frisco: Old Potrero 18th Century Whiskey, Benedictine, Lemon
- Buena Vista: Charbay Tequila Blanco, St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur, Whipped Cream
- Pineapple Express: Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, Vya Dry Vermouth, Anchor Hophead Vodka, Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup
- Pisco Punch: Campo de Encanto Pisco, Small Hands Foods Pineapple Gum, Lime Juice, Red Wine, Angostura bitters, Orange
- Banks Exchange: Banks 7 Golden Age Rum, Grapefruit Juice, Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum, Small Hands Foods Orgeat, Tempus Fugit Crème de Noyaux, Mint
- Gin Basil Fizz: St. George Botanivore Gin, Lime Juice, Acqua Perfecta Basil Eau de Vie, Sparkling Wine
- Stone Fence: Osocalis Rare Alembic Brandy, Apple Cider, St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur, Abbott’s Bitters, Nutmeg
Wine: sparkling and champagne, red, rose, white
Coffee and tea: Centurion Lounge Custom Coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino.
American Express The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco, CA (SFO) welcomes:
- American Express Centurion® card holders (+2 guests or immediate family)
- American Express Platinum Card® holders (+2 guests and children under 2 years old) within 3 hours of departure and at connection points (no access at final destination.) Proof of age or a lap infant boarding pass required for children under 2.
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card holders departing on a flight operated by Delta, within 3 hours of departure and at connection points (no access at final destination.) No guests allowed.
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card holders departing on a flight operated by Delta, within 3 hours of departure and at connection points (no access at final destination.) No guests allowed.
Members can purchase access for additional guests at $50 per person. Access requires confirmed travel plans (standby boarding passes are not eligible.)
- 4.0Based on 386 ReviewsTrish S.2018-08-10 09:59:47One of the best perks of the Amex Platinum! Located in near the international terminal so if you fly other airlines, you'll need to go through security in...Warren W.2018-08-07 10:59:56Great place to go to if you are an American Express cardholder. They have full entree meals as well as snacks and refreshments. The only downside is that...Eddie S.2018-08-04 13:36:30I've been an American Express Platinum Card holder since 2011 and why is this the first time I visit The Centurion Lounge?! My new spot when I'm out here in...