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The Best VIP Airport Experiences

The 2020 Legend Awards.


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The 2020 Legend Awards are meant to serve as inspiration for future travel—when it is safe to do so. Learn more about this year's awards on our methodology page.

Where does luxury travel begin? Is it during the packing phase, when you’re planning outfits and breaking in your new hard-shell suitcase? Or, is it perhaps when you book through your preferred travel concierge, or when the confirmation notice from your hotel comes through?

We’d argue that your travel experience begins when you start to unwind, even just slightly—when you have the space to take a deep inhale and a sip of champagne and realize that you’re finally on vacation. And for a lot of us, that starts in the airport lounge.

An exceptional lounge experience can set the tone for your trip. And while it may seem like we’re putting a remarkable amount of faith in an hour-long lounge sojourn, these Legend Awards honorees are ensuring that however long your airport lounge stay is, it serves as a memorable respite from real life. These over-the-top lounge experiences offer private cabanas, spa treatments, dining programs with acclaimed guest chefs, and bespoke cocktail menus. They are the luxury foot you want your trip to start on.

Here, the 2020 Legend Award honorees for best airport lounge experiences.

The Concorde Room, British Airways, London Heathrow

Private cabanas with a daybed, shower suite, and a dedicated attendant await at The Concorde Room at Heathrow Terminal 5. The lounge was recently refurbished and features chic light fixtures from Porta Romana and mod tables from Boss Design. While, of course, the British Airways’ lounge offers a lovely tea service, you’d be remiss if you skipped their coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee.

The Centurion Lounge Los Angeles International Airport, American Express

The newest—and largest—Centurion Lounge opened on March 9 at LAX. As LAX is “one of the most frequented by American Express Card Members,” the opening of a five-star Centurion Lounge was an obvious next step. From the Exhale wellness treatments and the Sunrise and Moonrise tranquility rooms, to the delectable menu created in partnership with Amex Global Dining Collection chef Nancy Silverton, this new LAX Centurion Lounge is a luxurious pre-flight respite.

Al Safwa Lounge, Qatar Airways, Doha

The Al Safwa Lounge design was inspired by the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha—the lounge even displays pieces on loan from the museum. Al Safwa Lounge is home to a Qspa, where first-class passengers can soak in a luxurious jacuzzi pre-flight, or get a manicure in one of their nine treatment rooms.

Fattal Terminal, Ben Gurion Airport

An exclusive VIP terminal at Ben Gurion Airport, Fattal offers private security screening, and a chauffeured ride on the tarmac directly to your plane. Fattal Terminal is the “first private airport experience in Israel,” and features design by STUDIO GAD and Tito Oman Architects.

Cathay Pacific Lounge, Shanghai Pudong International Airport

The interiors of Cathay Pacific Lounge at Shanghai Pudong International Airport make passengers feel as though they just walked into a five-star hotel, as does the modern open-ceiling terrace. We’re taken with their widely talked about Noodle Bar and their made-to-order dim sum.

La Première Lounge, Air France, Paris-Charles de Gaulle

If we could sum up the luxurious atmosphere at La Première in just a few words, we’d say this: Come for the menu by Alain Ducasse, and stay for the Biologique Recherche facials. In addition to the terrific culinary offerings and the revitalizing facials, the opulent La Première lounge offers two-hour Biologique Recherche body treatments in their spa and has a lovely library where travelers can get work done.

PremiAir Private Terminal, Manchester Airport

PremiAir, the new Private Terminal at Manchester Airport, has private security screenings and direct-to-aircraft transfers, and truly excellent culinary offerings. But what we love most about this private terminal is its design—from the exposed wood to the floor-to-ceiling windows and unrivaled runway views.

Jewel, Changi Airport, Singapore

The already prized Changi Airport further elevated the Singaporean airport experience with the spring 2019 opening of the Jewel. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the Jewel has 10 floors of high-end shopping and dining. But the coup de grace is the Rain Vortex, set amidst plush indoor gardens.

United Polaris Lounge, Chicago O’Hare

Open solely to United premium cabin flyers, United Polaris lounges have shower/spa suites with Sunday Riley products and luxe Saks Fifth Avenue bedding custom made for United. At O’Hare lounge, we love their chaise lounge-equipped relaxation rooms and high-end craft cocktails.

PS, Los Angeles International Airport

PS offers memberships to their private terminal experience at LAX, though visitors can also come on an a la carte basis. From private customs clearance and security (they’ll even set up your global entry interview in a private suite), to the BMW that takes you to your aircraft, discretion is key at PS. But so too is luxury, which you’ll experience firsthand between their spa suites (pre-flight pedi, anyone?) and high-end dining options.


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