The first time you step out of the chaotic terminal and into an airport lounge is an eye opening, full sensory sensation. That's not even necessarily reserved for the best of them. When you step into a leading world class airport lounge, the idea is that you're not at the airport, you're not even at home. You're somewhere far better, where people shake drinks on demand, press your trousers, make delicious meals and sadly, let you know when you need to go. Though you'll generally find the most rewarding lounge experiences in Asia, Europe or elsewhere, these are the best lounges in the United States...
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK
Someone once told me that a great lounge makes you feel like a star, even if you're not one. This rings especially true in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK. It's secluded, it's visually stunning, it has a restaurant with waiter service and complimentary food, it has a spa, a craft bar, a pool table. It's insane. Happily, getting in isn't just for people traveling on Upper Class, Virgin Atlantic's highest level of service. Any Delta Diamond, Platinum or Gold traveling on Delta or Virgin to the UK can access the lounge, whatever cabin you're flying. Additionally, those who dig Virgin America and are flying Main Cabin Select or First can pay $75 a visit. If you're an eater and a drinker like me, totally worth it.
American Express Centurion Lounges New York (LGA), Dallas (DFW), San Francisco (SFO), Miami(MIA), Las Vegas(LAS).
Good news, as I've mentioned quite a few times, it's not all celebrities and VIP's sitting in first class who can enjoy the good life before a flight. Anyone with an American Express card can get into a Centurion lounge. If you have a Platinum card it's free, if not, it's $50. Once inside you get all the complimentary cocktails, food, wifi and comfy seating you could possible desire. What separates the Centurion Lounges are their partnerships, featuring celebrity chef food from Cedric Vongerichten, cocktails from legendary mixologist Jim Meehan, and curated, varying wine menus from top sommeliers. Plus the look awesome....
British Airways Concorde Room New York JFK
Does your ticket say business class? Sorry, that won't do the trick. British Airways Concorde Room is perhaps the most elusive lounge to get into, requiring a ticket in international First class on British Airways. Considering the house champagne, Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle runs over $150 a bottle, I can't say I'm too surprised. The Concorde Room is designed to be a leading British bistro and Oasis in the middle of one of the world's busiest airports. It's not the most visually inspiring of these leading airport lounges, but nowhere in the US will you find a menu with more filet mignon, a bar with more Grey Goose and Grand Siecle or less people. It's very swanky.
Star Alliance Business Lounge Los Angeles (LAX)
Leave it to Los Angeles to fit a screening room into an airport lounge. Though many might say the food is better in the Star Alliance First Class Lounge at LAX, none will say that there's a lounge with more vibe, amenities and varying nooks at Tom Bradley Terminal LAX than the Star Alliance Business Lounge. You'll find all the comforts of a Hollywood Hills home, great drinks and if you're lucky enough to hold a first class ticket, you can quickly pop over to the First lounge and grab some food before hitting the balcony, the best people watching spot in the airport Best news, if you grabbed one of the status matches we raved about, securing Star Alliance Gold status, you can access these lounges while flying any cabin class on Star Alliance. For everyone else, you'll need to be in First or Business or a Star Alliance Airline.
Lufthansa First Class Lounge New York (JFK)
Auf Wiedersehen crowded passenger areas. The Lufthansa First Class lounge, though tiny, offers an incredibly secluded and refined experience within the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at JFK. It's not a large scale space with marvels of design but an oasis in the airport, with excellent table service food, high end wine and spirits and service with German efficiency. To get through the gates you'll need a Swiss or Lufthansa First Class ticket or a top level frequent flyer card "Hon Circle" from Lufthansa's Miles & More program.