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IT’S OPEN: See inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 (Part 1)

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This is our review of The American Express Centurion Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 which opened at 11am today.

I got a sneak peak yesterday and it is a very impressive facility. It is on a par with the Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2 in terms of the money and effort that has been put into its design. Perhaps not coincidentally, The Centurion Lounge – like Plaza Premium – has no natural light and has had to work harder to make an impression.

Let’s take a look.

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Airport

Why did American Express get into the airport lounge business?

A few years ago, American Express started to lose its contracts with the major US airlines which allowed Platinum cardholders to use their lounges. 

Today, the only arrangement that is still in place with a US airline is with Delta. Even this is restricted to the Platinum cardholder, with guests only allowed for a fee.

American Express decided to launch its own proprietary airport lounge network.  They have been seen as a welcome breath of fresh air in the US, where airport lounges are substantially lower in quality than those in Europe and Asia.

US airport lounges tend to operate on a ‘club’ system with paid memberships – having status is not enough to get you access. You have the odd situation where a British Airways Executive Club Gold or Silver member can use their card to access an American Airlines lounge but an AA top-tier flyer cannot.  You are also expected to pay for food and some drinks in US lounges.

Amex has branded its lounge network as ‘The Centurion Lounge’.  This causes some confusion because many believe that you need an American Express Centurion card to enter, which is not true.  

Access is gained via a Platinum (or Centurion) charge card, issued in any country. Delta Reserve SkyMiles cardholders in the US can also get access, which will be very important at Heathrow given that Terminal 3 is where Delta operates from.

As well as Heathrow, there are Centurion lounges at:

  • Charlotte
  • Dallas / Fort Worth
  • Denver
  • Hong Kong (the only other non-US site)
  • Houston
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York (LaGuardia)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

American Express has set up a special website where you can find all the details of each lounge, including opening times and facilities, here.

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Airport

Where is the American Express Centurion Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3?

The majority of the Terminal 3 lounges are grouped together near the gates, at the rear of the shopping area. This is not the case here.

You need to head to the far right of the shopping area, following signs to ‘Lounge A’. Next to Ted Baker, you will see an Amex banner above a door which leads to a lift and stairs. You need to head to the second floor.

Who can get access to The Centurion Lounge at Heathrow?

You need to hold The Platinum Card, or invite-only The Centurion Card (our HfP guide to The Centurion Card is here). US residents can also get access with the Delta Reserve SkyMiles credit card.

Each Platinum cardholder is allowed to bring two guests. If you have issued a supplementary Platinum Card to your partner, they can also bring in two guests. In theory a family or group of up to six can enter via one account.

The lounge has a capacity of 110 so you can do the maths.

What’s inside?

This is a big lounge, comprising 650 square metres.

Here is the reception area. You can immediately see the money that has been put into this facility:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Airport reception

…. which leads into a corridor where you can immediately see the strong investment in artwork:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Airport artwork

The first room is on your left – a small office area, with a hot desking table. The one-person desks to the left have built in wireless charging, and as you can see the main table from Bristol-based Konk also has in-built charging:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Airport

There are some snazzy private working booths:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

The photo below doesn’t really do this back wall justice. It is rammed with luggage, classic novels and other bits and pieces, all in the same deep shade of blue.

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

This one is taken from elsewhere in the lounge and gives you a better feel:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

The bar and dining area

Continuing down the corridor, which is so classy it was worth a photograph:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow

…. it opens out into this large bar and dining area:

American Express Centurion Lounge London Heathrow dining room

Whilst the seating is functional, the bar itself is beautiful and, again, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

A full range of cocktails are available, as is sparkling wine (no champagne). The cocktails are designed by Jim Meehan exclusively for The Centurion Lounge. These include Wayne’s Collins, a mix of the Tom Collins and White Negroni, and non-alcoholic cocktails like Hare of the Fog, a Negroni riff featuring Seedlip spirit and Aecorn aperitifs.

All drinks are free. The cocktail bar is open from 6am, when the lounge opens.

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow bar

Sample Hare of the Fog mocktails by Jim Meehan:

American Express Centurion Lounge Heathrow Airport bar

Off to the side, at 90 degrees to the bar, is the buffet.

The Executive Chef is Assaf Granit of the Coal Office restaurant in London.

The food was excellent, but a special themed menu had been provided for us. There will be a broader range of dishes from today. Our meal included Granit’s staple homemade Kubalah bread, Moroccan fennel salad, shakshukit (a beef & lamb dish with confit tomatoes and tahini) and, for dessert, a “Oh ‘My Baklava” olive oil cake with pistachio anglaise and rose water diplomat.

American Express Centurion Lounge London Heathrow buffet

The quality was very high. Amex may have underestimated the amount of food that will be required, however – do you think the buffet above could feed 110 people, which is the lounge capacity?

To be continued ….

We have split this review into two parts due to its length. Click here to read Part 2 of our London Heathrow Centurion Lounge review.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (December 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (37)

  • Richard G says:

    Looks good, looking forward to a chance to use it. 🙂

  • Matt says:

    Looks good but a touch concerned with the low capacity. Hopefully people go direct to their airline lounges instead

  • Jonathan says:

    Looks good! Shame it’s T3 not T5. Wonder if Amex will regret that if AA remain in T5 and BA move very little back.

    • Rob says:

      Given Amex’s strong Delta relationship (their biggest global contract) they will be happy as long as VS and Delta remain.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      AA are back in T3, except for the JFK flights

  • KP says:


  • ankomonkey says:

    Is the fellow with the pink bow-tie in the artwork CF Frost?

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Looks very impressive. Shame I’ll probably won’t get to use it as mainly BA, unless I switch back to VS

  • John T says:

    Such a shame this is in T3 given the high quality of lounges already in this terminal. Would have been brilliant in T2.

    • Track says:

      Wait, T2 has high-quality lounges though United Club is in satellite and closed for a while. Air Canada also very relaxing.

      Pre-Covid catering, I found LH lounge to be very adequate and functional space.

      As said AMEX Centurion will not be just you and your partner sipping afternoon tea in a blue tearoom — you will hardly notice the interiors once it begins operating.

  • Babyg says:

    Looks great, is it possible to get access (lounge crawl) if flying from T5? Im guessing not?

    • Memesweeper says:

      I think there used to be some arrangement where you could clear security at 5 and transfer to 3 to shop duty free and transfer back again. Strictly for those with a lot of time on their hands and who enjoy seeing the bits of airports the rest of us usually try and avoid.

      • Babyg says:

        that would be me – i like to see bits of the airports others avoids, and who happily flies to Faro via Madrid to get a wide-bodied plane 🙂 quickly googling didnt throw up any recent results (but there used to be a bus), the offical way now is Underground services and shuttle trains for Inter-Terminal Transfer between T5 and T3 (landside), meh

        • Nick says:

          There are still airside transfer buses between all Heathrow terminals that are open. But you can’t use them for this purpose – or rather, you can get on it, but you won’t be allowed through T3 security (from either landside or FCC) if your flight is not from there, so it’s effectively pointless trying.

          The only exception is if using the Heathrow Shopping service, where you can go to specific shops in an alternative terminal. You MUST be escorted by the concierge to do this, however, so lounge time is unlikely.

        • Track says:

          Changing terminals at Heathrow always been a major pain.

          How they managed to have long queues at transit security is beyond me — likely they are not under pressure of flow as on airside security, so the hunting dog instincts kick in and they yell at passengers for everything, like to remove their belts and make you to remove shoes too — you feel like inside the Stanford Experiment.

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