London's getting a swish new airport lounge with today's opening of the American Express Centurion Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.
It's the first Centurion lounge in the UK – in fact in Europe – and its debut is well-timed as more countries and airlines around the world reconnect with the UK.
As with its Centurion siblings around the world, the Heathrow T3 lounge is strong on a design which embraces 'a sense of place' to reflect its unique location.
Here, this means modern lighting from UK creatives Lee Broom and Tom Dixon, with furnishings from the likes of Deadgood, Konk and Naughtone.
The entry is flanked by a moss wall – not just any old 'green wall' – that nods to London's Hyde Park, while inside there's a series of architectural pencil artwork by Mint Sainsbury.
Artworks around the lounge are curated by Art Story and including fashion photography by Norman Parkinson as well as original pieces by Carne Griffiths and Stephen Marshall, and each piece contains a QR code which you can scan to learn more about both the piece and the artist.
Fine dining is another signature element of Centurion lounges, with London seeing a menu curated by Michelin-star Chef Assaf Granit, of the Coal Office, who will also serve as the Executive Chef.
Granit's menu reflects London's rich multicultural heritage and includes popular dishes from restaurants across the globe.
Watch for his staple homemade Kubalah bread; fried pita chips with tahini; shakshukit – a beef & lamb dish with confit tomatoes and tahini – and an "Oh 'My Baklava" olive oil cake with pistachio anglaise and rose water diplomat.
Also on offer: a series of 'London-inspired' cocktails created by renowned mixologist Jim Meehan, author of The PDT Cocktail Book and seminal reference Meehan's Bartender Manual.
Try the Wayne's Collins – a mashup of the Tom Collins and White Negroni – or the non-alcoholic Hare of the Fog, a Negroni riff featuring England’s own Seedlip spirit and Aecorn aperitifs.
And if England makes you think of high tea, the Centurion Lounge tea cart will host a selection of local hot and cold drinks – everthing from your classic English Breakfast tea to booster shots and 'mango-infused coconut water' – as well as pastries.
Meanwhile, London-based Soapsmith will supply a collection of its award-winning bespoke scented bath and body care products inspired by different areas of London.
The scents will be rotated seasonally in the lounge, starting with 'Hackney', a tribute to the borough where Soapsmith founder Samantha Jameson grew up.
The Centurion Lounge is a new-build project located on the first floor, at the end of T3's main seating area – if you walk past the duty free in a straight line all the way to the end, you'll find the entrance on your left.
Entry is available for travellers holding an American Express Platinum Charge Card, Business Platinum Card or Corporate Platinum Card issued directly by AMEX in any country, including Australia; or of course the invitation-only American Express Centurion Card or Business Centurion Card.
The American Express Centurion Lounge joins T3's throng of established lounges of Oneworld members such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, along with Virgin Atlantic and Emirates, and the airline-independent No1 Lounge and Club Aspire Lounge.
In short: if you can't get into a lounge before your flight from Heathrow Terminal 3, you're simply not trying hard enough.
As previously reported, American Express is also rebranding its airport lounges in Sydney and Melbourne as Centurion Lounges, which will take them a rung above being AMEX Lounges with a more premium food and drinks offering – although how this will affect the current guest list remains to be seen.