Nobody likes LAX.
Terminals are run down and disconnected, making arrivals, departures and transfers difficult. Traffic is a nightmare. Airport vendors gouge their customers. It’s just not a friendly place.
Fortunately, the tide is starting to turn thanks to a slew of renovations coming to the airport. Virgin Atlantic’s new lounge is one of those bright spots.
Situated above Terminal 2 in the former Air France/KLM lounge space, Virgin Atlantic’s new clubhouse has been completely refurbished into a modern, premium lounge. Reuben Arnold, Virgin Atlantic’s Director of Brand and Customer Experience tells me that lounge is geared more towards preparing Virgin’s premium passengers for the long flight ahead rather than providing a hyper efficient workspace for business travelers.
For that reason, emphasis is placed more on design, comfort and amenities rather than work stations and conference rooms.
The space itself is beautiful, with vaulted ceilings, a wall full of windows and tasteful, comfortable fabric couches and chairs. The back third of the lounge is focused on full service meals with pre-set tables and an accompanying open bar.
Booth food and beverage options have been sprinkled with inspiration from hinoki & the bird, “an imaginative dining concept that pushes modern California cooking to vibrant new bounds.” On the food side, that includes dishes like Miso donuts with honey caramel, green papaya salad with baby carrots and peanuts and chilli crab toast. Hinoki’s cocktails include the Jaajuku, a mixture of Japanese whiskey, gran classico, byrrh quinquina & chocolate bitters and the popular Penicillin, which includes scotch whiskey, fresh ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, honey and Islay float. Beyond hinoki & the bird, Virgin Atlantic’s clubhouse has a solid offering of in-house light meals, cocktails and juices, as well as a fine selection of custom juices from The Juicery.
Indeed, the exceptional F&B offerings are what escalate this clubhouse above and beyond the competitive international lounge game. Compared to other lounges in the Virgin Atlantic family, the LAX product is modest; there is neither a spa nor a pool table; while there are showers, they’re on loan from a neighboring lounge; there is no hot tub, or corkscrew slide or any other antic of Richard Branson fame.
But there is a sense of connectedness and serenity that comes from the lounge, no doubt a function of the exceptional design, the ruthlessly friendly staff and the silent, widebody aircraft slowly lining up for departure just out of reach. For a small clubhouse on the frontier of the Virgin Atlantic empire inside one of the messiest and most irritating airports on the planet, it’s nearly perfect.