Being able to relax in the calm of an airport lounge before your long-haul flight makes all the difference. But when you’re in the United Polaris Lounge in LAX, you’d be forgiven for not wanting to board your flight at all.
It always surprises me how much of travel is just waiting. Waiting for buses, waiting for trains, waiting for flights… And even then, when you’re on said mode of transport, you’re really just waiting to get to your destination.
But it’s the way you wait that makes all the difference.
Our recent flight back to Sydney from the USA showed us a whole new level of waiting when we visited United Airlines’ Polaris Lounge in LAX.
You can see our walk-through video of the Polaris Lounge here:
Access to an airport lounge can really change how your flight goes, even if you’re not actually flying business class.
We were lucky enough this time to be in business and you can check out what that was like in our United Polaris Business Class review here.
But thanks to a number of different memberships, airline compensations, occasional invitations and even more occasional upgrades, we’ve seen inside quite a few airline business lounges around the world.
It was interesting to see how the Polaris Lounge compared to the others we’ve seen.
United Polaris Business Lounge, LAX
As we always try to do – especially when we have lounge access – Christina and I arrive very early for our flight. The lounge is almost empty and we explore the space.
The different ‘zones’ of the Polaris Lounge
The area is well designed and comfortable, overlooking the United planes and gates. There are so many seating options and break-out areas in the main space, all of which is very seductively lit.
There’s pod seating with tables you can work at, conventional sofas and tables, stools up at the bar (where each seat has an international power socket and two USB points by the way), and tub seats and cocktail tables near the bar too.
Knowing that you’ll always find a comfortable spot to sit is half the battle when you want to relax before a flight. I get anxious if I’m not sure I’ll get a seat!
The food situation
The food area is split into two sections – the buffet and a seated restaurant.
The buffet is incredible and goes around a circular atrium window looking down into the airport below.
There are so many different things to eat here from barbecue chicken sliders with crispy onions and pineapple infused slaw to red bean paste matcha pudding trifles.
As for the dining room, this retreat within a retreat from the main hub of the airport offers full waited a la carte service – and it’s all complimentary.
Food options range from seared tuna salads with green beans, kipfler potatoes and boiled egg to the in-house burger, which comes with a fried egg.
You also have access to the bar…
The drinks situation
Talking of the bar, this is easily the most impressive one we’ve seen at a lounge. Pouring French champagne (Piper-Heidsieck no less), reds mostly from the USA and white wines from all over, it’s clear that options are a priority.
With most lounge bars, you rarely get more than a few choices of wine. In the United Polaris you get over a dozen.
But it’s the spirits that really surprise me. Not only is there an excellent cocktail menu here, the quality of liquor is exceptional.
For vodka they offer Belvedere or Hangar, for gin they have Aviation and Hendrick’s, they have 10 different whiskies to choose from, including an Ardbeg scotch, the Japanese Nikka Coffey Grain and Rieger’s – a craft whiskey from Kansas City that makes a wonderful Old Fashioned.
Kansas City has a special place in our hearts – and not just because of its amazing barbecue scene.
Freshening up in the Polaris Lounge
Down a hypnotically lit corridor are the shower suites that are attended at all times so you can easily gain access. Inside each shower suite, you’ll find towels, and body wash shampoo and conditioner by Sunday Riley.
One up from that, you’re free to use one of the quiet suites for up to an hour at a time. Right away from everyone, these rooms have reclining daybeds with squashy pillows and cosy blankets from Saks Fifth Avenue.
There’s also a bottle of water, face mist, eye mask and ear plugs in each room to help you get some shut-eye before the flight.
It’s easy to see the brief the United Polaris Lounge was built to. Begin our passengers’ in-flight experience by creating the best possible pre-flight environment.
Focus here is on comfort, luxury and just the right amount of indulgence. It’s certainly the way I wish all my long-hauls would start.