Let’s just say the Amtrak ClubAcela Lounge at Washington Union Station (WAS) does not hold a candle to the swanky Metropolitan Lounge at New York Penn (NYP). That said, I still appreciated a quiet place to work after my Acela journey to Washington.
Amtrak ClubAcela Lounge Washington Review
Eventually, Amtrak will build a beautiful new Metropolitan Lounge in Washington Union Station, as it has in New York, but for now the ClubAcela will have to do…a small lounge for premium cabin and elite customers.
Hours + Access + Location
ClubAcela is located behind the information booth, between gates D and E. The door of the lounge is always locked: you must ring a doorbell to be buzzed in.
Hours of operation are from 4:45 am – 9:30 pm Monday – Friday and 6:00 am – 9:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Access is included for:
- Amtrak Guest Rewards members traveling with a same-day Amtrak ticket and valid Select Plus or Select Executive member card
- Amtrak passengers with a same-day travel ticket (departure or arrival) in First Class or sleeping car accommodations
Eligible guests can bring in “immediate family members traveling together, or one, non-family guest. Unaccompanied guests are not permitted.”
Day passes are not available for purchase in this lounge.
Food + Drink
Food and drink items are very limited. In terms of snacks, there was only Chex Mix, pretzels, potato chips, and peanuts available.
In a little galley area, bottled water and orange juice was available as well as a coffee machine and soda dispenser featuring Pepsi products.
Amtrak “refreshed “this lounge in 2019 with new furniture and carpet, but there’s no denying it: the lounge looks dated and tired. While I cannot exactly pinpoint why, the woodgrain on the walls and stonework floor looked too old to be modern and too new to be classically tasteful. That subjective assessment aside, I had no trouble finding a seat, all of which were comfortable.
The District of Columbia prints on the wall felt a bit tacky, but maybe comparing this lounge to the Metropolitan Lounge in New York was a bit unfair.
Restrooms were also refurbished as part of the 2019 update and are small with a single toilet and urinal in the men’s room along with a large sink with automatic water dispensers.
If you will be here for a while, luggage storage is available near the lounge entrance (just behind the front desk).
This is certainly not a lounge I would arrive early for, but it was helpful as a place to regroup and get some work done before I headed out to the suburbs after my journey south. Snacks are extremely limited, so do not expect to come here on a full stomach and leave satisfied.
I used to see Joe Biden hanging out with Angelo Negri in this lounge. Their conversations always started the same way:
‘What’s up, Ang?’
I swear to God. True story.
The coffee is absolutely disgusting in this lounge – definitely would not be up to your standards.
The only good things about it are the clean bathroom, ability to board many trains directly from the lounge without having to return to the main concourse, and having a quiet place to sit.
A fair review. I found it hidden behind a door that looked like it led to a utility room. The picture makes it more obvious than it seemed to me. And when I entered I was met with a gruff heavy-sset bouncer who had to look up from her screen,. look at my ticket, and grumpily let me pass in. This club gives few minutes respite from the hoi polloi outside, with chips and pepsi for snacks. Clientelle primarily was serious adult professionals. Interns, families, children, and socially inept passengers are not here. Hilarious when internet reviewers overstate that an old and historic structure looks dated and tired. You have to watch the screens to see about your train time arrival and number track. Easy short walk (or wheelchair) from the club to the train, and 1st class staff are waiting at train car to help you board. While I do backpacker budget travel when I feel like it, I have family members who are nervous travelers, and I always recommend Acela 1st class and Acela Club to them, and I can relax knowing that they can stay organized while traveling and get competent service. And everyone in DC knows that DC basically is a 3d world hole, and that the general waiting hall, while policed, still has a share of street life, and DC Club Acela is a welcome respite from that for a few minutes before boarding.
“And everyone in DC knows that DC basically is a 3d world hole”
I think the majority of people in DC would disagree with you.
I have taken just about every long-distance train on Amtrak since 1980 and most out of DC. The service has just plummeted every decade since, and the crash has accelerated since the Pandemic. I just took #29, the Capitol Limited from WAS-CHI to burn some points. While the big bedroom, bedding, attendant service and ride were great, the soft products just sucked. The onboard food was tasty and sufficient, but horribly-horribly presented. Microwaved in a box unceremoniously placed in a white trash bag with my room number on it, just placed on an empty table in the dining car. Plastic everything.
As Matt pointed out, the lounge in DC has really deteriorated. The ice/ice-water machine has been inoperative for many months, perhaps a year. The coffee machine at the Chicago lounge was also inoperative and has been for at least 4-months according to the GAS staff. I am thinking of setting up a go-fund-me page to purchase replacement ice and coffee machines and send them to Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner to make a point.
Prices for the roomettes or bedrooms were much higher than F/J class on any airline out of DCA to ORD. Given these fare levels – first class customers deserve better. Not even the basics are in order. I care – it would be good if someone at Amtrak did.
Also note, there is only ONE bar at WAS Union Station anymore, UNO”s pizza which was overcrowded, loud with lousy service. Go across the street to The Dubliner or Kelly’s Irish Times. At Union Station, all that is left is fast food – not one quality sit-down restaurant anymore.
Also note that except for the City of New Orleans and the Texas Eagle, all long-distance Amtrak trains West from Chicago are great. Real quality dining cars, service and high quality food. I recommend them.
While there maybe no real dining establishments, there are still a few decent fast casual venues, like CAVA.
As for the lounge…it does need an overhaul. The decor, furniture, tiles, etc just scream late 90s…
I always try to bid for an upgrade on amtrak. I pick the lowest offer possible and they tell me it’s a poor offer, 99% of the time I get it.
A few months ago when I was waiting on my train to Richmond someone got shot a few feet away from me. This go round traveling home to the Pittsburgh area, I booked a roomette and was glad to see that the lounge was included. I have lived in DC for over 20 years but Union Station has really gone to crap. Someone said recently that the only people there are the mentally insane and those waiting on a train.
Ah. No prize except for the door. Somethings are priceless in DC. A quite safe place for yourself & luggage. Once upon a time the station was vibrant. Post pandemic empty. Such a beautiful space laid to waste. But they say they are going to restore the lovely businesses that once graced that space. I believe in fairy tales
Glad to see the forest of silk plants is gone. They just looked dirty… made you feel like you were breathing something hazardous to your health just passing nearby for fear of disturbing them and whatever was on there breaking free into the air.
Amtrak lounges at Penn and Chicago Union are nice… but, and this sounds bad, the clientele doesn’t help in some of them. I’ve never seen in an airline lounge big handwritten signs saying “NO HANDS!!” taped next to the tray of cheese cubes as I have several times in the Chicago lounge.