Earlier today I published a review of the United Club at Washington National Airport. It’s a beautiful club and in terms of architecture, my absolute favorite of all United Clubs. I thought it might be fun to compile a list of my five favorite United Clubs. My list may surprise you…
My Five Favorite United Clubs
5. Honoululu (HNL)
I know most consider this a woefully outdated lounge, but I love the decor…the etched glass, the shells, the artwork. And of course Honolulu itself always brings happy memories and the staff in this lounge is friendly. I hear United is preparing to remodel this lounge. Please, United: leave it alone!
> Read Full Review: United Club Honolulu HNL
4. San Francisco (SFO) – F Gates
I just love this lounge, another one that has not yet been renovated. That rotunda in the entrance with the clock and constellations is just beautiful. Over the years, I’ve used this lounge probably more than any other (even LAX) since I often fly out of Burbank (BUR) and because SFO is UA’s transpacific gateway and also offers far more transatlantic service than LAX.
3. Los Angeles (LAX)
My home airport has a beautiful United Club with great staff (especially Bruce) and a nice terrace. One of the newer United Club, it is both spacious and flooded with natural light. Before COVID-19, it also had some of the best food selections including Korean BBQ tacos.
> Read Full Review: United Club Los Angeles (LAX)
2. London (LHR)
United has a beautiful lounge in London Heathrow with wonderful staff and a great selection of food and drink. In fact, I prefer the United Club to the lounges of Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines (all in the same terminal).
> Read Full Review: United Club Club London (LHR)
1. Washington National (DCA)
Such a beautiful, classic, historic lounge. It utilizes lounge space that is original to the airport and hearkens back to the glory days of commercial aviation. Not only are the staff great, but sitting in here takes you back 70-80 years (in a good way). This lounge is my favorite United Club of all due to the architecture.
> Read Full Review: United Club Washington National (DCA)
Honorable Mention – Denver (DEN)
Denver receives an honorable mention because of one staff member: Chris. She was the best. Always the best. For over a decade she would greet me, I would greet her, and she simply brightened up my day every time I visited the lounge. She is now retried and her colleagues in Denver have a big shoes to fill. The club itself in Denver is not anything special, but Chris certainly was.
> Read More: A Tribute To A Wonderful United Club Agent
The Philadelphia (PHL) United Club also receives honorable mention. When I went to law school, I flew out of PHL nearly every Thursday or Friday to go home to LAX and I got to know the staff (especially Anne) very well. It’s always nice to be greeted by name at the lounge door.
What are you favorite United Clubs?
my personal favorite is the HKG UA Club — it offers showers! In the US showers are only at Polaris lounges, correct? They also have actual hot foot options which many ones in the states do not. Not only the amenities but the huge glass windows that Hong Kong airport offers overlooking the tarmac is wonderful and tons of natural light. Where would you place the UA Club at HKG?
I do like the HKG Club. Perhaps my problem is that I have not visited in over a decade. Hopefully travel will return next year…I want return to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.
In my (recent) experience over the past two years or so, the showers at HKG were more often than not out of service due to plumbing issues.
Narita (NRT) is my favorite.
The shower rooms at the HKG club are kind of dank. I recall the shower drain being clogged on one of my visits a year or two ago so the water filled up the pan.
She sounds special, nice story, but not special enough for you to spell her name! Is it Kris or Chris?
My bad. I have an odd habit of spelling females with Kris instead of Chris by default. It is indeed Chris.
@ Matthew — Great selections! My favorite has to be the SFO one. Such fond memories.
haven’t tried the HNL/LHR ones myself, but i concur with the other 3. DCA was quite special indeed. Especially considering the fact it’s not even a particularly large spoke either.
as for Polaris, i’ve only tried ORD so far – it’s definitely top notch.
Now just hope they can do something about the blandness at DEN East and DEN West ones.
In terms of Polars Lounges, I’d rate them:
I think the LAX United Club is the best regular lounge in the US (meaning not a First Class lounge like AA or Polaris). I’ve heard that the HNL renovation is on a firm hold due to cash constraints because of COVID but that DEN will be starting renovation construction on the B – West and future A United Clubs next year. I’ve also heard a rumor that A will be getting a Polaris Lounge. Good things ahead.
In addition to your list, I’d add:
-LGA – great new space, and (pre-Covid) the food options were better than any hub UC, believe it or not
-BOS – very similar to LAX as a rebuild in the new style
-ORD B6 – just for the hot food program (sadly wasn’t going to be replicated anywhere else, even pre-Covid)
Good point. I liked the hot food in ORD B6.
As for BOS, I greatly miss the old legacy UA lounge. I have reviews of BOS and ATL that I have not published yet. Will do so soon.
+1 on LGA – the food and drinks selections are better than the MLL next door, and shares the great terminal view a la HKG.
Are you talking about the brand new one? (or is the same?)
Yes the brand new one in the new Central Terminal (post-security)
Though I did have a weird fondness for the old pre-security one!
I worked with Chris until I retired. She was just as great to work with!
Linda, and I’m sure you were as well!
To be fair in the case of LHR, the LH lounge is quite far from the UA lounge in the A part of T2 whereas Singapore, Air Canada, and UA are in the B part of T2. The LH lounge is nice, although usually fairly crowded.
I love the UA LHR lounge, although the AC one is really nice too. Especially since every time I’ve used it I’ve been the only person there (late LHR-IAD flights when AC is basically done for the day besides one flight to YYZ). Great decor, nice staff, good food, and well you can’t beat an empty lounge!
You’d think AC would be my favorite because of the coffee barista, but I’ve been disappointed by the coffee there.
The LHR AC lounge feels very cramped compared to the UA one and the catering is worse. Most of the lounges at LHR T2 are closed anyway. I think LH and Plaza Premium reopened. It’s quite annoying that there is no Fast Track security now and you have to remove your shoes.
I enjoy GUM as well, they always have good hot food and its a pleasant introduction back into the USA after being in Asia.
It has been years since I’ve been to GUM!
Put it on the list, too bad it’s hard to get there on a budget now. Flying to MNL is probably the easiest way. I primarily rank lounges based on food so you may not like it as much as me, the physical club is about the of a long hallway and twice the width.
Tokyo – Narita is the best lounge I’ve been too!!
I agree with your list for the most part. I particularly like Honolulu. And I also think that Narita is good. The Asiana lounge at ICN has great food options.
I’d put LHR first for the significantly better F&B they have to compete with the other international lounges there. But I have not been since the pandemic.
People make a big difference at these lounges. I spent a year and a half going to Houston frequently while my dad was being treated at MD Anderson. It made such a huge difference to go into the AmEx lounge and always receive some kind and unexpected compliment or pleasant service.
I agree with you on all counts—PHL is my home base and Anne has been a welcoming smile for as long as I remember..but kudos to Darryl at the LAX Club as well as Debbie at the SFO “F” gates club..these are the people who “fixed” things when it seemed all went wrong simultaneously!
Agreed on LHR and LAX.
However, we could not be further apart on DCA and SFO. Especially SFO since this is UAs main west coast hub, all of the United Clubs are HORRIBLE. The Rotunda with 80s style furniture that has scratches all over, and the “new” design SFO clubs are awful as well, too small and bad seating options. It really is a joke.
And don’t even get me started on the food at domestic clubs outside of LAX and ORD B6. Embarrassing.
I love that you listed DCA as your fave. DCA is my home airport, and the club there does indeed give you the 1930s/40s aviation heyday feel. It’s in part of the original Washington Airport terminal that still houses the Art Deco architectural details.
Plus, it’s a 15-second walk down the stairs to ALL of UAs gates, save one, at those infrequent (and pre-Covid times) times when they’d share a gate w/Alaska (I think it was Alaska, don’t quote me).