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I went to Chase's brand-new airport lounge and saw firsthand how pampered I could feel before a flight

The author leans back in a white love seat with plants all around
Business Insider's travel reporter took a tour of the new Chase Sapphire Lounge in NYC's LaGuardia Airport.
  • I recently visited the new Chase Sapphire Lounge at LaGuardia Airport in NYC.
  • The lounge is complimentary for some Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders. 
  • Inside, I found a relaxing sanctuary with complimentary facials and exclusive suites.

Imagine spending your final hours before a long flight getting a hydrating facial, blasting your favorite songs in a retro arcade, and lounging among nature.

That's the reality at the Chase Sapphire Lounge, an exclusive airport club in Boston, Hong Kong, and, most recently, New York City.

The credit-card company launched a new location in NYC's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on January 16, followed by another at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) just a week later, according to the company's website.

Chase is just one of many credit-card companies making airport lounges far more accessible than they once were for those willing to hold a premium travel credit card.

The Chase Sapphire Lounge is free and unlimited for $550-per-year Chase Sapphire Reserve credit cardholders, who can bring up to two more travelers for free, according to the company's website. Any additional guests of the cardholder come with a $27 fee per person.

The cardholder must also activate their Priority Pass airport lounge membership — complimentary through Chase Sapphire Reserve — to access the space. Those with a Priority Pass membership who do not have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card can visit the lounge once a year for free and $75 per visit after that.

As a travel reporter, I fly a lot and know how taxing it is to maneuver through airports from security to your gate, only to squeeze into a plane and sit in the turbulent air for hours.

So, the idea of feeling relaxed up until moments before boarding seemed like something I'd be into. That's why I ventured to LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B on a Friday morning to get a tour of the Chase Sapphire Lounge from general manager Ioannis Tzielekis.

I spent three hours in the 21,850-square-foot space and saw firsthand how pampered I could feel before my flights. And honestly, I wish I could hang out there even if I didn't have a plane to catch.

After one cab ride and one TSA checkpoint, I arrived at the Chase Sapphire Lounge inside LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B.
A man stands at the entrance of a blue-mirrored entrance to an airport lounge.
The entrance to the Chase Sapphire Lounge at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

The Chase Sapphire Lounge is past security in LaGuardia's five-star Terminal B, home to various airlines, including American, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and Air Canada, as Tzielekis told BI. The lounge is open from 4:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET.

When I arrived at the terminal, I headed up to the fourth floor to the lounge's entrance. From there, I walked down a long hallway and took an elevator down to the lounge's first floor, where the welcome desk was located.

I felt like I was walking into a high-end hotel.
Dark and good walls with gold finishings in front of the lounge's welcome desk
The lounge's welcome desk.

Once inside the lounge, I marveled at the modern finishings and large, framed local artwork as guests checked in as early as three hours before their upcoming flights, showing their Priority Pass, credit card, and boarding pass for complimentary entry.

Past the welcome desk was a two-story space full of refreshments, plants, and comfy seating.
Inside a lounge with seveeral seating areas and hanging plants from a mezzanine.
A peek inside the lounge's first floor.

If not for the informative flight screens on the walls, it would have been easy for me to forget I was in an airport at all.

The two-story space was tastefully laid out with modern, comfortable couches and cushy chairs. Even on a Friday morning, there was no shortage of places to sit — unlike a gate before boarding, where I sometimes find myself squatting on the floor as passengers pack the limited chairs.

I immediately noticed that the lighting in the space made it feel like there were windows in the lounge, so I was surprised when I realized there were none.

A representative of Chase Sapphire told BI that the lighting is designed to make travelers feel this way with LEDs with various strength and temperature settings.

"The Lounge lighting is divided into zones controlled by dimmers programmed to create lighting scenes that vary through the day," the representative told BI in an email.

An array of artificial and real plants, from hanging vines to indoor trees, made the lounge feel even more relaxing. Therapists previously told BI that just looking at nature calms human minds.

Both floors of the lounge had refreshment stations.
A beverage area with taps and espresso machines in a black, marble nook between bamboo walls
A refreshment station in the lounge.

Hydration stations around the lounge have a variety of offerings, from still, sparkling, and fruit-infused spa waters to juices, teas, and espresso machines. Tzielekis said the lounge partners with NYC's local Joe Coffee Company for espresso drinks.

On the first floor, there was a full-service bar.
An aerial view of a bar with three cocktails on a white, marble counter
A sampling of drinks from the bar.

The bar was a round marble counter at the center of the lounge's first floor. It served complimentary beer, Parcelle wine, custom cocktails, and energizing drinks from an on-site barista from Joe Coffee Company.

The lounge had an array of cocktails, including their signature "Sapphire" drink made from either Brooklyn Gin or Crop Artisanal vodka mixed with lime, ginger, blue and golden berries, a five-spice powder, oregano, bee pollen, and a sparkle of pearl dust.

Next to the bar, there was a restaurant with a buffet and a full-service menu.
An aerial view of a buffet and dining area with plants hanging over the mezzanine
A view of the buffet from the top floor.

The food area seemed designed to serve both travelers in a hurry and those killing time.

A buffet with ready-to-eat foods lined the dining area. During breakfast, they had French toast, bacon, and hashes.

Additionally, there was a menu of made-to-order dishes served to guest's tables, from sandwiches to salmon entrées.

All the plates were complimentary and created by the high-end West Village American bistro Joseph Leonard, according to Chase.

I sat for a full-service lunch and was greeted with an external battery to charge my phone.
A phone plugged into a large, black charging battery on a white table
The author charges her phone at the table.

I was in no hurry, so I sat down for lunch, where the menu was accessible via a QR code sticker on the table.

As soon as I started browsing the dishes, a server greeted me and offered an external battery to charge my phone. This detail made me think the service in the lounge truly considered travelers' needs on an individual level.

I ordered salmon with braised leeks and fries.
Two white plates side-by-side on a white table. On the left plate is a salmon dish, and on the right plate is fries and ketchup
The author's lunch in the lounge.

As I scrolled through the menu, one dish stood out: farm-raised Atlantic salmon over braised leeks. I love fish — especially salmon — and I was interested to see if an airport salmon dish would be any good.

I was initially surprised by the neat, balanced presentation of the dish, as it made me feel like I was in a fine dining room. And it tasted like it, too. The salmon was moist, as it should be, and the leeks provided a nice, contrasting texture.

Since the dish was quite small, the crispy, golden fries filled up the rest of my tummy.

The first floor was also home to most of the action, including a playroom for families.
A kids play area with colorful toys and nooks behind glass doors with blue walls and carpets and foliage in hanging over the top of the image
The lounge's family room.

Known as the family room, this area had toys, tables, and many places for parents to sit, from chairs and ottomans to cozy, padded wall nooks.

Next to the playroom, a curtain revealed a speakeasy arcade.
Inside a dark arcade with white bulb lights above games on a blue and black striped carpet
A peek inside the arcade.

According to Tzielekis, the arcade was designed to have a retro, speakeasy feel.

"It's New York City in the '60s and '70s," he said.

I thought the hidden room had a vintage feel with polaroids on the wall, an old-school pinball machine, and throwback vinyl on the shelf from Bruce Springsteen to Billy Joel.

My favorite part was the vintage jukebox.
A hand presses a button on a vintage marshall juke box
A Marshall jukebox in the arcade.

What caught my eye most in the room was a vintage Marshall Jukebox holding thousands of songs on disks.

Tzielekis was eager to show me how it worked. He assured me the room was soundproof before cranking "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior.

I felt like I was in a nightclub and couldn't believe I was just yards away from a serene spa.

For a more relaxing vibe, I headed to the spa.
A spa-like space with small nooks and privacy curtains
The wellness rooms allow travelers to relax before their next flight, with complimentary spa services from an on-site esthetician.

Also on the first floor, the spa felt like a peaceful, quiet refuge. As Tzielekis and I entered the spa, we switched from full-volume conversation to subtle whispers to keep from disturbing guests inside.

Across from a small waiting room were two nooks separated by curtains with a plant and a soft, cushy loveseat and ottoman inside each. According to Tzielekis, these rooms are for guided meditations created by wellness expert Devi Brown.

I thought this spa feature would be ideal for travelers like me who experience flight anxiety to ease their minds before takeoff.

The spa offers complimentary facial treatments.
Inside a facial treatment room with a pink flower painting on the wall
Inside a spa treatment room.

Inside the spa's two treatment rooms, guests can book 30-minute facials free of charge designed by the women-owned facial bar Face Haus.

Many of the treatments seem to be geared toward travelers' needs — like the Refresher, a cleanse that rids the face of dull skin cells followed by a blast of cooling oxygen that decreases inflammation often caused by travel days — or the Soother, which hydrates the skin with a jelly mask, as flights tend to cause dehydration.

According to the lounge's website, spa reservations typically book up fast, but I was lucky enough to get an appointment.

Since I wasn't traveling, I followed my facialist's recommendation based on my skin. And I'm glad I did. She noticed some red splotches around my mouth and eyebrows and recommended the Illuminator, a treatment that uses red and blue lights to eliminate flare-ups and purify skin.

After my calming treatment, I looked in the mirror and noticed my face was glowing. And almost two weeks later, my face is completely clear of red splotches. I couldn't believe I could get such a spectacular facial inside an airport terminal.

There was also a coworking space on the first floor.
People sit facing away from the camera in a study space with an electric fireplace below a blue-tiled wall
The lounge's coworking space.

The coworking space on the first floor seemed ideal for productivity. It was well-lit and full of tables and chairs with shelves showcasing a balanced array of sculptures and books on either side of an electric fireplace.

The room was quiet, making it ideal for studying, but there were also enclosed nooks for guests to take phone calls.

Upstairs, there was a peaceful mezzanine lined with plants.
A curved mezzanine overlooks the main floor of the new Chase Sapphire Lounge in LaGuardia.
The Chase Sapphire Lounge at LaGuardia is a beautiful mix of open spaces and curved lines.

On the second level of the lounge, I found another space that seemed like a calming spot to work or study, as it was less crowded than the first floor.

The seating areas up here were just below a ceiling with organically shaped mirrors and lights meant to indirectly light the space, a lounge representative told BI.

On the second floor, there are also three suites that come at an additional price.
Inside a vibrant suite with a living room space on the left, a table with four chairs on the right, and a bar with a mirrored bar in the back
Inside one of the Reserve Suites by Chase,

The second floor is home to the Reserve Suites by Chase, which are essentially small, private lounges. Unlike other amenities in the lounge, these suites come at an additional price, starting at $2,200.

I got a peek at the lounge's three suites. In each main room, there was a living room area with a circle mirror that doubled as a TV, a Play Station 5, a stocked bar, and a complimentary menu with exclusive options, including caviar, high-end wines from Parcelle, and dishes from the West Village seafood restaurant Jeffery's Grocery.

There was also a smart tablet where guests could order food and beverages and control lighting and entertainment. Tzielekis said that suite guests have a dedicated butler as well.

Each suite has a luxurious, full bathroom with a range of amenities.
Inside a bathroom with large mirrors and gold accents. On the left are two hanging white robes and a shelf with toiletries
Amenities inside a suite bathroom.

The bathrooms felt spacious and bright with gold trimmings, like something I'd expect at a luxury hotel. They all had showers and several high-end amenities.

Inside each, I found two hanging robes as well as luxurious products like Oribe toiletries and a Dyson hair dryer.

Ultimately, the lounge felt like a sanctuary amid a busy airport.
The author leans back in a white love seat with plants all around
The author relaxes on the second floor of the lounge.

I left the lounge feeling impressed with such a cool space to relax in an otherwise busy airport. While I don't have the credit-card program to access it, I imagine that visiting before a flight would make me more excited — and relaxed — for a long travel day.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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