Wow: Inside Amex’s sparkling new Centurion Club in Midtown Manhattan

Imagine sitting above Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, walking around the 55th floor of one of the city’s newest skyscrapers.

Wherever you turn in this room, you feel like you are at the center of the world. Exit the elevator and go straight to see the Chrysler Building up close. Turn the other direction and you have the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center in the distance.


Times Square, MetLife Building, Central Park, you name it and you can see it from this space. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of LaGuardia Airport.


And while the airport may seem like a world away once you settle in on the 55th floor of the One Vanderbilt building, this skyscraper actually shares one (big) thing in common with LaGuardia: both are now home to the American Express Centurion salons.

No, Amex is not duplicating the airport lounge experience in Midtown Manhattan. Instead, the issuer is opening a brand new exclusive club designed for its top card members in one of the city’s tallest buildings.

This 11,500 square foot club, dubbed “Centurion New York,” opens March 9, and there’s plenty to enjoy — even if you don’t have a “black card.”

Do you want a detailed insight? Join us for a tour.


Centurion New York access

Centurion New York is located on the 55th floor of One Vanderbilt and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.


One Vanderbilt is located just steps from Grand Central Terminal in the Midtown East neighborhood of Manhattan. Those entering the building to access Centurion New York are asked to check in at the lobby on Madison Avenue.

You must bring government-issued photo ID to enter the building and complete guest registration.

Reservations for Centurion New York are divided into two groups: those with a “black card” and those without.

Centurion Card holders have access to priority dining reservations, private dining and lounges, an on-site concierge and members-only events. Centurion Card holders are welcome to walk in and may bring guests, subject to capacity, but reservations are recommended.

Centurion members can make reservations by downloading the Centurion New York mobile app or by calling the phone number on the back of the card.

Everyone else needs a reservation to enter the club. You can get a table through Resy (at this link), or by calling 212-597-9070 between 10am and 12pm weekdays.

If you can’t find a reservation, you can add yourself to the Resy “notify” waiting list and a representative will call you if a table becomes available.

Just be aware that due to high demand and limited capacity, reservations will undoubtedly be difficult to secure – there are currently none available at press time.

Centurion New York layout

After the elevator takes you up to the 55th floor, the doors open to a dimly lit corridor flanked on either side by two distinctive views from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

On one side, you’ll see the gargoyle-inspired ornaments of the Chrysler Building, and on the other, you’ll find Bryant Park and the Empire State Building.

After taking a few moments to be mesmerized by the view, you walk through this slim, wood-paneled hallway to the reception area.


The host will confirm your reservation and usher you into one of three main rooms, all of which are arranged around the perimeter of the 55th floor to maximize the views. (By design, all back-of-house areas are located in the interior of the club.)

The first space is known as the “Lounge”, which is designed as a meeting area for everyone. It is the most casual room in the Centurion New York and is likely to be the liveliest. It’s where you might want to make a phone call or meet a friend or colleague during the day, and it’s the only area where laptops are allowed (before 6pm)

Right next door is “The Studio”, which is designed as a casual restaurant with an à la carte menu. Here you’ll find a bar, along with a bunch of tables (none of which have white tablecloths).

As you walk through “The Studio,” you’ll enter the main dining room, called “The Gallery.” This is where the magic happens, so to speak.

Not only does it have some of the best views of the New York cityscape, but it’s also where you can enjoy the finest food on offer. (More on the culinary experience below).

Apart from the change in the artwork along the walls, the tables here are covered with white tablecloths, which help define this as the most beautiful place in the salon.


No matter where you turn, you’re sure to be impressed by the bespoke design from renowned studio Yabu Pushelberg and artwork curated by Hanabi: Art & Artists.

Each room has a different “feel” – the lounge boasts art themed around 1970s and 1980s New York City from artists such as Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus and Vivian Maier. Meanwhile, the gallery hosts an eclectic mix of works that vary in color and subject matter, inviting guests to reflect on their own lives.

No matter where you sit, you’ll definitely want to dress the part. Centurion New York has a “smart casual/chic attire” dress code, with no casual, inappropriate or offensive clothing allowed.

Once you walk in and see the design for yourself, you’ll be glad you donned the fancy outfit. While Amex has worked hard over the past few years to make airport Centurion Lounges nicer and more luxurious, this space is in a league of its own.

From the couches to the dining tables to the rugs, Centurion New York feels more like you’ve walked into a three Michelin star restaurant than a fancy airport lounge.

In addition to the aforementioned rooms, Amex carved out a few more areas designed exclusively for Centurion members. This includes two private dining rooms (adorned with custom-built chandeliers) and a larger dedicated events area with bar – all of which can be reserved for meetings, weddings or parties on a first-come, first-served basis for an additional fee.

Furthermore, there is a special wine vault and cellar located near the entrance, which is also restricted to Centurion members and their guests. Whether you are looking for a special wine tasting or a private dinner far away from everyone else, this place can be a great option.

While sipping your wine, enjoy the scenery from this corner room. From the outside you have a fantastic view of Manhattan, and inside you will find framed works by one of The New Yorker’s most prolific artists, Saul Steinberg.


Centurion New York food and drink

While Centurion New York may feel like an exclusive club, the main focus is on the culinary experience.

To that end, Amex partnered with popular chef Daniel Boulud, best known for his eponymous Michelin-starred Daniel restaurant, to curate the menus in each food and beverage post here.


While I haven’t had a chance to try his creations (yet), I’ll be sure to report back when I make a reservation when the salon officially opens. (I’ll update this story when that happens.)

Centurion New York facilities

Some of Amex’s best airport lounges boast special amenities that include spas, gyms, and phone rooms, but here at Centurion New York, food and drink are the main offering.

That said, the club has a dedicated full-time concierge desk (tucked away in a private office near the entrance) who can help with any request, whether it’s last minute tickets to a sports match or Broadway show or finding the perfect bouquet of flowers for your loved one.


Please note that there is only one concierge on staff, so you may have better luck calling your dedicated Centurion line if the personal agent becomes busy.

Aside from the concierge, you won’t find any other amenities here that you’d typically see in a New York member’s club—no showers, phone rooms, or fitness centers.

There are 11 unisex bathroom stalls spread throughout the room and they are all beautiful. Imagine large, dimly lit rooms pumped with an exclusive Diptyque fragrance specially created for Amex, along with a small stool and high-tech hands-free flushing and sinks.

Fast and free Wi-Fi (with download and upload speeds over 300 Mbps) is available throughout the lounge, and you’ll find plenty of power outlets (with USB-A and USB-C charging ports) neatly tucked away in the lounge. .


The bottom line

When news broke that American Express was opening a great new lounge in Midtown Manhattan, I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be a replica of the airport lounge experience or something completely different?


After visiting the place, I can confidently say that Centurion New York is certainly not an airport lounge. While the former is designed for a quick visit, the new New York City club invites you to stay a while – grab a meal, enjoy a cocktail, taste some wine and maybe mingle with a friend or colleague.

That said, Amex is undoubtedly flexing its lounge muscles with the opening of Centurion New York. The culinary offerings, design and art are all a step (or three) above what the issuer offers at 15 airports worldwide, and Centurion New York is sure to be a hit with issuer “black card” holders.


Even better, the space will be open to everyone, but good luck with a reservation. After all, it only took me one quick visit to tell all my friends to start putting in alerts to get a table.

For more on American Express Centurion Lounges, check out:

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