Lounge Review: Seatac AMEX Centurion Lounge

Seatac AMEX Centurion Studio

Update:

Amex recently upgraded this from a studio to a lounge. Maybe it should be a lounge-let. They expanded it by about 10 small tables, and added a bar. The bar area now features tarmac views. The food is still the same. The only improvement (if you drink) is the bar, which features a lot more cocktails, and of course, a bartender. 

Seattle AMEX Centurion Lounge

The AMEX Centurion Studio is located in Concourse B of the Seatac Airport. Open 5 am to 10 pm, its size is comparable to the Alaska Airlines Boardroom in the N Terminal. We visited it for breakfast twice. Based on the breakfast selection, I’d probably choose the AMEX Centurion Studio over the Alaska Airlines Boardroom, because their selection of food is somewhat fresher.

For breakfast, they serve the usual suspects – yoghurt, granola, fruit, cereal, bagels, pastries. They also stock stratas, one vegetarian option, and one bacon strata. They are both delicious. They also have fresh orange and cranberry juice, while the Alaska Airlines Boardroom serves these in the form of Minute Maid fountain drinks.

Seatac AMEX Centurion Studio

In their self-serve fridge, they also have regular sodas, and local specialty soda – Jones Soda. They have some beers, and local wines available as well. They only have two bathrooms. Overall, while it is on the small side (hence, potential for crowding), the fresher food is a winner for me.

Seatac Amex Centurion Studio

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Lounge Review: Seattle British Airways Terraces Lounge, 22 Dec 2015

Seattle British Airways Terraces Lounge

The lounge is located in the S Terminal (i.e. Seattle’s international terminal). It is a little above the S Terminal, and accessible by stairs or elevator, and in the same area as the Delta Airlines Lounge. I got there around 2ish pm on a Tuesday, and stayed there for a few hours before departure time. It didn’t get too crowded. It has a curvy design, and packs mostly sofa seating. The power plugs are on both walls, so if you are in the middle, you are shit out of luck with power. Wifi is free (with password), and fast compared to the regular terminal speed.

Seattle British Airways Terraces Lounge

The food is selection is decent and of a good quality, and quite the norm for a good US domestic lounge: finger sandwiches, soup, crackers, cheese (Bleecher’s flagship and Tillamook cheddar), salad, chips, and cookies. It was pretty substantial for a light meal.

Seattle British Airways Terraces Lounge

They have a self-serve soda selection. Their espresso machine is pretty nice, and stocked with some decent beans, and they offer Twinnings tea, along with some biscotti. There is also a little bar counter on site with complimentary alcohol and no serving limits. I don’t drink, but below is a picture for those who want to know their options.

Seattle British Airways Terraces Lounge

Service was great and proactive. Dishes were cleared often enough, and the service staff also made rounds asking if they could get guests anything. They also have a shower with all the amenities. The bathroom is also very nice, and stocked with Elemis Spa products.

Overall, I liked the lounge. My main complaint is, the table between the sofas is way too low – it’s great for putting your dishes, but if you tried to work on it, be prepared to develop some back problems. In fact, everybody working on their laptops were putting it on their laps.

Lounge Review: Alaska Airlines Boardroom N Concourse at Seatac (WA), 03 Dec 2015

Seatac Alaska Airlines Boardroom N Concourse Location, location, location. It is a pretty small lounge, but it is very modern, and clean, and offers the same amenities (sans ample bathrooms) as the D concourse, but probably at about half the size. But as it is located at N concourse, where many Alaska Airlines flights depart, its location is a selling point, if you are flying Alaska Airlines.

I was there on a Thursday morning (~9 am), it was not too crowded. There are two seating areas divided by the entrance. To the left, there’s a co-working table, and some tables, and the right are the TV screens, with some sofas and tables. The more relax-y half of the Boardroom is also where the bar is located.

Seatac Alaska Airlines Boardroom N Concourse

Despite its compact size, it offers about the same things as the D concourse boardroom – pancake printer, Starbucks machine, etc. The power points are also pretty adequate, and the boardroom offers tarmac views.

So, how do you choose between the two? Well, it really boils down to which terminal you are flying out of. It is nice not to have to leave the D concourse Boardroom 15 min before boarding to hop on the train. Now you just have to roll out 5 mins before boarding if you are flying Alaska Airlines.

Misadventures: SEA-LAX, USA – SJO, Costa Rica, 26 August 2016

The day started out with grand plans. As it turns out, S and A had flights out of Seattle as well, albeit, they were leaving for San Diego, and at different times. We planned to get into Seatac early (for them), so we can hang out together at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom, using my Priority Pass complementary guesting privileges. Well, a Seattle Mariners game, and a stalling truck on the SR509 derailed our plans. S made it to her check-in with only five minutes to spare. After security check, I thought I only had about 15 minutes at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom (my flight ended up being 30 min late).

Alaska Airlines Boardroom

Located between D and C concourse, and beyond gate D1, the Alaska Airlines Boardroom is a large, two-storey facility with tarmac views. The check-in was friendly, and I proceeded to the upper level. In the evening, they appear to only have a simple salad, soup (corn chowder and Yankee pot roast for the day), crackers, and fruit. They also offer three complementary alcoholic beverages per person, and have a couple of draft beers and four wines. Sodas and caffeine are free flow. The upper level appears to only offer drip coffee. The lower level has the fancy Starbucks machine, which does customized espresso drinks. I grabbed some soup, and a mocha before heading concourse N, where my flight was departing.

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The Starbucks machine on the ground level of Alaska Airlines Boardroom

Misadventures

Here’s where the plan derails. Initially, I was supposed to head towards Panama by way of Mexico City, on Aeromexico. However, my Alaska Airlines flight was delayed by more than half an hour, due to air traffic at LAX (damn you, LAX!). By the time the wheels of my plane touched down at LAX terminal 6, it was 22 17. My flight bound for Mexico City was departing LAX terminal 2 at 23 30. Factor in the time it took to taxi to the gate, and being seated in row 18, I think you can draw your own conclusions.

After rapidly walking to terminal 2, and discovering that the Aeromexico check-in counters closed, I walked to the Delta counter at terminal 5. The agent was awesome. Initially, she offered a flight departing the next morning at 8 am, and arriving in Panama City at 8 pm. I pointed out to her that I had a flight out of Panama City at 18 45, so that was not a viable option for me. After doing some magic on her computer, she found me a flight departing for Costa Rica in less than one hour, connecting to Panama City from there. Very grateful that I was not going to miss my flight from Panama City to Havana the next evening, I hustled to the gate to board my red-eye for San Jose, Costa Rica.

I am slightly sad that I am not transiting through Mexico City, because I was very excited to try out some of the lounges. But hey, whatever gets me to Cuba!

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How did I end up going to Costa Rica???

Seattle, USA – Starbucks Reserve Roastery, 30 December 2014

Hours: 7 am – 11 pm

Power: Some along the wall

Conducive for work?: Not as of right now – it’s quite a tourist attraction

Price: Higher than your regular Starbucks (a tall latte will set you back by ~$4)

Wifi: Awesome

Contact: 1124 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, United States, (206) 624 0173

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened up on Pike (some nine blocks from the original Starbucks) to great fanfare in early December. Lines of tourists, and other curious caffeine addicts snaked around the block for most of the day. As a nocturnal, thankfully, the line was manageable in the late evening (after 8.30 pm). In more recent times, the madness has died down, and it’s possible to get in without standing in line.

The Roastery is massive. Small-batch beans of diverse origins are roasted on the premises, alike some of its competitors a couple of steps away. A slight difference is that you can observe the machines at work, and talk to some of the staff working at the roasters, or enjoy watching the conveyor belt of beans being sent for packing. During the day, there are also coffee demonstration. They advertise the roastery as an interactive coffee experience.

Aside from learning how the coffee gets to your cup, one of the key attractions of the Roastery is the variety of coffee available. They have a rotation of about four different types of coffee (including their pantheon blend, which is unique to the Roastery), which you can choose from for your espresso drinks, or you can choose to sample these coffees using different brewing methods (e.g. clover, pour over, press, et. al). I’d highly recommend taking another coffee aficionado for your first visit, so you may sample the coffee flight (three different types of coffees, or one type of coffee with three brewing methods, ~$18)

Does it taste better? Yes. The Roastery does offer an excellent description of the character of their seasonal coffees, and their coffees have some interesting flavor profiles. I tried the Colombian blend in the form of a latte, the Pantheon as a pour over, latte, and espresso soda (~$4 each for a tall).

Currently, it’s not a bad place to read a book for a little while, but as of right now, it’s probably not your cosy cafe, where you’ll set up camp, and work for a couple of hours. There’s a lot of traffic, and if you are at one of the window seats by the counter, be prepared to be in a lot of tourists/curious onlookers’ photos.

Roasting equipment at Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

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Baristas in the middle of the Roastery

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Pantheon Blend LatteIMG_0152

Pantheon Blend Espresso Soda

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Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, 13 September 2014

Address: 425 15th Ave E, Seattle WA 98112; (206) 322-1058

Hours: 8 am – 10 pm

Wifi: Available for one device with purchase [update] for 1 hr from 9 am – 3 pm on weekends, and 3 hrs at other times

Power Outlets: Highly manageable

Ada's Technical books and cafe

It’s the summer holidays, and I have the month off work, so time to go out of my usual route, and check out some of the cafes around Seattle. Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and sandwiched between Cafe Ladro and Victrola on 15th. It’s slightly pricey if you’re just there for coffee, but it’s a really cool space to work at, and it’s a treat for the bibliophile (particularly those with a penchant for technical books).

Ada's Technical books and cafe

Things I Love: The cafe space (which is set in a book store) can host about 20 – 25 patrons. Every table is unique, and is a mini diorama of various topics, for instance, compasses, or how to pick locks. Sitting at a different table each visit can be a fun activity. They also have interesting events, for instance, book clubs, and talks on a variety of academic topics. Despite the relatively tight space, I have never had any issues with finding a spot. They are a full-service establishment, so in addition to caffeine, they also serve wines and beers. Their food menu is fairly extensive. The friendly baristas serve Kuma coffee. My only complaint is that it’s slightly pricier than your regular latte (12 oz goes for ~$3.75).

Cool tables at Ada's Technical books and cafe

USA – Cafes of Seattle: Bauhaus Books and Coffee

Bauhaus Books and Coffee

Update [20 June 2014]: The building that Bauhaus used to be in is now being torn down, and Bauhaus moved to 414 E Pine Street.

Hours: early to midnight.

Wifi: They have it, rotating password, a little wonky.

301 E Pine Street (Capitol Hill)

Hours: early (6-8 am) to 1 am

Located near a couple of bars, this is a place people who need to sober up a little probably can pop in. Personally, I like it for the following reasons:

1) It is near food places that are still open at 1am

2) It’s open till 1am (this is the latest I’ve found so far)

3) It’s spacious (two storeys, not many people)

4) Unoffensive music

These all add up to make it rather conducive for studying.

Cons:

1) Lighting is a little dim (for studying). But might be good for like a romantic coffee.

2) Hot chocolate was too milky for my taste.

Right in the middle:

1) Price: Drinks were an average price

2) Food: Also serves the usual munchies you’ll expect to find in a coffee place.

Wifi? I think so. My Iphone is wonky these days, so I can’t tell for sure.
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Spacious Premise20111113-231942.jpg

Milky Hot Chocolate with pretty art

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Bauhaus Books and Coffee