AFAR partners with CreditCards.com and may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Compensation may impact how an offer is presented. Our coverage is independent and objective, and has not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of the AFAR editorial team.
On September 7, Capital One will debut its highly anticipated airport lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) just outside of Washington, D.C. It’s the brand’s second in a growing network of proprietary lounges, with Dallas (DFW) already open, and Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS), and NYC LaGuardia (LGA), and Washington DCA on the way. Located just beyond the airport’s TSA PreCheck lanes, between the East and West Security Checkpoints, the new 8,500-square-foot lounge at Dulles is accessible to passengers flying any airline and from any gate. The lounge features grab-and-go options, a made-to-order coffee and pastry counter, a mixology-forward bar, and locally sourced items that speak to—and support—eclectic small enterprises across the capital region.
Last week, AFAR got a sneak peek of the new lounge—and we were so impressed we’d consider routing our next flight through D.C. on purpose. Here’s everything you need to know about the new Capital One Lounge at Dulles, including where to find it and how to get in.
The 8,500-square-foot lounge optimizes its space to cater to the varied needs of the modern traveler, starting with those in hurry. In fact, the entire front area is designed for travelers with limited time, seeking to pop in and out of the lounge and grab, say, a coffee, snacks, or a meal to-go. Order the drip coffee from Virginia-based Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Company or a specialty drink from the barista-attended coffee counter; alternatively, head to the self-service tap station to caffeinate on La Colombe cold brew. Snag a bottle of Bubbly sparkling water from the “Refuel” fridge along with sandwiches, salads, and bowls, catering to a variety of dietary needs, all made on premises daily and conveniently packaged to-go. Recent highlights from the grab-and-go area included: cucumber melon salad, sriracha chicken bánh mì, falafel-filled pita, acai bowls, and grilled-corn salad.
Those with more than 10 minutes to spare will want to continue deeper into the lounge, finding several idyllic spaces for relaxing, drinking, eating, working, or playing. On one side, a sunken living room is strewn with kid-sized tables and chairs for families (with plenty of outlets for the kids’ electronics). On the other, a duo of semi-private cubicles feature long desks and quiet working spaces. Past both, comfy swivel chairs complement plush lounge chairs in a main seating area, anchored by a full-service central bar and a self-service spread of hot and cold dishes. A flight status display allows travelers to keep up with boarding times, while individual power outlets at every seat and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi ensure constant connectivity.
For the main dining presentations, don’t expect sloppy buffets, communal utensils, and previously frozen, preservative-laden bites. Do expect displays of single-serve dishes to consume at your leisure (and preferred quantity). Each is made with locally sourced ingredients and made fresh in the lounge kitchen by real chefs. At breakfast, for example, the hearty breakfast sandwich is made with regionally sourced eggs, applewood smoked bacon from a Maryland smokehouse, and cheddar cheese from a Virginia dairy, on a brioche bun from Lyon Bakery in Hyattsville, Maryland. Complementing the sandwiches are the likes of stone-milled cheddar grits, shakshuka, and homemade strawberry pop tarts from Maribeth’s Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia. For lunch and dinner, standouts include asparagus guacamole with corn chips, whipped goat cheese and spicy peach crostini topped with candied jalapeno, Thai shrimp curry bao buns, and skillets of truffle corn pudding, made with sweet corn from Newmarket Plantation in Milford, Virginia.
The overall wine, beer, and cocktail experience of the Capital One Lounge at Dulles rivals that of a top mixology-forward bar—but won’t cost you a dime. The lounge’s must-order cocktail is the Bee’s Knees, originally created by beverage guru Will Patton for Michelin-starred Bresca in Washington, D.C. This intoxicating combination of Bombay Sapphire gin, Suze, lemon, and kombucha honey, is now also served at the Capital One lounge in the same Instagram-worthy glass bumble bee as the original. Another standout is the Georgetown Headspinner, a rum-forward espresso martini with shaved chocolate.
Ashburn-based Lost Rhino Brewing Co. has crafted a singular “Pre-Flight Lager” on tap for the lounge, which is served alongside their Virginia-style Face Plant IPA. Also on tap are Prosecco as well as three cocktails (including a cherry blossom margarita), allowing bartenders to deliver select drinks at a rapid-fire pace. Rounding out the selections are six more local craft beers, a handful of other specialty cocktails and mocktails, a full bar stocked with popular spirits and a half-dozen wines.
Those willing to pay for top brands and wanting to splurge during their lounge experience can also order “Upgrades” from the wine and cocktail menu. These included 375ml bottles of bubbles like Taittinger Champagne for $32 and 2-ounce pours of higher-end spirits like Del Maguey Tobala tequila for $25.
Beyond alcoholic options, travelers can also choose from mocktails, a self-serve soda fountain, fresh juices, and refill reusable water bottles from the filtered water system.
Other thoughtful local touches
The lounge shows its love for the region through more than food and drink. Select midcentury-modern furnishings pay homage to the historic Eero Saarinen-designed terminal in which the lounge is located. Coffee “for here” is served in custom mugs and pottery by Virginia’s Acorn Pottery & Farm, stamped with the words “on permanent loan from Capital One Lounge” (for those who may try to leave with a lounge souvenir). On the lounge walls, find works by the region’s contemporary artists, including Josh Young, Kristen Gaudio Ensley, Michael Crosset, and Judy Southerland, and more.
How to access the Capital One Lounge at Dulles
All travelers with a boarding pass for a departing or connecting same-day flight, up to three hours before their departure time, can enter the Capital One Lounge at Dulles. Those with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (plus authorized users) enter free of charge, with two guests complimentary and $45 for each extra guest. Capital One Venture and Capital One Spark Miles cardholders receive two complimentary visits to Capital One Lounges annually with additional visits at a discounted rate of $45 per person. Remarkably, walk-ins by non-Capital One cardholders are also welcome and come at the reasonable price of $65 per person.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.