Capital One has opened its second branded airport lounge at D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD), part of the credit card provider’s ploy to attract big spenders and frequent travelers.
Capital One cut the ribbon on its space at IAD last Thursday, welcoming its Venture X cardholders to a retreat full of quick food options, bespoke drinks, comfortable seating, and other amenities.
The Capital One Lounge at Dulles isn’t as expansive as its refuge at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), which opened in 2021 with a workout studio, Peloton bikes, and shower suites. But the Dulles lounge has claimed a unique space within the airport: the base of an old control tower designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen and dating back to the airport’s construction in the early 1960s.
The design of the lounge takes cues from its midcentury origins, with seating arranged across multiple levels invoking a sunken living room, and Saarinen’s white tulip tables scattered around.
The lounge is located just past the security checkpoint in the main terminal and before the AeroTrain station, linking travelers to more distant gates. That location makes the lounge the perfect “jumping off point” for travelers, said Capital One’s Director of Airport Experiences David Borowik, and the front half of the lounge has been designed to cater to guests passing through.
That means an abundance of grab-and-go food and beverage options. Just past reception, a full-service coffee bar whips up cold brews and cappuccinos in to-go cups with beans from Philadelphia’s La Colombe Coffee Roasters.
A food station labeled “Refuel” is next, offering sandwiches, salads, and drinks. And travelers won’t have to settle for limp sandwiches. The fridge is packed with falafel pitas, açai bowls, overnight oats, sweet treats like a chocolate pudding-based s’mores bowl, canned La Colombe coffee, and Bubly sparkling water. The packaging and branded bags at this station are all made from sustainable materials.
This setup, funneling some guests in and out quickly, will relieve some of the crowding that’s irked lounge guests at airports over the last few years. But those with more time before their flights are welcome to stay longer, and the rest of the lounge is dedicated to them, with comfortable seating, workstations, and slower food options.
For these less-harried travelers, an on-site kitchen serves hot food buffet style from open to close, including breakfast sandwiches, truffle corn pudding, shrimp bao, and an intriguing guacamole with asparagus. Many of these ingredients are sourced locally.
Across the way, a bar pours signature cocktails and locally sourced craft beers. The highlight behind the bar is the Bee’s Knees, a Prohibition-era drink given a fermented twist by D.C. restaurant Bresca and its beverage director Will Patton. The cocktail, made with Bombay Sapphire gin, mead, lemon, and kombucha honey cordial, is served in bee-shaped glasses.
Other cocktails pay homage to D.C. and its history. Choose between the Cherry Blossom Margarita, the Georgetown Headspinner (“a couple of these and you’ll be speaking to Linda Blair,” the menu promises), and vodka-based Directions to J Street, which vows to get you as lost as a search for that non-existent boulevard.
Teetotalers can try the mocktails on the menu, including the Pretty Ricky, with cherry blossom syrup, fresh lime juice, and sparkling water, and the Rock Creek Park, with green tea, Fever Tree lime and yuzu soda, and cucumber.
Beer drinkers haven’t been neglected. With each of its planned airport lounges, Capital One has tasked a local brewery to concoct “the best airport beer.” At Dulles, the Ashburn, Virginia-based Lost Rhino Brewing Company has met the challenge with a crisp helles lager it’s dubbed the “Pre-Flight Lager.” The brewery’s flagship IPA is also on tap, and other local craft suds are available in cans.
Seating options throughout the lounge include booths, loungers, workstations, and communal areas aimed at families, with lower stools for children.
Four private bathrooms are available, as well as a parents’ room that can be used to nurse or change babies.
Luggage lockers allow guests to safely store their bags while in the lounge and free up space in the main areas.
The lounge is open free of charge to holders of Capital One’s Venture X and Venture X Business credit cards, plus two of their guests.
Launched in 2021, the luxury rewards cards are Capital One’s answer to the American Express Platinum card and part of the bank’s long-term strategy to “move upmarket to the very top of the heavy spender marketplace,” Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank has said.
The Venture X card comes with a whopping $395 annual fee, but frequent flyers will find it pays for itself, generously handing out Capital One miles on spending. Those miles can be used to cover any travel purchase, and they take travelers even further when transferred to the loyalty programs of airline partners such as Air Canada, Avianca, and Etihad.
In crafting these airport lounges, “we’re really designing for the Venture X customer,” those interested in experiences, travel, and curation, Capital One Head of Travel Jenn Scheurich told Skift.
Additionally, travelers with the less lavish Capital One Venture Rewards and Capital One Spark Miles for Business cards receive two free visits to the lounges per year.
All other travelers can access the lounge for a one-off $65 fee.
Meanwhile, Capital One’s third and fourth lounges are currently in the works for Denver International Airport (DEN) and Las Vegas’s Harry Reid International Airport (LAS).