In recent years, Capital One has immersed itself in the travel space. The issuer added airline and hotel transfer partners to its credit card rewards program in 2018, then more recently it improved its partner transfer ratios and enhanced its travel portal to encourage bookings and become a legitimate competitor when it comes to travel and loyalty programs.

Now the issuer is making its first foray into airport lounges. In early November, Capital One will officially open the doors to its first-ever lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The space offers travelers a selection of features that they won’t find at other lounges in the US, helping to set Capital One apart from its legacy lounge competition in many ways.

We got a sneak peek inside the brand-new Capital One Lounge at DFW before it officially opens to the public. And Capital One did not disappoint. The space is a stunning, refreshing take on an airport lounge — and one that will be a terrific new option for frequent travelers. Let’s take a look inside.

Inside the Capital One lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth

Capital One is entering an already busy airport lounge market. American Express has its network of Centurion Lounges — of which there are now 13 in the US and 11 internationally, including its latest location in London’s Heathrow Airport that opened earlier this month — and the major US airlines all have their own networks of lounges at airports around the globe. So, with the launch of the first Capital One Lounge, the issuer knew it had to make a splash in order to differentiate itself from competitors, and that it did.

The Capital One Lounge at DFW airport is located within Terminal D, which is home to Japan Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways and more, as well as most international long-haul American Airlines departures. Once you clear security, you’ll find the entrance to the lounge next to Gate 22.

Along with the Capital One Lounge, guests will also see signs for the American Airlines Flagship Lounge, which is still closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the two lounges are situated next to each other on the second floor without sharing space beyond the lobby and elevator, when first exiting the elevator, it’s momentarily confusing as to which direction each is located.

But after turning left toward the Capital One Lounge side, you’ll be greeted with a welcome desk. The desk itself is bright, featuring a blue mosaic tiling — a feature that will eventually be carried across the rest of the Capital One Lounge network. At the front of the lounge and directly to the left of the front desk is a luggage storage space, which will feature lockers for travelers who are on a long layover and would prefer to store their bags rather than keep watch over them while they’re in the lounge.

It’s immediately apparent upon entering the space just how open and airy the lounge is across its roughly 10,000 square feet. The high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow for plenty of natural light to flow in and give way to magnificent views of one of DFW’s runways. Lounge seating alongside the windows is perfect for the traveler who wants to take in plane spotting while having a bite to eat and charging their electronics.

Speaking of which, each of the seats in the lounge has access to power — whether that’s a standard power outlet, a USB outlet or both.

Plus, most tables also have their own built-in hook for guests to hang a coat, backpack or purse.

The lounge and multiple styles of seating are tastefully decorated, with shades of whites, blues, oranges and reds throughout. But among the seating and beautiful lighting is one design choice that sticks out most prominently: the artwork. Spread across the lounge are 55 pieces of art, featuring a collection of work by Dallas-based artists curated by Capital One’s lounge designers.

Aside from the decor of the lounge, Capital One has emphasized customizing the experience for guests depending on their needs. Travelers briefly passing through the lounge will be presented with appropriate features that differ compared to those planning to spend several hours inside.

In an ingenious layout of the space that should also help solve the issue of overcrowding, the issuer has designed a central, cube-shaped area, which offers lounge goers a different experience on each of the four sides.

At the very front and closest to the front desk of the lounge is a “pit stop” area. Designed for those making a quick visit, the front of the lounge features a grab-and-go section of chilled foods like sandwiches, ready-made salads and cookies.

Also at this front “pit stop” section of the lounge is a self-serve coffee and drink station, which features drinks on tap such as La Colombe draft latte and cold brew, as well as still and sparkling water. There are also quick snacks.

The other three sides of the center cube feature food items for those on a longer stay.

The area on the second side of the central cube to the right is a large lounge space with ample seating — both with tables for eating and those for lounging — facing out toward the runway. For travelers looking for natural light and great views, this is the spot to sit.

On the opposite side of the central cube is the lounge’s dedicated and unassuming family area. The family area itself is different than most other offerings of its kind, which tend to be dark, dingy corners of the lounge. Instead, this is a space that flows with the rest of the lounge, allowing those traveling with children to experience the lounge with some adjustments, such as lower tables.

However, for unknowing travelers who are in the lounge and don’t realize they’re sitting in the family-friendly area, it could be a surprise, given the lack of signage denoting the space as such.

Finally, to the rear of the center cube, you’ll find several draft selections, such as cola, root beer and orange soda, as well as the bar.

There’s additional seating in this space, including tables, couches and barstools.

One area where the lounge is lacking: space for business. There are no private phone booths where travelers can take a phone call or video meeting, nor are there any meeting spaces. Ultimately, this won’t be a deal breaker for most people, but if you’ve got an important call that you need to take privately while you’re in the lounge, you’ll need to plan ahead.

Amenities in the Capital One Lounge at DFW

Away from the central area of the lounge, you’ll find the wellness area. Down a side corridor off the main lounge space, there’s a single shower room, a cycling and yoga room, two relaxation rooms, one nursing room and two multi-faith meditation rooms.

The cycling and yoga room is a first of its kind in the domestic lounge network. Inside, you’ll find two Peloton bikes, which offer fantastic runway views as you pedal. Rides on the Peloton bikes must be reserved at the front desk and are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.

After your work out, you can utilize the shower room. The shower must be reserved at the front desk and is also available on a first-come, first-served basis

Perhaps the most innovative aspects of the wellness corridor are the two relaxation rooms. Inside, travelers will find a futuristic-looking nap pod. Designed by Metronaps, the pods offer an immersive lounge and relaxation experience with a zero-gravity seat and an optional 20-minute guided meditation. Like the other wellness amenities, the relaxation rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be reserved at the front desk.

Fortunately, the nursing room and two multi-faith meditation rooms do not need to be reserved and should offer a quiet, private place for those who wish to utilize them while in the lounge.

There are four bathrooms in the lounge, and each is an individual room — there are no group men’s or women’s restrooms in the lounge. Inside, each bathroom has a bidet, cloth towels, a makeup mirror and lotions. The bathrooms are big, too. However, there are only four of them. Because the lounge will likely get busy once it’s opened and word gets out, it’s possible there could be a queue for the bathrooms at times, which could be unfortunate if you really need one.

Unfortunately, during our preview look at the lounge, the Wi-Fi was not yet working, so we were unable to test the speeds and reliability of the internet network. But once it’s available, it will be free to use throughout the lounge.

The bar at the DFW Capital One Lounge

While the space’s natural light and well-considered design are highlights, the real standout is the bar. Other than offering locally inspired cocktails, it’s hard to make an airport lounge bar unique. But Capital One has done just that.

The most revolutionary part of the bar is the fact that it’s brought craft cocktails to an airport lounge. In fact, the bar will feature five craft cocktails on draft, designed by Miami-based Unfiltered Hospitality The cocktails will be premixed and served on draft just like you’d get with a draft beer, which will also be on offer. When the lounge opens, the draft cocktails will include:

  • Butter Pecan Old Fashioned — Balcones Texas pot still bourbon, butter pecan syrup, Banane du Bresil and cacao bitters
  • Bluebonnet — Deep Ellum lemon vodka, abricot du Roussillon, lemon sour, Texas wildflower honey and butterfly tea float
  • Blazing Saddles — Blanco tequila, cucumber, lime, Tajin rim and cilantro mist
  • Don’t Call Me Shirley — Dry gin, chinola passion fruit, vanilla syrup and citrus and mint
  • Nickel City Frozen Irish Coffee — Irish whiskey, cold brew coffee and vanilla cream

I tried a small sample of both the Don’t Call Me Shirley and the Nickel City Frozen Irish Coffee, and both were delicious — among the best cocktails I’ve had in an airport. But the real star of the show is the frozen Irish coffee, which is served out of a frozen margarita machine behind the bar.

Additionally, Capital One has teamed with local Dallas ceramist Firehouse Pottery to create a custom cup in which the Irish coffee will be served. And, to deter anyone from taking that part of the lounge experience home with them, it’s imprinted its logo on the bottom of each. The drink is truly a treat.

Aside from the draft cocktails, there are also three additional craft cocktails, three mocktails and an extensive craft beer selection. But don’t expect to find any of the big-box beer names. In fact, Capital One teamed with Carrollton, Texas-based 3 Nations Brewing to come up with its own beer. Called the Yellow Rose Airport Pilsner, it’s a beer that’s brewed only for the Capital One Lounge at DFW.

For wine, there’s a prosecco, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, rosé, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese on offer. There are also premium wine, beer, champagne and liquor choices behind the bar. All of the standard drinks on offer in the lounge, including the draft cocktails, are complimentary, though there is a surcharge for the top-shelf options, which vary in price.

In all, the bar feels like it’s worth a visit to the lounge on its own. The draft cocktail feature is an ingenious idea for an airport lounge where travelers may have limited time and serving drinks quickly is vital — and it’s one that may take off with other lounges in the future.

The food

While the bar offering is top-notch, the food selection on offer is nothing to shake your head at either. In the lounge space, you won’t find a single elongated serving area. Instead, the food options are spread across the four sides of a centrally located island, which is in the shape of a cube.

As mentioned earlier, the first side closest to the entrance is dedicated to grab-and-go bites. Here, you’ll find options like a chicken salad sandwich, rainbow carrot and crema salad and juices, which to be frank didn’t quite meet our high expectations but was useful as a quick bite nonetheless.

Then, on either side of the cube, travelers can expect to find food choices ranging from appetizers to larger mains. Each of the meal options is plated individually, meaning there are no buffet-style serving implements.

On one side of the cube were the starters and mains, while on the other side of the cube were the desserts, though it’s possible that the layout of the food offerings could change from day to day. And alongside the cube is a row of pastries for those looking for a lighter bite.

On offer around the sides of the cube during our preview were choices like hummus and pita and bresaola and cheddar. Additionally, there was a peach granola choice with yogurt and honey.

And, for hot choices, there was a chicken pot pie, which was served in an individual pot and biscuit to go on top as well as macaroni and cheese, lentils and bibimbap.

I tried the macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie and hummus, and each dish was delicious. Capital One really invested in its catering options, and travelers will notice that enhanced experience as soon as they enter the lounge.

There will be two menus throughout the day. First, breakfast will be served up to 11 a.m. During that time, you can expect to find options such as breakfast tacos and egg sandwiches, as well as smaller bites. Then, after 11 a.m., the food offering will switch to the all-day menu.

According to Capital One, the lounge will rotate its meal options four times per year on a seasonal basis. While whole menu items may not change, the kitchen may change the ingredients used, depending on what can be sourced locally at each time of year.

Ultimately, however, the lounge wants to establish one or two items that become staples on its menu. But with a blank slate right now, those items will be determined once Capital One sees what its lounge customers respond to the most.

How to access Capital One Lounges

While the lounge looks fantastic, Capital One is being tight-lipped at the moment about exactly when it will open and how travelers can get access.

While there’s no set date for opening, the issuer told CNN Underscored that the lounge will be open “sometime in early November.” Details about access are also limited right now.

“Capital One cardholders will be eligible for special entry rates depending on their card,” Capital One said in a statement. “More details will be announced soon.”

So for now, stay tuned for more information on when the lounge will be accessible and to whom, and we’ll update this story when we get official information.

In all, the lounge opening represents the latest move from Capital One in its expansion into travel. And with planned lounge openings at Denver International Airport (DEN) and Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) set for 2022, it’s a very promising sign.

Not only does Capital One’s first lounge feel like the perfect place to recharge before your flight, it’s frankly also a better prospect compared to its competitors in the same terminal. Down the concourse in Terminal D is the popular American Express DFW Centurion Lounge, but the Centurion Lounge’s size and offering feel as though they fall flat in comparison to the new Capital One Lounge.

For travelers passing through Terminal D, the Capital One Lounge will soon be the new place to be, thanks to the issuer’s acute attention to detail throughout. If Denver and Dulles have the amenities and feel of this first Dallas lounge, Capital One card members are in for a treat as this lounge network continues to expand.