Live From the Olympics: Inside the Chase Visa Lounge

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Yesterday we landed in London (more on that awesome flight later), and after catching a short nap and checking out some sights, we headed for dinner at the Chase Visa Lounge. The Lounge is located at 116 Pall Mall in London’s West End in an absolutely beautiful building.  What that location essentially means is that it is easy to get to, and is within walking distance to lots of other stuff in London that you would probably want to see anyway.

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The Chase Visa Lounge website describes the activities and amenities available as follows:

  • Celebrity Chef Morimoto Culinary Experiences
  • Appearances by Olympic Athletes
  • Food, wine, beer and other refreshments daily
  • Free Wi-Fi and more than 10 HDTVs throughout the Lounge
  • Concierge services for dining and theatre reservations, tourist and Olympic Games information

Given that all you need is a Chase Visa to partake in all of that (free) excitement, I was all-in! London can be quite expensive, so the prospect of a free dinner, free drinks, free snacks, etc. was pretty awesome. I registered online to participate in some of those activities, and yesterday after waiting in a brief line at the check-in desk, I flashed my shiny Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (the only Visa I brought on the trip since it has no foreign transaction fees) and was promptly handed a pass to get in the lounge and the celebrity chef dinner.

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Once you get past the check-in desk, you head downstairs and walk down the hallway to the lounge.  Or, you can veer off the hallway and use the restroom.  This may sound like a silly thing to mention, but London doesn’t seem to be brimming with public restrooms, so we were quite excited to find these nice facilities!

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We had about 45 minutes before it was time for our dinner reservation, so we hung out in the lounge to watch some Olympics on the TVs and enjoy a few drinks. The lounge was pretty crowded, so we did have to wait a while to be able to get somewhere to sit. However, everyone we met in there was quite friendly, and many of us were helping each other out with info about how to still get event tickets, how to get the internet to work, and just chatting about the Olympics in general.

The snacks in the lounge are pretty much on-par with the snacks in a domestic airline lounge. They are better than nothing on an empty stomach, but they are hardly exciting. Think pretzels, snack mix, etc. They have Coke products and seemingly endless bottled water. My purse may or may not have been stuffed to the brim with bottled water by the end of the night.  I know the bar had wine and various beers available.  I don’t know if they had mixed drinks or not since a glass of red wine was all I was interested in.

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While the snacks in the lounge aren’t fantastic, the Chef Morimoto dinner made up for it. There was a short wait in line to get in to the event as they closely monitor how full the room is, and only let more people in once people leave.  I also got the feeling that they were not wanting you to linger very long once you got your dinner.  It was a self-service dinner with two different buffet stations (with different entrees) on opposite sides of the room.  There was also a sushi station in the middle of the room, and passed appetizers and desserts that were making the rounds throughout the dinner.  The plates you were given to get your food were quite small, so my plate quickly became “Mt. Food” as it got kind of tall since I hadn’t eaten much all day.

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They were very prompt about replacing the various entrees when they would get depleted.  My favorite dish had to be the Morimoto Mac and Cheese.  It was probably the fattiest thing ever created, but it was oozing with buttery cheesy deliciousness that we couldn’t resist.  I happened to be able to grab a scoop when they brought out a fresh batch and it was just fantastic.  We were lucky enough to grab a table in the corner outside, but there were other folks who weren’t so lucky, and who were pretty much just eating inside while standing in a corner.  There were not many seats or tables to go around, but it is honestly hard to complain about an open bar and free all-you-can-eat yummy food.

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I am very glad that we took the time to visit the Visa Lounge.  If we are back in the area and need a quick place to relax, we will likely head in there again.  I have also registered for a meet and greet with an Olympic athlete at the lounge, so I hope to be able to return for that as well.  I know that most of us, including me, get many of our credit cards primarily for the miles and points they provide.  However, it is really neat when they open doors to experiences like this as well.  I give Visa two thumbs up for providing this space for their cardholders.  If you are in London over the next few days I encourage you to check it out!

Disclosure:  I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support!

Comments

  1. This is the type of small things that are often overlooked by card members but much appreciated by blog readers. Thank you for informing me about such a peek!

  2. Great report, I’m planning to use make use of the lounge as well, maybe even bring a couple of local friends.

    Question: did you get a sense of how strict they were about getting you into the Morimoto dinner at your registered time? Would being late by 15 minutes make you unable to attend?

  3. BTW, they refill your glass bottle water daily at The Mayfair and you can ask for even more than that, so no need to swipe so much water from the Visa Lounge. 🙂

    Also, even if you don’t have a Morimoto reservation you can go standby, get a pager, and wait until somebody no-shows (which is quite often), and then you’ll get in. We ate there 3 days in a row. My favorite dish was the tempura shrimp (it’s handed out by those roving waiters with trays, and not available often, I only managed about 2 of them in the 3 nights I was there). Also, the broccoli & asparagus was FANTASTIC!! Even though that combo sounds gross.

  4. @Maximizer: They are pretty lax about it. In fact I don’t even think they require you to show your Chase Visa card if you have a Morimoto reservation already. I arrived 15-30 mins late once and still got in just fine. Another tip if you want to get extras in: Go LATE. After 9PM it starts to die down quite a bit, we had a 9:45PM reservation one night and arrived at 9AM and they let us right in (to the Morimoto food).

    • They weren’t lax at all with us. It was very strict with a warning to not be late, but it was also during prime dinner hour.

      We more than drink the free bottle at the Mayfair daily, but it is still much appreciated. 🙂

  5. Hmmm, maybe they’ve clamped down on lateness then. They were fairly easy going when I was there Opening Weekend. The guy at the door into the Food Room with the clipboard who checks lanyards can be a little intimidating though.

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