Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles
For the first time in years, I recently visited Washington Dulles Airport (IAD). I did so partly to lounge hop – more on that in another article. Of all the lounges on my schedule, I was most intrigued to visit this recently-opened offering from Capital One. The second in the eye-popping portfolio of two lounges the bank currently offers, could it possibly measure up to its older brother in DFW? We shall see in my Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles review!
Primary cardholders of the Capital One Venture X or Venture X Business have unlimited access to the lounge, plus complimentary entry for two guests and the ability to pay $45 each for additional ones. Venture and Spark Miles cardholders get two free visits annually and pay $45 per additional visit. If this isn’t enough, any random traveler can buy into the lounge for $65 per visit. I’m interested to see how this quite generous access policy evolves over time.
Capital One states that lounge access is permitted for up to three hours before the flight, although I had no problem entering with my Venture X AU card about 3 hours and 15 minutes prior to scheduled takeoff.
The Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles is located within the airport’s main terminal just past security. That’s convenient for travelers originating at IAD but not so much for all others. Why? Connecting travelers must traverse separate concourses, essentially backtracking to the main terminal. An underground train has improved connectivity somewhat, but IAD’s infamous, clunky “mobile lounges” still exist, too. I had the pleasure of the latter on the way to my gate after visiting the lounge. I’m confounded these behemoths are still operating.
Whether you’re starting your travel at IAD or merely connecting, you’ll have a journey to your gate after the lounge visit.
Upon entry, the Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles offers a spacious lobby with the grab and go cooler and barista to the left. Whereas the DFW lounge has a bit more of a compressed, circular feel, the Dulles space is a remarkably long, more rectangular space. Similar to DFW, there’s a walkway around the perimeter, with seating areas and bar facing the exterior and other food, beverage, and bathrooms closer to the center. The lounge feels much bigger given its relatively small space.
Lounge designers have pulled off an even bigger feat, though. Most of the bar and main sitting area facing the concourses are blocked by a building. At first glance, this eyesore isn’t readily apparent. With vertical decor behind the bar, window tint (or maybe stickers) and other trickery, they’ve done an impressive job distracting visitors from the tremendously obstructed view of the airfield. Laterally, the lounge has no such impediments, and natural light freely flows. Wisely, the lounge offers plenty of open space and seating on one of these sides. The other offers a few private work areas facing the exterior windows.
Most visitors were undeterred by the hindered views around the bar and main seating area. During my visit, it was by far the busiest, most occupied space in the lounge. Alcohol is magic.
Food and Beverage
On that note, let’s turn to the Dulles lounge’s plentiful food and drink offering. I first enjoyed a macchiato and pastry from the coffee bar adjacent to the lounge entrance. I chatted up the perky barista while he created the delightful beverage. He asked if I preferred a to-go cup or glass mug. I opted for the latter and expressed my appreciation for the lounge’s glassware and dish options. I’ve grown tired of paper and plastic in lounges.
Meanwhile at the bar, visitors have a plethora of different options – see the menu above. The bartenders actually seemed to know what they’re talking about, not something I’ve grown to expect.
Let’s get to the food. Like the DFW lounge, the Dulles version offers a variety of personal servings. I’m a huge fan of these, since I can theoretically try a bit of everything without feeling like a slug after. (I also find the cafeteria-style line at other lounges depressing.) I enjoyed a small serving of chicken sausage and potatoes, but not much else. Not for lack of interest – more due to my prior lounge exploits (again, more on that in another article).
The grab-and-go cooler offers a few interesting options. I grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich on the way out. I enjoyed its freshness, especially the crisp pickle and tender meat. But I still prefer the DFW lounge’s BLT. I opted out of the case’s sweet options, seeing nothing that could compare to the DFW lounge’s stellar banana pudding jar.
I’ll start with, perhaps, the most pleasant surprise of this lounge. The individual bathrooms are excellent. While this lounge doesn’t offer showers, the bathrooms themselves are much nicer than anything I’ve seen in any domestic lounge, shower suite or otherwise. The space is bright and inviting, offering plenty of space, attractive decor, and even a makeup mirror. Many won’t want to leave these bathrooms, and the fact that there are only four will inevitably create backups (pun intended).
I will quibble with one bathroom design fail. Sitters are preferred, apparently. The accessible bars around the toilet impede the seat staying up. It leads one to awkwardly lean forward to hold the seat upright. I fear inconsiderate standers will choose less desirable alternatives.
The lounge also offers a spacious parents room for nursing and changing. Along the same side of the lounge, visitors looking to get some work done can opt for more private areas with desk seating. Unlike the DFW lounge, Dulles doesn’t provide amenities like relaxation rooms.
All in all, I found the amenities lacking. If the biggest positive of the other amenities is the bathroom, that’s not saying much.
All lounge employees I talked to were in good spirits and happy to help. These days, I’ve come to value this quality more than most others in the travel industry. Seemingly no longer a standard, it’s now more of an unexpected perk – and I’ll take all of it I can get. Time will tell if this holds at the Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles, or if it’s more an attribute of the lounge’s current “new car smell.”
The check-in agent set an excellent foundation for the visit. She warmly welcomed me, volunteering a brief rundown of the lounge’s amenities. The agent educated me on guesting privileges, as well, asking me if anyone was joining me. I was solo, but briefly considered offering access to a few strangers. None were around. Maybe next time.
Workers I interacted with were well-versed in the lounge’s offerings. Staff was quick to clean up used tableware. Again, bartenders were quite knowledgeable on their menu, making sound recommendations on my drink choices.
Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles – Conclusion
Overall, I enjoyed the Dulles lounge’s design more than anything, even taking into account the obstructed views in the bar area. The beverage options, particularly from the main bar and coffee barista, surpass the DFW lounge’s options, in my view. Service was on par with my DFW lounge experience. The food was fine enough, but DFW’s come out on top there. The Dulles lounge’s location and additional amenities are mediocre, at best.
I have no plans to return to (or through) Dulles. But if I did, the logistical hurdles of getting to the lounge may preclude me from visiting again, even with a reasonable connection time. I expect I’m not alone here. Overall, I think the Capital One Lounge Washington Dulles is a bit of a mixed bag, but there are probably enough goodies in that sack for any curious traveler to justify one visit.
Capital One Venture X Business earns 2X miles on everyday purchases plus up to 10X in bonus categories. You also get access to Capital One lounges plus an annual travel credit & anniversary bonus. Right now you earn bonus_miles_full.
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.