Updated on December 12, 2016
Lounge Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Here we go! After a quick, painless flight from Springfield (SPI) to Chicago (ORD), the trip, and the fun, has really begun.
After landing at gate F2, I made my 15 minute walk from the F concourse in Terminal 2 over to the C Concourse in Terminal 1 and the United Polaris Lounge!
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s where we are:
After you come up from the tunnel connecting Concourse B and C, the lounge is almost right in front of you on the left-hand side.
The lounge is right immediately up against gate C18. It’s exactly where they old United Global First Lounge was located. The normal united club is still on the other side, however it’s under renovation.
You could almost reach out and touch the plane at the gate from the back-right corner of the lounge.
Anyway, let’s get inside the lounge.
The entrance of the lounge is beautiful. The first word that comes to mind is sleek. It’s stunning as you walk in, and really gets you excited to enter the lounge. That may seem like a no-brainer for international lounges, but it definitely hasn’t been that way for United.
Now, as I walked around the lounge, I was continually asking the employees questions, trying to glean as much information from them as possible regarding the renovations, amenities, and future changes.
While I was taking the above picture, the reception agent came up and explained to me that this spherical light design was actually a representation of the lights in the greater Chicago area.
The picture below is on the wall on the left hand side when you walk in – I took this photo from a weird angle so you could see it. The lightly shaded sphere is the area that’s supposed to be represented by those lights on the ceiling.
The reception employee went on to say that they will be doing this same thing at all the Polaris lounges they’re opening up, with the local city (area) represented by the lights when you first enter the lounge. I’ll be curious to see how different it looks with the cities they do around the world!
At the reception desk as they check you in they give you a booklet describing the services and amenities of the lounge.
It describes the major aspects from food and drink, to Wi-Fi and the relaxation room.
Speaking of Wi-Fi, it’s not only and extremely easy to get onto, it’s incredibly fast. It’s the best airport Wi-Fi I’ve ever used, and probably better than what I have at my house. It got and A+ on the Ookla Internet Speedtest.
As you enter the lounge, immediately to your left are the concierge and reservation agents who can help you with anything you may need (all three happened to be away from their desks when I took this photo, but were there almost the rest of the afternoon).
The desk on the far right is for Global Services members, while the other two can be used by any guest.
Directly in front of you is the hallway to the 10+ private restrooms. They’re all individual rooms, with no men/women differentiation.
If you turn right after walking in, you’ll be in the main lounge area.
To the side of the main seating area, and located directly behind the reception desks is the food buffet area and the relation/shower area.
There isn’t hot food in the lounge yet (not until December 15th), but the lounge had small plates and other foods in the mean time.
You’ll notice the center table is pretty much empty. This will be where the hot food is located once they start serving it.
Immediately past the food is the relaxation lounge where you can reserve daybeds or shower rooms.
While I didn’t reserve either a daybed or a shower room, the attendant offered to take me on a tour just for you guys and gals.
The shower suites were very well done. They have clean, sleek finishes, and added touches such a heated floors that really make it a wonderful experience.
After showing me the shower rooms, we headed back down the hallway to the daybeds.
There are four day bed suites in this lounge, and they can be reserved at the desk. You can also give the attendants your flight information and/or wake up time and they will make sure you don’t miss your flight. I love the fact that you can sleep without having to freak out about missing an international connection.
The entire space is just very calm and relaxing. There’s opportunity to improve the room that I’ll talk about a bit later, but it’s 90% of the way there.
Exiting back to the main lounge, we’ll head to the bar, which is just past the first long row of “cubicles”.
There are a few really interesting parts about this lounge. The coolest by far is that on the far left side of the bar they have little cubbies with alcohol in them. A United Representative (from corporate, not the lounge staff) told me that the cubbies are actually going to be for their top-tier customers to store wine and spirits in. They will be complimentary, and each individual will have a shelf. They are currently sending out the invitations, and presumably they’ll target their top Global Services customers that actually depart/transit through Chicago. I thought that was really cool/unique.
Another cool aspect of the bar is that they have a small bourbon bar offset from the bar where customers can self-serve.
The drink selection at the bar was very good. You won’t get the extremely high-end assortment you’d get at international First Class Lounges (like The Pier, The Wing, etc.), but their cocktails are tasty and the beer selection is solid and growing.
One of the bartenders let me know that they will actually have 3-4 more beers on tap coming shortly (as you’ll see there are empty spaces for them). It was great to hear that they won’t be repeats of the other taps or crappy light beers, but local craft beers.
Let’s look at the drink menu.
I personally tried the “Bubbles and Yellow Jackets” and the “French 75” – they were both delicious!
So that’s the lounge! Here’s my overall impressions, but I’d say it lived up to the hype!
Up next: Flight Review: ANA 777 First Class Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Tokyo Haneda (HND)
*Spoiler alert – it was freaking awesome.