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Online Exclusive – United Airlines Lounge, London

Jul 22, 2014

Hidden in London’s bustling Heathrow Airport, the United Airlines lounge offers a retreat for travel-weary club members. “London is often just part of a leg of a longer trip,” says the lounge’s designer, Sheyla Conforte, director of interior design at Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz. “The lounge is a space for travelers to refresh and re-energize and just gather their strength for the rest of their journey.”


The 22,000-square-foot space is divided into three zones: the United Club, the United Global First Lounge, and 2,000 square feet of spa and shower facilities. “We wanted to create a distinction between the clubs and have it be a unique experience,” explains Conforte. “We didn’t want it to feel like it was part of one large space that had been segmented into two clubs. We wanted each to be special.”


Swathed in cooler tones, the main United Club lounge houses a vast seating area and a bar. Polished stainless steel detailing complements the United-blue upholstery on the various types of seating. “There are different pockets of space depending on what your activity is going to be and depending on whether you’re traveling alone or with a group,” says Conforte. At the center, a section houses iconic lounge pieces such as egg and Platner chairs. Blue-glass screen dividers and a sculptural piece topped with lifelike trees help to further segment the spaces. 


“When you travel domestically, the feature within the lounge tends to be TV screens,” says Conforte. “The difference here is the focus on the experience and the view.” Topped with Corian and accented with metal, the lounge’s full service bar overlooks the airport tarmac. “We had such great access to light that we wanted to orient the seating to that,” she continues. The jewel-like golden pendants hanging above contrast the glass window and the view.

The upscale setting continues into the spa and shower area, which features private rooms instead of stalls. Highlighted by a glass mosaic tiled shower, the rooms boast an expansive vanity and porcelain tile floors. “The shower has a darker, bronze tone, so we wanted something softer for the walls,” Conforte says. The wallpaper recalls the space’s underlying concept with its clock-like pattern.


“We started with the concept of the containment of time and using timepieces and vessels as a building block to develop the detailing,” Conforte explains. At its entrance, the lounge recalls its locale with three vintage propeller blades mounted by the check-in desk, beneath a planisphere on the ceiling. Vintage photographs of early airplane travel adorn the walls throughout.


The United Global First side—differentiated by darker furnishings and golden undertones—features a tea lounge with a more obvious timepiece detail. Created by the original manufacturer, a scale replica of Big Ben adds a touch of British flair. “Not only do you feel like you’re experiencing luxury travel, but you also have an understanding of where you are,” says Conforte. “There’s just an elegance to the space that’s very much in line with the experience and the expectation that I have when I travel to London. It makes my overall trip complete.”


hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



Produced by: Emerald Expositions
Nielsen      Contract Design | Hospitality Design | K+BB | DDI

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