From its’ Mod decore to it’s futuristic lighting, the Encounter Lounge is a time portal back to the 1960’s, stuck in a fabulous bubble of lava lamps and poor carpet choices. The lounge sits smack dab in the middle of LAX, Los Angeles’ international airport. It’s location makes it easy to visit form any terminal, and it’s hard to miss at the top of the bizar space age tower known as the “Los Angeles Theme Building.” Although this theme building openend in 1961, the Encounter Lounge didn’t open until 1997, leaving it little excuse for it’s dated sci-fi motif.
Inside the circular building guests can sip on expertly crafted cocktails and a minimal selection of draft beers as they enjoy the view from above the sprawling Los Angels airport. Although a little pricy, the lounge does offer some fairly good food selections including a Char Broiled Midwestern Angus Burger ($15.50) and a Prime Rib French Dip Sandwich ($15). Guests sit around the large curved glass viewing windows surrounded by rounded bubble furniture and shinny surfaces that look as if they came straight out of the design plans for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Lava lamps and polished metals obscure your every view through the open layout design of the lounge. Even the elevators get in on the future-fiction action as you are inundated with the sounds of pulp sci-fi films, pulsating space-station-like lighting above your head and alien-looking buttons on the control pannel.
The view from inside the lounge is fanstatic, and should not be missed. Looking out over the airport as well as Los Angeles at large, guests can view planes taking off and landing, the distant skylines of Downtown Los Angeles and other local metropolitan centers, and even the iconic Hollywood sign.
Amazingly, Encounter Lounge offers it’s guests FREE PARKING for the duration of their visit, the only free parking you will ever find at LAX. A small lot right in front of the building’s entrence offers 3 regular and 1 handicapped parking spots, and a larger lot off to the side offers additional parking. On weekday visits to the lounge I have yet to see the larger lot filled to capacity. Occasionally the lounge will offer valet parking which takes over both of the self-parking lots.
209 World Way
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Photography: John Glass