HKG: Hong Kong Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge
NEWS: Cathay Pacific has re-opened the newly revamped The Pier First Class lounge at the airline's Hong Kong hub. Read the full story here: Cathay Pacific has re-opened the newly revamped The Pier First Class lounge at the airline's Hong Kong hub.
The Pier First Class lounge moves up the whole lounge concept a definite notch. Rather than a typical airline lounge, the design is based on a contemporary apartment, or perhaps luxury penthouse. You genuine can lounge about here, flagging down a quick waiter for a passing drink, and wait in real comfort for your flight. Forget the crowds that are in the Wing lounge, in the Pier in First, another passenger is genuine hassle indeed.
The Hong Kong Pier First Class lounge seats 230, over 2000 square meters, and it is rare to see it busy.
Which makes it a shame that it is a bit of a hassle to get to the lounge. It is right at the furthest tip of the airport, in the basement by Gate 63 in the North West 'arm' of the Hong Kong airport terminal. From check in and customs take the train to the far end, then up all the stairs, turn right at duty free, and carry on almost to the far end of the terminal. Then dive into the basement. The reception is at the bottom.
Then you are in, and pretty much the first place most people come to at the bottom of the steps is the main 'room' with the bar. This is the key to this very impressive lounge, and the Cathay Pacific Pier First Class tended bar is well stocked with upmarket wine, French champagne and spirits. There are seats at the bar if you want to sit here, although not many people do.
Around the bar are some very spacious seating areas, with large, very wide, armchairs, and more upright chairs around cocktail tables. Vast mirrors on the walls add to the feeling of space, while on the other side are windows overlooking the runway, and indeed Hong Kong harbour. The only problem with this part of the lounge is the distinct lack of power sockets for recharging your phones - but then again, at this kind of elite flying you generally have someone to do this for you.
A lattice room divider opens up into another wider section of the lounge, with more types of seats. Indeed, here you can but not agree with Cathay Pacific which says the lounge is at the heart of its new brand design ethos, and The Pier First Class lounge "expresses heartfelt warmth, considered simplicity and contemporary Asian values".
Although I'm not quite sure how the giant potted plants which tower over some of the seats fits into that.
Back in the entrance hallway - and some hallway - there is a signature table, made out of a single piece of mountain oak, under designer angle lights.
Designed by Studioilse, the London-based design studio led by Ilse Crawford, the lounge concept is for an environment that helps passengers relax by engaging the senses and focusing on wellbeing, supporting the idea of this being an apartment that visitors are guests in.
Green onyx, walnut and bronze screens, and limestone, and bronze are extensively used throughout the lounge, along with soft lighting, and an abundance of plants. Real furniture pieces similar are adopted throughout the lounge, in place of the usual contract furniture, so it feels like a normal domestic home.
There is even its own bespoke scent - a fresh Oriental fragrance created for Cathay Pacific.
At the far end of the hall is the dining room with an á la carte service which seats 100 passengers.
However if you just want a snack, food is well catered for in The Pier with The Pantry, where you can enjoy 'grab and go' snacks from separate breakfast and all-day dining menus.
There is also a small spa with therapists on hand for a complementary foot or neck and shoulder massage.
Next to this, again with doors off the hall, is a great feature with the 'day suites' in The Pier's Retreat zone. There are eight of these rooms, furnished with a comfortable daybed, reading lights, window blinds and heavy curtains to shut out the bright summer sunlight, to ensure you can sleep if you're on a transit with two long haul flights.
FoodFood in most Cathay Pacific lounges is the main reason for visiting. However in the Pier First Class lounge it almost comes secondary, as there isn't a separate noodle bar. However, the food is very good indeed. The main restaurant is The Haven, which is run by Hong Kong's iconic Peninsula Hotel. You can't reserve a table, but in general the wait isn't too bad. It's often worthwhile to head here first, particularly when on a transit stop, to make sure you can eat.
In the Haven there is a reinvented á la carte menu complemented by recommended wine pairings. The problem with this is it takes ages to get the accompanying wine: sometimes upwards of 30 minutes, by which time you've finished your food. Great fun can be seen from seeing the wine water coming in, and find that yet again, the customers have left, before their wine arrives. To avoid this, order your wine at the bar in person before you sit: it's just the same.
There is also a traditional buffet on the far wall too, if you are in a hurry.
There are six hot dishes with rice and curry, a selection of cold options plus a large salad bar, a carving station, and an impressive dessert selection. At breakfast times there are yogurt and fruit, a pile of pastries, cold cuts of meat and cheese, plus the inevitable cereal. You can also order Eggs Benedict from the waiters.
BarThere are just two drinking options in The Pier Cathay Pacific First Class lounge Hong Kong. Both are tended bars, so there is no walking up and pouring yourself a drink. At busy times, this is a major downside.
The main bar is in the main room, and here the drinks and quality of the spirts is top notch. If you want a whisky cocktail, there is free Blue Label on tap. The Champagne is normally Moet, and if you really want it, there is a good selection of beer too.
The wine list is very comprehensive, and mainly consists of new world wines.
The second bar is in the restaurant. However late at night the bar tenders are very busy, and it can take some time to get a drink. Really quite a long time - 15 minutes for a quick beer, in the most premium of lounges. However, it takes even longer if you ask one of the roaming lounge staff.
Also, don't miss the port and sherry cart. This is wheeled around the lounge, with a great selection of after dinner drinks.
Business FacilitiesThere's also a Business Centre, called The Bureau, where you can browse the books or e-magazines, and a home-office zone with six iMacs, which will boot into either Windows or Apple's own home brew browser. However few people seem to actually use it for work. There is a fax and photocopier in one corner, if you really need it.
There is of course very good free wifi in the lounge.
There is also a corridor like library, which has a great selection of newspapers and magazines. There are generally copies of all the main UK papers, and some Australian ones.
BathroomsThere are 14 shower cubicles lined with large sandstone tiles, accessed off a dark black granite corridor. Biotherm cosmetic products are left in the cubicles.. These Bathrooms in The Pier Cathay Pacific First Class lounge Hong Kong are a feature in themselves with a large shower with rainforest showerhead.
The Cabanas also have an ironing service. Just hang your suit and trousers in the doubled-doored cupboard, press the buzzer and 20 minutes later they are returned after a quick iron.
If you can't get a Cabana, there are also twelve shower suites in the Hong Kong Wing Lounge,
The Lounge Entertainment System in the Hong Kong Wing Lounge is a weird one: it's very similar to the entertainment system you'll get on the plane, with a small LCD screen and headsets, but in a hard plastic shell called "The Pebble". From here you can select 12 TV Channels (Domestic Chinese ones) 100 CDs, plus on screen 3-Day Weather Forecast, and Flight Information.
AccessAccess to the Pier Hong Kong First lounge is strictly controlled. You really do need a First Class ticket, or oneworld Emerald card to get in here.
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