HKG: Hong Kong Plaza Premium Lounge West Hall
The Gate 40 Plaza Premium Lounge Hong Kong West Hall is definitely the Hong Kong pay-in lounge of choice at Hong Kong Airport, out of the three Plaza lounge airside at Hong Kong. It has by far the best view, a vastly better food choice, two bars, three main seating areas, and it's absolutely brand new.
The only downside is that large parts of the lounge are either closed, or only open to separate individual airlines which use it as 'their' lounge; for example for a large part of the day the best part of the lounge becomes the Fiji Airlines Hong Kong lounge, while in the evening it is the Turkish Airlines Hong Kong Lounge, and it is closed to paying guests. The lounge is also quite expensive to visit just for a couple of hours.
However, the West Hall Plaza Premium Lounge Hong Kong Gate 40 looks amazing. Even from outside you can see how good it is, as there is just a small low barrier between the main lounge food court and the public area; it's a useful sales tactic for a lounge to show just what is available and to entice passengers in.
The West Hall Plaza lounge HKIA is right at the end of the long spine of the airport, just above where the automated train from the main hall arrives and where the concourse splits into two wings, directly above Cathay Pacific's The Bridge lounge, which is in the basement. Take to stairs beside Gate 40 up (or the other stairs to the United lounge – it doesn't really matter) and you'll see two entrances to the Plaza Premium Lounge Hong Kong. On the left is the main desk, where the staff will happily swipe your credit card if you lack the frequent flyer status to access your own airline's lounge. Or on the right is what seems like the main entrance, but which is only open at peak periods.
The Hong Kong Plaza Premium lounge West is divided into several zones – just like most airline lounges – but in this case each one really is quite different, with defined purposes and styles for relaxing, dining or working. From the main desk the vast bulk of the lounge is on the left going towards a point, with the food court in the middle, and a separate small lounge connected via corridor on the balcony, which has its own entrance – the main entrance that is normally closed.
As you enter through the main 'pay' desk, behind here there a vast newspaper rack, ahead is a small buffet bar, and on the left are three long stone benches: these are designed for working, and have 240v power points on them (UK sockets only) however they are some of the most uncomfortable places to sit in the lounge!
On the left, as you curve to the right (if you follow) this is the area that is normally roped off for specific airlines: which is a shame, as it is by far the best area of the lounge. You go through a kind of lobby area, which has some highly unusual hexagonal work pods. These are really unusual, and take styling cues from Cathay Pacific's Solus chairs – from the Bridge lounge just downstairs – and these pods provide some very private spaces.
Further ahead is the most 'loungy' area of the lounge, with three bays of 2+2 armchairs, in an area of soft lighting, hushed tones and subtle textures to create a mood of quiet calm. It works – it really does –and it is a firm favourite of many people who visit the lounge.
There are no windows here – but there are in the next space, which is almost cave like, with a vast dining table down the middle: there are smaller dining tables on the right and at the window, while on the left are two computer pods, and the main Pièce de résistance of the lounge – the Hub Bar – which is the central pointy shaped bar, and beyond the long island food station (or refectory table, if you will). This is in a triangular shape, with a peak at the far end overlooking the similar peak of the United lounge opposite. This area has an the a la carte menu, although it is rare to see it in operation, and normally there are just sandwiches on the central table.
Go further around and the famous Hong Kong Plaza Premium lounge West wine tasting machine is on the table on the left, before you come to another area that this time is roped off generally for First Class passengers of whichever airline has bought space in the lounge that hour. The seats here are fabulous, with high back armchairs on the inner part of the lounge, and sofas and round tables on the outer part. Also worthy of note here is the view, up the main central wing of Hong Kong Airport.
That's the left part of the Hong Kong Plaza Premium lounge West. If you go back to the central pay-in entrance and instead turn right, you'll end up in the Market Place food court. And it really is a food court unlike most lounges which just have a basic buffet bar. The Market Place has three separate food stations, each with a different style: there is a Chinese, a Noodle, and a Salad station. Meanwhile on the central table are more buffet style items, with a tub of rice, curry, and lots of different types of bread.
To sit down and eat there are booths by the corridor, or smaller dining tables by the window. There is also a large TV here, which generally shows sports.
You may think this is all the lounge has to offer, but there is a small hidden corridor on the balcony (oh, if only the lounge desk would print a map!) which goes past a couple of computer stations, and then opens up into a third area central loungy area. This is in effect a large room stuffed with armchairs and small table lamps, all with a fabulous view over the runway.
At the back of this room is yet another food area, with a small refectory bar, and a food hatch serving area. Occasionally it is operation, serving the a la carte menu, but it's pretty rare to see it open. Indeed, it is also rare to see the entrance desk here open either: theoretically you can enter this way, but few people do. There is also another newspaper rack here, a TV, and a flight departure display.
All in all, the Hong Kong Plaza Premium lounge West is a great place to spend a few hours, and it achieves that rare thing in an airline lounge: areas that seem different with a different style, so you can walk from one to another and enjoy different zones. Assuming those parts of the lounge are open of course, and that's the big downside about the lounge: only some parts are open at specific times, and there is no way of knowing what you'll get before you hand over your money on the desk.
FoodThe Hong Kong Plaza Premium lounge West has a vast range of dining options – which is rare in a lounge. Alas many are not open at the same time. Which is also pretty common.
The main food experience in the Plaza lounge Hong Kong is the Market Place food court, and this is thankfully open all day. It has three food stalls– including the Tea House (a tea station serving Chinese milk tea), Noodle Dom (a Noodle Bar dishing out Hong Kong-style fish ball noodles, steamed rice rolls and dim sum) and the salad bar, with (a rarity in Hong Kong) some decent salads.
Also in the Market Place on the central island bar there are lots of different types of bread, and two dishes with curry and rice, plus soup.
Over in the Right Hand room there is the Italian snack bar, with pasta dishes. It is rare for this to be open.
Meanwhile on the Left Hand side there is the Hub Bar. Here, on the table there are small packets of ham, cheese, and fish sandwiches, tightly wrapped in cling film. There are also three bowls of salad. On the table by the bar there is soup. At the bar itself you can order Spanish tapas – including mezze platters – or order from the a la carte menu, which features dishes such as slow-cooked rack of lamb roasted with Himalayan salt and rosemary with a side serving of thin-cut roast potatoes. Again, it is rare for this to be open, and when it is, it is usually reserved for specific airlines.
BarThe bar – specifically the Hub Bar – should be a delight in the Hong Kong Plaza lounge West. Alas, as it is rarely open, drinking options are a bit more basic.
There is one solitary beer tap serving draft Carlsberg in the food court. There is also one type of white wine in the fridge. And that's it. No spirits, no nothing. And that's all you'll get in most cases.
If you have access to the Hub Bar on the left, it gets vastly better. There is Kronenboug Blanc beer on draft, but otherwise you'll also have access to a barman who serves spirits, and can even mix up a decent cocktail.
Best of all is the famous self-serve wine dispenser. This is right behind the Hub Bar. Here there are four whites (generally Kiwi) and four reds (normally Aussie) in a box: you just put your wine glass under the dispenser and it serves you a measured portion. The wines vary every few months, and sometimes focus on a specific country or wine region.
Business FacilitiesThere is good, fast wifi in the lounge. The access code is given out at reception. There is also a tablet and smartphone recharge station.
There are also dedicated computers you can use. There are two near the Hub Bar, up high on separate stands. Two similar ones are in the corridor near the food court. And there are three more on a table in the far room.
BathroomsBathrooms are in the lounge, and are pretty good. There are also two shower suites. These are in heavy demand, and waits can be long. Compare this to the Qantasclub, which has ten shower suites: it is odd that there are so few. They are stocked with organic Jasmin Aromatique products from Australia.
There is a free 15 minute seated massage service, but only at specific times of day.
AccessThere is free access for Priority Pass in the Hong Kong Plaza Premium lounge West Hall. Other than that you have to pay.
Two hours of access costs HK$400 (£30 GBP), while a longer 5 hour stopover costs HK$580 (£45GBP).
The shower isn't free with these packages – you have to pay an additional HK$180 (£12GBP), or there is a combined package for HK$600 for the 'private resting area package' which includes a shower, food and non-alcoholic drinks during a three-hour stay.
Note that none of these packages include a private bedroom – for that you have to head to the other Plaza Lounge right at the other end of the lounge.
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