HKG: Hong Kong Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
The Hong Kong Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is definitely a bit of a trek from check in: it is right at the end of the terminal, about as long a walk as possible: after going through check in take the train (or a long walk down the long pier) to where most of the lounges are, between gate 36 and 60. You can see the lounge on the balcony, but you'll need to turn right and head between the shops. There is a lift by the Travelex, or take the stairs by gate 61.
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Hong Kong is in a rather odd location, positioned on a V shaped balcony on the upper level of the terminal with a sweeping view across the runway framed by Lantau's neighbouring islands in the distance, and more closely by the end of the long main spine and pier of the terminal.
Wiggle around the screens, and there are two welcome podiums: one for Virgin Atlantic and one for Eva Air, who share the Virgin Hong Kong lounge, and use it just before the main Virgin flights – taking up many of the 10 seats.
Because the lounge was built in two stages, around the airport's existing architecture, the Clubhouse is split into three distinct areas: the entrance & office, an open balcony and an interior cabin space. Once you are past reception, there is the main business centre on the right, and then a long walk along the balcony before you get virtually to the point at end of the triangle that is the Hong Kong Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Lounge. Here there is 'shelf' seating overlooking the view on the left, while on the right is the interior space with the bar, seats, and the cinema type seats.
Carry on to the lounge 'point' and there is the famous 'splat' table: look at it and you will understand the name. Turn right and there is the most comfortable seating in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Hong Kong business class lounge – with racks of 2+2 seats overlooking the pier of the terminal, and with 1+1 seats on the inner area of the balcony. At the far end is the quiet area with three snooze couches, and the famous 'hedgerow': this area is designed as a garden, with calming green tones and a manicured English hedgerow up the wall; I kid you not.
Back in the main part of the lounge the centrepiece of the lounge is the bar – opened in 2004 – which has seats so you can enjoy what are called 'comforting and intimate with warm glowing tones'. I'll say it's warm: the airport's aircon doesn't reach here much, and it can get very hot. In the inner part of the lounge there is a large TV – normally on BBC World – with two circles of seats, behind which is a games and internet browsing area.
On the whole the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Hong Kong is very good, but a trifle dated. Food and drinks more than make up for this, but it can get packed, particularly when the UK and Australia flights cross over, at the same time as there is a packed or delayed Eva Air flight. It can be quietish when Virgin Checkin in Hong Kong opens at 4pm, but then by 5.50pm the Heathrow flight has arrived, there is an Eva Air flight at 6pm, and it all turns into a crescendo before the Sydney flight leaves at 7pm and finally the London flight goes at 10pm. Any delay on these three, and you have three full Airbus flights all trying to sit on top of each other.
FoodFood is pretty good in the Hong Kong Clubhouse, with menus handed out if you sit at a table: hang onto these, as the lounge staff whip them away as soon as you've made an order. There are usually four starters and four main courses, plus a full cooked English offered throughout the day (when the flight from Heathrow lands, onwards to Sydney, it is breakfast time in the UK).
There are also some good desserts. Nibbles aren't listed, but you can have olives and crisps brought to the table by the waiters, who can be attentive: sometimes a little too attentive, and come up to you ever five minutes.
There isn't a walk up snack bar as such, but inside beside the newspapers is a small tray of buns and sandwiches.
BarThe bar is the main event in Virgin's Hong Kong Clubhouse: and what a bar. The only problem is getting to use it: if you approach the bar, the staff will come up to you and ask firmly if they can take your order and take it to your table. You have to be quite insistent to actually sit propping up the bar.
There is a good selection of wine – which is listed in the back pages of the menu – and an amazing selection of sprits. Beer is good two, with a good crossover of UK and Australian varieties: here you can get Boags on the shelf side by side with London Pride.
BathroomsThere are two very good showers in the lounge, in the corridor behind the TV, and at the other end of the corridor decent bathrooms. Amenities are by Cowshed.
Business FacilitiesBusiness facilities are a bit ad-hock, on desks in an alcove by the entrance, but there are three good laptops with fast internet, a photocopier, fax and phone facilities. Pencils, rubbers, and post-it notes are the same 'collectable' ones as in the London clubhouse.
By the bar is a very good newspaper rack (UK papers are two days old, Australian ones a day old), with plenty of magazines. At the inner side of the 'cabin' behind the TV is the strange internet station, with three monitors: press a button and you can play games, or connect to the net. The wifi in the lounge is free (password is in the menu) and is better than Hong Kong airport's own wifi which you can also pick up.
AccessIf you really, really need to visit the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse, can't afford an Upper Class ticket, and you are not a flying club gold, the only other option is to buy a business class ticket on EvaAir which grants access. There is no paid access, and no daypasses: however there are plenty of good pay-per-access (pay-in) lounges at Hong Kong.
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