China - Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)
- True first class dining
- Distinct zones for working, relaxing, dining and drinking
- Complimentary massage services
- We'd like to see more wine selections
- Eight private Day Suites
Although Cathay Pacific doesn't offer first class on flights to Australia, the airline's The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong remains the home of Platinum-grade frequent flyers and those jetting off in style to destinations like London, Paris and New York.
There's everything we'd expect to see in a flagship home hub lounge from top-quality restaurant dining through to bartender service, massage facilities, private shower rooms and even new Day Suites for a snooze in between flights.
Combined, we'd rate this as the world's best first class lounge.
Location & Impressions
Once through security and Hong Kong passport control (or just transit security when connecting between flights), head towards gates 63 and 65 where you'll find the lounge entrance, as a Cathay Pacific check-in agent helpfully highlighted for us:
Keep your eyes peeled for these subtle escalators down to the lounge, which is tucked away below the departure concourse...
... and once inside, there's a 'homely' feel thanks not only to the man-made skylights and overall colour palette but also the separation between the various zones...
... accessed via an end-to-end hallway with bursts of colour – and in particular, greenery – as you walk down it.
Given its location you won't find sky-high ceilings here as you would in The Wing First Class Lounge at the other end of the terminal, but the absence of which didn't detract from the experience.
- Cathay Pacific and Dragonair first class passengers
- First class flyers of other Oneworld airlines including American Airlines and British Airways
- Marco Polo Club Diamond, Diamond Plus and Diamond Invitation frequent flyers
- Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers such as Qantas Platinum (and above) prior to flights with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld airlines
Additionally, Cathay Pacific passengers who arrive in Hong Kong in first class but have an onward flight in Cathay Pacific business class are also invited to visit the first class lounge.
That's most useful when travelling between Australia and Europe as Cathay Pacific tops out at business class on its Australian flights, but offers first class to other destinations.
Make a right after entering and follow the walkway to uncover the dining room, complete with an array of tables split between several bays for use at peak times...
... along with a tended bar serving up a variety of cocktails, spirits, beers, tea and espresso coffee plus seven wines including three Champagnes:
On that list: Baron de Rothschild Brut, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label (our preferred drop) and a Moët & Chandon Rosé Brut which goes perfectly with dessert.
That's a good Champagne selection for a first class lounge, although we'd like to see more variety across the broader wine list which currently offers two whites and two reds.
Whatever your choice, there's full table service available here with printed menus featuring six starters, eight mains, two signature noodles, a chef's special and seven desserts, with the food here very much more 'first class' than 'airport lounge'.
Beginning our meal, we chose the fragrant chicken with Chinese lettuce and a peanut chilli dressing which gave the dish a nice kick without being overpowering...
... followed by Dan Dan Mien (Shanghainese-style noodles in a spicy hot peanut sauce) – a favourite of ours when visiting China and which didn't disappoint...
... and the scrumptious and artfully-presented toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and berries to finish, which a diner nearby noticed, commented on and then ordered two for themselves:
Just note that the waiters here respond faster to a raised hand or a quick wave, rather than eye contact as is common back in Australia.
Making a quick visit without time for a proper meal? Turn left instead of right at the entrance and you'll find a small buffet room...
... easy to overlook unless you know it's there, but filled with fruits, sweets and the odd bite...
... plus a Vodka cranberry station with assembly instructions if just you can't work it out yourself:
Walk past that room and you'll uncover another tended bar with its own drinks menu to match the dining room...
... with the staff capably mixing together an Espresso Martini for us – not found on the bar's regular cocktail list, but in the standard repertoire of most bartenders...
... and aside from the lack of a traditional coffee bean garnish, tasted just as expected.
Working business travellers aren't forgotten here with a dedicated productivity zone in The Bureau...
... featuring desks with computers and laptop space that function as your private office at the airport...
... while more casual tasks can be completed in comfortable seats around the lounge, with handy AC and USB power ports disguised with the drawers of the lamp tables nearby:
Wireless Internet speeds came in at 2.46Mbps for downloads and 2.12Mbps for uploads – not lightning-fast for video streaming or large file transfers, but still more than usable for web browsing and email tasks.
There's really no 'wrong' area to relax here with any number of comfy seats found over by the windows...
... a library zone in the centre of the lounge with an array of reading material and its own small seating area...
... along with circular zones for larger groups and families, or for meeting new people:
But the highlights here are certainly the eight Day Suites which you can use to nap or simply relax and watch the world fly by...
... complimentary foot or neck and shoulder massages given on a first-come, first-served basis...
... and 14 well-appointed shower suites with brass fittings, supplied amenities and also private bathroom facilities:
All things considered, this now rates as one of our favourite first class lounges anywhere in the world – it's cosy but not crowded, (colour) warm but not dark and dreary and with food you'd expect of a high quality restaurant rather than an airport terminal.
Mix in the Day Suites and complimentary massage services and you've got yourself a real winner, but during peak times, just remember to reserve that Day Suite or a spa appointment time as soon as you arrive to avoid any disappointment.
For a further look through Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge, sit back and watch this one-minute video:
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.