China - Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)
- Shower suites (but book early)
- Noodle bar
- Dark, small location
- All alcohol is chargeable
- Depending on your credit card or lounge memberships, you may have complimentary access
With Cathay Pacific's popular Hong Kong arrivals lounge closing its doors from November 2018, the airport's Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge provides a de facto alternative with shower facilities and complimentary dining including a noodle bar.
The space welcomes passengers jetting in with any airline at any time of the day or night. Although entry can be purchased at the door, access is free for selected American Express and Diners Club cardholders plus Priority Pass members.
However, unlike the Cathay arrivals lounge, a Cathay Pacific business class boarding pass or top-tier frequent flyer card does not provide complimentary access here – this is an independent lounge, after all, but one that clued-in high flyers may be able to visit by holding the right credit card or lounge membership.
Here's what Hong Kong's Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge has to offer, along with a list of eligible cards and lounge memberships that could get you inside without having to purchase entry at full price.
Location & Impressions
After arriving at HKIA, clearing passport control and collecting your baggage, you'll find the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge just below the Airport Express station between Terminals 1 and 2.
Whether you've arrived at T1 or T2, it's easily accessible by taking the escalator downstairs below the sign pointing to "Lounge", or using a nearby lift when you're carting lots of baggage:
Once inside, you'll uncover a relatively small space with a variety of seating, although given its below-ground location, there's no natural light here, which many would appreciate to help fight jet lag after a long international flight:
This lounge is open 24/7, and welcomes guests arriving from any destination, near or far.
Plaza Premium maintains partnerships with a wide variety of independent airport lounge programs and global credit card companies to provide access to cardholders arriving on flights at Hong Kong International Airport when travelling with any airline.
Among that broad access list, the following arrangements are of most relevance to Australian travellers:
- Priority Pass, LoungeKey and Dragonpass members, in line with the inclusions of their respective membership plan.
- Holders of Australian-issued personal American Express Platinum Charge Cards and Centurion Cards, although not Australian AMEX Platinum Business Cards.
- Australian Diners Club cardholders with cards issued directly by Diners Club (excludes the new Citibank Linked Diners Club Cards).
- Members of Plaza Premium's Arrture loyalty program redeeming 1,800 Arrture points for a one-hour lounge pass (which includes use of the showers), or 1,000 Arrture points for a 30-minute shower-only pass.
- Guests who purchase access at a cost of HKD$580 (A$104) for two hours, HKD$780 (A$140) for five hours or HKD$900 (A$161) for 10 hours. Discounted 'shower-only' passes are also available for HKD$200 (A$36) with no access to the lounge's other facilities, or there's a shower and breakfast package for HKD$270 (A$49) which allows you to remain here for up to one hour: a good choice if you don't need the full two hours at the higher price.
Passengers who enter by way of their shiny credit card or independent airport lounge membership can remain for up to three hours in the general lounge space, which also includes the use of shower facilities at no charge.
Beyond the list above, here's a quick snapshot of the other banks Plaza Premium has arrangements with, as displayed at the lounge entrance. If you spot a familiar logo, contact your credit card provider to enquire whether your specific card grants you access here, or ask at reception:
Separate to the main 'lounge and shower' space, there's a distinct relaxation zone which is only available to passengers who purchase a specific pass – HKD$700 (A$125) for three hours and HKD$180 (A$32) per hour thereafter – but as this isn't part of the main lounge experience, we've not included it here.
The same applies to spa treatments which are all chargeable, with prices starting at HKD$95 (A$17) for a 15-minute seated massage.
Arriving into Hong Kong on an overnight flight from Australia? There's a selection of breads and spreads for breakfast...
... a range of fresh ingredients to make a salad...
... and a hot buffet with favourites like bacon and eggs in the mornings, transitioning to all-day dining options as the morning progresses, such as chicken, potatoes, dumplings and noodles...
... joined by other hot bites like potato wedges and spring rolls...
... with nearby nibbles including spinach quiches, and tomato and cheese on pesto toast:
Glance over to the fridge to find chilled sandwiches, non-alcoholic drinks...
... and home-made desserts:
Machine-made espresso coffee is available, and after the morning rush is done and dusted, a noodle bar opens up where you can order one of the day's featured dishes. On a recent mid-afternoon visit, the choices were a Hong Kong-style fish ball noodle soup, and a vegetarian rice noodle soup:
Although it didn't quite match the menu photo – as food rarely does – I still found the fish ball noodles fresh and tasty:
There's a tended bar here too, but all alcohol is chargeable, so keep your credit hard handy for any purchases:
Entry-level drinks such as house wines, standard spirits and basic beers cost HKD$35-40 (around A$6-7), while premium pours are charged at up to HKD$90 (A$16) per drink.
Just watch out: the credit card terminal here promotes 'dynamic currency conversion' on Visa and Mastercard transactions – that is, the option of paying directly in Australian dollars using your Aussie credit card – so to avoid paying more than you should, be sure to select 'Hong Kong dollars' to pay in the local currency.
When the coffee kicks in and you're ready to fire up the laptop, you could set up at one of the lounge's high working benches, although access to power here is limited, being available only via the support columns at the ends of the table:
Or, take one of the chair and table combos throughout the space...
... where you'll find a handy power point mounted to the wall, underneath the table (and yes, these probably could do with a clean):
There are also several computer stations available here, although across my many visits, I've never seen them used – and during peak times, would be better-utilised by having an open table space where travellers can work on their own devices:
Wireless Internet speeds are adequate, but nothing flash: my most recent pit stop found downloads averaging 5.6Mbps and uploads around 3.8Mbps.
If you're still acclimatising to your new time zone, you really could sit anywhere here and relax, but if all you want to do is kick back before heading into town, these seats should prove suitable – each with access to a beverage table for that all-important coffee.
As mentioned earlier, private shower suites are available for booking via reception and provide the expected amenities, but if you plan on using one, make your booking as soon as you arrive.
Especially early in the mornings, wait times of one hour or more are the norm, and once Cathay Pacific's nearby arrivals lounge closes down, expect waiting times to increase further if Plaza's own lounge becomes more popular.
Overall, the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge gets the job done, and especially if you're touching down before hotel check-in begins or when you're heading from the airport straight to the office, it's a decent place to freshen up with a shower and some coffee to get a little work done.
Later in the day though, my visits tend to be shorter, stopping by for a quick refreshment and perhaps a bowl of noodles, before heading into town for my next meeting or enjoying all that Hong Kong has to offer.