China - Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)
- A refined and relaxing space
- Ultra-fast WiFi
- Any passenger can use this lounge
- Extra charges apply for some drinks, and if ordering more than one main course
- Bartender service and experience needs work
- Excellent dining in Primo restaurant
Whether you're flying through Hong Kong without airline lounge access, want to upgrade your lounge to a better one or are booked with an airline that now calls this space home, Plaza Premium First caters to a wide variety of travellers.
Location & Impressions
You'll find Plaza Premium First near gate 1, being after (and just below) departure security screening and passport control, by taking the escalator downstairs and turning around.
Once inside, a lounge host will happily provide you with a tour and explain the facilities, if requested.
Regular visitors to Plaza Premium's other lounges may notice a few similarities, although the furnishings and design of Plaza Premium First are a cut above: as the name implies, being more on-par with first class airline lounges than business class.
The space, while not expansive, is divided into zones yet without boxing any of them in.
Signage is clear throughout the lounge, although first-time visitors may be confused by "Primo" and "Infinity Room".
The former refers to the dining space, and the latter, a functions area turned quiet room when not otherwise in use.
Passengers can access Plaza Premium First in one of three ways: a complimentary visit provided by an airline, by upgrading their existing access from the standard Plaza Premium Lounge, or by purchasing entry outright.
Complimentary access by airline
- Air Astana: Business class, Nomad Club Gold and Diamond.
- Air France: First class only.
- Air Mauritius: Business class, Kestrelflyer Gold cardholders.
- EVA Air: Infinity MileageLands Gold and Diamond members when flying EVA Air business class only. No access for other business class passengers, or for these Gold and Diamond members unless flying EVA Air business class.
- Finnair: Business class; Finnair Plus Gold, Platinum and Platinum Lumo; Finnair Plus Lounge Pass holders.
- Lufthansa: First class, Miles & More HON Circle.
- Qatar Airways: Business class passengers only.
- SWISS: First class, Miles & More HON Circle.
- Virgin Atlantic: Upper Class (business class); Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold; Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum flying onwards with Virgin Atlantic only.
Complimentary access provided by the airlines listed above is only valid prior to onward flights operated by those same airlines, not upon arrival, or on codeshare flights operated by partners.
For example, Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers don't receive complimentary access here when flying onwards with Virgin Australia (even if booked as a Virgin Atlantic codeshare), or when flying with other Velocity partners like Singapore Airlines: only with Virgin Atlantic.
Upgrade from Plaza Premium Lounge
Not covered by the list above? If your passport wallet sports a card that would normally unlock the airport's 'regular' Plaza Premium Lounges, such as an AMEX Platinum Charge Card or Centurion Card, or a Priority Pass membership, you can pay a reduced rate to upgrade that access to Plaza Premium First.
However, this is limited to a 90-minute visit only, with that upgrade currently costing either HK$250 (A$47), or 1,500 Arrture points: Arrture being Plaza Premium's loyalty program.
Through that same program, every four upgrades purchased provides one complimentary upgrade on the fifth visit.
Purchase access to Plaza Premium First
Travellers without an eligible credit card or lounge membership card for that upgrade can instead purchase access to Plaza Premium First at the following rates:
- Three hours: HK$901.58 (A$169) / 4,000 Arrture points
- Five hours: HK$1,005.48 (A$188.50)
- Eight hours: HK$1,100.60 (A$206.50)
- Ten hours: HK$1,204.98 (A$226)
Passengers can upgrade their access, or purchase entry, when travelling with any airline.
Keeping in line with its first class branding, step through to Primo to enjoy a range of à la carte dishes served straight to your table.
This morning visit began with a strong barista-made latte:
There's a self-serve salad wall in this space, but with a great range of à la carte options to enjoy, it's somewhat redundant.
Among them, a fresh and beautifully presented prawn Caesar salad:
For something more local, try the pan-fried pork dumplings which were perfectly cooked and packed with flavour:
Or, as a lighter choice, the steamed rice rolls with sesame and sweet sauce – a popular street food in Hong Kong, to which their presentation here gives a nod:
When it comes to the main course, guests can select one complimentary dish from the following list, and pay HK$158 (A$30) for a second – except for those visiting the lounge at the invitation of an airline, where the additional charge doesn't apply.
- Bacon rolled bratwurst with homemade baked beans and scrambled or fried eggs
- Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon or bacon
- Lobster tail pasta with cherry tomato, basil, fresh arugula, shaved Parmesan and a lobster veloute sauce
- Slow-cooked US Tomahawk pork chop with assorted vegetables, apple compote and balsamic red wine sauce
- Chicken tikka masala with basmati rice and pappadum chips
- Butternut squash risotto with winter truffle
- Beyond Meat burger (vegetarian) with sweet potato fries
The lobster pasta was an easy and delicious choice, and was dressed at the table.
Of course, it's unusual for guests to be asked to pay A$30 for a second main course while selections from the appetiser menu are unlimited: particularly when ordering something basic like an Eggs Benedict, which wouldn't cost that much to buy from most cafes (where you aren't also paying for admission, too).
But when it comes to dessert, these can be ordered over at a separate counter – and yes, you can have more than one.
That counter forms part of Aerobar, where tea and espresso coffee can be ordered, along with alcohol.
There's a wide range of drinks to choose from, but note that many aren't included with your standard admission. These are generally the premium choices, so it's more that you can pay for something better, rather than having to open your wallet every time you order.
For example, Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne (NV) is complimentary, being the same drop as poured at Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific business class lounges and the 'Platinum section' of the AMEX Centurion Lounge.
Many cocktails are also gratis, including the Passion Flora: mixing Havana 7 rum, lime juice, passionfruit syrup and spiced syrup. That said, what sounded like a light and fruity mix arrived tremendously bitter, unfortunately rendering it completely undrinkable.
The bartender seemed relatively new and inexperienced, and may have used an incorrect ingredient or quantity when mixing the drink, which was promptly returned and exchanged for a simpler gin and tonic: after helping them identify the gin on the bar counter, that is.
One of the premium options available for purchase includes a whisky flight, for those who'd like to taste several drops.
Otherwise, a range of non-alcoholic drinks can be found in the dining room fridge, although the staff usually assist if you'd like these.
There's plenty of seating by the bar with TVs nearby, which is sure to be a popular spot during sports broadcasts.
When there's work to complete during your lounge time, the Infinity Room offers seating suited to laptops with power points available at every table.
Elsewhere in the lounge, most other seats provide USB and AC charging facilities, with international-style outlets accepting a wide variety of plugs including Australian pins without an adapter.
WiFi speeds here are the fastest we've encountered at any airport lounge worldwide, with downloads hitting a whopping 341Mbps, and uploads reaching a solid 156Mbps: this being more than three times faster than offered via top-level 'NBN 100' plans in Australia.
That's about enough bandwidth to stream ultra-high definition (4K) video to 13 televisions at the same time without any loss in performance, with plenty of bandwidth still left over for more basic tasks like email and web browsing.
Most of this lounge is geared towards relaxation, so there's no shortage of places to sit.
For a quieter stay or to put your feet up, wander into the Infinity Room. Just be mindful that there's no natural light anywhere in the lounge, so particularly if you're tired in transit, it's very easy to nod off: so don't forget to set an alarm or keep a close eye on the time.
Complimentary 10-minute seated massages are offered as well, and can be booked via reception. This was particularly relaxing before a long flight, although the use of a kitchen-style timer that, towards the end of the massage, kept beeping until the masseur finished and reset it, significantly reduced the serenity.
Private shower suites are available with toiletries provided by Elemis: the same brand you'd find in British Airways' lounges and spas.
These suites are stylish and well-equipped, and are usually offered on a first-come, first-showered basis: but speak to the staff if you need help finding an available shower.
All things considered and even with some improvements to be made, Plaza Premium First is a significant step above even the best Plaza Premium Lounges: and if you already have access to these in Hong Kong, then paying HK$250 (or 1,500 Arrture points) for a first class lounge upgrade is a no-brainer.
Whether the much pricier walk-in rates provide value, however, will depend on the length of your stay, whether you'd have access to other lounges instead, and whether you're likely to incur extra charges in the restaurant and bar, based on what (or how much) you order.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Plaza Premium Group.