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China - Hong Kong
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)
- Contemporary design
- Variety & quality of food
- Plenty of seats and AC/USB ports
- Extra perks for Platinum One members
- No dedicated 'quiet zone'
- BBQ pork, plate of the day and yum cha treats
The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is the second lounge in the Flying Kangaroo’s new international lounge concept, following Singapore and to be followed in turn by Los Angeles later this year.
As with the Qantas Singapore Lounge this is an ‘integrated’ lounge for business and first class, replacing the airport’s previous two lounges for those passengers (and their Qantas Frequent Flyer equivalents).
Also in common with its Singapore sibling, but even more so, the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge embraces its location in both design and dining.
Those are not the only noticeable improvements. While situated in the same location as the former Qantas First lounge, the new facility is almost twice the size and makes far better use of that space to provide seating for up to 300 passengers without looking like a holding pen.
Location & Impressions
The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is conveniently located just across from Gate 15, with the three daily Qantas flights leaving from that end of the terminal.
The airport’s Qantas the checkin desks are closest to the terminal’s north entrance, and once through security the lounge is barely a minute’s walk away – take a sharp right turn past the checkpoint and you’ll spy the lounge entry down a narrow walkway.
The lounge is open from 3pm to midnight. While the Qantas flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have usually left by 8.30pm, the lounge also caters for the two British Airways flights to London which depart at 11.15pm and 11.45pm.
The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is a long gun-barrel straight stretch but the footprint has been subtly divided into a dozen different spaces or ‘zones’.
The reception area shares the familiar look of the Qantas Singapore Lounge, with podiums rather than long desks to create a more open and welcome feeling and encourage staff to directly engage with passengers.
The floor tiles not only provide a nod to the geometry of Chinese design, they also mimic the vaulted ceilings of Hong Kong Airport itself.
This feature wall adjacent to the entry follows the same cues.
The overall design is contemporary but subtle and clearly influenced by the lounge's location.
Closest to the entrance of the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is the first of many small but open nooks where travellers can rest up.
Most of the seating here is for solo travellers or couples, although the banquette and seating opposite works well for larger groups.
This leads onto the first dining area and the Spice Temple BBQ Bar, which is clearly the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge’s standout feature.
Named for the Spice Temple restaurants of Qantas’ consulting superchef Neil Perry, it’s a centrepiece for the lounge’s cook-to-order food offerings. (Just don't expect to find the famously ponytailed Perry himself doing the cooking.)
And as the name indicates, it’s also a bar – although that role falls more to the smaller dogleg at the far end of the counter.
Guests can sample a wide selection of wines, beers, spirits and classic cocktails.
(We suggest the lounge’s signature cocktail is worth a try: called Chi Chi, it’s a rum-based hit with pineapple and lime juice, vanilla syrup and kafir lime leaves.)
In addition to tables at either end of the Spice Temple BBQ Bar there’s additional seating in a long strip behind the bar.
This features a stunning panoramic shot of the Hong Kong skyline on one side and a void looking down into the terminal’s public area on the other.
Directly opposite the BBQ Bar is an enclosed bay with several banquettes and chairs.
It’s not intended as a ‘quiet zone’ – in fact, the lounge has no such declared space – but is simply another space which can afford slightly larger groups than couples, if so desired.
Built into the base of the wooden tables between the banquettes are pairs of AC sockets and USB ports.
These combo powerports are also found in the wide round tables set at each corner of the room.
In fact, they’re almost everywhere you look throughout the lounge, and thus almost anywhere you need them.
Back out in the main drag of the lounge, across from the alcohol-centric end of the BBQ Bar, is the first of another type of seating, which lounge designer Felice Carlino from Sumu Design terms a ‘park bench’.
The thick padded seating not only surrounds planters which add a natural element to soften the space, but the back cushions are slightly angled to mirror that relaxing recline of a real park bench.
After this is more seating…
… and more AC/USB socket sets, this time built into the side of the stone ‘mushroom’ tables between the seats.
Continuing along takes you to what could be tagged as the lounge’s restaurant area, although that moniker makes it sound more formal than it really is.
This space includes elongated stone tables, a series of two-person tables and a large round communal dining table.
This is where you’ll want to be to enjoy the plate of the day (more on that later), although directly across from the communal dining table is the self-serve buffet.
Further along is – no prizes for guessing – more seating.
That’s something we love about this lounge. There’s plenty of place to plonk yourself down, but plenty of variety rather than an endless sea of the same chairs.
In this area you’ll find a raised working table with bar stools and more of those combo AC/USB sockets.
There’s also an elongated table that’s great for working, not only because there’s room to spread out a bit but also as there’s a strip of concealed AC/USB sockets.
Across from this is another ‘park bench’ and a large seating bay.
Moving along is a service desk where you can check your flight details and that last-minute upgrade without having to trudge all the way back to the lounge’s entrance.
Adjacent to this is an exit with both elevator and escalator which takes you back down to the departures level near Gate 16.
There’s also a small self-serve drinks area with soft drinks, beer, wine and bubbly, along with coffee, tea and fruit juice.
Walk around the other side and you’ll see another ‘park bench’ set into the wall, which is decorated with a photo of large overhead neon signs from Hong Kong.
There’s one last seating area, and we’ll draw your attention to the black mini-monolith tables next to the chairs.
Yes, they also sport inbuilt AC/USB power ports.
Just behind this is a family zone, sensibly located at the very end of the lounge away from most travellers. It wasn’t complete when we visited the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge at the start of April, but it will be decked out in a similar manner to the Qantas Singapore Lounge.
So who gets through the door? It’s a pretty generous list.
- Travellers in first and business class on Qantas flights as well as Oneworld partner airlines (this includes ex-HK flights from British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines) and Cathay Pacific's regional offshoot Dragonair.
- Travellers flying from Hong Kong to Dubai with Qantas partner Emirates in first class and business class plus Skywards Platinum and Gold members
- Qantas Frequent Flyers with Platinum One, Platinum and Gold status
- Frequent flyers with Oneworld airlines holding equivalent Emerald and Sapphire status
- Qantas Club members
The variety and quality of dining options is what really sets the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge apart.
The showpiece is of course the Spice Temple BBQ Bar with its char siu barbecued pork (below), although other dishes and vegetarian options are available.
These dishes are served from 3pm through to 8.30pm, by which time all three daily Qantas flights have left. You can dine at the bar or take a plate back to your seat. We did mention there are plenty of seats?
There’s also a plate of the day served in the main dining area from around 5.45pm to 7.45pm – again, this is timed against the evening’s Qantas flights.
During our visit that plate was the Rangers Valley grain-fed minute steak which is a familiar favourite of visitors to the Sydney and Melbourne Qantas First lounges.
However, the plate of the day is served only to guests sitting at the round dining table and the tables against the walls at either side – if you’re sitting anywhere else in the lounge you’ll miss out.
Then there’s the tray-around or rather trolley-around service which sees dishes offered throughout the lounge between 6pm and 8pm.
The focus here is on light bites such as dumplings with chilli sauce, salt and pepper calamari and Hong Kong-style egg tarts.
Rounding out this feast is the mandatory self-serve buffet with a generous range of mains, salads and desserts.
The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge follows a trend we’re starting to notice in several lounges.
With most travellers these days carrying their own laptops and tablets, dedicated ‘business centres’ with PCs and printer/fax machines are being axed – or their footprint vastly reduced – to provide more space for guests.
The lounge has free and fast wifi which will this month get even faster as Qantas upgrades the Internet connection to a fibre backbone, allowing more passengers to use the Internet at higher speeds during peak periods.
There’s a single HP printer located in a nook near the service desk towards the end of the lounge.
This works over wifi with Apple’s AirPrint system and also HP’s ePrint service which lets you email a document to the printer.
The workbench areas and dining tables are the best work options for travellers who want to hammer away on a laptop, and almost everywhere in the lounge you’ll find AC and USB outlets to keep your tech charged up.
There’s no dedicated quiet zone, although the alcove towards the very end of the lounge with the last ‘park bench’ seating is your best bet.
If you want to freshen up before your flight there are 12 shower suites kitted out with Aurora Spa body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
Something that will make a visit to the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge more relaxing for some will be the special perks extended to Qantas first class travellers, frequent flyers holding Platinum One status and members of the the invitation-only Chairman’s Lounge.
As with the Qantas Singapore Lounge, those high-flying folk get a bit of VIP treatment with free shirt pressing, shoe shine and ‘priority access’ to showers.
(While showers aren’t set aside for them as in Singapore, they’ll be nudged to the top of any waiting list.)
The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is an impressive addition to the Flying Kangaroo's international lounge network.
There's nothing to stop you walking 10 minutes back towards the southern end of the terminal to visit Cathay Pacific's Wing lounges – we're still quite fond of the Noodle Bar and Coffee Loft in The Wing Business Lounge – but the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge clearly has raised the bar at Hong Kong airport and should satisfy all but the fussiest of flyers.
David Flynn travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Qantas