About three weeks ago, Cathay Pacific opened a truly exceptional lounge in Hong Kong following an 18 month renovation project. It has been nearly three years since both Cathay Pacific first class lounges have been simultaneously open at its hub in Hong Kong as The Wing was refurbished and now The Pier. Was it worth the wait?
The Pier is located just past gate 63 at the northwest end of the terminal. It is basically as far as possible from Cathay Pacific’s other first class lounge, The Wing. Accessible only from departures level, the closest transfer connection point is T6. It is worth bearing in mind that the terminal train only runs in one direction, so if you come out here and you are departing from low numbered gates it is going to be a long walk (travelator assisted naturally) to get to your gate.
Set over about 2,000 square metres a level below the concourse, the lounge’s location means that the lounge has a ceiling. This is in contrast to practically all lounges at Hong Kong except the Singapore Airlines lounge. Cathay Pacific’s other first class lounge, The Wing, as well as the Qantas, Thai Airways International and United lounges are all perched on open mezzanine floors above the concourse.
Descending the escalators, you enter an atmosphere we could best described as refined.
Attentive lounge staff will insist on scanning your boarding card on entry to confirm eligibility. Rather than requiring guests to approach a desk, however, multiple attendants standing near the entrance personally greet entrants and handle entry verification.
The lounge is decked out in muted colors and stylish décor. Even the Cathay Pacific logo in this lounge is displayed in a very understated manner.
Inside, there is a corridor that runs the length of the lounge. On one side is the bar and a sitting area, and to the other is the dining room (which also has a bar).
We immediately thought that the high end decor of this lounge was reminiscent of a classy hotel. The jade green décor is reminiscent of classic Chinese culture. If you had left your bag at reception, you would really feel like you weren’t even in an airport (save for the never-ending PA announcements).
The architecture is stunning. Real effort been put into the furnishings, which just ooze quality.
The Pier stands in stark contrast to the Qantas Hong Kong lounge which has all the ambiance of a discount furniture warehouse.
The Pier has a sweeping bar which dominates one room.
The Pier was particularly quiet when we visited (perhaps the lounge being newly reopened after 18-months of closure for refurbishment has something to do with it).
Crossing back through the corridor that runs the length of the lounge, you find yourself in the dining room.
The open layout in the dining room allows in plenty of natural light and provides a view onto neighboring gates.
The catering and service is done (and done well) by a division of The Peninsular Hotel. The waiter service was impeccable, as was the breakfast we ordered from the à la carte menu. To our mind, the service here is a cut above that offered by Qantas in its flagship first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.
We ordered the western breakfast with scrambled eggs and a side of yogurt and granola.
The lounge also has a number of work booths.
They sure look classy, although we would rather they had doors on them so that they could be used to make telephone calls in private (something that we tend to need to do from time to time when flying for business).
The Pier offers private space to relax, work, or just doze off in ‘eight’ Day Suites.
These rooms line one edge of the lounge and all feature windows with natural light.
The shade is remotely controlled via a panel on the opposite wall which also contains dimmable lighting controls, a power outlet, and USB charge ports. There are no PA announcements in here.
Instead of a door, the entryway is made up of a heavy curtain that muffles occasional footsteps outside.
The Day Suites are small and are separated from the hallway outside by a simple curtain.
We prefer the Cabanas in The Wing, but it can be a pit of a crapshoot as to whether you can get one of them in that lounge. It is not like you can book them or they are reserved for first class passengers (both things we would consider if we were Cathay Pacific).
Back in The Pier, the bathrooms are found up a slight ramp.
The bathrooms themselves look great and feature amenities from Melbourne’s Aesop (as do Cathay Pacific’s first class amenity kits in the air).
The lounge also has 14 shower suites.
These too are nice, and each also has its own toilet.
The lounge even has staff that will iron your clothes and give your feet a twenty minute massage.
On 1 July 2015, Cathay closed The Pier Business Class Lounge ‘until the second half of 2016’ for renovations. The new business class lounge will follow Cathay’s ‘new lounge design template’ already seen at Tokyo-Haneda, Manila and Bangkok. We will await this one with interest.
Cathay Pacific have really seized the opportunity and made the most of it with this renovation of The Pier First Class lounge. It feels like a high end town house rather than an airport lounge. Cathay Pacific now have an opportunity to take it one step further. All the flight announcements in multiple languages does get old pretty quickly. We doubt many would miss them.