Cathay Pacific’s newest First Class lounge at their Hong Kong hub is ‘The Pier’, re-opened following 18 months of extensive renovation in June 2015. It’s another design by Ilse Crawford of London-based Studioilse, also responsible for the latest Cathay lounges in Bangkok and Singapore among others.
We visited the lounge in July 2018 prior to a First Class flight to London.
Opening Times: 5.30am to 00.30am
Multi-standard Power Sockets: No (UK / Singapore three-pin)
USB Charging Sockets: Yes
The Pier is located near gates 61 – 63 in the northwest concourse of Hong Kong International Airport. You’ll need to descend the escalator by one level, as unlike The Wing First Class lounge, which is suspended one floor above the departure concourse, The Pier is one floor below it.
A lift down to the lounge entrance is also available.
As the map below shows, the location of this lounge won’t necessarily suit you unless your flight is departing in the 29 – 71 gate range. The Wing, which we reviewed last month, is much better located for flights departing gates 1 – 28.
This lounge is available to passengers departing on a Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flight, or on a oneworld member operated flight:
- in First class (+1 guest permitted); or
- in Business, Premium Economy or Economy class and holding Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Diamond status (+2 guests permitted), or oneworld Emerald status (+1 guest permitted).
- in any class of travel provided they are connecting between oneworld marketed and operated flights on the same day of travel having arrived in First Class with a scheduled flight time longer than 5 hours (e.g. British Airways First Class LHR-HKG followed by Cathay Pacific Economy Class HKG-SIN, admittance is permitted).
Any accompanying guests must be travelling on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld airline. Admittance based on arrival in oneworld First Class from your previous flight requires you to retain your previous boarding pass.
We arrived at The Pier around 12.45pm, 2 hours before our flight to London. The lounge was relatively quiet at this time.
The reception staff are waiting at a podium at the bottom of the escalator to welcome you. Quickly enough our boarding cards were checked and we were invited through into the lounge.
There is also a larger reception desk for lounge guests, head here if you need to store your luggage or have any ticketing queries for example.
Pro tip: One benefit of the oneworld lounge access policy is that provided you are connecting from a long-haul oneworld operated flight in First Class onto another oneworld flight the same day, the onward class of travel is not relevant and you can access the First Class lounges based on the class flown during your previous sector.
This was not the case for us, however it is very useful if you’re flying in First Class from Europe for example then on to Singapore with Cathay, as most flights from Hong Kong to Singapore do not feature a First Class cabin and you will likely be downgrading to Business Class for that sector. Remember to retain your First Class boarding card from the previous sector in this case, as you’ll need to show it when you enter the lounge.
Here’s a section I never thought we’d write about an airline lounge. Kind of like writing a section on ‘the aisle’ in an aircraft review, what exactly warrants a dedicated section about a corridor in a lounge, you might ask?
Well welcome to The Pier, where the corridor (like many others in the world), links everything in this place. It’s also beautiful, homely and has incredible lighting and features.
Quite opposite to The Wing First Class lounge, with its open-air feeling on the airport mezzanine level, The Pier is tucked away downstairs. The designers have therefore adopted a completely different approach, the homely ‘exclusive apartment’ feel.
Large illuminated ceiling panels give the impression of a skylight running the length of the corridor, ‘lifting’ the relatively low ceiling and creating a feeling of space.
Separate areas of the lounge are defined by plush carpet interspersed with tiled flooring. The long wooden tables with plants and modern decorative items sit under stunning light fittings.
It’s certainly one of the most impressive central features of any airport lounge we’ve visited.
One of the standout features of The Pier is the à la carte restaurant – The Dining Room.
You are greeted by the server at the entrance podium like in a normal restaurant. Inside tables are located in three ‘U’ shapes alongside windows overlooking the aircraft and runways.
The Dining Room even has its own bar to prepare all the drinks orders. You can sit here too if you like and order directly from the bartender, ideal for a pre- or post-dinner tipple.
As it was lunchtime the dining room was actually reasonably busy, however the staff seated us a good distance from other diners. It seems to be the policy to spread out the groups where possible to maintain privacy, especially important if you’re dining alone.
We were presented with food and drinks menus while water was served.
(click to enlarge)
|All Day Menu
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(click to enlarge)
Unlike The Wing, where only 2 white and 2 red wines were offered, there were four red wines and four white wines on the drinks list at The Pier. A dessert wine and a port were also on offer. Here are the Vivino ratings out of 5:
- Berry Bros & Rudd Own Selection Burgundy (2016). 4.5 stars on Vivino
- Sileni Estates Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (2017). 3.8 stars on Vivino
- Weingut Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Bankett, Austria (2015). 3.5 stars on Vivino
- Brand’s Laira Coonawarra Chardonnay, Australia (2016). 2.6 stars on Vivino
- Dourthe – La Grande Cuvée Bordeaux, France (2015). 3.5 stars on Vivino
- Parker Coonawarra Estate Favourite Son Shiraz, Australia (2016). 3.8 stars on Vivino
- Isabel Marlborough Pinot Noir, New Zealand (2016). 3.9 stars on Vivino
- Hayes Ranch Merlot, USA (2014). 3.0 stars on Vivino
Brown Brothers Muscat – Flora Orange (2016). 3.7 stars on Vivino
Quinta do Noval William Pickering Port. 4.3 stars on Vivino
The Champagnes served were the same as at The Wing – Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut (NV), Louis Roederer (2012) and Henriot Rose (NV).
Interestingly the port was a different variety from that offered at The Wing, much better rated too (and yes, we visited both lounges on the same day).
It was a bit early for port however! We went off-piste and, in need of a pick-me-up after The Wing review, each ordered an espresso martini with lunch.
Even though it’s not on the cocktail menu two very good ones were presented only minutes later, prepared by the mixologist at the bar in The Dining Room itself.
We didn’t try any appetisers as we wanted to still be hungry enough to do justice to lunch on board, however we have had an appetiser before in this lounge and they are good.
Selections include smoked salmon with fennel salad, gado gado salad and roasted duck with asparagus.
I went for the cheese burger with homemade fries which was excellent and a significant portion. Again to save room for the onslaught of caviar on board I didn’t even finish it.
Eddie chose the Wonton with noodles in soup, which was very tasty as you’d expect.
Food at The Dining Room is prepared to order so you should allow some time for a meal here, or let the staff know if you have to leave soon for your flight. Having said that our main courses arrived promptly, within around 10 minutes.
One of the highlights of The Pier is the manned cocktail bar and lounge. You’ll find this at the opposite end of the lounge to The Dining Room, take a left once you enter if you wish to go straight to the bar.
Here you have the option of sitting at the bar stool seating or the low seating. There are options to the left in a smaller quiet area close to the bar or on the right with runway views from the large windows.
An extensive cocktail selection is available, alongside wines and Champagnes. The bar staff are happy to go off-menu if you prefer a bespoke cocktail provided they have the ingredients.
If a full à la carte meal isn’t on your agenda during your visit to The Pier (and we think it should be) then a self-service food area called the Pantry is where you can head for a smaller snack.
On the large table in the middle of the room there was a selection of salads, bread and cheeses, hors d’oeuvres and wraps. The variety changes throughout the day.
To the sides, there’s a sweet section with pastries and cakes, the obligatory bean-to-cup coffee machine and a large fridge with chilled beverages including 4 varieties of canned beer, bottled craft beers, soft drinks, water and juices.
The fridge also contains a selection of chilled hors d’oeuvres and fruit in sealed containers.
There is even an automatic draft beer machine (these will be familiar to those of you who frequent Japanese airline lounges) serving Tsing Tao, and some self-serve wine options. Of course nothing is stopping you from enjoying a wider selection of drinks from the manned bar next door.
Wi-Fi and power outlets
The Wi-Fi in The Pier was easy to connect to and very fast during our visit. At busier times it probably slows down a little but we think it should remain perfectly useable. Our speed test revealed:
- Download: 26.8 Mbps
- Upload: 46.3 Mbps
- Ping: 5ms
In common with The Wing First Class lounge and the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at Changi T4 (see our review), the power sockets in The Pier are not the multi-standard variety increasingly found in airport lounges these days.
Instead you’re limited to the UK-style 3-pin sockets, thankfully also used in Hong Kong and Singapore, plus USB power outlets. However if you need an adapter plug to use during your visit these are available from the lounge reception.
The Bureau is where you’ll find 6 relatively private desks. These are ideal if you have some work to catch up on during your visit.
Each workstation is equipped with an Apple computer, phone, desk lamp and charging points. There is ample space at the desk for your own laptop if you prefer, and you could certainly spread out a lot of documents if necessary too.
Note that like other power sockets in this lounge, those you’ll find here are the Hong Kong / UK / Singapore 3-pin variety.
‘The Library’ section of The Pier is where you’ll find a wide selection of newspapers and magazines from across the world to peruse during your stay, or take with you on your flight.
There are a few seats provided here along the wall, however you’ll likely be more comfortable taking your selection to a window seat and enjoying the view of the aircraft outside, or finding another quiet corner in the lounge.
The Library itself also connects the corridor to one of the main seating sections by the lounge windows overlooking the airport gates and runways.
There is no shortage of seating options in The Pier and you should have no problem finding a comfortable private place to sit even at busier times.
The lounge was quiet during our visit and so almost every seating option was available to us.
Low armchairs are arranged in singles with a side table and lap, or as pairs with the table and lamp in between them. In the drawer of each of the side tables you’ll find charging sockets and USB ports.
Other seating options include large leather armchairs, some group seating and a large leather sofa in the bar area.
The Pier features 8 private day suites, your own quiet room away from the lounge with a comfortable daybed, reading light and charging facilities featuring airport views.
Each day suite, which is separated from the corridor by a full length curtain rather than a door, features a blind along the window in case you wish to have a nap or some quiet rest.
With the blind open however there are fantastic views of the aircraft and runways. Many will find this a fascinating spot to while away some time, perhaps with a glass of Champagne from the bar. While we were in the day suite a Thai Airways aircraft was being prepared for departure.
The day suites are quiet and well soundproofed, with the occasional muffled rumble of aircraft noise which we don’t think would disturb many people.
Spa treatments are popular in this lounge and you may wish to head straight to the ‘The Retreat’ reception to check on available treatment slots.
1 to 2 hour wait times are apparently not uncommon during busier periods. If you can’t secure an immediate appointment, you will be issued with a buzzer letting you know when it’s time to head back for your treatment.
There is no pre-booking facility here so if you are keen to have a treatment it’s best to arrive at the lounge with plenty of time to spare before your flight.
On this occasion unfortunately we didn’t have time to enjoy a treatment.
There are 14 shower suites in The Pier, so even at peak hours there should be no significant wait time. Several were immediately available during our visit and we asked to take a few photos of one.
Each shower suite is spacious and in addition to the rain-head shower features include its own toilet, a clothes hanger, chair and changing bench for your belongings, a hairdryer, Aesop toiletries and a full-length mirror.
Grey tiles and marble are offset with warm wood panelling and gold fixtures, a combination, which sounds a little over the top but actually works well.
If you’ve forgotten to bring any items with you or they aren’t in your hand luggage the shower attendants can also provide deodorant, a hair comb, hairspray, a shaving set, shaving foam and slippers on request.
Cathay Pacific has a strong reputation for the quality of their ground experience and lounges, especially at their home base Hong Kong. The Pier is a perfect example – hard to fault at any level. Understated, elegant and intimate.
From the private day suites and fantastic showers through to an excellent restaurant, office facilities and even a spa and a cocktail bar, you aren’t left wanting after a visit here. Indeed we would recommend making a special effort to arrive early for your flight to enjoy as many elements of the experience as possible.
If like us you’re a Singapore Airlines fan through and through, you’ll be familiar with their premium lounge offerings at many airports, not least at Changi itself. We think this review speaks for itself but to be clear – nothing SIA offers comes anywhere close to this lounge.
The careful design and finish this lounge does a great job in achieving an exclusive, peaceful ambiance, making it feel like an elegant living room. You couldn’t feel further detached from the hustle and bustle of a busy airport terminal, which is a key aim of any First Class lounge facility in our view.
The Pier is sensational, the first lounge we’ve ever awarded a 5 star rating because, frankly, there’s really nothing left to improve here.
|Review:||Cathay Pacific ‘The Pier’ First Class Lounge Hong Kong|
|Summary:||Elegant, intimate and homely. It’s no surprise The Pier ranks among the finest First Class lounges in the world.|
|Among airline-operated First Class lounges:|
5 out of 5
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)