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Cathay Pacific is known for their excellent lounges. The airline has invested heavily in upgrades, both in its hub Hong Kong as in key markets such as London, Paris, Bangkok and Manilla. The two ‘The Pier’ – one first and one business class – lounges in the carriers homebase have been upgraded most recently. During a recent transit, I had the opportunity to visit the First Class location. This lounge is accessible to Oneworld First Class passengers and Emerald members in other travel classes.
The Pier lounges are located between gates 63 and 65. If you are originating in Hong Kong, this is quite a trek from the check-in desks. My flight from Amsterdam luckily arrived in a high-numbered gate. After passing transit security, I found myself right in front of The Bridge lounge, a few minutes walking to gate 63. In the early morning hours, this part of the terminal was deserted.
After going down on the escalators, I was approached by one of the agents and, after handing my invitation, promptly admitted. Because my connecting flight with Cathay Dragon departed from the satellite terminal which would include a bus drive, I only could spend 45 minutes in the lounge.
Just as The Pier Business, also the First Class location has been designed by the London based design firm StudioIlse. In contrast to The Wing First Class lounge, The Pier is fully covered. This means that you don’t have the same airy feeling from the grand Hong Kong terminal, but you are also not subject to the airport announcements which makes the ambiance much more peaceful.
Upon entering, I was immediately impressed by the design which was extremely classy and upscale. The furnishing felt truly residential and apart from the rollaboards you almost did not have the feeling you were in one of the world’s busiest airports. The lounge has been divided in various zones, along a central hall way.
After the long flight, my first priority was to get a shower. For this I went to ‘The Retreat’. Luckily a room was available immediately. The showerrooms are comparable with those in the business class lounge. Unfortunately there are no cabana’s as in The Wing, where you also have a bathtub. It did not bother me as the shower was excellent. The room was spotless as usual and there were nice amenities from Aesop. The shower had a handheld shower and a nice rainfall option.
If your stay is longer, you can also use one of the Day Rooms in The Retreat, where you have a small private room with a sofa. You can also have a 10 minutes footmassage which is very popular. During peak hours, there is often a wait.
The Pantry and Dining Room
After the shower, it was time for breakfast. In ‘The Pantry’, there is a small self-service buffet and a selection of beverages. In the fridges there are also little glasses with items such as granola, fruit and salads. The selection seems limited, however in contrast to The Wing First and The Pier Business, the focus in this lounge is not on the buffet. Instead, there is a full sit-down à la carte restaurant in ‘The Dining Room’.
At the entrance I was led by a waiter to my table with tarmac view. I was handed the breakfast menu and was asked what I would like to drink. There is a choice between both Asian and Western dishes. I chose the eggs benedict and a glass of rosé champagne.
While the terminal was deserted, the restaurant was quite busy. I have the feeling many passengers will make the detour to The Pier. Nevertheless I did not have to wait long for my dish to arrive. Everything was tasty and I was glad I skipped the airplane omelette!
During the rest of the day there is an All-day Dining menu which could easily make for a three-course lunch or dinner. Dishes range from soup and salads to burgers, pan fried salmon and noodles and from ice cream to the classic sticky rice.
On the other side of the lounge is the manned bar, shaped like a horseshoe. There is an extensive selection of (alcoholic) beverages, cocktails, coffee and tea. Considering the hour, I only took an espresso. The barman was also happy to give me a bottle of water which, strangely, is not available in the fridges. You can also try the specially crafted Betsy beer in the lounge.
In the rest of the lounge, there are various seating areas, near the bar or along the windows. Again, the design is very warm and residential. There are sufficient powerplugs available in the drawers of the tables to charge your devices.
If you would like to work in privacy, you can head to ‘The Bureau’ where there are private cubicles with an iMac and office chair.
There is also ‘The Library’ with a selection of magazines.
The Pier First Class lounge first of all provides a quiet and peaceful escape from the terminal. The lounge has been designed very homely which would almost make you forget you are in a busy airport. The à la carte restaurant is the lounge’s most significant perk with a solid menu and good quality food. Compared to the business class lounge, the shower rooms and bar are not much different, however the service is more attentive on the First Class side. It was a shame I could only visit the lounge briefly, as I would have gladly partaken in a full meal and footmassage. Nevertheless, The Pier is a truly excellent lounge and it is worth it to arrive early at the airport for.
It is important to know that every Cathay Pacific lounge in Hong Kong has a special feature. In The Pier First, this is the great restaurant. In The Wing First, you can avail of a more extensive buffet and the cabana’s while The Pier Business offers a separate Noodle Bar, Tea House and buffet with many Asian and Western dishes. Hence there is something for everyone. If you have the time, loungehopping is certainly worthwhile at Hong Kong International!