First look: Cathay Pacific’s First and Business Class lounge, Heathrow T3

Cathay Pacific first class heathrow lounge

Background

Cathay Pacific closed its lounge at Heathrow T3 in November last year as part of a series of refurbishments to its business and first class facilities. Lounges that have so far been renovated are in Cathay Pacific’s gateway cities, which include Manila, Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, Vancouver and the airline’s hub in Hong Kong. The Heathrow lounge is the latest to have been revamped following the refurbishment of The Pier business class lounge this summer, and the first class lounge which opened in June 2015 at Hong Kong airport. You can read reviews of both lounges here.

The Pier first class lounge

The Pier business class lounge

London-based design firm Studio Ilse has run the design overhaul of the new lounges to date. The airline told Business Traveller that it plans to roll out the new design in more key airports, although which are next have yet to be announced.

At the launch of the lounge, studio director Ilse Crawford said that the airline had wanted to create a space that would offer respite from the grind of travel – a relaxed and personal space that uses “real materials” and objects that you might find in your home. “We sat in airports for a very long time, we watched people, and tried to understand how people used lounges, how they sit, what they seemed to need,” she said. “We came to the conclusion that what people seemed to crave was warm, informal, domestic space, rather than a more institutional space that traditionally, lounges have been.”

Accessed via lift from Lounge C near Gate 11, the lounges are separated into first and business class sections with the first class area to the right of reception, while other passengers are directed along a granite corridor to the designated business class zone. At 1,200 sqm, the total area is 30 per cent larger than before.

First class lounge

As you’d expect, the first class lounge is much smaller than the business class space, although it manages to incorporate three relaxation areas divided by wooden and frosted glass screens, plus a pantry and à la carte restaurant.

Pale green onyx walls, aniline leather sofas, and raw wooden tables create the sense of an inviting and home-like space, with contemporary artwork by Chinese artist Han Feng on the walls, potted banana leaf and fiddle leaf fig trees placed deliberately to enliven any static corners, and a warm palette of green, teal and coffee hues used in the textiles and furnishings.

The pantry is located between the main lounge and another more secluded area at the back, which had more armchairs and a TV. Here, there is a coffee machine, a tea selection, cookies, sandwiches, a pecan tart and fruit bowl, alongside a fridge stocked with soft drinks, yoghurts, and pots of bircher muesli, smoked salmon, and barley and beetroot salads.

Cathay Heathrow first class lounge pantry

Leather armchairs with footrests line the far window that looks out on to the runway – these were quite popular during my visit, perhaps because of the privacy they afforded individual travellers. Interspersed between these are cherry wood coffee tables with slender drawers that can be pulled out to reveal recessed plug sockets. At the far end of the lounge, there is a black, polished armoire stacked with a range of newspapers and magazines, including the Asia-Pacific edition of Business Traveller.

I didn’t get the chance to eat at the restaurant, but it’s an elegant space, the focal point of which is a green, leather booth that curves around the length of the room, with tables and chairs grouped in twos and fours along it.

CX first class Heathrow restaurant

The all-day dining menu is below:

Starters and Soups
Traditional Spicy Sichuan Chicken

Tuna Tataki Salad

Beetroot and Grapefruit Salad

Cream of Carrot

Mains
Cantonese-style Beef Fillet

Garden Herb Crusted Salmon

Pesto Pappardelle

Chef’s Specialty
Wonton Noodles in Soup

Dan Dan Mien (Shanghainese-style noodles in spicy peanut soup)

The Englishman’s Fish and Chips

Angus Beef Burger

Business class lounge

The larger business class space echoes the design of the first class area and is markedly less corporate and rigid than the old lounge. Below is a photo of the previous design.

Walking in, passengers first arrive at the dining room and Noodle Bar, an open- kitchen style bar area covered with glossy, bottle green tiles, where a choice of Hong Kong-style wonton noodles in soup, dan dan mien (Shanghainese noodles in a peanut sauce), pumpkin congee and dim sum are on offer. There is also a vegetarian menu, which includes stir-fried vegetables and rice noodles.

I tried the dan dan mien noodles and the chicken siu mai dumplings, which were delicious and fresh. Diners can either perch on stools at the bar or make use of the dining booths and tables behind. Each seat has two sockets next to it, along with USB ports for charging.

From here, the lounge opens up into the Food Hall, which has a long rustic wooden table at its centre, carrot-coloured cushioned benches and an array of hot food served (pan-fried salmon, new potatoes and cream of tomato soup, for example) plus savoury pastries, cold cuts and desserts chilled in fridges.

The Pantry at Cathay Pacific's Heathrow lounge business class

Beyond the Food Hall there is more seating, which, again, uses the same colour palette as the first class lounge and a similarly eclectic collection of armchairs, stools and pouffes. A large serviced bar is on the far left wall, while on the right there is a cluster of high-backed pod-like chairs good for working or a quick doze before boarding – these are an offshoot of the Solo chair, which was popular in the old lounges. At the very back of the lounge there is a small, dimly lit business centre, with four Mac computers alongside an intimate meeting room that can be used on a first-come first-serve basis.

Located off the corridor that links the first and business class lounges, the bathrooms and showers (of which there are eight) are sleek and spacious, featuring brass-plated taps, veined marble countertops, elegant vertical light strips and Aesop toiletries.

Besides first and business class passengers, the lounge is open to Silver Marco Polo Club members, Sapphire or above Oneworld members. It is open from 5.30am to 10.30am from Monday to Saturday and 7.30am to 10.30pm on Sundays.

cathaypacific.com


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