Cathay has several lounges at Hong Kong International including The Cabin, the Wing and the Pier. The Wing has recently been refurbished for both business class and first class passengers as of February 2013. To see some recent news stories about this, click here

It is a space totalling 1,697 sqm and has renovated versions of the dining area “Haven” and the five “Cabana” units, which now contain a spacious shower, full-sized tub and a daybed.

You can walk from one to the other since they are on the same level (the picture shows the first class lounge, so if you walked to the end you would just turn a corner into the business class lounge). But business class passengers have to descend a level and gain access opposite Gate 2, taking a lift or stairs back up to the lounge. First class passengers can simply turn left and walk into the lounge, and this is what I did since I have an emerald card with oneworld.

I arrived in the lounge just after lunchtime ready for a 1505 departure to London, and so had 90 minutes to spend in the lounge.  A member of staff greeted me.

The new First lounge is split up into a number of areas all under the high ceiling of the airport, with lots of natural light flooding in through the windows, just as you get in the Qantas/BA lounge on the other side of the security desks.  There was a desk behind which another couple of attendants were standing, and to my left a service centre.

The design by Foster and Partners is very minimal, though not quite as white as the previous John Pawson design. Walking through, the next area is a champagne bar with some comfortable seats, and then there is a large sitting area with B&B Italia seats designed by Anotinio Citterio, handcrafted Poltrona Frau sofas and dining chairs designed by Naota Fukasawa (as you’ll have guessed, that’s all from the press release but they did look luxurious, and whichever one I sat in was perfectly comfortable). There are Cathay Solus chairs (“a modern classic… reimagined for the First Class Lounge, with a glossy-black exterior shell and burgundy leather interior”).

The design of all of this is attractive, though the lounge left me a little non-plussed. In part it’s because in contrast to most lounges, everything you’d expect to be there is hidden behind the elegant furniture out of sight and you have to ask for it, so there are no racks of magazines, or self-service buffet, or bottles of wine for you to choose the one you want. Instead the food and drink is all on menus.

One example of this: once I had walked through and poked my head into the restaurant area (The Haven – it is larger than the old restaurant, and there is an a la carte menu), I wasn’t sure where I should be. There is a bar by this entrance, with a few bottles lined up on a sort of recessed marble shelf behind, but I didn’t want to drink. I also didn’t want a substantial meal, so the Haven was out. Instead I ordered a diet coke and wondered if there was anything else to eat. There is a menu on this bar, but these seemed like meals as well, – fish and chips and sandwiches, which is more than I wanted. I asked if there were any peanuts and crisps, and after some confusion found that there was. A man standing next to me told me I’d done better than he had, since he’d ended up with cookies.

I took my drink and found a chair, though this took some time since I needed to recharge my laptop and couldn’t find one with a power socket. The Cathay Solus chairs have them, but the side table is too small for a laptop. In the end I  found a lounge chair with a power socket next to it recessed into the carpet under a black plastic flap (I missed it first time but then saw what someone else had done in a neighbouring chair). It’s one of the perils of minimalism, I suppose, this horror of exposed plugs, but it is an anomaly that the First lounge is a place where, in contrast to the business class lounge, everything is done for you, and then you have to scrabble around on the floor to find a plug.

Another example of this is the food and drink. After an hour I ordered some fresh sliced fruit, and was told it would take 15 minutes to prepare. And it did. But when it came all they had done was cut a strawberry in half and a few other bits of fruit. I wanted more fruit than was on the plate, but didn’t want to wait another 15 minutes.

I decided the best way to use the lounge was to sit in it but whenever I wanted anything to walk through to the much busier business class lounge and help myself – they have magazines there, for instance, and a self-service bar, and food you can look at and choose yourself. I also like the Noodle Bar in the business class lounge. So good for peace and quiet – except for the whole time I was there an insistent piano tune was playing, not really music, but loud enough to be really annoying after the first half an hour or so. Lastly, I’d also add that the first lounge is underserved for toilets – three urinals, one of which is for kids, is not enough, and they need to clean them more frequently, as should be obvious from all the wet footprints from people departing having visited them. There are some showers in the lounge (12) and five Cabana units, but I did not see them. Note that in both lounges there is free wifi, but no boarding announcements.

The lounge is open to first class passengers, Diamond Marco Polo Club members and Emerald oneworld members. Opening hours are from 0530 until the departure of the last flight.