Tried & Tested

Lounge Review: Cathay Pacific, The Pier First Class, Hong Kong International

10 Sep 2016 by Tom Otley
Cathay Pacific Long Bar at the Pier

Fellow travellers had kept mentioning this lounge to me.

I knew it had been refurbished recently (in 2015).

Our Asia-Pacific office  wrote a news piece on it and took lots of photos

First look: ‘The Pier’ first class lounge

So when I was returning on a Cathay flight – the new A350-900 service from Hong Kong to London Gatwick, I took the opportunity to visit. This is the flight review on the way out…

Flight review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 Business Class

and this is the review of the Arrivals Lounge

Lounge review: Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong

Here’s some background.

Cathay Pacific has a number of different lounges at Hong Kong: The Wing, The Cabin, The Bridge and The Pier.

You can find more about them in the Related Articles at the bottom of this piece (just scroll down).

Cathay has a list of the lounges on its website.

The Pier is in fact two lounges: First and Business, with separate entrances.

If you haven’t been to them before, then they can take some finding. They are a long walk from security, though you can get part of the way using the train. Head for Gate 63 and you’ll find an escalator and sign.

Cathay has a map of all the lounges

Cathay Paicifc The-Pier-First Class Lounge-area

When I had checked in for the flight I was given a paper invitation to the lounge.

This invitation was for the business class lounge.

I am Emerald in Oneworld, so I also had the choice of the First Class lounge and so went to that one.

You will give up the Lounge Invitation when you enter. You can get your boarding pass stamped for re-entry if you want to go out and do some shopping, though once you are in the lounge, it is unlikely you’ll ever want to leave.

The lady who showed me in could not have been more helpful once I had told her it was my first time in the lounge (there was no hiding it, I’d tried walking into the luggage storage area after handing over my invitation card).

If you want to avoid that particular faux pas, walk straight on. The corridor in front of you runs left to the bar and right to the restaurants. Don’t worry, even the restaurant has a bar, so you can’t choose badly.

Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class corridor -area

I haven’t visited the lounge before, but reasoning that any spa treatments would be quickly booked up, I headed for the spa counter which is opposite and slightly to the right. Sure enough I was told they were “full”, which seemed odd since the place was empty, so I assume that it’s possible to book them. I have no status in Cathay’s loyalty programme, so hadn’t done so. I asked if there was a queue I could go on in case someone didn’t turn up, and was given a pager in case a place became free. I then walked left towards the bar.

The Pier First Class

When I walked in to this room, at 2130 before my flight, the latest album by Gregory Porter was playing, and the bar man asked what I’d like to drink and directed my attention to a drinks menu which, among other things, had three choices of Champagne – Veuve Cliquot, Baron de Rothschild or Moet Chandon Rose.

I sat on one of those stools, and tried not to jump to the conclusion that this was the best lounge I had ever been in. After all – it’s easy to become emotional at times like this: it’s getting on in the evening, you are still jet lagged from a short trip to Asia, there’s good music playing, quality alcohol being offered by smartly dressed employees, and you know you’ve got a sleep coming up on a long overnight flight home. Instead I thought of other great lounges, and also bad ones, and reasoned that there are some I have never visited (Qatar’s new First Class Lounge at Hamad International, for instance, or the Qantas lounge in Sydney).

Since I was wanting to write this up, I looked for negatives, but couldn’t find any, so quickly stood up and walked back along the corridor to the restaurant.

The Pier-buffet

On the way I passed a small room where you could have bread, cheese, help yourself to soft drinks and beers or have some small pots of chilled salads.

Cathay says (of the design)

“Warm, tactile and timeless materials such as green onyx, limestone, and bronze are used, suggesting the spirit of contemporary Asia. Acoustics are softened where possible, and a considered approach has been adopted in the lighting.”

All of which I’d agree with.

I much preferred it to the Wing – and the service was superior, though my last visit there was a long time ago.

Lounge review: Cathay Pacific Lounge: The Wing

Pier-buffet-2

I then walked down to the restaurant, where only a few tables were occupied. This next photo is from Cathay, obviously. It hasn’t suddenly become daytime.

In its composition it reminds me of an Edward Hopper painting.

Except they are smiling.

The staff throughout the stay were superb and the service very swift. There were only 12 people in there, but unfortunately two of them were unbelievably loud Australians shouting at one another from adjacent tables.

Quite a predicament. Although the acoustics were good elsewhere, the restaurant has a hard floor and ceiling.

Empty vessels make the most noise. And they did.

The Pier-restaurant -bar

Here’s a picture (or 2) of the menu

Pier-menu-1
Pier-menu-2

I just had a small salad, which was delicious, and then left and went back to the bar area where I found a comfortable place to sit with power sockets– you can’t see them (the sockets, that is), they become visible when you pull out the drawer in the side table – very elegant.

I was even impressed by the washrooms – and I don’t normally take pictures of them but to give you some idea, here they are.

Pier-first-washrooms

While I worked the music soundtrack went from jazz to Van Morrison (kind of Jazz, but mostly just The Man) to Santana and I was very contented and wishing that this sort of lounge could be provided every time I have a flight.

I noticed that although flights weren’t all called, if there was any disruption (delayed flights, changed gates) then these were announced, which seems sensible.

The lounge design was a lot easier on the eye than the minimalism that I’ve always associated with Cathay lounges – that Pawson look, but I’m out of date, as these pieces from the last few years show.

First look: Cathay Pacific lounge at Tokyo Haneda

Cathay Pacific opens Manila lounge

Cathay Pacific reopens Bangkok lounge

It’s all part of the brand refresh

Cathay Pacific celebrates new brand refresh

I look forward to seeing what Cathay does in the new London lounge in a few week’s time.

Eventually it was time to leave, and I walked back and took the escalator up to the main concourse.

Cathay Paicifc The-Pier-First Class Lounge-area

Verdict

Superb.

I never got a spa treatment, so I can’t comment on that, and I didn’t see the sleep rooms / day beds, but then my main concern was staying awake for the flight. The service, the food and drink, the furnishings, the lighting, the art work, all of it works well. At times it must get busy, but it didn’t the evening I was there (well, apart from the spa) and it felt very exclusive.

A really great lounge.

CathayPacific.com

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