Plaza Premium’s West Hall lounge is the operator’s newest facility at HKIA (although the East Hall lounge recently reopened following a major facelift and slight relocation).
Plaza Premium will have a total of 23 establishments at HKIA by the first quarter of 2018. This includes five lounge facilities, including a new Plaza Premium First lounge due to open soon as the first of a new “premium lounge” offering – alongside other facilities such as the Airport World Trade Centre Club, Flight Club Grab ‘n’ Go, and a Wellness, Business and Conference Centre.
Where is it?
Located on level 7 close to gate 40 of the West Hall (reachable by shuttle or a 10 to 15-minute walk from the East Hall), Plaza Premium’s lounge is adjacent to the Thai Airways, Emirates and United Club lounges.
Knowing that the revamped East Hall lounge gets particularly busy during the day (my flight was at 1540), I opted to go to the West Hall lounge despite my flight being at gate 18, much closer to the former. I arrived about an hour before boarding at 2pm, which gave me plenty of time to make use of the lounge’s facilities despite the distance.
Who can access?
As with all of Plaza Premium’s lounges, access is available on a pay-per-entry basis to travellers of all classes on board all airlines. Entry to each of Plaza Premium’s Hong Kong lounges costs per visit HK$580 (US$74) for two hours, HK$780 (US$100) for five hours, and HK$900 (US$115) for 10 hours.
However, I entered using one of my free visits as a Priority Pass member. Priority Pass has three tiers – Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige – which come with a certain number of free stays to any lounge in its network, depending on your tier. The pass will grant access to three of the Plaza Premium lounges in Hong Kong (East, West and Arrivals).
Accessing the lounge was straightforward and involved scanning a QR code using the Priority Pass app, handing over my boarding pass and confirming with a digital signature.
It’s also worth noting that since the closure of its Clubhouse lounge in February, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members and Upper Class passengers can use the Plaza Premium West Hall lounge free of charge.
What’s it like?
Having arrived in the early afternoon, I was greeted by a short line at the entrance and a sizeable crowd already inside, which did make finding a seat other than a bar stool at the concrete counters difficult.
The lounge is broken into four main sections with a distinct atmosphere and design. Each of these spaces is modern and pleasantly designed from an aesthetic standpoint. However, the layout of the lounge itself is rather thin and windy, and it’s easy to miss things. An entire section of the lounge with its own F&B and seating is located at one end and accessed via a thin corridor at the back that’s lined with small desks and computers (pictured above). If I hadn’t happened to be wandering around in an attempt to find a seat, I doubt I would have even stumbled upon it.
Upon first entering the lounge, to the left is the aforementioned “industrial chic” countertop area, which has a few rows of grey concrete counters and high stools on either side with back support (pictured above). This area is out in the open making it quite brightly illuminated, while hanging light fixtures with filament bulbs round out the industrial-chic vibe. Hong Kong/Singapore/UK electrical socket is available for each person built into the countertop, and screens with flight information are situated nearby.
Beyond this space is a more intimate area with dimmer lighting located in an indoor space. Seating includes armchairs as well as walled cubicles with a small desk and a socket of their own. These would make ideal working spaces, though on my particular visit a number of them were occupied with people sleeping inside.
Further beyond this area is a space for invited guests from Plaza Premium’s airline partners that do not have their own airline lounge, which has a bar, beverage station and buffet station.
The third space is to the right of the entrance and is visible from the outside of the lounge when coming up the escalator from Level 6. Set out in the open, the area is laid out similarly to a market or food hall, with multiple seating and table options and a buffet in the middle.
Beyond this is the previously mentioned corridor and hard-to-notice area. This is located by a secondary entrance to the lounge (which was closed), but includes unique F&B options as well as an array of armchair seating facing the airport’s vast windows, offering a great spot for plane spotters to watch aircraft taxi on the tarmac. Due to this space being located off to one end of the lounge, it was also noticeably quieter, so if you’re looking for a more leisurely visit definitely seek out this area.
Food and drink
The F&B options at the lounge were very good and despite the heavy passenger traffic the staff were efficient in ensuring supply kept up pace. Dishes at the main buffet island in the centre ranged from Chinese (siu mai dim sum and mixed vegetables) to Western (pasta with mushroom and sun-dried tomatoes). The “marketplace” area also has three stalls offering bread with peppers and grilled cheese, noodles, and healthy options such as salads. These stalls are all manned and prepared fresh, and while not quite as comprehensive as, say, the Noodle Bar at Cathay Pacific’s lounges, are certainly worth trying.
There’s also a separate food area offering a wider selection of dim sum at the area by the secondary, closed entrance, along with a snack bar behind the main entrance offering things like Doritos, coffee and tea, a drinks fridge and – most importantly – a self-serve Carlsberg beer tap.
This is a vibrant lounge with a number of different areas and environments to suit a variety of needs – providing you can find yourself a space. Poor design linking the two ends of the lounge does make navigating the space a little odd, and it’s entirely possible some travellers won’t even realise the full extent of the space, which doesn’t help a lounge that gets quite busy. That said, the F&B options were good and the design was aesthetically pleasing, making entry well worth the one-time cost.