This is our review of Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport.
Two of the best regarded lounges across the oneworld airline alliance, which includes British Airways, are the two First Class lounges run by Cathay Pacific at Hong Kong’s Terminal 1 – The Wing and The Pier.
We have never reviewed these lounges on HfP. Whilst we rarely run reader reviews of lounges outside the UK, when long-term reader and regular HfP commentator Cat offered to cover them we thought it was a good opportunity to highlight these two excellent facilities.
Yesterday we published her review of Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class lounge. You can find that review here.
Cathay Pacific has a second First Class lounge at Hong Kong’s Terminal 1: The Pier. It is situated at the other end of the terminal, by gates 61-63. It has the same opening times as The Wing (05:30 until last departure) and you can gain access as a oneworld Emerald / British Airways Gold member or if you are flying on a same day First Class ticket on a oneworld alliance airline.
If you are flying to, from or through Hong Kong, you may want to plan in advance which lounge to visit, so here is Cat’s review of The Pier.
You can find out more about both lounges on this page of the Cathay Pacific website.
Most people who have been to the two Cathay Pacific First Class Lounges in Hong Kong recommend The Pier. While there are many reasons for this pervasive view, and they will vary from person to person, the main reason I like visiting The Pier is simply one of aesthetics.
The Pier feels like the polar opposite of The Wing – warm tones of green onyx walls and walnut wood panels, with mid-century modern furniture (although the side tables with the pull-out drawers hiding USB charging sockets may be a little more 21st century than they look!) and cherry wood tables.
Immediately after the reception desk, you find yourselves in a short hallway that may well be the most beautiful hallway I’ve ever been in. The ceiling lights are designed to appear like skylights, and their effect is to really lift the low-ceilinged space, so that you can easily forget you are below the main terminal concourse. The effect is just stunning. The tones are warm and cosy, and it feels like a wonderfully serene, homely sanctuary to spend some quality relaxation time in.
Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.
The central hallway links together all the different spaces in the lounge.
The Dining Room
If you have the time and the appetite for a full, waiter-served dinner, then this is the place to go. All the items that can be found on the menu of The Wing’s The Haven restaurant can also be found here, with a few extra choices that you won’t find elsewhere. As I was flying on Easter Sunday, there was a special Easter menu, in addition to the normal a la carte menu, that I could order from.
Over the course of my afternoon there I had crab meat focaccia (delicious), the roasted leg of lamb with rosemary jus (absolutely divine, perfectly cooked and very tender), the eggplant parmigiana (other than calling it eggplant, rather than aubergine, it was good) and the wonton noodle soup (I absolutely love this dish, I eat it every time I find myself in a Cathay lounge).
I also enjoyed a glass of the white Burgundy and a glass of the red Bordeaux (both very pleasant indeed). The service was very good, but they did bring me sparkling water when I asked for still. This was easily corrected and aside from this minor slip, the service in the dining room was immaculate.
There has been much discussion of the upheaval caused by changes in the catering provider. Originally the catering was done by The Peninsula Hotel, then the contract was passed to Plaza Premium and recently to Sodexo. Sodexo has also taken over the Cathay Pacific lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.
While the food was very good, it just didn’t have quite the same wow factor as the first time I ate here a few years ago. At that time, the food quality was that of a top-end London restaurant – hardly surprising, as the catering was done by a top-end Hong Kong hotel. This time the food was the quality of a top-end first class lounge. It is still very, very good though.
If you find yourself in The Pier first lounge without enough time for a full waiter-service meal, there is also a food buffet. The pantry is immediately to the left, when you enter the lounge hallway. The selection was similar to the buffet area of The Wing First Class Lounge and had various self-service drink options.
The next space that I came to was a beautifully designed horseshoe-shaped bar where you can order a variety of delightful cocktails, and several mocktails, as well as a wide range of champagnes, red and white wines, beers and spirits. Service was excellent, and I never had to wait for long. The seating in this area is quite varied – it is easy to find somewhere for a couple, or a small group, to sit together.
One of the best things about The Pier is the spa / relaxation area known as The Retreat where you can get a foot massage or a back and neck massage. These are very popular and can come with wait times of up to 4 hours. It’s best to head straight to The Retreat desk immediately upon arrival at The Pier lounge.
Also available at The Retreat are relaxation suites and shower rooms to freshen up. Relaxation suites come with day beds, reading lights, privacy curtains and fantastic views of the planes boarding at gates 63 and 64.
Lovely shower suites are also available and feature Aesop shampoo, conditioner and body wash rather than the unbranded products that can be found in The Wing lounge (Aesop products are paraben-free, for those that care about such things). The Jurlique face wash is the same.
There was also a business centre which featured 6 work desks, complete with phones and Apple computers, for those that need to work.
A wide variety of magazines and newspapers are available in The Library.
The Pier Business Lounge
For comparison I also visited The Pier Business Class lounge. This lounge was extremely busy but it is my favourite Business Class Lounge in the world. The variety in food and drink offerings, the range of different areas available and the range of different types of seating is just fantastic.
Most of the lounge consists of a series of rooms, arranged in a straight line. The first one you come to is the food hall, with a well-stocked buffet. Straight on from there is the bar where you can also get cocktails. Then there is the obligatory noodle bar (the wonton soup is amazing), and lastly you reach the teahouse, with a fantastic array of teas, brewed to order (you’ll be given an electronic timer that will buzz) and a number of delightful treats for your sweet tooth – including pasteis de nata when I was there. Be aware that if you keep exploring the extensive lounge complex with the timer on you and you start to go out of range, it will start playing loud, annoying music. Stick close to the source of the buzzer!
Beyond the tearoom are the showers and the relaxation room.
On the other side of the lounge entrance are the toilets and the luggage lockers. This is also where you find the latest addition to the lounge complex – The Sanctuary by Pure Yoga. On Easter Sunday the vast majority of the lounge was heaving with customers and The Sanctuary was one of the few places that was quiet. There are yoga instructional videos and yoga mats, if you’re out of practice, or you can do your own thing on the mats provided. There is also a meditation area, if you want to relax before a long flight.
If you only have a short time to relax in a lounge in Hong Kong airport, the obvious choice is to choose the lounge closest to your gate of departure.
If you have a couple of hours, you can pick either one – you’ll have plenty of time.
If you want a bath, a snooze on a daybed, dramatic hard, shiny surfaces in red, black and grey or self-pour champagne, go to The Wing (my review of The Wing is here).
If you’re hungry and want a wide choice of dishes, you feel tense and could use a massage, or to stretch your muscles out, you want someone else to go to the effort of pouring your champagne for you, you’re happy with a shower, rather than a bath and you prefer your toiletries paraben free, or you like your décor warm and welcoming, head to The Pier instead.
If you have four hours or more, try to visit both lounges.
You can learn more about both lounges on the Cathay Pacific website here.
This Head for Points article shows you how to redeem Avios points for low-tax flight redemptions on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and beyond.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2021)
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.