Review of Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

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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.

First impressions

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.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

The central hallway links together all the different spaces in the lounge.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

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).

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

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.

The Pantry

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.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

and

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

The Bar

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.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

and

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

The Retreat

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.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

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.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

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.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

There was also a business centre which featured 6 work desks, complete with phones and Apple computers, for those that need to work.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

A wide variety of magazines and newspapers are available in The Library.

Review of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class Lounge at Hong Kong Airport

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.

Conclusion

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 4 hours or more, try to visit both lounges!

You can learn more about both lounges on the Cathay Pacific website here.

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Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Cat – What a great start to my Early May BH Monday reading your review. Thank you so much for taking the time to go both lounges, sharing the experience and reviewing with such clarity. Much appreciated – Once again many thanks.

    • Believe me Mike, having a lovely massage, eating delicious food, drinking Champagne and cocktails really wasn’t too much of a hardship! I hope you get to enjoy the Pier F lounge soon, it’s great!

  2. Yorkieflyer says:

    Reading this enjoying Afternoon Tea the Club lounge at the Intercontinental in Hong Kong courtesy of our free night from the IHG Principal hotel offer and a paid for upgrade to the the Club level.
    The dilemma for later is which J lounge at HKG before our A380 CW flight home later. On my personal previous experience, I rate the Qantas lounge as best, I’ve found the CX J offering pretty disappointing and seating aside prefer the Amex Centurion lounge

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Talking of the flight home I’d decided against paying to pre book seats and was quite pleased to find that we’d be sharing a middle pair, the pre selected offer, when checking in 24 hours before last night

    • John says:

      Since the recent decline in standards I don’t think Pier F is worth trekking all the way to the other end of the airport, as BA flights always leave from gates 15 and 16, unless 1) it’s your first time in HKG with F lounge eligibility, or 2) you are HBO and arrive at 1800 with 5 hours to spend

      If you are flying from the 40 or 60 gates then obviously go to the Pier.

      I also like the QF lounge but I feel that it’s as good as it can be, while CX lounges have the potential to be much better but won’t be until CX is ready to start spending money on them again.

      • Stuart_f says:

        @John

        No need to be HBO to get air side early, just drop your bags at down-town check-in at the MTR and you’ll be able to go air side any time you like.

        • AndyGWP says:

          Is that status / fare dependant, or can anyone flying BA bag drop there?

          • The in-town check-in at the MTR stop in Hong Kong is available on lots of airlines, whatever class.

    • I’d go for the Pier J lounge or the AMEX Centurion Yorkieflyer, or go for a lounge crawl and then reply with your favourites! Have fun wherever you end up!

      • Yorkieflyer says:

        Thanks Cat, still at the Intercontinental Club…. had a stroll through Victoria park and looked at the tat at Temple st night market and now on dinner duty!
        As on BA likely won’t have time to go further than the Wing or the QF lounge

        • The temple st night market has a wondrous display of tat, I love it!

      • Polly says:

        Another great review, Cat. Such detail! Brilliant.
        I think the Pier is worth the trek if you are in F BA, but give yourself plenty of time there. Just to enjoy the full experience.
        Agree, the entrance is unbelievable . Whole place fantastic. TBH we didn’t notice just how bad the food was. We still had a fabulous pre board meal. Guess it’s our absolute fav F lounge so far.
        But did the Pier J lounge time before that, and it was crowded, but enjoyable too.
        Will try Amex Centurian next time tho.
        And we do like browsing the night markets, and street food amazing.

        Lady London. We chickened out of Swiss in the end, did the 3 day hold thing. Decamped back to QR J from ARN, and avios flights to and from HKT to Bali. So prices similar all round plus avios spent and earned.

        • Lady London says:

          Best to do what you’re familiar with, Polly!

        • I do wonder what the Centurion side of the Centurion HK lounge is like (can you get in with the Plat, or is it just Nigel the pensioner only?). I just couldn’t drag myself away from the Pier and the Wing! While the food is not as amazing as it once was, it is still lovely – I’m amazed anyone says otherwise TBH.

          • Yes. You can get in with Plat. But last time I was there it was packed..

  3. Lady London says:

    Very nice review Cat.

    • Thanks Lady London!
      Is it a Hilleberg BTW?

      • Lady London says:

        Yes H for preference but I alternate with a good Marmot if I think weather’s going to be less demanding.

        Re exped I had one of those down ones earlier but right when they came out. At that time no air inflator (now its supplied with) and pretty sure mine has a touch of damp inside now. Reverted to ribbed therm-a-rest. Could fancy the monster Exped Duo though.

        • We have a Terranova which we use if we have more than about 5 miles to hike from the train station to the campsite, or if we’re through-hiking (we attempted, and failed Offa’s Dyke with the Terranova last Easter, when it was freezing cold and rainy throughout April – the most miserable hiking I’ve ever done!).

  4. Prins Polo says:

    Every time I fly on CX’s HKG-LGW service it leaves from gate 63, so the Pier is perfect.

  5. Craig says:

    Thanks Cat, we will be there in April next year returning in F with BA. Based on your reviews I think we shall be doing a bit of ‘lounge surfing’.

    • If you have the time, definitely do! Make sure you visit the Haagen Daaz freezer that I missed in the Wing!

      • foil says:

        Ice cream is also available in the Pier Business, tucked behind either the Noodle Bar counters or the Hot Dishes counters and are promptly served when you asked the server. By Hot dishes I mean where the pizzas and spaghettis are and the server helps you to plate your food. I personally prefer the egg-tarts and other freshly made local treats available at the Teahouse.

        IIRC ice cream used to be available at the Pantry in the Pier F but my recollection may well be wrong.

  6. John Ratcliffe says:

    How do these compare to the Qantas lounge? Thinking about a lounge crawl when Im there in September.

    • I didn’t bother with the Qantas lounge, as I was having too much fun in the Wing and the Pier! The Qantas lounge doesn’t seem to get rave reviews, but there’s no substitute for trying them out yourself and forming your own opinion! You’ll just have to try them all out and report back! Have fun!

      • John Ratcliffe says:

        Only in J so wont get the full experience! Aiming to try as many as possible though. Thanks for the report.

    • QANTAS lounge not in same league as CX lounges.

      • Polly says:

        Agree. Our friends who do BA F a lot, are routinely sent to the Qantas 1st. I advised them to go to the Pier or Wing last time, and they loved it. Couldn’t Understand BA sending them there. Might be cheaper for BA. So no, don’t bother with Quantas F lounge.

      • I second that! Finally made an effort to check it out last night, I just don’t think it is as good / comfortable as the CX lounges, but maybe I am just too used to CX lounges…
        The BA flight seemed to leave at Gate 5 or 6 very often, so maybe it is the reason people have been sent to this lounge?

  7. Anna says:

    Yes Cat, you make this lounge sound very appealing! At some point we’re hoping to re-visit New Zealand as we have friends and family there, ideal itinerary would be a stopover in Singapore on the way out and HK on the way back.

    • Ooh, that sounds like fun! Singapore and Hong Kong are two of my favourite stopover cities, and then New Zealand to boot! That sounds like an incredible trip.

      The Pier is absolutely amazing, I hope you love it!

    • Polly says:

      Yes, can’t wait to do a NZ and Oz trip. Might be too long to leave the god tho. So have to wait til she goes to doggy heaven…will be looking for a great QR sale for that trip….
      Anna, you will just love the Pier. Just allow lots of time, and get to the airport early. Make the best of it. Cabana bathroom etc.
      Could it not be a summer holiday trip with your son, now you are retiring? Long wait otherwise….

  8. Pier First is getting slated on Cathay Flyertalk right now.

    I sort of agree – standards have slipped on food and it’s basically impossible to get any treatments. The drinks and decor is still very nice.

    Cathay lounges are generally really good though – Taipai is really fantastic as is London.

  9. danielL says:

    Again a great review – well done cat – I just repeat my earlier comment re the haven , in the wing :/)
    The pantry in the pier is a small version of the deli bar in the wing

    But is nothing like the buffet in the haven – this seemed to be Totaly missed

    The beauty of the wing – and the haven is it’s predominantly a buffet restaurant with wonderful food

    The best place to eat if on a short connection

    😁

  10. Eugene says:

    Big shout out to Cat for her review

    Currently sitting in Pier J where I’ve used almost every room ! Couple of hours quiet sleep in the relaxation room, next room to wake up on big sofas with pot of specialty tea and cakes, Shower came next, then it was down to Pure yoga – I even brought my togs for an hour stretch and then one of those guided meditation headphone sessions. Noodle bar was calling by now, wonton soup of course, , now its the bar to write this with a glass of fizz. It got nice and quiet after 6pm. And to think I was going to look at the big Bhudda on Lantau…
    I genuinely have a favourite business lounge now..

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