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Review: the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is our review of the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at Heathrow is widely regarded as the best lounge in Terminal 3, so naturally I saved it for last.

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow seating

This lounge is the latest lounge to reopen its doors, having done so in January after almost two years of closure. Bizarrely, it has opened despite the fact that there are currently no Cathay Pacific flights to Heathrow. Someone has clearly run the numbers and realised that the operation can be profitable just by serving oneworld passengers.

The Cathay Pacific lounges are currently the main lounges for Finnair and American Airlines, whilst the AA lounge at Heathrow is refurbished and possibly turned into a Flagship lounge.

The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at Heathrow was my final stop on my oneworld lounge safari at Terminal 3. Previous stops include:

How to access the Cathay Pacific lounges at Heathrow T3

You do not need to be flying Cathay Pacific to access the lounges.

The only requirement is that you be flying a oneworld carrier (such as Finnair, American Airlines, Qantas or British Airways), either on a business class ticket or First Class ticket – depending on lounge – or with the relevant status.

That means anyone with oneworld Emerald (ie. British Airways Executive Club Gold) can access the First Class lounge and anyone with BA Silver can use the Business lounge, even if you are flying an a hand-baggage-only British Airways economy flight.

You are allowed to bring one guest if you are entering via your status. If you are entering via your ticket class, you should be able to bring a guest who is travelling in Economy or Premium Economy on the same flight.

I got in on the back of my BA Gold status and an economy flight to Gibraltar. You can see the list of short haul BA flights operating from Terminal 3 here.

How to find the Cathay Pacific lounges at Heathrow

Terminal 3 uses an alphabetic labelling system for the 9 lounges that are now available at the airport. The Cathay Pacific lounges are designated as ‘Lounge C’ when you exit security.

Lounge C is situated just a few metres down from the Qantas lounge, by gate 11.

The Cathay lounges are currently open from 5:30am until 5:30pm daily except Sundays, when the lounge opens at 7:30am.

Inside the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at Heathrow T3

To get into the lounge you need to take the lift up a floor:

Once you’re on the right floor you are greeted by the lounge receptionists, who are happy to give you a little tour if you haven’t visited before. However, all the facilities are well sign-posted:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow signs

First impressions are high: the lounge features beautiful semi-translucent green stone along the walls and other Asian-inspired decor, such as the semi-transparent divider above.

The First Class section of the lounge is immediately to the right of reception and is a beautiful, light filled space:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow seating 3

The floor to ceiling windows really flood the lounge with light – I don’t think I’ve ever been to a brighter, airier lounge. It’s glorious, and you also get fabulous views of the runway where you can see the aircraft rotating:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow views

Along the front window is a series of armchairs:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow window seats

I managed to nab myself the throne – in the far corner – and was quite content to while away an hour or two just watching aircraft take off and soaking up some vitamin D. Plugs are provided in the side tables in a little drawer which can be pulled out:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow charging plugs

Very nifty!

Behind the armchairs are a few more seating areas which are more appropriate for groups:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow seating

and

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow seating 2

The First Class lounge isn’t huge – there’s probably space for around thirty to forty people – but on this winter morning we were pretty much the only people there, save for three Americans who turned up later.

Food and drink at the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at Heathrow T3

The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge has impressive dining options. There is a small galley-style pantry which has a small range of nibbles:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow pantry

Options include a selection of sandwiches, chilled cheeses, cold cuts and salmon:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow pantry sandwiches

Plus, depending what time of day, cereals, pastries and cakes:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow pantry cereals

Or, later in the day, other snacks such as olives, chicken wings and hummus. Behind the pantry is the self-pour bar:

Spirits include Black label Johnnie Walker, Bombay Sapphire, Grey Goose, Jack Daniels etc. Champagne and wines are also self pour, via this funky little drinks cooler:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow champagne

You can choose from Laurent-Perrier ‘La Cuvee’ Brut and Champagne Georges Veselle 2012 or, if you are feeling like a rose, the Layton’s Brut Reserve Rose.

If you are after something a bit more filling, then you can also visit the a la carte dining room, which again is beautifully designed:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow a la carte dining

and

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow dining room

A breakfast menu is served until midday, and includes a mixture of Asian and Western options. I tried the Dan Dan Main:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow dan dan main

…. which I found to be a bit too rich for me, and lacking a protein. I probably should’ve ordered the wonton noodle soup instead. I also had the dumplings:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow dumplings

These weren’t quite as fresh as when I was here last, but were still good. Next time, I will have the Wonton noodles and maybe try one of the Western options to see how they are.

If noodles for breakfast aren’t your thing you can also order a full English breakfast with egg, or eggs benedict. For those with a sweet tooth, Belgian waffles and fruit are also available.

Showers

The Cathay Pacific lounge showers are shared by the First and Business class sections of the lounge and are by far the best showers at any Heathrow terminal:

Cathay Pacific lounge Heathrow shower suite

The dark brown marble is just absolutely stunning together with the gold fittings.

Stepping into the shower you feel like you have skipped the flight entirely and have already arrived at a stunning 5* resort:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow shower

It’s hard not to be blown away. Toiletries are by Bamford and have a lovely geranium smell:

Cathay Pacific First lounge Heathrow bamford toiletries

Conclusion

Despite a dearth of flights, it’s business as normal at the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge which remains the best lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 and one of the best lounges worldwide.

To be honest, I would come here purely for the views and the natural light alone – the stunning design, gorgeous showers and great food are the cherry on top.

It’s not hard to see why this lounge has such a good reputation. I hope Cathay Pacific weathers the political and pandemic uncertainties in Hong Kong so that we can continue to enjoy what is undoubtedly one of the best lounges at any airport, anywhere.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list 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 you get a 30,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

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.

Comments (69)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • planeconcorde says:

    The first picture was also used in yesterday’s CX business class lounge review. So which is it Business or First?

  • Reeferman says:

    If you are flying, say, BA Club Class BUT hold Gold status, can you also take a guest (who does not have Gold status) – or is it limited to Gold card holders only in this scenario?

  • John T says:

    It looks like for breakfast the only real difference between CX J and CX F lounges is real champagne and a couple of a la carte dishes?

    Does CX J lounge have real champagne right now?

  • Genghis says:

    🙂 A couple of points:
    “soaking up some vitamin D” – UV rays don’t travel through glass to enable Vit D production
    “Dan Dan Main” = Dan Dan Mein (I presume they use the Cantonese?)?

    • Rhys says:

      It was Main on the menu!

    • LetBAgonesbe says:

      Re Vitamin D: I never knew this, thank you!

    • Rhys says:

      If we are being uber pedantic I believe UVA does travel through glass….

      • memesweeper says:

        Correct Rhys

        UV-A through glass (and ages the skin). UV-B doesn’t (and is the one that visibly burns). No idea which one makes Vit D though!

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          Pointless knowledge for the day: 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs UV B radiation and by this process it is converted to previtamin D3 which in turn isomerizes into vitamin D3. (Previtamin D and Vitamin D can themselves also absorb UV B and then be converted into further products that we don’t fully understand).

      • Genghis says:

        Fair enough. But that doesn’t produce Vit D
        “Your body can’t make vitamin D if you’re sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can’t get through the glass.”
        https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-get-vitamin-d-from-sunlight/

    • John says:

      Cantonese would be Daam Daam Min/Meen (yes takeaways usually spell it Mein for some reason, but it sounds like an English speaker would say “mean”)

      Dan Dan Main looks like an autocorrect of the Hanyupinyin mian

  • Joan says:

    Thanks for the great review Rhys .😊

  • Paul says:

    I think I’m alone in never understanding why this lounge is so highly regarded. Nice view and somewhere quiet to sit and wait, but have never thought much of the food or drinks, Full English always used to be better quality in the BA F lounge (IMO), and that’s saying something!
    Looking forward to trying the new Amex lounge in T3, but they are normally crowded

    • Rhys says:

      No full English in the BA F lounge currently!

    • Rob says:

      I think if you’re heading to a Cathay Pacific lounge for a full English breakfast then you’re not approaching it properly …

      • Paul says:

        The other options were hardly great either, but no comparables at other lounges. I know others disagree though.

        • John says:

          I kind of agree, and that’s why if I had a lot of time and was hungry I’d go carb loading in BA F before heading to CX.

          CX quality was higher than BA but the quantity was small and would have to order 2 meals usually, then go to J side for seconds (note that I’m described as “lanky” so it’s not that I was gorging myself)

  • JK says:

    I adore this lounge. Quiet, small, excellent quality, lovely fitout, helpful and attentive staff. The guests tend to be quiet and well behaved also. It’s like an Asian version of hygge!

    • VSCXfan says:

      Luckily I’m both BA and VS Lifetime Gold – so use Clubhouse when flying VS or DL (to maximise the VS experience) and CX First when flying OW from T3 (to ensure BA and not VS pays for my breakfast).

  • David says:

    Looking forward to visiting this lounge again during February half term with my daughter – somewhere nice to spend a few hours waiting for the inevitable Gibraltar flight delay 🙄

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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