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Review: Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong – the best I’ve ever visited

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This is our review of Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong Terminal 1.

The Pier First Class lounge is, undoubtedly, the jewel in Cathay Pacific’s crown.

It is the second and newer of two first class lounges, the other being Cathay’s The Wing First Class lounge which I reviewed here. You should also take a look at my Cathay Pacific business class flight review here.

You can find out more about Cathay’s Hong Kong lounges on this page of the Cathay Pacific website.

Don’t get me wrong: The Wing is also an excellent lounge, and if you only ever stepped foot in it you’d be perfectly content. But head to The Pier First and you can see why this lounge tops most people’s bucket list.

In fact, I would say that it’s the best lounge I’ve ever been to. Here’s why…

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

The Pier First Class lounge access requirements

As a first class lounge, access to The Pier First Class lounge is restricted to top flyers from Cathay Pacific and other oneworld alliance airlines.

You can use The Pier First Class lounge if you hold any of the following:

  • a same-day first class ticket on Cathay Pacific or another oneworld airline
  • oneworld Emerald (BA Gold) status
  • Cathay Pacific Diamond members

Note that if you are entering the lounge based on your status you will need to be flying Cathay Pacific or another oneworld airline to qualify.

First Class passengers and oneworld Emerald status cardholders can bring one guest, whilst Cathay Pacific Diamond members can bring two.

The Pier First Class lounge location

The Pier’s location is its only flaw as it is at the far end of Terminal 1, near Gate 63. It is, to put it mildly, a long walk, although you can also use the automated people mover. I thought I would stretch my legs before my 14 hour flight. With the help of countless travelators it took me about 15 minutes to get there, although I do walk fast.

Should you find your flight departs from one of the lower gate numbers (up to the low 20s or so) then you have no choice but to walk back, as the transit only operates in one direction.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

If you are simply transiting in Hong Kong then it may be on your way to your next flight – lucky you!

That said, the Pier’s remote location also has its benefits. Many passengers may not be bothered to make the journey (or know what they are missing out on), leaving both the business class and first class sections of The Pier lounge significantly quieter than their counterparts in The Wing.

The Pier First Class Lounge is open from 5:30am until 12:30am.

Inside The Pier First Class lounge

Unlike The Wing lounges, which are on the airport’s mezzanine level, the Pier is located underneath the main passenger concourse. Simply head down the escalators to be greeted by the lounge staff who will scan your boarding pass:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Once that’s done, the lounge opens onto a gorgeous long hallway that perfectly sets the scene for the rest of lounge as well as acting as a convenient and easy way to get around the space. No rabbit warren of rooms here.

The walls are clad in stunning green onyx whilst the overhead light panels bathe it in a soft light and give the illusion of natural light:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

and

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Turn left and you’ll find yourself at the horsehoe bar, which continues the green onyx theme:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

(Cathay is currently serving Drappier Millésime Exception 2017 Champagne, in case you were wondering. I was severely hungover and did not sample it myself ….)

Adjacent to the bar, in a connected room, is the main lounge area. Dark walnut panelling and cherry wood tables make it feel like a luxiurious living room rather than an airport lounge, with midcentury modern furniture. There is plenty of seating:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

and

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Sidetables discreetly hide mains sockets in pull out drawers, so you are well connected almost everywhere.

Between this area and the central hallway you’ll also find ‘The Library’ a large magazine rack with the day’s newspapers and magazines:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

On the other side you’ll find The Bureau, a room with six dedicated desks in their own, semi-open booths:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Each features its own iMac and telephone:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Showers and spa at The Pier First Class lounge

If you’re looking for a quick refresh before your next flight then there’s no better place, as The Pier First Class lounge has shower suites, a spa and day suites with day beds with airport views.

These are located in the centre of the lounge in what Cathay calls ‘The Retreat’.

Spas used to be a fixture of many airline lounges but sadly we’ve seen many of them closed and converted into alternative spaces. This includes the spas at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and the British Airways lounges at Heathrow.

Fortunately, that’s not the case here in The Pier and all guests are entitled to a complimentary 15-minute treatment, in collaboration with THIA Wellness. You can choose from a foot massage, head massage, neck and shoulder massage or eye revitaliser.

I opted for the foot massage and almost fell asleep in the dimly lit spa area.

Fancy a shower? There are 13 shower suites clad in dark brown limestone and featuring rainfall showers:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Toiletries are by Bamford, as they are onboard Cathay Pacific.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

The shower had excellent pressure and I enjoyed a soak before my 14-hour flight home.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

If you’ve got a bit more time to kill then you can also check out one of the 12 day suites that Cathay has at The Pier. These are tucked away in The Retreat and feature a day bed, dimmable lighting and black-out curtains should you want to block out the airport views. These are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Buffet and dining at The Pier First Class lounge

When it comes to food, you have two options in The Pier First Class lounge.

If a sit-down meal is what you’re after, then The Dining Room at the end of the hallway is what you’re after. This is a surprisingly large restaurant serving an a la carte menu for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Service was quick if a little brusque.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

If you’ve been to a first class Cathay Pacific lounge before then you’ll know what to expect: a selection of Asian and Western dishes cooked to order. Somehow I’m always in Cathay’s lounges for breakfast, and whilst I would normally opt for one of the Asian options (I do love the wonton noodle soup), this time I tried the Western Set:

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

The portion is not massive, but this does give you the opportunity to try something else too should you want to! I’ll have to time my next flight right so that I can finally try the lunch and dinner menu.

If all you fancy is a light bite or a quick snack, then you can also head to The Pantry, next to the bar. This is a small buffet.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

At breakfast there are a range of pastries, sandwiches and wraps as well as fruit, cheese and other cold cuts, as well as a fridge full of soft drinks and a tea / coffee machine.

Review: Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge, Hong Kong

Conclusion

I hope that’s given you a taste of what I can only describe as the best lounge I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Whilst many other airport lounges get one or two things right, The Pier First Class lounge is the perfect confluence of style, food, service and amenities.

Most importantly of all, however, is that it is quiet. Despite its size there were, I would guess, less than 30 people in the lounge. Spread across the dining room, bar and general lounge areas it almost feels empty.

If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong International Airport and have access to The Pier then I suggest you take a look, no matter how far the walk is from your gate.

You can learn more about The Wing and The Pier lounges on this page of the Cathay Pacific website.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit 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.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four 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 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (84)

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

  • BJ says:

    I haven’t been since my *A days and though not directly comparable, the Royal Orchid Spa at BKK was better.

    • Cat says:

      I think that’s closed now, sadly. I’m regretting never having been!

    • Gareth Morgan says:

      True, I once had about 8 hours there when I got misconneected. It happened to be my birthday and 3 of the lounge ladies appeared with a tiny cake with a candle on top, sang happy birthday and did a little Thai dance.

  • LittleNick says:

    If only BA could recreate something similar for BA Gold/OWE in T5C that would be great! Probably pie in the sky stuff though!

    • Phillip says:

      Recreating is one thing… keeping it empty an entire other kettle of fish!

  • QFFlyer says:

    “The Pier’s location is its only flaw” not really a flaw if your flight goes from those gates nearby – it was quite convenient for my SIN flight from gate 71 the other day!

  • Jimmy says:

    Wish we still got cathay pacific gold free with amex plat. – those were the days!

    • Patrick says:

      Agreed, the Christmas parties at the Ritz for CX Gold and Diamond were marvelous!

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

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