Cathay Pacific has two first class lounges at their Hong Kong hub, and I was very excited to visit The Pier, which just finished an extensive renovation. I’m pleased to say that this lounge is even better than their other facility, The Wing, although it is much further away.
I booked my flight from Tokyo-Haneda to Kuala Lumpur on Cathay Pacific not only to take advantage of the low cost of an Alaska Airlines award but also because I wanted to visit The Pier. I even booked myself an extra-long connection of five hours since the alternative was barely enough time to visit.
As it was, a manager and his assistant met me at the gate in Hong Kong to inform me that my original flight was canceled. I had the option to depart immediately, or they could rebook me on Malaysia Airlines. I opted for the latter. What followed was a big mess since the Malaysia Airlines transfer desk wasn’t open yet. I insisted on going to The Pier even though The Wing was right upstairs.
I didn’t mind the long walk and managed to convince my escort that I could find it on my own. I did feel guilty, however, that they would send someone back to pick me up. Lots of Cantonese going back and forth over the radio, and the only part I picked up in English was, “Mr. Mackenzie insists on going to The Pier.” In the end, everything worked out.
It is, in fact, a very long walk from security to The Pier (there is a one-way train to get here, but not to get back). Do not attempt to visit unless you have time in your schedule or a nearby flight. However, it’s worth it if you do since I think it is significantly better than The Wing.
After a brief check-in downstairs, I walked into a massive lobby that reminded me more of a chic hotel than an airport lounge. Green marble and bronze accents gave it a luxurious but relatively muted look (this is not Dubai). Large ceiling lights could almost be mistaken as skylights and helped make this basement space feel more open.
The Pier has several shower rooms, and I stopped by for a quick look before getting lunch. Each one is at least as large as my own bathroom back home. Large bottles of Aesop amenities were neatly arranged in small wooden trays, along with towels and other toiletries. I especially liked that there was a separate chair, so I didn’t have to sit on the luggage bench to get dressed.
Back in the lobby, I walked over to the main restaurant for a bite. This is, I think, one of the greatest differences between The Pier and The Wing. Although The Wing has its own restaurant, the menu is more limited and the dining space more chaotic. This felt like a proper restaurant.
The dark wood paneling and sleek furniture reminded me of a private club. If you won’t be traveling in first class, you can get a similar vibe from the dining area at Cathay Pacific’s Haneda lounge, open to business class passengers and which I also loved.
Catering was provided by The Peninsula. Remember I said the menu was extensive?
I ordered the fragrant chicken and a glass of The Peninsula Brut Champagne. Both were delicious. For dessert was mango glutinous rice.
Following lunch, I returned to the lobby. There is a business center here in the middle, which is probably one of the quietest spots in the lounge. You can use one of a half-dozen private cubicles with dual-boot Macintosh computers and individual printers and telephones.
Continuing to the other side of the lounge, you’ll find the main seating area. This is roughly divided into four rooms. One is a small hallway connecting to the lobby with a wall of magazines, newspapers, and even books.
This connects directly to a large seating area with individual chairs and larger sofas. There are also lounge chairs along the window if you want to catch a view of the apron, although on several visits to The Pier before and after renovation I’ve only ever seen aircraft operated by other carriers.
Opposite the library is an extensive buffet. You’ll find sweet and savory snacks, a well-stocked refrigerator, and even ingredients to prepare a featured cocktail.
My favorite hangout was the bar. Although small, it had an intimate feel and was more than adequate to fit the needs of a first class lounge. You could walk up and chat with the bartender or share a few drinks with a business partner before your flight.
Unlike my disappointing experience at the oneworld business class lounge in Los Angeles, this guy knew his stuff! We debated the merits of several cocktails before I settled on a whisky sour …the best whisky sour I’ve ever had. 🙂
Even the side side tables are elegant and understated. Electrical outlets disappear into a drawer when not in use. You can ignore the reminders of the office if you prefer to enjoy your drink with a good book.
I loved my visit to The Pier first class lounge, and I would make an effort to return here instead of The Wing on future trips through Hong Kong. It’s that much better — and I’ll offer a quick review of The Wing in my next post to provide a comparison.
However, I wasn’t joking about The Pier’s distant location. There is an express train that will cover most of the distance. It runs in only one direction. Walking back could easily take 15 minutes or more for an active person like me. Just remember that all good things are worth the extra effort!