Prior to this, I had made a review of Cathay Pacific’s excellent new First Class lounge called ‘The Pier’ in its main hub of Hong Kong. However that lounge review was done in conjuction with the other First Class lounge ‘The Wing’. This review will concentrate on ‘The Pier’ itself as that was where I chose to spend my time for the transit. Not only is this my favourite First Class lounge in Asia, but this lounge was closer to my boarding gate for my connecting flight to Zurich. The lounge is located one floor below the main departure level, and is accessed via an escalator around gate 63/65.
Before entering the reception, there are 2 staff members who take a cursory look at your boarding pass to check eligibility, and they were able to provide keys to store your luggage. However as I wanted to shower, I needed the stuff in my hand carry. I do bring my own towel for my travels for hygiene reasons, and of course a change of clothes for the continuing journey. Then I proceeded to the reception desk which feels like checking into a luxury boutique hotel.
Past that, the lounge has a central walkway that connects the various sections of the lounge. This lounge was designed by StudioIlse, based in London with Ilse Crawford as its lead designer. The choice of materials and fixtures create a cohesive look that is impressive and yet not too flashy, giving it the feel of a restrained luxury.
My first stop in the lounge was The Retreat which has another reception counter where guests could reserve spots for the private day beds, shower rooms and a massage. Unfortunately, there was no time slot left for the next 3 hours during my layover. Given it was just a short 20 minute massage, I would not say it was something that fantastic of an offering, especially when considering Thai Airways provides an hour long for First Class passengers.
However, the shower rooms are probably one of the best inside any commercial airline lounge. Not only is it functional with luggage bench, the shower rooms have good lighting, hangers to hang your jacket and even a stool with a built-in coat hanger.
Cathay Pacific also provides premium products from Aesop which I use on a daily basis and that meant showering here felt like the one at home. While it might lack a bathtub, I do not need it for a layover shower in an airport. Thus a good rainshower with sufficient water pressure and great temperature controls was adequate and allowed me to refresh myself.
On top of the normal bath amenities like shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, the shower room has toiletries like a toner, moisturizer, hand lotion and face wash on the counter top. That allowed me to try out some products which I might not otherwise have used.
After a nice hot shower, it was time for dinner and I proceeded to the end of the lounge where there was a staff member by the entrance of the aptly named The Dining Room.
Furnished like a proper high end restaurant, there was plenty of seats since it was slightly past dinner time.
As I got seated, the host handed over the menu, for there is no buffet here. All the items are cooked on demand and complimentary for guests. I was hoping for the pork neck dish they had last time I was there but there seems to be a change in the a-la-carte menu.
Thus I had some corn soup to start, though I was apparently given the soup of the day as well. It seems they might have made a double order for me. Since the soup portion were not too big and I love soup, I finished up both portions. They were light and delicately flavoured and hits the spot when travelling. Quality of the starters was up to a bistro level you might get in cafes located in town centres, and definitely better than that of any airline lounge I have been too.
For the mains, I had the wok fried clams which seems to be a dish one can get in most Hong Kong eateries. The stir fry was surprisingly good, since it was not too oily and the addition of cashews and crunchy celery gave it a refreshing taste. As a main course, a bowl of mixed white and red rice was served and it was tastier than what I had in the First Class cabin. I think it makes sense for First Class passengers to eat first before their long haul journey so they can get to sleep immediately once onboard.
For drinks, I had something warm early on with the jasmine and lily tea that the server recommended. It was a dried flower that ‘bloomed’ when hot water was added to the pot. The taste was similar to a light floral green tea.
After the meal, I ordered ‘Ginger Forest’ which is a ginger and lime drink topped with mint and it was such a refreshing drink that I ordered another glass to bring with me to one of the day beds in The Retreat.
With still plenty of time before boarding, I chose to relax by one of the day beds and these are really great places to rest during the afternoon with light from the windows overlooking the planes on the tarmac. In fact the gates here tend to have the A380s by other carriers, since Cathay has none of these large jets. At night, the space became a bit dark even though there are several lights guests have access to.
I spent some time finishing my drink and relaxing in the space until I needed more drinks that I proceeded next to The Bar.
The Bar is at the opposite end of The Dining Room, and features a U-shaped bar counter with plenty of comfortable lounge chairs scattered across this spacious carpeted area.
Next to it, there is ‘The Pantry’ which is a moderately sized room with a table full of snacks and pastries and a full fridge of beers, non-alcoholic soft drinks, juices and yogurt parfaits that guests can avail themselves to.
I spent the remainder of the time by the bar as I browsed through some magazines that I obtained from the well stocked shelves inside the lounge. It seems that the main reading lounge between The Dining Room and The Bar was quite packed, and this meant I was able to find some space beside the bar counters.
With plenty of sections to allow privacy for guests and great amenities, time spent inside the lounge does pass by quite quickly and it was soon time to board my flight, but the staff advised me that boarding has yet to commence. In actuality, there was a slight delay to boarding my aircraft. meaning I had more time to just stay inside the lounge. Ensconced in this beautiful surrounding, this was one delay I did not mind, and that just speaks to how comfortable this lounge is.