Review: Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Hong Kong (HKG)

First Class Giraffe at the entrance of The Pier in Hong Kong
First Class Giraffe at the entrance of The Pier in Hong Kong

Read more from this trip – Spring Break in Vietnam:

Introduction

Lounge Visit Details:

  • Date visited: March 13, 2020
  • Where: Level 6, Terminal 1 near Gate 65, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
  • Class: Business Class Lounge

I was traveling in the midst of a global pandemic. There weren’t any COVID-19 related travel restrictions at the time of my departure, but tensions were definitely running high. Let me tell you, flying with an N95 mask for 15-hours takes some of the magic out of the travel experience. My flight from New York JFK landed at 4:51am and I headed straight to The Pier Business Class Lounge. I ended up having to wait for 30-minutes until the lounge opened at 5:30am. It was well worth the wait.

It’s rare that I arrive at an airport lounge at opening time. Giraffes are generally so sleepy and try to avoid early morning flights. Given my early arrival into HKG I was the first one in the lounge and was able to take some fantastic pictures of the lounge while it was empty.

Access

Customers in Business Class on Cathay Pacific can use the The Pier Business Class Lounge. OneWorld Emerald and Sapphire members can also access the lounge irrespective of class of travel and may invite one guest to join them; however, the guest must also be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by Cathay Pacific or another oneworld carrier. I was entitled to access The Pier Business Class Lounge based on my oneworld Sapphire status.

The rules for Marco Polo Club members are a bit more complicated, but I’ve summarized everything in the table below:

Access Criteria Access Privileges
Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon First ClassPassenger + 1 guest
oneworld carrier First ClassPassenger + 1 guest
Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon Business ClassPassenger only
oneworld carrier Business ClassPassenger only
Marco Polo Club Diamond membersPassenger + 2 guests
Departing on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon,  oneworld carrier or codeshare** flights only
Marco Polo Club Gold membersPassenger + 1 guest
Departing on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, oneworld carrier or codeshare** flights only
Marco Polo Club Silver membersPassenger only
Departing on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or codeshare flights only
Emerald / Sapphire oneworld membersPassenger + 1 guest
Departing on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or oneworld carrier** flights only

Hours / Location

The Pier Business Class Lounge is located on Level 6 of Terminal 1 near Gate 65 at Hong Kong International Airport. It’s open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Note that my visit was on March 13, 2020. Effective March 26, 2020 the lounge is closed until further notice due to COVID-19.

Seating

Cathay Pacific operates six business and first class lounges at Hong Kong International Airport. The Pier Business Class Lounge is their largest lounge coming in at a whopping 35,000 square feet.

The lounge is massive, but the different seating layouts create a cozy atmosphere. The aesthetic of the the lounge is just stunning. It feels like you’re in a professionally designed luxury loft rather than in an airport lounge.

The first seating area has a black leather couch and two grey upholstered lounge chairs with matching ottomans. The plants you see throughout the lounge help to brings the outside in and almost make up for the lack of outdoor space.

Seating area

The lounge has seating in a variety of configurations. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a group you’ll find seating that’s suitable for you.

Main seating area

If you’re traveling with some giraffe friends head to this beautiful African Blackwood table. The natural wood framed chairs with leather cushions are super comfortable.

Group conference table

One really unique feature of the Pier is a mindfulness meditation and yoga area called The Sanctuary. If you live in Manhattan you may have heard of Pure Yoga by Equinox Group. Cathay Pacific teamed up with Pure Yoga to construct the 700 square-foot Sanctuary in the Pier. It’s divided into two zones – The Body Sanctuary, which is dedicated to yoga, and The Mind Sanctuary, where travellers can meditate to focus and calm the mind.

The Body Sanctuary

The Body Sanctuary offers a space for gentle yoga led by virtual instructors. Everything is immaculately clean and the lighting exudes a sense of calm.

The Body Sanctuary - Yoga

There’s also an area for independent stretching. Each station tells you how to stretch different parts of your body. After a long haul flight giraffes muscles are often tense and this is a great way to destress.

The Body Sanctuary - Stretching

The Mind Sanctuary has four cushioned pods equipped with noise canceling headphones and iPads. Here you can choose from guided meditation sessions led by Pure Yoga instructors. Mindfulness meditation is said to promote better sleep, reduce stress and even help with weight loss. I can’t think of a better way to relax before a long flight than a guided meditation. Well maybe a glass of champagne after couldn’t hurt.

The Mind Sanctuary

If yoga isn’t your thing then head to these high back chairs with brass reading lamps. You’ll find similarly designed chairs in a lot of airport lounges, and for good reason. They offer a lot of comfort and privacy.

Back seating area

Pro-tip: Grab one of the leather recliners with views of the tarmac. These are some of the most coveted seats in the lounge so you may have to hover until they become available.

Seating with tarmac views

To round out the seating options you’ll find a medium sized living room concept. This intimate seating area will make you forget you’re in a 35,000 square foot lounge in HKG.

Medium sized seating area

For your last minute printing needs the lounge is equipped with a business center featuring Apple iMacs and printers.

Business center

The Pier has expansive eating areas with some interesting seating options. In the buffet area there are long communal oval shaped tables with bench seating. At the ends of the tables are mini stools suitable for smaller people or children. High top tables are situated behind the dining tables. These tables don’t have seating. I’m not sure if the seats hadn’t been brought out during my visit or if the seating was absent by design.

Buffet dining area

The Noodle Bar has more traditional seating options than what you’ll find in the buffet area. There’s numerous booths for two people, which offer some privacy and access to power ports. There’s also long rectangular tables with mini stools. These stools definitely weren’t designed for giraffes.

Noodle Bar dining area

Moving along you’ll find an oval dining table with mini reading lamps. The padded stools are surprisingly comfortable, but I prefer seating with a proper back.

High top dining table

Shower Facilities

The Pier has 14 shower suites with individual sinks and toilets. After a 15-hour flight from the US a hot shower makes the jet lag melt away. The showers are impeccably clean and the water pressure is great.

Shower suite

Cathay teamed up with UK luxury spa brand Bamford to supply bath products in their business class lounges. These products really smell fantastic.

Bamford bath products

The shower suites have everything you need to freshen up including a dental kit and mouth wash.

Shower suite amenities

Food and Beverage

Coffee lovers rejoice, The Pier features an Elektra espresso stand. Baristas stand ready to craft your favorite espresso drinks.

Coffee cart

Drink options on the menu include espresso, americano, macchiato, cappuccino and café latte. You can even add hazelnut, caramel or crème brulee flavor.

Coffee cart menu

To compliment your coffee pre-packaged butter cookies were available.

Coffee cart cookies

I ordered a cappuccino and it was delicious. It had low acidity and the perfect amount of sweet foam.

Barista crafted cappuccino

Normal buffet operations were suspended due to COVID-19, but a limited selection was available behind glass and served by lounge staff.

Breakfast options included:

  • Harvest fruit cereal
  • Special K cereal
  • Organic granola with dark chocolate and berries
  • Natural yogurt
  • Fruit: poached apple, watermelon, honeydew melon and rock melon.
Breakfast buffet

The salad selection included:

  • Leaf salad: butter lettuce, red oakleaf and lollo rosso leaves
  • Wholefood coleslaw: carrot, cabbage, kale, seeds & nuts
  • Tomato salad: sweet peppers, cucumber, olives and parsley
Salads and cold cuts

There were two sandwich options:

  • Jambon: ham, gruyer and mustard
  • Egg and cucumber salad
Sandwiches

Hot buffet options included:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cheese frittatas
  • Grilled tomatoes
Hot buffet items
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Chicken sausage
  • Grilled bacon
Hot buffet items continued

If you have a sweet tooth you wont be disappointed. Options included:

  • Mini walnut danish
  • Pain au chocolate
  • Butter croissant
Pastries

They also had the same assortment of pastries in pre-packaged to-go bags.

Pastries in to-go bags

A visit to a Cathay Pacific Lounge isn’t complete without a visit to The Noodle Bar. There were several options on the menu including:

  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Braised e-fu noodle with mushrooms
  • Egg noodle with mushroom and pickled vegetables in soup
  • Vegetable dumpling
  • Steamed pork and cabbage bao
Noodle Bar menu

They also had some classics including:

  • Steamed chicken bun
  • Lotus seed bao
  • Wonton noodles
  • Dan dan noodles – my favorite!
Noodle Bar menu continued

It’s never too early for Dan Dan noodles. I was dreaming about this dish on the flight to Hong Kong. It’s such a simple dish, but as usual the dan dan noodles were phenomenal.

Dan Dan Noodles

There were a variety self serve non-alcoholic beverages and beer in the cooler including:

  • Schweppes club soda, tonic water and sparkling water
  • Classic Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Sprite
  • Betsy Beer – A pale ale from Hong Kong brewery Gweilo Beer
  • Hong Kong Amber Ale – A local Hong Kong beer. It has a copperish hue, with balanced light caramel malt profile and prominent citrus hop aroma 
  • Tsingtao – China’s number one consumer product for export
  • Carlsberg Lager – A European pale lager from Denmark
  • Hoegaarden White – A Belgian wheat beer with refreshing citrus and earthy coriander flavors
  • Asahi Super Dry – A Japanese Rice Lager, it has a moderate balanced bitterness and a crisp, clean finish
Beverage cooler

Next to the cooler was an ice bucket with San Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water and Acqua Panna Natural Mineral Still Water.

Mineral water selection

There were several self serve chilled champagne options available including:

  • Thienot Brut Champagne NV Champagne NV ($40 per bottle)
  • Perrier Jouet Grand Brut ($44 per bottle).
Champagne and white wine

Red wine options were less inspiring than the sparkling wine. They included:

  • 2016 Hayes Ranch Merlot ($10 per bottle)
  • 2017 Parker Favourite Son Shiraz ($15 per bottle)
  • 2017 Dourthe La Grande Cuvee Bordeaux Rouge ($14 per bottle)
Red wine

If you want a cocktail head over to the staffed bar. They have a wide selection of quality spirits and can mix up any drink you desire. The bartender can also make a mean mocktail like the Cathay Delight. Yum!

Staffed bar

The staffed coffee bar is supplemented by WMF fully automatic coffee machines. I didn’t try these out during my visit so can’t attest to the quality.

Automatic coffee machines

If you thought The Pier couldn’t get any better, there’s more! The lounge has a dedicated Teahouse. You’ll find seasonal and artisanal tea varieties, served by Cathay’s tea specialists.

Teahouse

The Teahouse has a wide variety of loose teas on the menu from UK based tea company Jing.

Teahouse menu

If you can’t make a decision by looking at the printed tea menu try the interactive tea menu. You can smell the different tea infusions before making a selection. I’ve never seen this before, but I love the concept.

Teahouse interactive menu

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Approved

The Pier Business Class Lounge is my favorite business class lounge in the world. It sets the bar so high that it pains me to return to other airline lounges. I know that’s a real first world problem. I’d argue that The Pier is nicer than some First Class lounges. There’s tons of seating, great food and a nice beverage selection. I can’t wait to make a return visit once it re-opens after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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