After checking out of the Ritz Carlton we headed down into Elements mall and through to Kowloon station.
There we made use of the check-in facility. Seeing as F check-in is in no way special at HKG, it makes sense to take care of things at Kowloon and avoid taking bags on the Airport Express train.
The check-in agent was incredibly rude and snappy though, worst in recent memory… by a long way. I guess she was having a bad day.
[25 minutes later]
Thankfully, the lines at HKG security weren’t too long. HKG doesn’t have fast track for anybody regardless of class of service, so it’s always worth coming earlier than you usually would. After all, what’s the worst that could have happened? I might end up spending even longer in The Pier?
The Pier is at the far end of HKG, just after the point at which the gates fork off in two directions. It is a 10 minute journey from The Wing, a journey made faster by the internal airport train.
However, if you are at one of the lower number gates the journey back will be more like 15 minutes, as you have to walk back the whole way.
Given that our flight was departing from Gate 60 and The Pier is at Gate 63, things worked out perfectly for us.
Immediately down the escalators is the check-in, cloakroom and help desk area of the lounge. We handed over our boarding passes from both the Long haul inbound flight in First and our shorter onward connecting flight in Business.
There is no clear stance on whether you get F lounge access on a sub-24 hour connection at HKG. Anecdotally it has gone both ways for members of the Cathay board on FlyerTalk. Initially we were told no but I managed to talk them around.
The decor within The Pier First Class lounge is very neutral and features an abundance of natural materials. A world away from the red leather and black piano gloss of The Wing… and all the better for it.
This is the central hallway which serves as a path to the various sub-areas of the lounge: The Bar, The Dining Room, The Pantry, The Retreat and The Bureau (and also presumably The Head, although that name is somewhat more unofficial than the others)
There’s something perfect about the way that this seat fits within its environment. I wonder how many people worldwide have a need for furniture shaped like this…
The first place to catch K’s eye was The Pantry. A self service area featuring a buffet of pastries and fruit as well as fridges filled with parfaits and freshly squeezed juice in bottles. There is something very cool about the design here. You don’t feel at all like you’re in a lounge but rather like you’re helping yourself to food at a, particularly well stocked, family member’s country home.
The Bar spans a number of different zones, each of which are accessible from different parts of the hallway. The immaculate green onyx topped bar sits at the far end of the hallway and is the place to go for an expertly crafted cocktail or a quick coffee. The Wing was always terrible for cocktails so this is a big step up for CX.
[On the right facing the bar] There is a very decent amount of natural light provided by the floor to ceiling windows, facing the tarmac. I’m not sure if I’ve seen anybody else make this comparison but to me the black furniture paired with the pale green is incredibly reminiscent of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Although the execution in The Pier is clearly superior.
What a view!
If you are in a larger group then this area is ideal
[On the left facing the bar] There are numerous mirrors and small lamps used to light up the further corners of The Bar.
On this particular visit we had one major priority to take care of: Breakfast. So, naturally we headed to The Dining. The entrance of which is marked by these fetching rubber plants.
The Dining also features a large, manned bar, should you insist on only drinking in rooms with wooden ceilings.
The catering was handled by The Peninsula at the time of our visit, this contract has since shifted over to the Plaza Premium group. Despite the fact that The Wing was also catered and staffed by The Peninsula, the service here was notably better.
We were greeted by a very professional server the instant we arrived at the doorway. We were escorted to a booth of our choosing and immediately had water poured for us. Any time we began to veer our gaze towards a member of staff, one of them would quickly come over. The Wing’s dining room has always suffered from poor service, The Pier categorically does not.
The breakfast menu is easily equal in scale to most hotels and restaurants. The crisp linen placemats and solid silver cutlery add to the overall impression of quality.
Kamara ordered the noodle soup, which she loved. Personally I like my yokes more runny though.
The Eggs Benedict were shockingly bad: Ham and beans? Bitter frisee lettuce? This alongside two decidedly vinegary, overcooked and vaguely scrotal eggs.
I thought I’d try again. Dim Sum in Hong Kong, should be good right? Wrong. I’m 90% sure this was steamed from frozen.
The fruit was fantastic though. Very fresh, great variety and excellent presentation.
After our breakfast we quickly jumped on the iMacs in The Bureau. An area which feels like a cross between a grand old library and a 19th century train car.
We did enquire about foot massages but these were booked out hours in advance. We also didn’t go to the Day Suites as we wanted to leave something to look forward to on our follow up visit, ten days later! (click here for the review of that visit, including the Day Suites!)
Whilst my old favourite: the JAL First lounge in Haneda is a great airport lounge, it still very much feels like an airport lounge. The Red Suite is great but it is a little cold. You don’t feel cosy there.
The Pier First Class blows the entire concept of the airport lounge away. This is a lounge like no other. You can see planes on the tarmac but they almost seem absurd. Nothing else about The Pier gives you the impression that you are at an airport. You feel like you are in a den of tranquility. A calm, quiet and elegant space where stress vanishes.
I’m hoping that the switch in food providers will mean that the breakfast items in The Dining improve. The items in The Pantry and the coffees from the bar were absolutely fantastic.
I would definitely extend a connection or arrive early to make full use of this lounge. In my opinion, getting to the airport three hours before departure is not enough. You’ll want to spend at least three full hours in the lounge itself, in order to fully unwind and appreciate everything The Pier First Class Lounge has to offer.