REVIEW – Cathay Pacific : First Class Lounge, London Heathrow T3 (post-refurb)
Cathay Pacific (CX)
Location: London Heathrow (LHR) – Terminal 3
OneWorld First Class ticket holders
OneWorld Emerald cardholders
Date: December 2016
For a OneWorld Emerald or First Class passenger, it’s not much of a secret that the Cathay Pacific lounges were always the best option at London Heathrow’s T3. If you wanted a combination of a peaceful ambience, decent food, friendly service and runway views, CX had you covered.
I reviewed the old CX First Class Lounge a couple of times in the past:
Shortly after my October 2015 visit though, on November 26th 2015, Cathay announced that the lounges would be closing for a full refurbishment, which would be completed by June 2016.
We were promised a pair of high quality lounges which would be in keeping with the Ilse Crawford designed flagship Pier Lounge in HKG and the smaller TPE, MNL and HND offshoots.
Then June came and went and we were told August for sure.
August came and went, we were told October for sure.
Then, finally, on November 28th 2016 (one year and two days after their closure) the New CX First and Business Class lounges opened their doors for the first time, for a ‘soft-opening’ ahead of the official ribbon cutting on December 7th.
I had been eagerly anticipating the opening of these lounges for quite some time, as The Pier in HKG is one of my favourite lounges in the world. I had even pre-emptively booked travel to destinations ex-T3, in the hopes that I would be one of the first to experience the new lounges first-hand.
…I lucked out, I had a flight booked to VIE on BA departing from T3 and was able to visit the new CX lounges a few days ago. My visit was during the soft launch period but it seemed like the staff were already quite comfortable with their new surroundings.
As for me? I got very comfortable quite quickly too!
Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3
The entrance has been extensively remodelled with the new golden brushwing logo featuring against a palette of darker neutral tones. Gone is the green against white marble, a sign of what to expect upstairs.
Every little detail has been meticulously considered. Even the lift doors look impressive!
The Lounge is located one floor above the gates and features a reception desk immediately opposite the lifts.
We were very warmly greeted by the lounge attendant, you could see she was happy to be working in such a nice new facility. I imagine that for some time to come, the staff here will be seeing a lot of smiling faces.
The lobby is very cleverly designed, with a frosted screen style window allowing light in from the outside.
I think that darkness and corridors are an inherent feature of airports (and by extension lounges) and in embracing the darkness with an abundance of natural materials, Ilse Crawford has done an exceptional job in making this area seem cosy and inviting, rather than dark and depressing.
Turning right from the reception you come to the entrance of the First Class section of the lounge
The showers and washrooms are shared between the First and business class lounges and are situated in the hallway between them
Immediately to the right, as you enter the F-lounge is the pantry. Again, there is so much attention to detail here, there is a small bell jar over the top of the lemon slices and the cookies are put on a small platform to break up the counter surface
You hardly ever see Espresso Macchiato or Flat White as options on a lounge coffee machine!
I selected an espresso macchiato and the machine immediately adjusted to the smaller cup size by lifting up the platform to meet the dispensing spout
A selection of freshly made sandwiches, pecan pie and apples
One of my favourite tea brands. A great selection of nine different teas
A selection of sweet and savoury foods as well as mini cans of drink, for those without the time or inclination to visit the restaurant. I imagine these will become increasingly popular once BA removes free food and drink from their shorthaul flights!
I love the fact that they have mango pudding!
As you exit the pantry you enter a section of the lounge that features elegant and comfortable leather chairs, facing the tarmac. On the bottom left you can see the internal ‘window’ that gives daylight to the reception area
Tucked away to the far right of this section is a small sitting area. I really like how they gave this area a warm feel by changing to soft brown furniture, wooden walls and a rust toned carpet. The feel of this area would be so different if the same black chairs and marble walls had been extended.
Following the windows along, you come to the next section of the lounge, this is the area with the largest seating capacity, where groups can sit comfortably.
The pantry is behind the screen to the right
I like the fact that there are numerous departure boards around, as only CX flights are called in this lounge. If it wasn’t for these boards and the view outside, you’d never know you were in an airport.
Every single tarmac view seat has its own table, lamp, two UK power sockets and four USB sockets
The views get better as you approach the corner: in the centre of this image is the point on the runway where most planes begin to pull up
The best of all the runway view seats. Great views and very close to the bar 🙂
Speaking of the bar, here is the next section of the lounge, featuring a group table as well as some seats facing the bar itself
The restaurant is through the doorway on the upper left of the image
There is something very informal and relaxed about this bar. The layout is more akin to something you would expect to find at a (very cool) friend’s house rather than in a public space.
The old CX F Lounge used to feature Laurent Perrier Rosé champagne but unfortunately this new incarnation only offers two choices of non-rosé brut: Moët and (the markedly superior) Barons de Rothschild
The bar in all of its glory
Five different kinds of whiskey! No Campari though so self mixed negronis are a no go 🙁 However it is great to see Cathay stocking Sipsmith as well as the more commonplace Bombay Sapphire gin
White wine, champagne and fresh juices
Soft drinks, regular beer and hipster beer
Olives and Mixed nuts. Again, love the presentation
Carlsberg don’t make lounges but if they did…
Port and Sherry
The high gloss, green bookcase reminds me of the bespoke boxes that the Conrad Tokyo uses to house the in-room amenities.
This is my favourite part of the lounge: right by the bar, loads of natural light, enough room to sit with a group and it has runway views!
I really want one of these wooden tables for home
Actually I could go for one of these lamps too 🙂
Speaking of awesome design, the side tables with in-built lamps also have a very stylish solution for power ports: a pull out drawer (just like in The Pier HKG)
The power sockets also have two USB sockets each
The dining area is considerably smaller than in the HKG Pier lounge but didn’t feel overly crowded.
The floor to ceiling windows really help to make the dining area seem more spacious
We arrived at lunch time and immediately spotted numerous items which sounded appealing.
I ordered a glass of the delicious Barons de Rothschild champagne and geeked out a little when I spotted the Cathay brushwing logo on the champagne flute 😀
This place is now probably my number one reason to maintain Emerald status with OneWorld!
We ended up ordering a few dishes to share, the first three came out very quickly with the last taking at least half an hour longer. I put this down to teething problems though, given that we were visiting during a soft opening, training period. I hope that this will not be an issue going forward
The Sichuan chicken was delicious and beautifully presented. I could have done with it being significantly spicier but I can understand why this dish isn’t kept authentic. Next time I’ll request extra heat in advance!
The noodle soup was very flavourful with well cooked dumplings and pak choi (it can be hard to get this right and you’ll often see overcooked elements in soup noodle dishes in airport lounges)
The tuna and avocado was fantastic. Very fresh and well seasoned and also (a rarity for lounge food) healthy!
It seems like everybody went to have lunch at the same time and everybody ordered the beef. Hence the 30 minute wait. This dish was quite nice but a little too sweet for my taste, I’d probably skip this in the future
This is undoubtedly the best OneWorld lounge in Heathrow, I would far rather spend time here than any of the BA or AA lounges. This includes the supposedly exclusive Concorde Room with its toilets that look like they’ve come from a hospital waiting room, the gaudy decor and the subpar food. I can only hope that the other airlines will take note and up their game, it seems that AA is on an upward trajectory at the moment but BA is categorically not….
The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge offers an enclave of luxury and dignity amongst the chaos of Terminal 3.
I didn’t just come away form this visit thinking that this was a nice place to spend an hour before a flight, I came away thinking that I need to rearrange my travel plans to include as much OneWorld flying as possible out of T3 (AA are so much better than BA on the hard product to the US already, this really tips them over the edge). Hell, I think I might even redecorate my apartment to look more like this lounge.
In short, I didn’t just leave this lounge feeling rested and relaxed. I left this lounge feeling inspired. Bravo CX. Bravo.
The worst thing about the new CX F lounge? Having to leave 🙁