It is no exaggeration to say that Cathay Pacific completely reimagined what a lounge could be when it brought in the services of Studio Ilse to redesign the Pier First Class lounge in June of 2015. The residential atmosphere was more akin to a private members club in London than a glorified waiting room in a busy Asian airport.
Having Oneworld Emerald status means I always have access to the First Class lounge whenever I’m in HKG regardless of the class of service I’m flying in. Great for me but not so great for the diversity of my reviews! So I decided to take one for the team and head over to the Business Class side of the Pier, which opened a year after the First Class section, to see how it measured up to its more glamorous sibling…
The Pier Business Class lounge is accessed via an entrance close to gate 65, at the far end of Hong Kong airport’s Terminal 1. You can take the train here from the entrance of the terminal but if you’re departing from one of the low numbered gates, you’ll have to be prepared for a 10-15 minute walk back. I absolutely love the Qantas Business Class lounge near to gate 5 and would certainly recommend staying there if you have less than 2 hours in HKG and are departing from a low numbered gate.
Upon descending the escalator I arrived at a very spacious and elegant lobby.
As you arrive you feel more like you’re checking into an exclusive boutique hotel than an airport lounge. There were numerous staff on hand to ensure that queueing was kept to a minimum and I liked how you could seamlessly hand your bags over to a cloakroom attendant before heading into the lounge itself.
The lounge is arranged in a long and thin shape, with floor to ceiling windows providing light and views across the entire length. The furniture is identical to what is found in the First Class lounge, it is by far the most elegant and high quality design I’ve ever seen in a Business Class facility.
Turning left from here you come to the first distinct area of the lounge: The Bar. Here you’ll find not only wines, spirits and freshly made cocktails but also a coffee cart. The cart has a barista making espresso based drinks both to enjoy in the lounge or to take away to your flight.
The next section of the lounge is the Food Hall. Here you can grab a quick bite to eat with an emphasis on Western food. I must say that the quality on offer was amazing during my visit. Lots of home made salads, huge wheels of Parmigiano and imported salami as well as hot dishes, including freshly baked pizzas from a wood fired oven!
The next section of the lounge is the Noodle Bar, which offers the perennial favourite Dan Dan noodles as well as wonton noodles, ramen and a variety of dim sum. Everything is freshly made and both the wonton noodles and the the char siu pork bun that I tried were delicious.
Moving ever deeper into the lounge you arrive at the Teahouse. There is a clear theme in the design, where each section is ever quieter and darker than the one that precedes it. Here you can sample a wide variety of different freshly brewed teas along with some cakes and pastries baked on site.
The benches around the edges are ok but otherwise the sturdy wooden chairs, whilst very stylish and minimal, are not the most comfortable. The juices and smoothies were worth quickly popping in for though!
Since my visit, Cathay has added a yoga studio beyond the tea house but in a post-COVID world I imagine its future will be very much in flux. Elsewhere there were a few little hidden nooks in which to find some quiet and privacy away from the main rooms.
There is even a fully fledged relaxation room with low lighting and individual open walled pods in which to sleep. Obviously this isn’t a patch on the private sleep rooms in the First Class lounge but is right up there with the relaxation facilities in the SWISS Senator lounge in the ZRH E-Gates, for example.
I didn’t get a chance to photograph the showers but from the stock images supplied by Cathay, they appear to be very similar to those in the London Lounge, which look like this:
I’ve never seen a Business Class facility offer this feeling of serenity and quality. Even my old favourite the Virgin Clubhouse in LHR is busy and bustling, it focuses on fun rather than elegance because let’s face it, that’s a hell of a lot cheaper to implement.
Personally I find the food and decor here to be markedly better than in many First Class lounges, like the Thai Royal Orchid Lounge in BKK.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best Business Class Lounge on the planet.