Cathay Pacific’s The Pier lounges for business class and First Class passengers are located near Gate 62 at Hong Kong International Airport. After making the 10-minute trek over from The Wing on the airport’s western end, I arrived at the inviting stairway leading down to The Pier’s First Class section.
The Pier is widely regarded as Cathay Pacific’s best lounge in their Hong Kong hub, since it’s really much more of a peaceful sanctuary than an airport lounge. You see, as much as other First Class lounges around the world like to do up the ground experience with à la carte dining and nap rooms for sleeping, most lounges still retain an element of terseness and sterility that comes with the territory of being located on airport grounds.
Not so with The Pier. Hong Kong design house Studioilse began from first principles when handed the task of envisioning Cathay Pacific’s new flagship First Class lounge, retaining a focus on comfort and wellbeing throughout all aspects of the lounge.
This begins with the impeccable interior decor. Mid-century modern furniture sets the tone throughout the lounge, making you feel as though you’re in the chambers of a luxury mansion rather than an airport, and delivering a lounge experience that’s as seamless as the beautiful plush carpet that sweeps across the lounge’s central hallway.
The lounge’s standout feature is its immense in-lounge restaurant, known as The Dining Room, that’s located at the end of the central hallway. Feeling quite peckish upon my arrival, I decided to make this my first stop.
I was greeted by a lounge attendant and shown to my seat. The Dining Room is designed in the image of a classic French bistro, except it also offers close-up views of the widebody aircraft parked on the tarmac right outside, making it truly a special experience to spend some time here enjoying a meal and a drink.
There are tables for groups of two to four people, and there’s also high-top seating available at the bar if you’re mainly looking to enjoy a few drinks along with some snacks.
I was handed the à la carte dining menu. “You can order anything!” came the reminder from the wait staff. Always a treat to hear that.
I started off my meal with a glass of freshly squeezed mango juice. I took out my laptop to get some work done as I waited for my food, although by pure chance I soon encountered an old friend – someone I hadn’t seen in many years – sitting at one of the tables across from me, so we spent the rest of the meal catching up.
My Hong Kong-style wonton & noodles dish was the first to arrive, and it was very savoury and appetizing.
Next up was the stir-fried scallop bowl with rice. I had heard other visitors to The Pier raving about this dish, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. Echoing my predecessors’ thoughts, my only complaint would be that there were not nearly enough scallops in the portion I was given, and if I’d had more time (and stomach space) I surely would’ve asked for a second serving.
I also tried some of the gnocchi, which was altogether more ordinary but still tasty.
With limited time before I had to go board my flight and still yet to immerse myself in the rest of The Pier, I said a quick goodbye to my friend and made my way to the main seating area of the lounge, known as The Library. To get there, I made my way across the central hallway once again, and couldn’t help but marvel at just how beautiful it looked.
The ambience of The Library is encapsulated perfectly by its name. The gold and oak wood accents strike a beautiful balance against Cathay Pacific’s neutral-to-cool colours of teal and grey. Everything feels gentle, peaceful, refined, and free of friction.
The seating arrangements are varied, allowing guests to sit on their own, in pairs, or even in a large group on the sofas centred around a coffee table. I find that First Class lounges generally have more freedom to experiment with communal seating styles such as this, given that the space constraints are usually less demanding compared to business class lounges.
While The Dining Room is the crown jewel at one end of The Pier’s central hallway, its opposite number is The Bar. The circular bar is yet another visual spectacle when it comes to design, flanked by vivid green houseplants and illuminated with gorgeous golden light fixtures.
The Bar acts as the centerpiece for another set of seating options in this part of the lounge, the marble walls here providing a slightly cooler ambience than the window-lit surroundings of The Library.
If you’d like to eat something in the lounge but don’t want to sit down for a full meal at The Dining Room, there’s also a small nook near the entrance that houses a modest buffet spread of light pastries, fruits, and cheese. This is also where you’ll go to fill up on non-alcoholic beverages, with juices, soft drinks, coffee, and tea available for consumption.
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I went and had a look at The Pier’s facilities for pampering and relaxation. Both the shower rooms and the relaxation suites are located in an area of the lounge known as The Retreat, which branches off the central hallway. To use these facilities, you check in with an attendant stationed here, who will show you to your shower room or day suite.
The eight day suites are located along the exterior walls of the lounge, meaning that each suite provides incredible views of the airport apron immediately outside. Since The Pier’s First Class section is located at ground level, you get to enjoy an unconventional view from below the noses of the widebody aircraft that visit Hong Kong International Airport.
The window blinds can of course be lowered, and the curtains can be drawn to give you privacy as you relax in your suite. It’s a very serene space for sneaking in a quick nap or getting some work done; the only complaint I’d have is that it can be slightly tight quarters around here compared to the relaxation rooms you’ll find at other First Class lounges around the world.
The Retreat is where you’ll find the shower suites as well, and while I’m sure they’re more than serviceable, they’re not quite up to the extravagant standards of the Cabanas over at The Wing on the other end of the airport.
Opposite the entrance to The Retreat is the lounge’s restrooms, which retain the soothing decor that makes you feel so unbelievably at ease during your time in the lounge.
Also located along the central hallway is The Bureau, where there are a few computer workstations with iMacs available for you to get some work done.
I spent some time on the couches in The Library, sipping tea and typing up an issue of the Prince’s Review. The guests around me were invariably working away at their laptops, reading a book, or engaged in quiet conversation. It was almost as though this lounge were the antithesis of an airport, in which peace and tranquility – rather than endless hustle and bustle – reigned supreme.
After all too short of a stay in The Pier, it was time to head to my gate to board my First Class flight to Boston. While I was of course ecstatic to be trying out Cathay First on the 15-hour journey to come, I had thoroughly enjoyed my time in The Pier and was genuinely sad to be leaving this lounge behind.
The Pier’s focus on the principles of wellbeing, woven into every fabric of its function and design, left a deep impression on me. It’s a visually stunning lounge, but not snazzy or over-the-top glamorous, but rather in an elegant-yet-everyday way that made you feel as though you were in an upscale private residence rather than an airport lounge. Meanwhile, The Dining Room serves up an extensive menu of Asian and Western gourmet food and drink, ensuring that you’ll leave the lounge fully recharged no matter the length of your stay.
My great regret of this trip was failing to give myself more time to fully enjoy the Cathay Pacific First Class lounges. Next time around, I hope to atone for my error – a refreshing shower and bath in The Wing’s Cabanas to kickstart the morning, followed by breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea in the comforts of The Pier, before boarding a First Class flight? Sounds like my idea of a great day.