Designed by London-based architectural firm Foster + Partners, The Cabin is strikingly different to Cathay Pacific’s flagship Wing and Pier lounges at Hong Kong International Airport.
For one thing, it’s a shared lounge for first class and business class travellers as well as top-tier frequent flyers.
More noticeable though is the lounge’s overall look and feel.
Where The Wing and The Pier are comfortingly traditional, The Cabin is sharp and contemporary.
Where they tend to be sedate (especially in the First Class sections), The Cabin has a dynamic and lively buzz.
It also introduces several design touches that travellers will notice in both new and refurbished Cathay Pacific lounges.
In this review we've included some of Cathay Pacific's stylised PR shots alongside plenty of our own snaps so you can get a real feel of what The Cabin is like.
Location & Impressions
The Cabin is located downstairs next to Gate 23 at HK airport’s central concourse, putting it about 10 minutes’ stroll from The Wing and the airport’s southern airside entrance.
Versatile use of some 1,400 square metres of space provides several discrete zones for travellers while making it easy to move between them as your needs change during your visit.
That said, The Cabin has been rather crowded of late due to part-closure of The Wing’s Business Class lounge for renovations.
That’ll change when the upstairs or ‘balcony’ level of The Wing Business Class lounge re-opens this month, although The Cabin will likely pick up many first class passengers soon after when The Wing’s First Class section is shut for its own make-over.
One stand-out feature of The Cabin is that floor-to-ceiling windows run the entire 90 metre length of the lounge, not only letting light pour into the space but affording you a glimpse over the tarmac, from which you can catch a glimpse into the workings of the airport.
Also contributing to the sense of space are the reflective high-gloss ceiling panels and generous use of Cathay's signature white Carrara marble tiles across much of the walls and flooring.
Open from 5.30am to the last flight departs, The Cabin is a shared lounge for first class and business class travellers on Cathay Pacific and oneworld partner airlines including Qantas and British Airways.
It’s also open to members of oneworld with Sapphire-class status or higher: that includes Silver and above for Cathay’s Marco Polo Club, and Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold or Platinum.
Around the left of the stylish reception area is The Cabin’s dining zone, tagged The Deli, with catering provided by Hong Kong’s iconic Peninsula hotel.
The Deli represents one of The Cabin’s many innovations for Cathay, where you can enjoy made-to-order sandwiches plus a healthy antipasti or salad.
There’s also the conventional buffet of hot and cold dishes plus ready-made sandwiches: smoked tuna, egg salad and shoulder ham & salad were available the day I visited.
To go with your meal: a barista coffee service, fresh juices and a range of teas.
There’s a twist on the conventional airport lounge bar at The Health Bar, with freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and Chinese herbal tea (both hot and cold), plus the usual alcoholic tipples.
A wide variety of of seating is scattered around this part of the lounge, from a row of comfortable bamboo box barstools let you perch along The Health Bar (we’ll also see these barstools at the new Long Bar when The Wing re-opens) to white cafeteria-style tables near the buffet...
... individual lounges line the alcoves along the inner wall of The Cabin...
... and what Cathay terms “cosy couples booths” facing the tarmac, although most of the time these appear used by solo travellers to spread out.
The Cabin’s “IT Zone” is situated at the other end of the lounge, to the right of the reception area, with just about everything you’d need to get some serious work done pre-flight or during a stop-over.
That starts with fast free wireless Internet, of course, and an array of Windows 7 and Mac desktops in case you left your laptop behind.
The Windows PCs sit in individual workstation cubicles, each equipped with their own printer.
The iMacs are arrayed along the top of a swanky metal counter called The Techno Bar, with access to a shared network printer.
The bar itself has plenty of room spare for your own laptop and 12 stylish but comfortable piston stools.
A 10 metre tall glass wall with programmable LED lighting bathes this bench in a warm glow.
Also on hand, albeit more for downtime, are 20 iPads which can be signed out on loan from the reception desk.
A row of low ‘Oscar’ designer chairs from Walter Knoll run along the full-length window facing the tarmac.
The rest of the IT Zone is given over to a dozen of Cathay’s unique Solus chairs.
Designed by Foster + Partners for Cathay Pacific, each Solus is like a self-contained pod where you can work, snack or relax. The chairs are somewhat like a cocoon but without making you feel constricted.
An AC power outlet is built into each Solus pod, just under and to the right of the desk.
Sadly, it uses a standard HK (British-style) power socket instead of being the 'universal' style which can accommodate the AC plugs from several countries – so keep that UK adaptor in your carry-on luggage.
While travellers can wind down pretty much anywhere in The Cabin, if you just want to chill out a bit Cathay will steer you to The Relaxing Zone.
This isn’t really a ‘quiet zone’ – there are no spas or cabana rooms – it’s just the far end of the lounge, packed with all manner of seating.
That means more of those ‘Oscar’ chairs along a glass wall overlooking the tarmac...
... more Solus chairs...
... plus deep lounge chairs in alcoves against the wall.
The Cabin isn’t just a new direction for Cathay Pacific, it represents a fresh approach to airport lounges.
It doesn’t have the high-end luxe of first class lounges yet it manages to create a far more enjoyable atmosphere than the formulaic feel of many business lounges, thanks largely to Foster + Partner’s design and Cathay Pacific’s attention to detail.
If you’re passing through HK you really should check it out.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.