American Express Platinum Charge Card and Centurion cardholders now have access to an exclusive space at Hong Kong International Airport to unwind before their flights, following the opening of the new American Express Centurion Lounge at HKIA.
Inside, cocktail bartender service, dining options tailored to the time of day, ample space to work and complimentary fast WiFi: plus a secluded lounge-within-the-lounge reserved for Centurion Card members.
Join Australian Business Traveller as we tour AMEX's newest lounge, including the invitation-only Centurion area which is off-limits to even Platinum cardholders.
Location & Impressions
You'll find the Centurion Lounge near Gate 60 at Hong Kong International Airport, near the first stop on the 'people mover' train and one level up from the main concourse: making it easily accessible regardless of which gate your flight is departing from.
Directional signage nearby is very clear...
... while the lounge itself is particularly eye-catching as you get closer...
... and the lounge entrance easily recognisable:
... before you enter the lounge proper, into a space that's incredibly modern, functional, and filled with an abundance of natural light during the day (which we always appreciate), along with high ceilings that create a more spacious feel.
This does not include any other Platinum-grade American Express cards, so a Qantas Ultimate AMEX, Velocity Platinum AMEX, AMEX Explorer or Platinum Edge card will not get you inside the lounge (nor will a Westpac Altitude Platinum or Black AMEX, for example), and there's no option to pay for admission, either.
There's only one other way to gain access here, and that's to hold an American Express Centurion Card or Business Centurion Card: AMEX's exclusive, black, invitation-only card which you can't 'apply' for.
If that's you, you can skip any queues at reception and take advantage of a private Centurion check-in desk...
... before walking through the Centurion Lounge proper (which is really just the lounge for Platinum members!) and showing your Centurion Card once more to unlock an aptly-coloured black glass door: the gateway to a secret lounge-within-a-lounge, reserved exclusively for Centurion guests.
Because the Centurion Card is issued only by invitation and there's no option for Platinum cardholders to purchase access, it's fair to say that this area is on-par with the Qantas Chairmans Lounge and Virgin Australia's The Club Lounge, being one of the most exclusive airport lounges you can ever visit.
We imagine most readers will have to make do with the Platinum area of lounge, but beyond that tinted black door lies a private restaurant with an a la carte menu designed by Lau Yiu Fai of Yan Toh Heen at the InterContinental Hong Kong: a two-Michelin-starred restaurant...
... and a relaxation space with comfy chairs, separated into individual zones: some for solo flyers, and others for couples, colleagues or friends.
Centurion Card members can invite either two guests or their immediate family to accompany them into the lounge at no charge (being a partner or spouse plus children up to 18 years of age, which could be more than two guests), while Platinum cardholders can invite a maximum of two guests regardless of relation.
Those guest allowances apply per card, not per card account: so if your partner happens to have their own Platinum or Centurion Card (even issued as a supplementary card on your account, or vice versa), they get their own guest allowance as well: so two cardholders can bring four additional guests between them, covering access for a group of six travellers.
That's also more generous than many airline lounges in Hong Kong, which only permit eligible travellers to bring one guest with them, rather than two – making the Centurion Lounge a much preferred option for trios, as opposed to one traveller awaiting their flight out in the airport terminal while the other two lounge it up!
It doesn't matter which airline you're flying with, where you're flying to or where you're sitting on board: as long as you have an onward flight from Hong Kong Airport and have an eligible card for entry, you're good to go.
In the Platinum area of the Centurion Lounge (yes, that's confusing), travellers will find buffet fare appropriate to the time of day.
Breakfast is served between 5:30am and 11:30am, where we found many brekky standards such as hash browns, bacon, sausages and dim sum...
... along with salads, yoghurts, breads, pancakes, congee and espresso coffee.
That changes to a lunch and dinner spread from 11:30am until 12:15am the following morning (the lounge closes at 12:30am each night), with options such as chicken siu mai, gnocchi, stir-fried rice, seasonal vegetables, stewed lentil beans, pan-fried fish and beef bourguignon:
The options we tried were tasty: particularly the siu mai and the gnocchi, the latter being light and fluffy as you'd expect in a restaurant, despite being found at a buffet.
Also in the main lounge is a staffed cocktail bar, with our picks being the Mumm NV Champagne (yes, real Champagne in a credit card lounge!), and the signature American Express 'Blue Door' cocktail, blending Johnny Walker Black Scotch Whisky, Myer's Dark Rum, Benedictine and lemon juice, among an extensive list of other custom mixes.
But the real highlight here is the Centurion Card dining area: if you have access, of course.
Full table service comes as standard with breakfast, lunch and dinner options made fresh to order.
We began our day by mixing a ham Eggs Benedict with a salmon Eggs Royale...
... before returning later for lunch, kicking off with a 'combination platter' of baked BBQ pork in puff pastry (bottom left), crispy spring rolls with kimchi and pork (top right) and fresh prawn with black truffle (bottom right). The spring rolls were exceptionally delicious, and we're glad they provided two for a second helping!
We progressed to the braised turnip and wagyu beef cheek (very succulent), and barbequed pork with honey (also an excellent choice)...
... followed by the lounge's classic mini beef burger with slaw and fries (again, tasty and recommended), and the fish ball noodles with chicken broth (not a personal favourite, but authentic nonetheless).
There's a good selection of wine for meal pairings with three reds, three whites, a rosé and four sparkling wines on the list (two Champagnes, a Prosecco and a Moscato) – and while most are the same as poured in the Platinum area, Drappier Champagne appears exclusively in the Centurion Card zone:
We concluded our Centurion dining experience with a sweet custard and blueberry mille-feuille served with green tea ice cream, and the 'artisan cheese board' with apricot compote, walnuts and grapes.
At this point, we were glad to have a dining companion for lunch to help share the food!
Need to get things done before your flight? Then perch yourself at the laptop bench to enjoy views of the airfield beyond your computer screen...
... with easy access to both AC and USB power. Just remember to pack your international travel adaptor, as building regulations in Hong Kong don't allow for international-type power outlets as found at some airports.
All lounge guests can also make use of a private meeting room, which can be booked at reception for no charge...
... and a 'phone room', either for a private conversation on your own device or a chat using a supplied telephone.
Next to that is another working area which could also double as a conference room for larger groups travelling together.
There aren't any dedicated working zones within the private Centurion Card zone, but whether you happen to be dining in the Centurion restaurant or relaxing in the blue seats nearby, you'll again have easy access to power:
Complimentary wireless Internet access is available here as expected, with download speeds averaging 91.4Mbps, uploads measuring at 70.4Mbps and ping speeds at 6ms, being about as fast as the top NBN fibre plans in Australia, and more than ample for everything from web browsing to HD video streaming via services like Netflix.
Passing the time before your flight is easy with many comfortable seats offering tarmac views (and as we love, access to power with outlets built into the cocktail tables)...
... or pull up a seat next to Mr. Blue, the dog... but if you need us to explain where he got his name from, you probably don't belong in the American Express lounge!
Centurion Card members can, of course, retreat to the Centurion-only section, with blue cushions on black chairs, which also goes without explanation.
Bathrooms and private shower suites are also available, which is par for the course of any good international lounge.
Overall, the American Express Centurion Lounge is a great addition to Hong Kong Airport, and even though many eligible guests will have access to other lounges here too, this lounge is already proving a popular space: particularly the new VIP zone for well-heeled travellers.
All that's missing is a day spa as found in Cathay Pacific's excellent The Pier First Class Lounge (and in the Centurion Lounge in Dallas/Fort Worth, USA), but if we had to describe the Hong Kong Centurion Lounge in two words, we'd still say "nailed it".
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of American Express Centurion.