If you're a fan of Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class lounge at Hong Kong – and from what we can tell, that covers most Australian Business Traveller readers – you'll feel right at home at the airline's first class lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.
Think of it as a miniature version of The Pier, sharing the same upscale 'residential' design from Ilse Crawford, including a dining room with à la carte menu and some of the most elegantly-appointed shower suites we've ever seen at an airport lounge (including Aesop shampoo and body wash).
Of course, Cathay Pacific's London first class lounge isn't the exclusive domain of the airline's first class passengers, or indeed first class flyers in Oneworld airlines departing from T3 (including Qantas and American Airlines).
Top-tier Diamond and Diamond Plus frequent flyers in Cathay's Marco Polo Club are also welcome, along with their Oneworld Emerald equivalents including Qantas Platinum and Platinum One card-holders plus elite Chairman's Lounge members.
If you're on that long but select list, here's what's in store behind those doors.
Location & Impressions
Cathay Pacific's London Heathrow T3 lounges sit on the left corner of the terminal (look for the rather generic 'Lounge C' sign) close to the British Airways and Qantas lounges (lounges F and B, respectively).
An elevator whisks you up one floor, with a common reception desk to direct travellers to either the first class or business class lounge (as well as handle flight enquires, requests for seat changes and what-not).
Of course, passengers eligible for first class lounge access can also wander next door to visit the business class lounge –and we'd suggest this is a detour worth taking, because we'd rate it as the best Oneworld business class lounge in Heathrow T3.
Given its limited footprint, the first class lounge is a very cosy affair.
It's centred around The Living Room, which wraps around the lounge to face the tarmac in an L-shape layout – affording some entertaining vistas through the floor-to-ceiling windows which flood the lounge with natural light.
Those over-sized windows are also good for a sticky-beak across the airfield.
In the evening, an assortment of lamps give the lounge a warm ambience which once again echoes the look of a highly-styled apartment or the club lounge of a luxury boutique hotel.
And as with other Cathay Pacific lounges shaped by Ilse Crawford, there's an abundance of seating (without cluttering up the space) in a number of different styles, making it easy to find your own 'place'.
It's also pleasingly quiet, with just one TV tucked sensibly away at the furthest end of The Living Room...
... making this an ideal haven ahead of your long flight to Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific's London Heathrow T3 first class lounge is open to
- first class passengers on any Oneworld airline flying out of T3: a roster which includes Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas, American Airlines and JAL
- travellers in any class holding Oneworld Emerald status in their airline's frequent flyer scheme: that includes the Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers of Cathay's Marco Polo Club, and Qantas Platinum and Platinum One card-holders plus elite Chairman's Lounge members
It doesn't matter if you've already made your way into one of T3's other Oneworld airline lounges: you're still entitled to visit the Cathay Pacific first class lounge, either for a quick sticky-beak or to plant yourself there for a full meal.
The focal point of the preflight dining experience at Cathay Pacific's London first class lounge is the dining room.
Again, this is a scaled-down version of the large dining room at The Pier first class lounge (below) – and during peak times it fills up fast, as passengers dine before setting out on the 12 hour trek to Hong Kong.
There are breakfast and seasonal all-day dining menus with a mix of Asian and Western dishes.
For example, for breakfast there are eggs, a full English breakfast or congee, while the all-day selection includes the signature Dan Dan and Wonton noodles alongside an Angus beef burger, Scottish smoked salmon and fish & chips, plus more conventional fare such as chicken breast, seabass and pasta.
There's also a self-serve area dubbed The Pantry, again borrowed from The Pier – although in London this element of the lounge has a more open location, rather than being tucked away as it is in Hong Kong.
During our visit this featured a 'Nachos Bar' for a little roll-your-own Mexican.
While the adjacent business class lounge has a tended bar, drinks in the first class lounge are self-pour from a small bench in the 'living room'.
There's all the wine and spirits you'd expect, along with beer – including Cathay's own Betsy Beer...
... and Champagne.
If you fancy a cocktail or a barista-pulled coffee, either decamp for the business class lounge or (more likely) ask the waiters in the dining room to fetch that while you wait in first class luxury.
There's no dedicated working space in the first class lounge, nor even Cathay's bespoke work-friendly Solo chairs: for both of those you'll have to look to the business class lounge, which has eight Solo chairs...
... and The Bureau work zone, with three iMacs and even a booth where you can make calls in private.
However, the first class lounge does feature an abundance of side-tables (another design unique to Cathay Pacific) with AC and USB ports concealed in a drawer.
If you want to fresh up before your flight, make your way out of the first class lounge and down past the entry to the business class lounge, where you'll find eight shower suites.
The good news: these are spacious suites with classy fitout (mainly marble, brass and cherrywood) and fittings (including an overhead 'waterfall' outlet in the shower)...
... and thoughtfully designed so there's room to plonk down and open up your carry-on bag for a change of clothes or to grab your personal toiletries.
The not-so-good news: these showers are shared with the business class lounge, so at peak periods – and then lounge gets very busy in the afternoons and evenings, when there are four Cathay Pacific flights between 5pm and 10pm (not to mention those of other Oneworld airlines) – then during those times, showers are at a premium.
First class passengers don't have the option to pre-book a shower, so if they're all occupied your name will be put on the waiting list and you'll be handed a buzzer which alerts you when your shower suite is ready.
As we said at the start of this review, in most respects Cathay Pacific's London Heathrow first class lounge is a pint-sized sibling of Hong Kong's The Pier first class lounge – and easily the best lounge for eligible Oneworld travellers heading out of Terminal 3.