Just how good can a business class lounge be? Spend some time in The Pier Business Class Lounge – Cathay Pacific's flagship business class space at Hong Kong International Airport – and you'll almost certainly have to raise your expectations. Many airlines could pass this off as their first class lounge and nobody would be the wiser.
Location & Impressions
The Pier Business Class Lounge is one of a staggering eight lounges in Cathay Pacific's home hub of Hong Kong and is perched adjacent to Gate 65 at the far end of Terminal 1, past where the spine of the terminal splits into a Y shape.
Like its sibling The Pier First Class lounge, at gates 61-63, the entrance is tucked away downstairs and is almost easy to miss if you're not on the lookout.
And it's quite the haven from the busy bustle of the airport.
Like The Pier First Class – and most other recent Cathay Pacific lounge openings and refurbishments – The Pier Business Class has been shaped by Ilse Crawford and her team at London-based StudioIlse.
The vibe is warm, relaxed and unhurried; the look is the type of subtle style which doesn't need to try hard, because it just is.
Signature elements include high-quality natural materials such as limestone and cherry wood, with plants, gentle lighting and glazed timber screens creating a gentle contemporary space.
Speaking of space, there's plenty of it – with seating for some 550 travellers, this is almost one-third larger than the old business class lounge.
Just past the reception area are 20 luggage lockers, each secured by a combination code.
Stow your carry-on bags to lighten your load, and the rest of the lounge is laid out in front of you.
The lounge's spine begins with a dining area dubbed the Food Hall.
Further along is The Noodle Bar, which has become a fixture in Cathay Pacific lounges...
... and beyond that, a fully tended bar serving spirits, cocktails and wines.
If you'd rather sip green tea instead of gin & tonic, keep walking until you reach The Tea House.
Past that, nestled at the very end of this long space, is a relaxation room with low upholstered daybeds in semi-private nooks ...
... plus fourteen spacious and well-appointed shower suites.
What's interesting about all this is that you've walked in a straight line from the entrance of the lounge through five quite individual 'zones'...
... and each of those is carefully positioned so that the busier and noisier areas are towards the front, while things shift down a gear as you move further away from the entry.
There's also a smaller, secondary zone branching off the reception area, which opens onto a long sitting room with views over the airfield.
The overall effect is that The Pier Business Class Lounge inherits a delightful aspect of 'discovery', as well as letting regular travellers find their own preferred space to which they'll return on future visits.
The Pier Business Class Lounge is open to the following travellers
- Cathay Pacific business class and first class passengers (although first class flyers really should head to The Pier First Class Lounge)
- Business class and first class passengers on other Oneworld airlines
- Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold and Silver card-holders
- Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers (including Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold and Platinum)
The Food Hall is positioned directly past the lounge's entry so that even travellers on a tight schedule can grab a quick bite to eat.
There's an extensive selection of hot and cold dishes...
... and ample seating in a variety of styles, from small round tables to long benches and high bars.
There's also a coffee cart where travellers can enjoy a barista-pulled boost.
Of course, it wouldn't be a new-look Cathay Pacific business lounge without the iconic The Noodle Bar.
The variety of signature noodle dishes and dim sum make for familiar fare.
And, as with The Food Hall, there's no shortage of seating:
Think of The Food Hall and The Noodle Bar as a bit of 'east meets west' (or 'west meets east', if you're pedantic about the order of things) – there's definitely something for everybody.
Old-school airport lounges have a dedicated 'business centre' zone decked out with desktop PCs or Macs but a paucity of AC power sockets elsewhere in the lounge – you've got to go searching for them.
Cathay Pacific hasn't done away with that business zone: The Pier features a working space dubbed The Bureau, with Apple iMacs and printers.
It also features a cluster of bespoke chairs called the Solo chair, crafted specifically for Cathay Pacific by Crawford's team to mesh perfectly with the lounge's relaxed residential vibe.
The Solo is a rethinking of the Solus workstation, which has become a hallmark element of Cathay's previous airport lounge blueprint (including The Cabin and The Wing at Hong Kong, as well as lounges in Paris and San Francisco).
Like its sharply business-minded predecessor, the Solo offers a high-walled nook where travellers can work or relax, and includes a side table, reading lamp and a coat hook plus AC power.
But the plushly padded Solo seats are noticeably more spacious and more comfortable.
Solo chairs can also be found towards in other parts of The Pier Business Class Lounge.
But your working options don't end there.
See those lamp-bearing sidetables scattered around the lounge?
They're another Ilse Crawford gem: slide out the drawer to reveal two AC sockets and four powered USB ports.
You'll also find AC/USB power conveniently within reach at other parts of the lounge, such as under this marble bench in The Food Hall...
... and under those comfy booths in The Noodle Bar.
Now, nobody's saying you have to work at The Pier Business Class Lounge – but it's sure nice to have the option to do so wherever you want to sit, or at least to plug in your laptop, tablet or smartphone to charge it up before your flight.
When we think of 'relaxing' in an airport lounge it's usually all about spas, quiet zones, daybeds and the like.
But there's something to be said for winding down with a good drink or two at the bar...
... or one of a dozen tea blends at The Tea House.
If you've got a good deal of time before your flight – especially during a long layout – The Relaxation Room offers 14 low upholstered daybeds and footstools where weary travellers can relax or nap.
Ilse Crawford describes as "a little bit more democratic" version of the Day Suites in The Pier First Class lounge (below).
Adjacent to The Relaxation Room are fourteen well-appointed shower suites...
... with room for your luggage plus all the amenities you need to freshen up...
... including Aesop products.
The Pier Business Class Lounge is a lounge without equal, and it'll probably have you wishing your flight could leave just that little bit later.
David Flynn travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.
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