Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways (rightfully) prides herself on an industry-leading first class product both in the air and on the ground. There are many well-written Cathay’s First Class reports out there on the web, so in this post I will focus on one important aspect of ground experiences: airport lounges.
The last thing HKG—Cathay’s home airport—is devoid of is lounges. In addition to six top-notch Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon business class lounges at HKG, there are two fabulous lounges entirely dedicated to first class passengers and oneworld Emerald elite fliers: The Pier and The Wing. Those two flagship lounges offer a myriad of service including private shower, on-demand dining, and even massage.
Both are definitely worth a visit, but the tough question is: which one should you really visit if you have limited ground time?
You will have access to the two First Class Lounges if you:
- are departing from HKG on an oneworld operated flight in First Class;
- are connecting in HKG and arriving from an oneworld operated flight in First Class;
- or are an oneworld Emerald member traveling on an oneworld operated flight, regardless of class of service.
Cathay Pacific has been very consistent in releasing her first class award space last-minute, and you could book them using Cathay’s own mileage program (Asia Miles), oneworld partner miles (such as American Airlines AAdvantage) or non-oneworld partners (such as Alaska Mileage Plan miles). The rates could be route- and program-dependent and Awardhacker is always your friend.
As an Executive Platinum member of American Airlines, I was fortunate enough to pay a number of visits to both of lounges. My goal of writing this post is that you will get a comprehensive look at the two lounges from four aspects: design, dining, shower, and unique facilities. I will give my final thoughts on both, but I’m positive that you will know which one is your favorite by the time you finish reading.
Situated near Gate 65, The Pier has an extremely low-key entrance that you might have readily missed if not paying close attention. It really reminds of the doorway of a typical Park Hyatt, hinting a sense of reclusive nature of this lounge.
Stepping inside you will probably feel home. I found that to be something Cathay is persistently trying to create here. From the lighting color to the texture of decorating materials, The Pier strives to offer a soothing atmosphere.
The Pier has a very long hallway, connecting the dining room and the bar on the two opposite far ends. Spread across the hallway are living rooms, a kitchen, office space, a reading room, bath rooms, and Day Suites (more on that). Judging from the facilities inside the lounge it surely sounds like a real home.
On one end of the hallway is the bar encircled by a large social area. The horseshoe bend bar is the highlight in the room, creating ample opportunities for travelers to engage in impromptu conversations.
Right next to the bar is the living room, divided into different sections by the positioning of furniture. Each sub-section centers on a large, cherry wood coffee table.
The table has a smooth surface, but the edge are unpolished, preserving a hint of nature and uniqueness.
The design in the living room could well represent the overall style of the lounge. With warm-color lighting and intensive use of wooden materials, the decor effuses a really cozy, intimate feeling.
Unlike the Pier that is 15-min walk away from the airside entrance, The Wing is immediately accessible once you pass the immigration checkpoint.
Walking through this side entrance you will be in the Champagne Bar, where Cathay offers three types of champagne.
Behind the Champagne Bar is a small buffet area where some cold snack is being served.
The Wing basically is an expansive balcony where you can overlook the boarding areas below. The makes the lounge somewhat noisy, but at the same time you can enjoy the “outdoor” open feeling plus a great view of the tarmac.
A dedicated dining room is located on the other end of the hallway. It was before noon when I got there so what you will see is the lunch menu.Interestingly no waiter/waitress was there, probably because there were not many people.
I didn’t feel bothered by a lack of attendance, since that usually means I could take more pictures.
There is also a bar in the dining room.
A waitress quickly spotted me and showed me to a table in the back. As you could see from the picture below, the chairs and tables are positioned fairly loosely. There is much empty space in between.
The waitress presented me with the menu, which was mostly Asian-centered cuisine. One thing I noticed is that The Pier has a more extensive menu than The Wing (more on that later).
To start I ordered a glass of Moët & Chandon rosé.
It was noon and I would love to avoid too much day drinking, so I ordered a glass of Cathay Delight, Cathay’s own non-alcoholic, kiwi-based signature cocktail drink.
My lunch started with winter melon soup mixing with crab meat, dried scallops, mushroom, and egg white. The soup had a very thick texture and was rich in flavor.
I ordered a crab meat salad that came next as appetizer. The portion was fairly small but the taste was great.
Next came the entree, which I picked wok-fried prawns and cuttlefish with green vegetables. The seafood had a rather plain taste, so I ended up spicing them up using some chili oil.
The lunch concluded with Apple Tarte Tatin featuring a vanilla ice cream ball at the top. I am not a big fan of dessert but as far as I can tell the ice cream was really good (don’t count me on it😁).
Aside from the dining room, The Pier has a kitchen right across the living room. Inside you could find some bakery, coffee machines, and a big fridge with some juices and cold dishes.
I found the organization of the drinks inside the fridge quite impressive. Pictures of the kitchen below were taken last summer before a midnight Tokyo-bound flight, and I did notice that the food offering has changed slightly.
I took a bottle of mango juice, and I found it to be the best mango juice I have ever had.
I also grabbed a small glass of marinated octopus (fully cooked) as midnight snack.
Below was a visit in March last year, so the menu could have changed. You could easily see that the variety of a la carte food in The Wing was not quite extensive back then. However this is not a big deal because of the complementing buffet section inside the dining room.
As usual I order a glass of champagne to start with.
While waiting for my dishes, I walked to the buffet area where cold dishes such as fresh fruits and sushi are available.
I ended up with some sushi and veggies as my custom-made appetizer.
Next came a bowl of seafood soup. It was pretty thick but the flavor was not excessive, so you could still savor the delicate taste of the main course.
My main course was braised beef cheek marinated with red wine sauce, which was great. The sauce was fully soaked into the juicy meat, and the aroma filled my mouth with each bite.
I didn’t photograph the interior decor of the dining area, and it has no window, and is slightly smaller and darker than The Pier’s dining room.
The Pier has about 10 shower suites so usually there shouldn’t be need to wait. The hallway lighting is actually very dim, and the pictures I took were reprocessed and enhanced.
Views inside the shower room. The decor with woods and granite is well in accordance with the overall texture of The Pier.
The shower room is at the corner with a glass door. Inside there is a rainforest shower head and a common wall-mount shower head.
Shower rooms in The Pier were all equipped with Aesop amenities. Aesop is also the designated onboard amenities brand of Cathay’s first class.
Shower suites in The Wing are very similar to those in The Pier.
A major difference however is the amenities. At least when I visited it last year The Wing was offering Jurlique bathing amenities, which are also what Cathay offers in her business class. Not a bad deal necessarily, but Aesop is surely a better brand.
4. Unique facilities
The Pier: Day Suites
Day Suites are individual resting suites behind the shower suites and overlooking the jet bridge. It has superb privacy since the curtain can isolate everything but sound from you.
Inside the Day Suites there is a L-shaped sofa bed. It is long enough for one person to fully lie down. The only complaint I have is that A/C temperature was too low so a blanket would be great.
If you are a fan of aviation and aircrafts you will be thrilled to find how close you are to the airplanes. Cathay Pacific even advertises it a selling point of the Day Suites.
In my most recent visit to The Pier I couldn’t help but visit Day Suites again. Arguably Day Suites is my favorite place to be in the entire Hong Kong airport. It offers such excellent privacy. However there are only eight such suites so you probably need to wait during peak hours.
Day Suites restrict the use time to 90 minutes, which was only good for a short nap. Near the Day Suites is a massage facility. I didn’t try that but my friends who did told me it was OK.
The Wing: the Cabanas
At The Wing there is a unique showering facility in addition to regular shower suites. The Cabanas is basically a huge bathroom with a bathtub.
Reservation is needed for the use of Cabanas, and a pager was issued.
After about ten minutes the Cabanas was ready. I was truly surprised and impressed by its size.
The amenities in the Cabanas and the shower suites were the same, but here they were placed in a more refined manner.
On a table reads the instruction of the use of room. It says you should restrict the use time to 90 minutes, which is way too generous I my opinion.
The bathtub was also incredibly YUGE.
From those four aspects we could see a drastically different philosophy behind two lounges.
- The Pier: homestyle, with great privacy, comfort, and repose.
- The Wing: openness, with a over-the-top bathroom.
Personally I prefer the atmosphere of The Pier, especially the Day Suites. In terms of dining I would call them a tie, but the bathroom at The Wing is clearly a winner. If there is ample time maybe it’s not a bad idea to take a bath at The Wing first, and then dine and relax at The Pier. The bottom line is that, whichever lounge you go, both certainly live up to the hype.
Which lounge would you prefer visiting: The Pier or The Wing?