There’s a noodle bar, coffee cart, tea house, cocktail bar, tastefully designed communal lounge, hotel-worthy shower suites and fully equipped workstations. The only downside is that it’s so good that you might forget to catch your flight.
I’m not actually joking about missing your flight; it’s a genuine warning. I’m a seasoned traveller and I’ve never come so close to missing my connection. I was enjoying myself so much during my lounge visit between my Cathay Pacific flights (Sydney to Rome) that I simply lost track of time. I found myself sprinting down the Hong Kong International Airport terminal with wild abandon and cursing myself for lingering over that bowl of delicious wonton soup.
The Pier business class lounge was completely refurbished in 2015 by London-based design studio Studioilse. It opened in July last year, unveiling what is arguably one of the best airport lounges in the world. The Pier offers a first-rate experience to travellers passing through Hong Kong. The fresh design and an additional 1,000 square metres of space break new grounds in style, comfort and convenience for Cathay Pacific customers.
The lounge is modelled on core Hong Kong experiences; by drawing on inspiration from the city and borrowing from elements of the vibrant street life. Hong Kong is a creative hub, a foodie capital and is renowned for spoiling international guests with luxury – all of which is perfectly encapsulated in The Pier lounge. So even if you’re just passing through, you’ll still be treated to a taste of Hong Kong.
Design lovers will appreciate the focus on quality, natural materials – cherry wood panelling, limestone floors, and luxe touches of bronze and leather. Chic Scandi-inspired furniture with a dash of classic mid-century (think: polished, dapper Mad Men set) and an overarching contemporary Asian aesthetic will no doubt impress style-conscious travellers.
There’s also a nod to the city’s creative community with pieces selected from local artists to decorate The Pier. Even the lush backdrop of Victoria Peak is evoked with the bounty tropical greenery on display.
Pick your lane
The design concept of the ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ lane gives passengers freedom to choose how to spend their visit and each area is tailored to the in-transit needs of Cathay Pacific guests. Cathay Pacific considers those with quick transits who need to fast track their food and beverage options and find a place to momentarily pause between flights. Meanwhile the ‘slow lane’ is intended for pampering and a place to truly enjoy your surroundings whilst you leisurely await your departure.
‘Fast lane’ feast
The food hall is where you would inevitably head in the ‘fast lane’ scenario – the lively space offers self-service kiosks reminiscent of a sophisticated food market or gourmet deli. There are a variety of choices – tapas, bakery, salads, fresh fruit, antipasto or freshly cooked made-to-order meals. There is even a bespoke coffee cart with professional baristas waiting to make you your coffee just the way you like it. Whether breakfast is simply a piece of toasted banana bread with a flat white or a full English breakfast – you’ll just about find anything you desire here.
Perhaps you are a sophisticated ‘Don Draper’ type traveller who likes to be seated on a quality leather couch perusing the newspaper with a whisky in hand? Well you only need to saunter through to the handsomely decorated lounge where you’ll locate the elegant bar. Order from the extensive cocktail menu and the smartly dressed bartender will whip up your drink with flair. I opted for an espresso martini because I needed an extra kick of caffeine to tide me over until the next flight. It was delicious and just the trick. By the way, if you enjoy watching planes taking off and landing, meander over to the front section of the lounge that boasts excellent views from expansive windows overlooking the airport runway.
Oodles of noodles
Hong Kong’s reputation as a ‘foodie’ destination is reflected in The Pier’s superlative dining options. The Noodle Bar looks like a stylish cafeteria with private booths occupied with content jetsetters slurping from their steaming bowls of noodles. At the kitchen counter there is a hive of activity – steam rises from wicker baskets and chefs busily prepare signature dishes such as wonton noodle soup, Chinese dim sum and fluffy buns. Help yourself to a selection of condiments whilst you wait for your buzzer to alert you when the meal is ready.
Relax and Rejuvenate
For those in search of a bit of Zen away from all the buzz, there is a specialty teahouse providing passengers a selection of artisanal JING teas. The superior quality teas range from whole chamomile flowers to Japanese Sencha. You can also find healthy juices, fresh fruit and sweets to accompany your beverage – earl grey shortbread anyone? The decorative green tiles and light timber tables complete the serene atmosphere. Showers are conveniently located in the next section of the lounge, making the teahouse the perfect place to unwind after a soothing shower.
The shower suites are private and spacious; one could be forgiven for forgetting that you are not in a luxury hotel after lathering up with the complimentary Aesop skincare products and drying off with exceptionally fluffy towels. If you really want to take some time out, you can disappear into the relaxation room that’s fitted out with dimmed lights and comfortable upholstered lounges. Stretch your legs out, close your eyes and let yourself sink into the plush daybed.
For those workaholics who wish to remain productive; there is a dedicated area set up as a workspace with a few extra comforts thrown in. Beyond the bureau (equipped with iMacs and individual workstations) there is also the cosy room with large ‘solo chairs’. Each of these individual lounge chairs has a built-in side table, reading lamp and socket point. There is free wireless Internet available throughout the whole lounge, keeping you connected between flights.
Considered simplicity, carefully tailored spaces, as well as the use of natural materials, vast windows and tropical greenery create a peaceful oasis in the heart of a busy international airport. With all the comforts of home in a stylish setting, one could not ask for a better place to relax between flights.
Gate 65 in the North West concourse, Hong Kong International Airport
From 5.30am to the last departure flight.
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The writer was a guest of Cathay Pacific. My opinion is, and will always be, my own. The Portmanteau Press only includes content that aligns with the aesthetic, standard and values of the brand.