The Cathay Pier Business Class Lounge at the Hong Kong Airport is something of a miniature trip while on transit on your primary trip. So complicated, but not so much. Airport lounges are probably the least interesting places to be. It is the least exciting leg of your journey to and from your destination. And almost always, boredom is characteristic of a lounge.
Usually. But not always, as I realised when flying back from Tokyo to Mumbai and had a chance to spend a couple of hours (5 to be precise) at the newly renovated Cathay Pier Business Lounge in Hong Kong. I love the city, but I’m no giant fan of an airport lounge.
So expecting a dreary wait for my next flight, I walked into the new lounge, dragging my trolley. Located on a floor below and near gate 65, it is easy to miss unless you are alert. It passes the Pier First Class Lounge and is situated a little off from the wing – but unless you absolutely despise walking it is not too far away.
The lounge is designed by London-based designer Ilse Crawford and her team at Studioilse, who is the team behind other Cathay Pacific refurbishments. There is warmth right from when you walk into this lounge. The colour scheme is done up in earth tones, accentuated by natural elements like timber paneling, limestone, cherrywood, indoor plants and plenty of natural sunlight.
Looking at the natural light flowing in it this lounge could easily be termed a “sustainable” facility. When thinking about an airport lounge, we would ideally think of a crammed up or tight room to accommodate tired passengers. This one defied that reputation – the Pier Business Class is long, really, really long. At any given time, it can accommodate upto 550 travellers.
At the entrance, you can leave behind your bags in safe storage lockers. There are 20 in total.
The layout of the lounge is thus:
– Food Hall
– Noodle Bar
– Tea House
– Relaxation Room
The treats laid out in the food hall is enough to feed an army. Salads, cheese, cold cuts, sandwiches, rolls, muffins, breads, pastries, hot breakfast items, cold drinks, fresh juices, yoghurt and more. Further away, the noodle bar satiates those unsatisfied with the food hall options. There is something for everyone – ample too, for toughie vegetarians like me. Also, there is plenty of room at both areas, individual seating as well as tables to accommodate larger groups.
In between the two food zones is the bar. Serving cocktails and fine spirits the bar would be an ideal place to chill, but not at the Pier Lounge as it its the first in the world to have a Teahouse. The quaint teahouse offers a menu of 11 teas. Alternately, there is a coffee bar if you prefer hot brews. And for those who do not prefer caffeine there are special fruit and vegetable juices that will help you recharge, relax or help sleep in the next flight.
The seating, once again, is ample – and cosy. Not just the colour scheme, but also in terms of the fabric used and comfort factor.
For business travelers or those who are forced to lug work along their trip, they wouldn’t feel too grouchy in the bureau/office area which is equipped with lamps, and a few work stations. This is also a great place to sink into a couch and read under the dim reading lights perched on each sofa. In case you are wondering, the Wifi is brilliant – fast, and with undisturbed connectivity. There are also plenty of charging points.
Some of these seats are also turned towards the big windows, giving you the perfect apron views or views of the planes. The lounge has 14 shower suites. I was impressed – and more so at the sight of toiletries from Aesop. At the far end of the lounge is the Relaxation Room with little pod-like stations to take catch some shut eye before your flight.
Just pray your flight is not earlier than 5.30, when the lounge opens.
(Cathay Pacific operates two flights daily from Mumbai to Tokyo with Business class fares starting at Rs. 1,36,875/- ).
Note – The author was a guest of Cathay Pacific but all the opinions expressed herewith are his own.