The Pier, First Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport [Review]

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport seating

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Perhaps the most famous Cathay Pacific lounge in the world, The Pier First, at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is renowned for its amenities, food, and classic minimalist luxury vibes. There are countless bells and whistles to look forward to, including a-la-carte dining, complimentary spa treatments, amazing snacks, private spaces to unwind in, and impeccable service.

Here’s everything from location to amenities offered in The Pier, First, which is 1 of 2 Cathay Pacific first class lounges at HKG.

Location

The Pier, First is located at Cathay Pacific’s home airport, HKG. Specifically, it’s in Terminal 1 on the Departures level (Level 6), near gate 63. As is the case with all of Cathay Pacific’s main lounges, The Pier, First is located airside, so you’ll clear security prior to heading to the lounge.

The Pier, First is open from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. 7 days a week.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Map at Hong Kong International Airport
Cathay Pacific lounge map at Hong Kong International Airport. Image Credit: Cathay Pacific
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport sign
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Sign.

Interestingly, The Pier, First is located downstairs, which means you’ll take a set of escalators (to the left of the main sign) to get to The Pier.

Gaining Entry

You can access the lounge if you are flying on a first class Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, or other Oneworld partner fare. Additionally, you’ll be eligible for access in any class if you’re a Oneworld Emerald member, American Airlines Executive Platinum, or American Airlines ConciergeKey member.

Design, Arrangement, and Seating

The Pier, First is a phenomenally designed lounge. It resembles less of a first class lounge and more of a zen, private hideaway. Once inside, you will immediately forget that you’re in the world-famous concrete jungle that is Hong Kong.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport main hallway 2
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Main Hallway

After presenting your boarding pass, you’ll walk into a long hallway, which has a very minimalist feel. There’s an emphasis on nature, which is thanks to the design from Studioilse.

The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport hallway
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Main Hallway 2

There’s a ton of velvet furniture flanked by marvelously carved wood furnishings and completed by spectacular lighting that sets the tone of the whole lounge: serenity.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport main hallway
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Main Hallway 3

There’s bound to be tons of business travelers in Hong Kong, as the tiny city-state is one of the world’s largest financial capitals and premier commerce gateways. Those business travelers or any leisure travelers may want to keep updated with this expansive literature selection available.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport literature selection
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Literature Selection

There was quite a bit of seating available, though with the variety of different seating options coupled with the spacing of each seating section, it felt like this lounge was endless. There were also 8 day suites, which will be discussed in later sections.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport seating
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Seating
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport seating continued
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Seating 2

Food and Drink

I had heard from previous lounge reports that the food and beverage program at Cathay Pacific had been replaced with Sodexo, which you might know for education and corporate food services. However, I didn’t have many complaints about the food at all, as we’ll find out.

I wasn’t blown away by the food in The Pier, First, but I’m rarely blown away by food, to begin with.

There are 3 main areas for food and beverage in The Pier, First. These are:

  1. Self-serve food area
  2. The Bar
  3. The Dining Room

Self-Serve Food Area

The self-serve food area is where you could pick up a plate and just grab whatever food items you wanted. First, the salad bar was at the entrance of this open-air section.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport salad
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Salad
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport tomato salad
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Tomato Salad

Next, you’d find a couple of bottles of alcohol and some crackers and cookies.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport wines and cookies
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Wines and Cookies

The left bottle of wine is an Australian Brown Brothers Special Late Harvest Orange Muscat & Flora wine, while the right-hand side showcases a Grant Burge 10-year-old Tawny port, also from Australia.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport wines
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Wines

Next to these 2 bottles of wine were black sesame cookies and other assorted cookies, including almond, chocolate almond, and pistachio cookies.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport cookies
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Cookies

I moved onto the Easter-themed section, which had dark and white chocolate shapes (bunnies, chickens, and eggs). These surrounded a bed of cross buns, served with butter and jam.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport chocolates and cross buns
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Chocolates and Cross Buns

The middle section that contained the salad was set atop a stunning wooden table and housed various cheeses, meats, and breads.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport snacks and cheeses
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Snacks and Cheeses
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport bread
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Bread
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport cheddar cheese
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Cheddar Cheese
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport bleu cheese
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Bleu Cheese

My favorite part of the self-serve area was the macarons on offer. I’m a huge fan of macarons, which are delicious (and expensive!) pastries. For example, my favorite macaron shop ‘Lette Macarons in my hometown of Los Angeles charges $3 a pop! Needless to say, I ate a couple dozen of these treats.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport snacks
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Snacks
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport macarron bar
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Macaron Bar

Cathay Pacific uses high-quality preserves, which graciously anoint their bread selection, including charcoal soft bread, dark rye rolls, brioche rolls, and black sesame rolls.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport bread and preserves
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Bread and Preserves

The refrigerator section of the self-serve area was nestled in a corner of the room, and it housed freshly squeezed juices, among many other drinks such as sodas, local and imported beers, and sparkling water. The main highlight was the freshly squeezed guava and mango juice.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport refrigerator
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Refrigerator

Also, on the bottom-right section was fruit salad, smoked salmon with cucumber salad, tossed berries with balsamic vinegar, and other chilled delicacies.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport cold dishes
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Cold Dishes

A sophisticated espresso machine, the WMF 8000S (an advanced dual-hopper and mostly automatic espresso drink machine), was located to the left of the refrigerator.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport espresso machine
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Espresso Machine

I thought self-pouring beer machines were unique to Japanese lounges, but I was proven wrong with the dual pouring set up here.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport self-dispense beer machine
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Self-Dispense Beer Machine

Tea connoisseurs can enjoy a selection of 9 types of tea from JING tea. Travelers will revel in delight with the filtered, hot, and sparkling water dispenser just left of the tea bags.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport tea and filtered water
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Tea and Filtered Water

The Pier, First has an awesome snack and drinks area. This is a perfect avenue to satisfy your cravings until you get to The Dining Room, which is where you’re expected to actually have meals.

In the meantime, let’s touch on The Bar.

The Bar

The Pier, First’s bar is clearly understated. There were quite a few travelers in the bar area, and I didn’t want to infringe on their privacy, so I kept my pictures to a minimum.

Still, there were tons of drinks on offer, and I did manage to snap a picture without being terribly disruptive.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport bar
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Bar

I’m not that big on alcohol, so I didn’t take advantage of the offerings at the bar here.

The Dining Room

The Dining Room is one of the main highlights of The Pier, First. This is an a-la-carte section where you can dine your heart out.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport dining room entrance
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room Entrance

There was a host dedicated to seating travelers, just like at an upscale restaurant. You could take a variety of magazines with you into The Dining Room.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport dining room literature
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room Literature

There were plenty of seats available, and we were helped almost immediately.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport dining room seating
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room Seating
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport Dining Room
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room Seating

We chose a seat near the extensive floor-to-ceiling windows for the sweeping views of the tarmac/runway. There was also an espresso and bar section, which was fully staffed to cater to the needs of first class travelers.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport dining room espresso machine
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room Espresso Machine

The a-la-carte menu was expansive, and we ordered a lot.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport dining room a-la-carte menu
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room A-La-Carte Menu

The beverage and wine list was similarly comprehensive.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport dining room beverage and wine menu
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Dining Room Beverage and Wine Menu

Since we were traveling around the time of Easter, there was also a holiday-themed menu available that we didn’t take advantage of. We ordered way too much food from the a-la-carte menu, anyway.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport Easter menu
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Easter Menu

I started off with a Hong Kong milk tea, which was excellent.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport Hong Kong milk tea
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Hong Kong Milk Tea

We ordered these dishes:

  1. Spicy chicken wings
  2. Crab meat focaccia
  3. Braised chicken in supreme soy sauce
  4. Wagyu beef cheese burger
  5. Warm chocolate fondant
  6. Chilled sago with mango and pomelo
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport spicy chicken wings
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Spicy Chicken Wings
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport a-la-carte food continued
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Crab Meat Focaccia
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport braised chicken in supreme soy sauce
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Braised Chicken in Supreme Soy Sauce
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport wagyu beef burger
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Wagyu Beef Cheeseburger
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport warm chocolate fondant
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Warm Chocolate Fondant
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport chilled sago with mango and pomelo
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Chilled Sago with Mango and Pomelo

All of these items were delicious, and we were stuffed at the end of our dining experience. We didn’t think that the food was “Sodexo quality” at all, and we left The Dining Room with pleasant impressions and full stomachs.

Bottom Line: Overall, Cathay Pacific does a great job with their food and beverage program. Made-to-order food is served a-la-carte style in The Dining Room, high-quality snacks and drinks are kept in the self-serve area, and gourmet cocktails are crafted in The Bar. 

Amenities

Let’s talk about lounge-specific amenities. The motif at The Pier, First is supposed to be an unconventional oasis in an unconventional setting. As such, there is an entire area dedicated to your relaxation — an area known as The Retreat.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport Retreat directory
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Retreat Directory

Day Suites

The first thing we did was reserve a day suite. Usage guidelines suggest a maximum of 1.5 hours, but we noticed that there was always space, even when the lounge was at capacity. There is a concierge at the entrance of The Retreat. The staff will assist you in booking massages, reserving day suites, providing shower amenities, and leading guests to shower suites.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport walkway to shower suites and day suites
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Walkway to Shower Suites and Day Suites

The 8 day suites are located alongside a long hallway, and when a day suite is occupied, the curtains are closed.

The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport day suites hallway
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Day Suites Hallway

Inside the day suite was a rectangular room with a long day bed.

The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport day suite
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Day Suite

We took a much-needed respite here. Inside the day suite were charging facilities, which we took advantage of.

The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport day suite controls
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Day Suite Controls

The best part of the day suite was the astonishing views of the runway and tarmac. In fact, our day suite’s windows were facing a gate. This was a treat because we actually witnessed the taxiing and disembarkation of an Emirates A380.

The pictures don’t quite do it justice, as the A380 looked absolutely mammoth.

The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport bird-watching
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Bird Watching

The business center in The Pier, First is called The Bureau. There are 6 oversized work desks furnished with iMac computers and comfortable office chairs.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport bureau
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Bureau
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport bureau computers
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — The Bureau Computers

Restrooms

The restrooms were immaculate and private.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport restrooms
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Restrooms
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport sinks in restroom
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Restroom Sinks

In fact, each restroom stall had sinks and hand washing facilities inside the stall, which is awesome.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport sinks within restroom stalls
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Sinks within Restroom Stalls

Let’s pivot over to the massage area.

Complimentary Massage Service

At the front-desk of The Retreat, we glanced through the massage menu, and there were 3 options available:

  1. Signature Gentlemen’s Tonic Foot Massage (15 minutes)
  2. Reinvigorating neck, shoulder & scalp massage (15 minutes)
  3. Signature Gentlemen’s Tonic “The Traveller Eye Revitaliser” (15 minutes)

I opted for the neck, shoulder, and scalp massage and my travel companion chose the foot massage.

Note that travelers should reserve their massage as soon as they get settled into the lounge. We reserved our massages for ~3.5 hours later, which was the earliest time available.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport massage service
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Men’s Massage Service
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport massage amenities advertisement
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Massage Amenities Advertisement

When the time for our massage came, we were whisked into the main massage room. There were a total of 3 massage stations, each separated by a wooden partition.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport full massage station
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Full Massage Station
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport massage stations
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Massage Stations
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport massage amenities
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Massage Amenities

The massages were great. I’ve never gotten a high-quality massage in an airport lounge like at The Pier, First. It truly de-stressed me, and I’m glad I had a chance to try it.

Shower Suites

I went back over to grab a quick shower before heading to The Wing, First, which we’ll be reviewing in another piece. In total, there are 14 shower suites, which is an ungodly number for a lounge.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport hallway to shower suites
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Hallway to Shower Suites

The front desk of The Retreat similarly provides shower amenities, including deodorant, hair comb, hair spray, shaving set, shaving foam, and slippers.

We each got a pair of slippers (not pictured but very fluffy), which we’re still using in our house today.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport additional shower amenities
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Additional Shower Amenities

The shower suites are beautiful decorated, planned, and furnished. Some of the inclusions in each shower suite are a chair, bench, cosmetic mirror, and hair dryer.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport shower suite
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Shower Suite

You’ll enjoy rain showers, high quality Aēsop amenities, and pretty much every toiletry you’ll need. The water pressure and temperature of this shower suite were excellent.

The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport shower
The Pier, First at Hong Kong International Airport — Shower
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport shower suite toiletries
The Pier, First Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport — Shower Suite Toiletries

I left the shower suite feeling truly refreshed.

Bottom Line: The amenities at The Pier, First were remarkable. From the private day suites to the complimentary 15-minute massage service to the outstanding shower suites to even the well-designed restroom stalls, The Pier, First’s unique amenities made for an extraordinary experience. 

Experience and Service

Unsurprisingly, The Pier, First is truly a special lounge. The service we received at all junctures of the lounge was first-rate.

Everything in the lounge seemed to lend credibility to the theme of a serene sanctuary, whether it’s the interior design or the complimentary massages.

Also, we noticed that there were always staff performing routine cleanings, which is probably why literally everything in the lounge was spotless. They continuously dusted off and cleaned all the facilities, and I was astonished by this.

Overall, the service of this lounge was exceptional, and it truly sets a high bar for other first class lounges to beat.

Final Thoughts

The Pier, First truly exemplifies what it’s like to have a first class lounge experience. Many first class travelers value privacy and quiet over a large food selection, and this is probably one of the best examples of that.

The design and vibe of the lounge is something that I don’t believe can be replicated anywhere else. It’s got a minimalist, zen, homely feel to it that is unparalleled.

Also, the amenities and facilities were world-class, from the private day suites with tarmac views to the shower suites with Aēsop amenities.

The food was great, if not somewhat limited in variety, but ordering a-la-carte in an airport lounge is something that will never get old.

Lastly, the massage service was excellent, and I won’t forget the quality of the treatment from the staff when we were in the lounge. It simply is one of the best orchestrated first class lounges in the world. Bravo, Cathay Pacific!


All images are credited to Stephan Au unless otherwise specified


FAQ

How many lounges does Cathay Pacific have in Hong Kong?

Can you buy access to Cathay Pacific lounges?

From time to time, you can purchase access, but these are typically during limited promotions. The best way to guarantee lounge access is to have a qualifying business or first class ticket according to entry rules.

Can we sleep in Hong Kong Airport?

If you’ve got access to The Pier, First, the answer is a resounding yes! There are private day suites that have day beds and are extremely quiet. These are perfect to nap in the airport.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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