A Paradise for Oneworld Emeralds: Review of Cathay Pacific’s First Lounge “The Pier” in Hong Kong

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Logo

As a frequent flyer with Oneworld Emerald status, it’s always a pleasure to visit the (first-class) lounges of partner airlines. Cathay Pacific is an airline that particularly excels with its lounges. No matter where you are in the world, a serving of dumplings makes you feel almost like you’re in Hong Kong.

So, I was particularly curious about what the airline offers at its hub in Hong Kong. After all, the First Lounge The Pier is considered one of the best first-class lounges worldwide. Can it live up to those expectations? Keep reading to find out.


Cathay Pacific operates a total of five lounges in Hong Kong. Three of them are designed as business lounges and two as first lounges:

  • Cathay business lounge “The Deck” in the main terminal (east)
  • Cathay business lounge “The Wing” in the main terminal (east)
  • Cathay first lounge “The Wing” in the main terminal (east)
  • Cathay business lounge “The Pier” in the west terminal
  • Cathay first lounge “The Pier” in the west terminal

Check-in, passport control, security, etc., are located in the east of the terminal. Three of Cathay’s lounges are also located there. The lounges in the Pier, however, are about a kilometre away. The distance can be walked continuously if desired. However, it’s recommended to use the driverless train underground, especially with luggage.

Upon arrival in the west of the terminal, one should look for Gate 63 for the first class lounge. The business lounge is located one gate away. From there, it’s a short escalator ride down to the lounge.

You have to be a bit careful not to walk too far by accident. The signage isn’t too prominent, so “Gate 63” is the best point of reference. This applies to the entire airport, as the signage is far from intuitive for first-time visitors. I had just been briefly in the Qantas Lounge in the main terminal; I only found the entrance thanks to Google.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Eingang


Unlike Qatar Airways, Cathay fortunately doesn’t play games with lounge access. This means access is not limited to first-class guests but also extends to travellers with Emerald status in the Oneworld alliance. It doesn’t matter what class of travel the flight is, even an economy ticket is sufficient.

Here are the access criteria at a glance:

  • Travellers with Oneworld Emerald status in conjunction with any Oneworld flight (+ 1 guest)
  • Travellers with Cathay Diamond status in conjunction with any Oneworld flight (+ 2 guests)
  • Travellers with a first-class ticket from the Oneworld Alliance (+ 1 guest)

The guest must also be travelling on a Oneworld flight. Unlike the Star Alliance, there is fortunately no restriction that it must be the same flight.

There is no physical separation of terminals based on destination. In my case, I was continuing from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China. The short distance could also be covered by train or ferry. But then I would have been denied access to the lounge, and that was an important reason for visiting Hong Kong in the first place.

Upon arriving at the bottom of the escalator, a friendly staff member with a mobile boarding pass scanner was right there. So, there’s no need to go to the counter first and scan the boarding pass there, as is usually the case. This makes the lounge visit feel a bit more exclusive right from the start.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Flur
Let’s dive in


The small reception area opens directly into a large corridor. There, I felt like I had gotten lost. Am I really in the Cathay Lounge, or did I accidentally land in the spa area of a luxury hotel? To my delight, Cathay eschews golden bling-bling elements and opts for stylish understatement.

In the corridor, there are a few plants and individual seating areas, but you won’t linger here. Several rooms or areas branch off from there, depending on what you feel like.

For me, the first stop was the Dining Room. It’s visually less impressive and reminds me more of an older Intercontinental hotel. But on the positive side, there are plenty of seats at 4-person and 2-person tables, and at least a limited view of the apron.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Essbereich

At the other end of the lounge (to the left of the entrance) is the bar area. There, you’ll find not only the semi-circular bar with bar stools but also additional seating in various configurations:

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Bar Zimmer

Next to it is a small living room with additional armchairs and a limited apron view. Some printed magazines are also available there.

Finally, there are the workspaces in The Bureau. They actually look quite nice. There are six desks, somewhat enclosed by wooden walls. The (nowadays unnecessary) computers can be moved aside to connect your own laptop instead.

Unfortunately, it was poorly air-conditioned here, and I couldn’t stand it for more than 30 minutes. It’s a shame because this would have been the only usable workspace in the lounge. However, the temperature was pleasant in the rest of the lounge.

Food & Drinks

If you’ve followed my other reviews, you know I’m always enthusiastic about food. There’s a reason I arrived at the airport 4 hours before departure. So let’s see what the lounge has to offer.

Dining Room

The first thing to do was head to the restaurant area. There are also some newspapers available to pass the time:

The menu is spread over two bamboo boards. This is also the case in other Cathay lounges worldwide.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Speisekarten
Menus and Coke Zero

First, there’s the “regular” menu with nearly 20 choices from around the world. Among them are Chinese Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), grilled halibut, Hungarian goulash, ravioli, Wagyu cheeseburger, wonton noodles, and much more:

Then there’s a second menu, a 4-course meal inspired by Cantonese cuisine. Since I couldn’t decide, I opted for this menu:

Snails as an appetizer are… something to get used to. The highlight for me was the very flavorful chicken soup, but the main course (a large shrimp) was also commendable. I skipped the dessert to explore other options.

The portion sizes are all quite small. So, my companion and I were able to try the rest of the menu:

  • The Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) weren’t quite as good as at the Din Tai Fung chain, but still well done.
  • The Hungarian goulash really tasted like pork goulash in Hungary. In other words: excellent.
  • The Wagyu Burger was – at least in terms of meat quality – the best burger I’ve ever had in a lounge.
  • The berry clafoutis (a kind of baked dessert) deserves a B grade.
  • The ice cream was good.
  • The berry chocolate tart was extremely dry and therefore a little disappointing.

The menu is extensive enough that you could eat here for several days in a row and still discover new dishes. The mix of Western and Asian cuisines is also pleasing.

Overall, the quality is quite comparable to a restaurant. It just lacks that certain finesse for a full 5-star rating. So, it receives “only” 4.7 stars, and the Air Canada Signature Suite remains my personal top choice for lounge food. This may also be due to the excellent steak there.

Self-service at The Pantry

There isn’t a “real” buffet with hot dishes in the first lounge. However, you can find some small bites in The Pantry, which is a small room adjacent to the bar. Offerings include pastries, fruits, cakes, and some cheese. Additionally, there’s a fridge stocked with various soft drinks, mostly canned beer, salads, and cold cuts.

None of this screams first-class level. But give me some macarons, and I’m a happier person.


From a review perspective, my aversion to alcoholic beverages strikes again. Therefore, I can’t tell you if the wines and champagnes are any good, only bluntly present the selection.

The champagne bottle prices range somewhere between €40 and €60, so they’re in the middle range:

  • Ayala Bruit Majeur
  • Drappier Carte d’Or Brut
  • Drappier Rosé Premier Cru, 2015

Overall, the selection of wines, cocktails, and liqueurs seemed quite extensive to me. As an alcohol-free alternative, there’s the Cathay Delight. It’s a mocktail made from kiwi juice, coconut milk, and mint, and it’s one of Cathay’s flagship offerings.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Getraenkekarte


Overall, things were quite calm in the Pier at Hong Kong Airport. This is probably also because Cathay is still far from pre-pandemic levels in terms of route network and frequencies.

So, I was also surprised by how few visitors there were in the lounge in the evening. The ratio of passengers to staff was about 1:1. Thus, we didn’t have to wait long to be served in the restaurant, and the staff at the bar immediately asked what we’d like.

The staff were attentive and polite without their friendliness feeling forced. This applies to both the staff at the entrance and at the bar, as well as when clearing the plates, etc. Only one staff member in the restaurant area seemed a bit reserved. But I can’t blame anyone for having a slightly worse day. Besides, the colleague made up for it with his open demeanour and some small talk. The food in the restaurant was delivered without long waits, e.g. the burger in less than 10 minutes.


There are generally no announcements for boarding start and end in the lounge. However, exceptions are made for delayed flights. In that case, a notice is given shortly before the boarding process begins. I think this is a good compromise, especially since my flight to Guangzhou departed with almost an hour’s delay.

Of course, there are also showers. However, if you want to use one of the private cabanas with a bathtub, you have to go over to the first lounge, The Wing. I “only” had 4 hours at the airport, so I decided not to directly compare both lounges.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Toiletten
A view of the restroom

The toilets are as elegantly designed as the rest of the lounge. I assume the shower cabins are similarly designed.

Apart from that, what stands out in the lounge are mainly the (complimentary) massages and the relaxation cabins:


In Hong Kong, there’s a small “problem”: You can eat so well everywhere in the city that you might not even be hungry when visiting the lounge. Then perhaps you’ll be happy in the spa area instead. Those entitled to lounge access are entitled to a complimentary 15-minute massage.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Massage Karte
There are four massage choices

During my stay, the wait time was about an hour, so I preferred to use the time elsewhere. Still, it’s a great way to relax before your flight.

Day Rooms

Also in the spa area, there are eight day rooms. They consist of a large lying area, a small luggage rack, and charging facilities for electronic devices. But most importantly: you can sit or lie down here in peace and relax. The rooms are shielded from view by thick curtains.

CX F Lounge The Pier HKG Day Room

Unlike the massages, there was no waiting time here, and a room was immediately available. However, it was too bright for sleeping, and it would have messed up my day-night rhythm. So, I just took a quick look inside. One highlight, however, is the direct view of the apron.

A Visit to the Business Lounge is Still Worthwhile

The first lounge is a small, quiet paradise for first-class guests and Emerald frequent flyers. However, there are also good reasons to visit the adjacent business lounge. After a 2-minute walk from one lounge to the other, you’ll find:

  • The typical Cathay Noodle Bar with a wide selection of dumplings, soups, etc.
  • A tea room with a large selection of teas
  • Italian dishes such as Parmesan, pizza, Sicilian cannoli, and San Pellegrino lemonade
  • Large tables where you can sit with several people

You shouldn’t arrive too hungry in the business lounge because compared to its first counterpart, there’s a substantial lack of food offerings. Moreover, everything feels much less exclusive. However, overall, I also liked it very much during my brief visit.


Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge “The Pier” in Hongkong
  • Comfort & furnishing
  • Food & drinks
  • Service
  • Extras

The first lounge, The Pier, is a small paradise at Hong Kong Airport. Whether it’s before a first-class or economy flight, you can (if entitled) enjoy delicious food, relax in peace, and feel well taken care of. However, there are better places to work. But luckily, the business lounge is only a few meters away.

Is this lounge now the best Emerald Lounge in the world? I would say, yes. However, I still haven’t been to Qantas’ first lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.

And then there are, of course, first lounges like those from Swiss, Lufthansa & Qatar. They are accessible to a significantly smaller group of people but are also even more exclusive.

Translated by Ditmar

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