Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) has no shortage of incredible lounges. Seriously, some of the best lounges in the world are within the walls of this airport. For instance, Oneworld Emeralds can access Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge — where you can have your own private cabana, among other ridiculous things.
Other Hong Kong lounges include those run by Plaza Premium, the world’s largest private lounge operator. Last year, it opened its third departures lounge inside HKG. This newest one is no ordinary contract lounge. It’s called Plaza Premium First, and it’s an upmarket offering that provides elevated service, food, and drink in a more private atmosphere.
Breaking It Down:
Who Can Access Plaza Premium First Hong Kong?
Normally, Plaza Premium lounges are accessible via Priority Pass. However, these First branded lounges have a supplemental fee, even if you have Priority Pass. At the moment, the additional supplement is a reasonable HKD 300 (about $38 USD) for a three-hour stay. Plaza Premium has mentioned this is only a promotional price and hasn’t yet confirmed what final “buy-up” pricing will be.
Flash your Priority Pass card, boarding pass, and a credit card to pay the extra fee, and you’ll be set.
If you don’t have Priority Pass, a cash purchase to enter is pretty hefty, HKD 880 for three hours. No lounge is worth over $100 USD in my book, especially with a time restriction.
Side note — I apologize for the quality of photos, my camera lens had a mishap so images appear a bit washed out.
The following guests also have access:
- Air France La Premiere
- Air Astana Business Class
- Finnair Emeralds
- Virgin Atlantic Upper Deck
- Virgin Australia (only connecting passengers onwards to London)
- “Invitation-only” British Airways passengers
- CCB Diamond Prestige customers (Hong Kong-based program)
- HKT The Club Platinum and Black Membership (Hong Kong based program)
The lounge is pretty specific in terms of access to certain airline programs. Plaza Premium wants to retain an exclusive feel. And when I visited in the afternoon, it indeed felt that way. There were probably only 10 other people in the lounge.
How Do I Get Priority Pass For Free?
If you are US based, these credit cards include Priority Pass Select. This allows you and two guests into any Priority Pass venue (and allowing you to just pay the supplement for Plaza Premium First):
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Plaza Premium First Hong Kong: Location and Opening Hours
The lounge is located on the departures level of Terminal 1 (near Gate 1). In fact, it is right next to the regular Plaza Premium Lounge accessible with Priority Pass. The lounge is open 24 hours daily.
What’s Included In The Cost Of Admission?
Beyond just getting into the lounge, entering the Plaza Premium First lounge also includes a 10 minute massage treatment, one a la carte food items from Primo (the lounge’s sit-down restaurant), and most food and drink.
Yes, unlike many other lounges, there are many opportunities to buy-up to something more premium. This includes a range of items like whiskey tastings, aged meats, and expensive wines. It’s kind of annoying that not everything is included in the cost of entering the lounge. However, I found that the quality of the things that were already included were still high. In fact, it was a notch or two above most other contract lounges, and even Cathay Pacific’s lounge offerings.
Plaza Premium First Hong Kong: First Impressions & Decor
The decor was classy, with muted greys and golds. The ambience was upscale without being over the top. However, I thought it still didn’t hold a candle to Cathay Pacific’s The Pier in terms of ambience. Those lounges, both in business and first class versions, are some of the classiest in the world. They truly feel like an upscale living room.
Upon entering Plaza Premium First, you are given a tour. Not really necessary, but I appreciate the gesture. It’s not a huge space either, but the lounge is broken up into various sections to give a sense of spaciousness.
The bar is immediately to the left of the entrance area (called the “Aerobar”) with a mix of high top and standard seating. Awaiting me was a delicious welcome mocktail with tea, lemongrass, mint, and pineapple juice. (Don’t worry, there’s plenty of alcoholic drinks too.)
Past the entrance to the right is the massage room. I had a 10 minute neck massage treatment and was able to get an appointment almost immediately.
Past the bar is a transparent partition and more standard lounge chairs. There are are a row of napping recliners along a wall, and a private room with more seating that is bookable for events. Today, it was empty, as was most of the lounge.
Finally, if you walk down the main hallway past reception and the bar, you’ll find the shower rooms to your right and the lounge’s main dining area, Primo restaurant. The whole lounge takes about 30 seconds to walk through.
Plaza Premium First Hong Kong: Amenities
A 10 minute massage is included with the cost of admission. The massage room had two semi-private spaces for treatments which were done on a massage chair over your clothes. I had a great neck and shoulder treatment but annoyingly, my masseuse used a very loud timer which abruptly whipped me out of my state of bliss.
The shower room was spacious and well equipped with Elemis toiletries (the same brand British Airways uses). It also passed the fluffy towel test — these were some of the nicest towels I’ve used anywhere.
The lounge also offers a luggage check and the agent proactively offered to take my bag before I started meandering around the lounge.
Speaking of service, every staff member I interacted with was incredibly gracious and eager to please. It honestly was the highlight of the entire experience.
Further back in Plaza Premium First were a handful of loungers that seemed comfy enough for a quick snooze. There’s even a blanket that can be requested.
Plaza Premium First Hong Kong: Food & Drink
Plaza Premium has created interesting branded partnerships with the likes of Lavazza, Glenlivet, etc. to elevate the f&b experience. The a la carte menu was impressive at Primo and while I thought the amount of lobster in my spaghetti and lobster plate was a bit sparse, the dish was solid. And let’s be real, a lounge offering lobster? I’m good with that.
Overall, I thought the food was good, not great. Quality seemed slightly better than Cathay Pacific’s lounges but selection was much more limited. And with Primo only offering one a la carte dish, don’t come to this lounge super hungry unless you want to pay.
I was really impressed by the self-serve salad bar since I find it difficult to eat healthy while traveling. Oh, and the snack selection and macaroons were bakery quality. This lounge was definitely a case of quality versus quantity.
As mentioned, there’s a range of optional food & drink add-ons including Glenlivet whiskey tastings, high-end liquors, and yes, even a fancy ham.
The star of the show at this lounge was the service. Every staff member tried to assist and service was incredibly personal.
So is it worth the $38 and change extra fee? For the experience, I would say yes. Personally, I wouldn’t pay a surcharge again since I can access HKG’s Oneworld lounges (when flying Oneworld) or the Centurion Lounge with my American Express Platinum when I’m not.
The “branded experience” is smart co-branding, and I’m surprised I didn’t mind the advertising collateral and buy-ups. The whiskey tasting opportunity is kind of cool, and I really appreciated the high-quality coffee.
Plaza Premium has a gem on its hands with this lounge. At HKD 880 for the regular cost of admission, it’s super pricey though. But since exclusivity is what they’re going after, Plaza Premium probably doesn’t even care.
Have you checked out the Plaza Premium First lounge in Hong Kong?
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