Review: Plaza Premium First Lounge, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

by Chris Dong

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.

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 welcome service menu also had the food menu

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):

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.

Entrance to Plaza Premium First

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.

PLaza Premium First HKG Bar

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.)

Plaza Premium First Mocktail

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.

Primo, PPF’s sit-down restaurant

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.

Plaza Premium First HKG Primo

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 Upshot

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?

 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

6 comments
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6 comments

Marc Elliott Levy March 22, 2019 - 11:32 am

My girlfriend and I used it in December. Shower was nice, lotsa good prefilled snack cup options beautifully displayed, amazing tea with a free to-go canister that was quite nice, surprisingly high quality free whiskey, with as you said, good but not outstanding food as entrees. The menu was different when I came, and we were also given free certificates for portions of Jamon Iberico and a $50 credit towards one of the duty free shops.

Reply
Alan June 14, 2019 - 3:32 am

Did they know that you guys was coming to do a review? My experience was completely different. Firstly I was never showed around, I was told that I could eat from the salad bar and menu once – I understand about the main meal, but salad bar? Really? I wasn’t told what was complimentary and which wasn’t… I had to find everything out for myself….. personally, there are much better lounges in my opinion. Vertically not worth premium upgrade fee.

Reply
Chris Dong June 14, 2019 - 11:09 am

Nope, it was not disclosed we were doing a review. Wow, from what I understand, the buffet section, though small, was unlimited and a la carte was one item only. Looks like they’re cheapened out recently. I really enjoyed my experience — and especially the service — when I was there.

Reply
Marc Elliott Levy June 14, 2019 - 11:04 am

On my case, i wasn’t coming to do a review, but from what I am hearing, they tightened up starting in 2019.

Reply
Mike Wilson September 5, 2019 - 8:50 am

Chris, I think you need to come back and update your review. Showers and toilets out of use, the absence of the former is a real demerit point, especially after a day tripping around a steamy HK and looking to refresh before the 23.55 VS207 to London. No welcoming drink and certainly no tour of the lounge (not that that’s critical). Very disappointed.

Reply
Chris Dong September 5, 2019 - 9:31 am

Yikes, I’ll likely be in Hong Kong later this year so I’ll try to swing by for an updated review!

Reply

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