American Express opened a Centurion lounge in Hong Kong several weeks ago. While there are American Express lounges in several locations around the world, such as Sydney and Mexico City, this is the first Centurion Lounge outside the United States.
And the interesting thing is that this one, while accessible by both Platinum and Centurion cardholders, is the first one that’s really far more geared to the Centurion card set. In U.S. lounges you’ll often see tables in the dining room set aside for Black Card holders, and a better champagne on request. This lounge goes much further.
The American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong is located near gate 60. Hong Kong’s airport has a train that runs one direction, after clearing departure immigration and security you can take the train and get off at the gates 40-80 stop. If your flight is leaving out of low-numbered gates you’re going to need to walk about.
When you get off the train and take the escalators up to the departures level you’ll be near Cathay Pacific’s “The Bridge.” You’ll turn right and follow the sign towards ‘lounges’.
The lounge is up a set up escalators, in the same cluster as the United Club, and utilizing the space of the old Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
Entry of course is ‘through the blue doors’.
Behind the desk was Michael, the lounge manager, who moved to Hong Kong to open this lounge. Regular Centurion lounge guests may recognize him from the Dallas lounge where he’s worked since that one opened.
Somewhat reminiscent of Cathay Pacific’s “The Wing” lounge in Hong Kong, or the British Airways Galleries First and Concorde Room in London, it’s open air out over the terminal itself.
On the way to the main seating area and dining room/bar are of the lounge are a couple of meeting rooms.
If the lounge is super crowded head to the meeting rooms, which in my experience in the U.S. at least tend to be underutilized.
Continue down the hall to the main area of the lounge. And take a moment to look around, the views of the airport and out to the tarmac are fantastic. Look down and you’ll see check-in for Cathay Pacific’s The Bridge lounge as well.
While most of the lounge is furnished in its own decor rather than familiar “American Express lounge chic” there are some familiar accents.
The bar area is gorgeous.
There are working stools with views.
And there’s seating both inside the dining and bar area and ‘outside’ of it (there isn’t any real physical separation, it’s just separated by design elements).
Since it’s an American Express lounge, the focus is food and drink. There’s no kids room or spa at this lounge, but you won’t go hungry while you’re here. The options aren’t super-extensive but there’s hot food on offer.
In addition to the bar, dining, and seating areas there are restrooms and one shower room. The shower room faces significant demand so put your name down for it right away when you reach the lounge if you want to make use of it.
Ultimately the main area of the lounge is fairly small. I was there shortly after noon on a Saturday so it wasn’t super busy. It isn’t yet crazy like Dallas Fort-Worth, Miami, or San Francisco though it will certainly get busier at peak times and as more people get word that the lounge is there.
What really sets is apart from the other American Express lounges though is the premium offerings for Centurion cardmembers. Eligible guest receive a welcome pass when they check-in at the lounge, and that pass is presented at the desk to the left of the buffet area. I requested special access from American Express to get a look at this part of the lounge.
Immediately on the right is an exclusive Centurion cardmember seating area.
And it’s followed by sit down dining.
Here’s the menu designed by Chef Lau Yiu Fai of Yan Toh Heen at the Intercontinental Hong Kong:
I ordered a couple of dishes to get a sense for the kitchen. First up is their burger, I guess I was mostly interested in this because of the fantastic burger in American Airlines Flagship Dining at New York JFK. I do like American’s burger better but I requested that my fries come out well done and American Express really delivered — fantastic fries.
I also tried the Thai yellow curry and I have to say that the beef was spectacular, I was really surprised by how good it was. I think I liked this dish more than anything in the Pier’s first class dining room.
I also tried the mille feuille and enjoyed it.
The drink menu in the Centurion section of the lounge is dedicated to it. Here’s what’s on offer:
Beyond Centurion cardholder dining there’s another small room, not yet finished (it appears to be being used now for storage) where Michael the lounge manager tells me they’re planning to host special Centurion cardholder events.
The Centurion Lounge Hong Kong is open every day from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Access is via Platinum card (cardmember plus 2 guests, authorized users on a Platinum account can access independently and each can also bring 2 guests) or Centurion card (2 guests or immediate family).
The views from this lounge are better than any Centurion lounge in the world. I like the design, it’s a departure from the American Express standard but that’s also refreshing since it gives the lounge more of sense of place. Overall it’s a good lounge, superior to the United Club or Priority Pass options in the airport. The basic lounge is more intimate but not better than what Cathay Pacific has for its business class customers in my opinion.
What sets it apart though is the sit down dining and separate sitting space for Centurion cardholders. That space makes it competitive even with the first class offerings in the airport, though of course the lounge isn’t going to match the spa or private curtained-off relaxation areas of the first class side of the Pier.
It makes sense that Hong Kong would see a Centurion lounge. It’s a high yield market with a big cluster of premium American Express cardholders. American Express is going after the Asian market generally and China in particular. Hong Kong isn’t even the American Express lounge that was expected to be first in the region, so I expect we’ll be seeing more.