Friday, December 1, 2017

Centurion Lounge

I don’t usually write about airport lounges - cuz doing so made me sound like a humblebrag - but then this is the one I was truly excited about. I have never visited the American Express Centurion Lounge before - they started operating a few in US after my time (would have loved to have a few of those when I was flying regularly for work), but recently they expanded to a few overseas locations, starting in Hong Kong this past October, which obviously is a good news to me.

I was flying to Taipei for the weekend a few weeks ago so that gave me the chance to check it out before boarding my flight. The lounge took up the space near Gate 60 right behind the United Club - I don’t know what it was before but the space is now spacious and comfortable with a modern, open design. Near the entrance is a couple meeting rooms if you happened to have a big group or need the space for meetings etc (but why though). The rest was open space with lounge chairs and table - not the type you can sit up straight for real work I reckon not that I am of the style of working behind my laptop non-stop even when I actually travel for business. Despite its name, the lounge (at least the general area) is open to both American Express Platinum and Centurion charge card holders.

Of course food is what I cared most. The lounge is operated by the same group that handled Cathay Pacific lounges and Plaza Premium Lounge so the offerings were similar, except it’s all on buffet basis and no dishes/noodles available to order, unlike the other two. At the back there’s a section reserved for Centurion/Black card member which features food from Yan Toh Heen of Intercontinental which was of a different class of course - I don’t believe I will have access to it in the near future, if ever.

I went in the morning so it’s the standard breakfast fare such as scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes and Cantonese congee. Well, it’s on par with just about any standard hotel buffet. But since it’s never too crowded (unlike the other lounges) it’s quite relaxing and definitely got no waiting line for food, which is a big plus. (You don’t know how many times I walked into the CX lounge and was horrified by the rowdy crowd in the peak hours and went straight out)

I am more impressed with their drink selection, featuring a dozen or so of wines and cocktail choices on the menu and a well stocked bar. With Jim Meehan of PDT being their cocktail consultant there are some interesting choices available. I know it’s probably a bit too early to drink but my Boutineer was enjoyable, with barrel-aged rum, cocchi americano and bergamot orange accented Italian aperitivo shaken for a light, refreshing drink to go with my breakfast. I just wish they got the tater tots like the ones served at PDT.

I won’t necessary say this is any much superior than the others (The CX ones are my favorites in Hong Kong despite the recent change in management and Plaza Premium Lounge’s bowl of fishball noodles is still my favorite food item) but at least now I got one more choice in my hometown airport in case the others became unbearably crowded (which happen very often these days) I know Centurion Lounge will provide me the much needed refuge to get me in the right mood before take-off. And their friendly guest policy means I don’t have to ditch my travel companions behind if they don’t have access by their own rights. That's another plus for me.

When? October 27 2017
Where? The American Express Centurion Lounge, Level 7 Departure Hall (Near Gate 60), Hong Kong International Airport
Menu Highlights? Cocktails from Mixologist Jim Meehan of PDT

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