If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll have read that I’ve been working on a new global Touring Car racing championship this year called the TCR International Series. The final rounds of the series were held in Macau last weekend and saw Switzerland’s Stefano Comini win the first-ever TCR Drivers’ title, with Target Competition taking the Teams’ championship.
On my way back from Macau (and thanks to an introduction from an industry colleague) I was invited to visit one of the Plaza Premium lounges at Hong Kong International Airport. Reviews of airport lounges aren’t what this blog is all about, but I thought I’d make an exception to highlight what was a thoroughly agreeable way to prepare for my forthcoming 12+ hour flight back to Heathrow!
My flight was due to depart from Gate 15, so the most convenient lounge was in the airport’s East Hall, near to Gate 1, while there’s also a second, newer, lounge in the West Hall near Gate 40. Facilities included free wi-fi, snacks and soft drinks and canned beer, with a cash bar available for wine and draught beer (including Stella Artois). There were two areas serving food – since it was after 9pm when I arrived, one was serving a decent selection of tapas dishes (including olives, chorizo, potato wedges and mushrooms) while the other (see below) specialised in Chinese food, with fish ball noodle soup being a speciality.
The lounge has space for 300 people and has two distinct areas, with the space immediately inside the entrance being quite dimly-lit and resembling a nightclub, with comfortable seating on offer. Walking further into the lounge reveals an area with seating arranged around tables and slightly brighter lighting. As with most lounges, TVs on the walls were playing a range of news and sports programmes from around the world. There were showers available as well, but I didn’t make use of them.
The lounges are part of the Plaza Premium lounge network and can be accessed using lounge programmes such as Lounge Club (currently offered with the American Express Gold Rewards Card). There was also a sign inside the entrance displaying rates for varying stays, so I assume you can also pay on the door.
If you’re not travelling in Business or First Class (and so don’t have access to the relevant airline lounge), the Plaza Premium lounges at Hong Kong are an attractive alternative, particularly when you bear in mind that flights back to the UK are in excess of 12 hours. The only thing I could fault was that one of the two coffee machines was out of order – not an issue bearing the late hour and no queue for the other machine.
The TCR calendar for 2016 has yet to be published, but I understand Macau will probably be the final round once again. If that’s the case, I know where I’ll be relaxing before my final flight of the year….