Cool but crowded: A review of the American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong
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Amex opened its first international Centurion Lounge just over two years ago in Hong Kong, which made a lot of sense given how many premium cardholders live -- and travel through -- the city. Not only is the Hong Kong lounge the issuer's first international Centurion Lounge, it's also the only one to feature an entirely separate area for Centurion cardholders.
Although I'm not a Centurion cardholder (we can't all be Brian Kelly), I was able to check out the rest of the Lounge on a recent trip through Hong Kong.
The Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong (HKG) is in Terminal 1, the airport's main terminal. Terminal 1 at HKG is shaped like a "Y," and the lounge is just in the center of that "Y."
The lounge is on the upper level of the departures floor near Gate 60. You need to take an elevator or escalator to access Level 7 though there's plenty of signage to get you there.
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If you're originating in Hong Kong, you exit security and passport control near gates 1 and 5. While you could walk all the way to Gate 60, there's also an Automated People Mover that stops at gates 40 to 80.
If you take the APM, make sure to get out at this stop. If your flight is departing from a gate numbered 40 or below, you need to retrace your steps back to your gate. The APM only operates in one direction, so you need to walk from there to your gate.
The lounge is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Customers can access a Centurion Lounge by flashing The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee. See rates & fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or The Centurion® Card. Visitors are entitled to bring two guests (or immediate family, if you carry a Centurion card), and lap infants don’t count against the two-guest allotment.
The information for the Centurion Card card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Which card is right for you? Amex Platinum vs. Amex Business Platinum
Cardholders with other flavors of the Platinum Card, such as the Schwab, Ameriprise or international versions, also have access. Authorized users with a Centurion or Platinum Card also have access — you can add up to three authorized users to the personal Platinum Card for a total of $175 per year (see rates and fees) — but those who have the Platinum’s complimentary additional Gold Card don’t have access.
Note that Platinum cardholders can only access Centurion lounges up to three hours before a departing flight. Platinum members also get access when connecting through the airport, but won’t get access without an onward boarding pass.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card cardholders will receive complimentary access to the Centurion Lounge when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on any American Express card issued in the U.S. You’ll be able to bring up to two guests for a fee of $50 each. But, Delta doesn't fly to Hong Kong, so you won't be able to use the Amex Delta Reserve to enter the Hong Kong lounge.
The Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong is L-shaped, with a long corridor extending beyond the entrance before making a sharp turn and getting into the main relaxation area.
The design will be familiar to anyone who’s visited a Centurion Lounge before, as you’ll find artwork and color schemes similar to that in the other Centurion lounges.
The lounge is open-air, affording great airport views and adding to the space's volume.
Along the narrow entryway corridor is the boardroom with a large table, a meeting room with a smaller four-top table, and an even smaller phone room.
These proved to be great places to sit when the main area got overcrowded.
The centerpiece of the main area is the expansive bar. There were a few barstools here, but this wouldn’t be a great place to sit, since it’s also where the overflow buffet items are displayed.
Flanking the bar on either side are drink and snack towers and nonalcoholic drinks.
Behind the bar are the restrooms and shower.
The main sitting area is just in front of the bar. There are various two-person dining tables here, as well as relaxation chairs lower to the ground.
Aside from the table seating, there’s a small nook with a counter area with seating for about 10 people.
Throughout my stay, the lounge got really crowded. So crowded, in fact, that the front desk opened up a waitlist for entry. Just take a look at the pictures I took when the lounge opened at 5:30 a.m. above compared to what it looked like at 8:30 a.m.
However, there was one peaceful area that I didn’t have access to, the dedicated space for Centurion cardholders. Black card holders had a separate space behind the behind a sliding black door leading to more seating and a la carte dining.
There wasn’t much in the way of amenities. About half the tables had access to power and USB ports, and those were the tables to fill up first.
There was only one shower, and I’d heard that the wait can often exceed an hour. If you’re looking to shower, make sure to place your name on the waitlist once you enter.
The shower room itself was quite nice, with L’Occitane bath amenities.
Aside from the shower room, the lounge had nicer bathrooms than the airport terminal.
The Wi-Fi signal extended throughout the space, and the network provided above-average speeds of 64 Mbps download and 26 Mbps upload.
The only other amenity was the single public-use computer and printer in the boardroom.
Food and beverage
Aside from the large bar, there was a pretty extensive breakfast buffet the morning I visited. There wasn’t any a la carte dining, but everything on the buffet was quite fresh.
Breakfast was served from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., the buffet transitioned to all-day cuisine until closing.
The hot foods included hard boiled eggs, waffles, Asian noodles, sausages, potatoes, scrambled eggs, pork patties and other Asian specialities like dried oysters and shrimp dumplings.
In addition to the hot food, there was also a salad bar with various fruits and vegetables.
Right next to the salad bar was a small refrigerated section with yogurt and Swiss muesli.
My favorite from the buffet was the breakfast breads section, and particularly the miniature donuts. I’m a sucker for things with sprinkles, so these really hit the spot.
While the food was definitely above average for a business-class lounge, the star of the show was the alcohol selection curated by mixologist Jim Meehan from New York's Please Don't Tell.
The extensive wine and cocktail menu made it really easy to forget how overcrowded the lounge was. I enjoyed perusing the cocktail menu, but there was a bartender on hand ready to whip up your favorite concoction.
There were plenty of Coke products, juices and a Melitta coffee machine.
Although it got crowded, the roaming servers did a phenomenal job of removing used dishes and cutlery.
Though the Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong may be Amex's first international outpost, the design and space is reminiscent of the eight other locations across America. And that's a good thing. A Centurion Lounge is well-appointed, and Hong Kong is no exception.
The food and beverages were delicious, though it got packed. Overall, the Centurion Lounge is a great option for travelers passing through Hong Kong. It's leagues better than the Priority Pass lounges, but if you have access, the Cathay Pacific lounges are definitely a step up from this one.
For rates and fees of the Platinum card from American Express, please click here
All photos by the author