Taipei Taoyuan sees a lot of Cathay traffic – it’s not unusual to see four or more Cathay aircraft on the ground there at certain types of day. As well as a high frequency to Hong Kong, they also offer flights from Taipei to other places such as Fukuoka, Japan. Cathay flights ex-Taipei tend to be significantly cheaper than ex-HKG and some passengers fly there to start their ticket there accordingly. All of this means that there is a high demand for the Cathay lounge. Some months ago they closed their old business class and first class lounge. They renovated it and have now reopened a combined first and business class lounge.
The lounge is in Terminal One, situated on the way to the “B” gates after security. It’s up one floor from the corridor, clearly signed.
Lounge Design and Layout
The design of the lounge is beautiful. The old lounge often felt grey and dim to me and the new one though it still struggles with the window locations and often cloudy Taiwanese weather nonetheless creates a cosier, more comfortable atmosphere. It is in line with the newer Cathay lounge style like the Bangkok lounge we reviewed before. However the design here feels slightly less contemporary and draws more cues from art deco design, in warm, beautiful hues. For example, the brass-topped long bar is a lovely touch and the woodwork decoration feels a bit cosier.
The lounge gives a real sense of space and feels much bigger than the old one. There are four distinct areas. One is the noodle bar area, which has booth seating, and another is the area which contains a beautiful bar, whose impact is emphasised by its symmetrical position at the end of the lounge pathway.
There are a wide range of seating types throughout the lounge, including some very large, comfortable personal chairs. I was also impressed that there are four or more large boardroom-style tables scattered around the lounge in different designs, seating ten or more people. If you want to have a meeting or are travelling as a group, this is very helpful, although they are still in public areas. My only complaint about the seating is that Cathay continues not to offer any seats which really recline. For those who want to rest properly, this is a regrettable omission.
A small, quiet business area offers computers, printers and phones.
There is an excellent availability of power outlets throughout most of the lounge, though annoyingly unlike for example The Bridge in Hong Kong, the bar does not have any power outlets underneath it. I am happy not to see people using computers at what should be a social, elegant bar, but for charging phones and the like those sockets can be helpful.
Food and Drink
The lounge has a noodle bar like the old lounge did, and the food is typical of the Cathay noodle bar level and includes local favourites such as Taiwanese beef noodles. Aside from that, however, it is striking how small the range of food is for a lounge of such a big size. There is one food area as one enters which offers a range of fruit, sandwiches, cakes and the like, including some welcome local Taiwanese desserts, but apart from that there appears to be no other food in the lounge.
There is a wide range of drinks available, at several points in the lounge. The best are at the bar, including a proper coffee machine using which the waitress or waiter will make a coffee of your choice. There is also a self-service coffee machine in one of the other food and drink areas. There is a draft beer machine (which was not working when I visited) and a wide range of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. The wine list is disappointingly basic as seems to be a Cathay theme these days – for a first class ticket holder, the wine list in this lounge would not match the expectation of a first class experience, in my view. However the spirits selection is good and the freshly made fruit juices and the like are welcome.
This is a large, beautifully designed lounge and generally well thought out. It could do with more small, private rooms, but apart from that the space is well utilised. The food is limited in range but what there is is good, and the service is typically Taiwanese in its friendliness. Overall it feels like the lounge is better than the old one.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.