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Cathay Pacific opens new San Francisco lounge

10th Nov 2011

cathay opens SFO lounge

Cathay Pacific have opened a new Business and First Class lounge at San Francisco international airport. The lounge is a joint Business and First lounge, and takes all the elements of the Hong Kong Cabin lounge, but compresses them into a small room, including the noodle bar and the famous Solus Chair.

The lounge is a welcome change from the JAL lounge that Cathay Pacific had previous used at San Francisco, and certainly a vast improvement on the very poor American Airline's facilities.

The lounge is only 520 square metres - not big, and you can see most of the lounge when you find it, which is the first challenge. As with most of the SFO lounges, the Cathay Pacific lounge is hidden airside on the fourth floor: once past security turn right, take the (tiny) lift, then down a long service corridor. It is right next to the Air France and JAL lounge. At the end is a poster cut out of a Cathay Pacific flight attendant to let you know you've arrived, just as there is in London and Melbourne.

Perhaps to make up for this, reception is very friendly. Incidentally, the reception wall is made of Venetian glass tiles by Fabbian of Italy, backlit to create an abstract impression of bamboo. It works - it really does.

The Cathay Pacific San Francisco lounge is in effect a large square room with one side having huge floor to ceiling windows, slightly obscured by the huge girders at 45 degree angles. There are Carrara white marble and 'China Black' granite on the floor, with many bamboo wood finishes. Straight ahead are 12 (bright) orange armchairs, left of which are a few more, and to the right three of the classic Cathay Pacific Solus chairs, flown in specially for you to sit in, and pretend you are already on the plane with a flip-down tray.

Over the room divider is a classic white marble bench (at two levels) overlooking the window, and three wooden cubes, resembling the 'Long Bar' at the pier in Hong Kong. The stools here are not especially comfortable. Behind this is the food counter: in effect a long refectory area. There is also a small TV alcove - where the chairs are at right angles to the TV, which is normally set on CNN. There is also another TV in the main area of the lounge.

cathay opens SFO lounge 2

Food is good in the San Francisco Cathay Pacific lounge, as you'd expect considering the overnight long-haul ahead over the Pacific. The refectory counter runs along one side of the lounge, with a fridge with salad in bowls (large bowls for the lettuce, small bowls for cucumber & tomatoes), fruit salad and yoghurt. There is also one hot plate, with three plates of pasta, rice and veggies. The best bit is the serve to order noodles, which are brought to you in a bowl, on a small mini-tray. The DanDan noodles in a spicy peanut soup is as delicious as it is filling: the menu for which noodles are available today is on a small plastic stand.

The bar is however pretty minimal. Certainly if you compare it to the over-the-top, every spirit under the sun, in the Virgin Atlantic lounge at San Francisco, it isn't great. There are two bottles of wine in cooler on worktop, with a sparkling, while two reds are next to the few spirits; there are only a few bottles under the shelves on the right. Beer is in the fridge on the extreme right. There is also a pretty nifty coffee machine.

There is a small workzone, with seven computers with lighting fast internet access and a combined printer/photocopier/fax. There is also free wifi in the lounge. Power sockets (110v, US outlet plus 240v UK/HK Style) are located in each side table. At the far end of the lounge there is a newspaper rack, with copies of all the daily Hong Kong and San Francisco newspapers.

There are three shower rooms in the lounge, and these are good, with the same split-pebble walls as in Hong Kong. Towels are at reception: they'll also hand out amenity kits with a razor and toothbrush.

The lounge is open four hours prior to flight departure.



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