Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Heathrow T4

Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge Heathrow T4

First off, respect to Malaysia Airlines for having their own lounge at Heathrow T4 which is open to Oneworld status cardholders unlike Qatar which limits access to only those in business  & first class. That being said, how does it stack up?

Location

The lounge is located on the third floor with the entrance just before Pret A Manger, if you walk past Pret you’ve gone too far (like I did)

First impressions

The first impression is good with a large Malaysian themed reception area, with toilets off to the left, a baggage storage area next to the elevators and a door to first class to the right. After entering the buffet is right in front of you, then you walk through to the lounge with the bar to your right and views across the apron.

Design

The lounge is a decent size, though it does get busy before departures with plenty of natural light. However unlike my recent review of the Asiana lounge at Incheon I felt here they haven’t put any effort into zoning the lounge. Seating is arranged pretty much in rows with no thought to create some quieter corners or rest areas. This is probably partly due to lack of space and trying to fit in the maximum number of seats. However, there’s also a serious lack of power, I couldn’t spot any at any table seeing several people walk around looking lost trying to find power before they took up the work space PCs and charged their devices there.

Also it’s one of the strangest set ups for a first class area I’ve seen, with the bar literally cut in two to share half of it with the first class lounge which is separate by a glass wall. I don’t know how long this has been like this but bearing in mind the lack of quieter sections I’m surprised Malaysian hasn’t taken the decision like other airlines to merge the lounges and create one superior space. It felt like this isn’t a good or prestige solution for either first or business class passengers. I say ditch the fish bowl and merge the lounges!

Food

I was looking forward to a hot English breakfast before travelling and have to admit after taking one look at the buffet went straight over to Plaza Premium (review here). The best word to describe the buffet is “rationed”. It just didn’t look particularly inviting.

First, one of the hot warmers in the photo below had four small dishes of egg, croquette potatoes, tomato and baked beans with both the egg and beans having been left for a while and having a slight crust on top. In fairness the Malaysian options looked better, but what would be better is maybe having English options to order if the demand isn’t there. There was fruit, cheese and sandwiches and wraps also available but only one of each had been displayed. It just gave a feeling that limited food had been put out.

The rest

There’s a good children’s play area to the left of the reception desk in its own room; so perfect if you want to enjoy a drink while the children play and the rest of the lounge guests will no doubt thank you as well!

I’ve already mentioned the total lack of power options. There’s wifi as you’d expect which was fine with no problems.

Overall

In summary a decent lounge with a weird set up and shape. MH should really consider merging the two lounges which wouldn’t be hard; there’s just a glass wall separating them and creating one better space for everyone. I’d say food options were OK, but it’s going to depend what you want, I do think the presentation could be much better. However, if you do need to get work done and need power this isn’t the lounge for you. It’s totally lacking in power outlets or even anywhere private/secluded to get some work done. If you need to work then consider visiting the Plaza Premium lounge if you have access which has plenty of power and corners to work in.

Malaysia Airlines – A Tale of Two Lounges

Malaysia Airlines – A Tale of Two Lounges

On a recent stopover in Kuala Lumpur I had the opportunity to visit any of the OneWorld lounges at KIA so made the most of the time and checked out the two lounges you can use if leaving from the satellite terminal; the Malaysian Golden Lounge or the Cathay Pacific Lounge.

First up the Golden Lounge

Firstly the Lounge is huge, think Qatar huge, so not finding a seat won’t be an issue. It’s one long room so is nicely laid out with a large central food service station. Off to the side is a cafe set up that serves laksa and noodles.

Food
The food is difficult to describe. I visited twice in the same night thanks to a flight delay and it grew on me the second time. The first visit I had the impression the food selection was cheap mass market stuff, think tomato pasta, tubs of rice etc. But when I did a second visit I noticed they had panini cooked to order and an espresso bar. There was also a waffle station. There’s not a huge variety, think one type of waffle, a salad bar of 4-5 items and limited choice of sandwiches but for the size of the Lounge and traffic it does the job. I have to admit to being spoilt by the CX Lounge I visited in between the dual Golden Lounge visits. 7/10

Drinks
Now this is where Malaysia fails dismally. Now I get that Malaysia is a Muslim country, however they want the foreign connecting traveller so get a decent bar. The bar is off to the side as you walk in and is dark and worn. There’s a significant difference between the bar and the main lounge, I’m guessing one was renovated and the other wasn’t. There’s nothing on the shelves behind the bar or in the fridge, just a few bottles hidden below the bar and no menu. I ordered a vodka soda and not only was the soda flat but could hardly taste the vodka. I wiped the table with a napkin as it looked wet and ended up with a black tissue. Not pleasant. The drink was so bad as well as the environment I abandoned it and went to the CX Lounge for a proper drink. 2/10

Environment
The lounge itself is fine, it’s a bit cavernous but then you’re not going to have an issue finding a seat. There’s plenty of charging points as well as flight information screens. It doesn’t feel particularly intimate and more suits a quick 30 minute grab and go I think rather than somewhere to relax. 6/10

The Cathay Lounge

I have to admit I wasn’t planning on lounge hopping but after the disaster with the bar I wanted a proper gin and tonic, so decamped to the Cathay lounge to see what was on offer.

Food
The food selection was significantly better in the CX lounge. It wasn’t that there was more choices but that there was a feeling of more quality ingredients being used in the food. The MH lounge had a feeling that they were catering to the masses. CX had hot dishes such as potato dauphinoise (really good), Japanese chicken curry (excellent) as well as some delcious mini quiches and an assortment of cheese and salad. CX wins on food quality here, hands down. 8/10

Drinks
No complaints here, self serve drinks! There wasn’t much selection with just whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and a red and white wine but they were all branded spirits and free pour so you could make your own drink the way you want it. Simple but works. 9/10

Environment
In fairness to MH, CX has a much smaller lounge which is understandable at KIA. It’s also not a “refreshed” lounge like Bangkok and others with the CX change to noodle bars and wood paneling. It is however clean, comfortable and when I visited quite quiet though your mileage may vary. In fairness to MH they have a lot more passengers to accommodate in their lounge so the size and slight cavern feel is partially understandable. Given similar levels of traffic though I think most would prefer the smaller quieter lounge with less walk to food and drinks. 8/10

Summary
In summary the CX lounge definitely wins here, though the reasoning is more complex. It’s not that the MH offering is bad, but the word that sums it up is “budget”. The food quality is not as good and they are definitely catering to mass traffic. Why they have so many people needing lounge access is another issue. Then there’s the issue with the bar which is quite honestly awful. Either you’re a full service airline and want international non-muslim passengers or you don’t. Decide. There are definitely worse lounges around but if you’re expecting luxury and a more relaxed intimate experience this isn’t it. It has more of a dining hall/commissary feel than a business class lounge.

Intercontinental Hong Kong Lobby Lounge

Intercontinental Hong Kong Lobby Lounge

You’ve checked into your hotel, spent an enjoyable day sightseeing and shopping around Hong Kong and simply need a place to rest your tired feet with a cold drink; here’s a hidden gem you wouldn’t necessarily think about. The Intercontinental Hong Kong Lobby Lounge.

When you think of hotel bars you generally assume a non descript bar tucked into the corner of the lobby and in a sense yes this is a lobby bar but what makes this a spectacular choice at the end of your long Hong Kong day is the view; floor to ceiling panoramic views of Victoria Harbour all lit up at night. It’s truly stunning.

They’ve got some great cocktails and as you will no doubt assume they aren’t cheap but then think of it like you’re getting the entertainment of the view or the symphony of lights show thrown in for free nightly at 8pm! There’s also live music from famous Hong Kong jazz musicians such as Eugene Pao.

If you prefer an afternoon visit then don’t miss the afternoon tea, one of the best in Hong Kong.

BA Closing Hong Kong Base

BA Closing Hong Kong Base

In quite a disgusting way to treat people British Airways has announce plans to close their Hong Kong base and lose the experience and language skills of 85 local crew. It’s the latest short sighted move from a company with management solely fixated on cutting costs no matter what effect it has on their service levels or people. Coming hot on the heels of their hacking and loss of credit card information in the last month, where I personally was affected and had to cancel my card you would think they would have a PR office with more sense. Maybe they are hoping no one notices.

No matter what commercial reasons you decide to take for your business there are ways you do things and the letter to the left sent to crew is NOT how you treat people. Stripping rosters with no notice is a robotic, weak and mean-spirited way to behave. If there was ever a way to lose your Hong Kong market share even further to Cathay Pacific and manage to antagonize your customer base at the same time then this is it.

Asiana Lounge Seoul

Asiana Lounge Seoul

The Asiana business lounge is located just after passport control on a mezzanine level overlooking the concourse. Initial impressions are good with a marble reception desk with friendly staff. If you enter to the right you will enter the new expanded wing.

The lounge itself is full of natural light in the daytime and at night when we visited had a nice intimate feeling despite being busy and a large lounge. Even though it was one big space, it had been cleverly sectioned with plenty of table seating to eat as well as relaxation areas, with even a grand piano in the center of the space. Think plenty of dark wood, earth colors and dark furniture to give the lounge a library kind of feel.

So with an impressive lounge environment we were looking forward to visiting the buffet, unfortunately here is where it went downhill. The selection of both food and drinks was very limited, with a selection more appropriate to a regional lounge rather than a flagship lounge in an airport and with an airline serving long haul routes.

They bizarrely had toast available for this late evening departure with what can best be described as a few snacks and nibbles, nothing substantial. Apparently there is more food available at main meal times but what is a main meal time? Airlines seem to be using this as an excuse to cut costs in lounges. Newsflash, meal time is whatever time zone your high paying passenger is on! Alcohol was also limited with a basic selection of 2-3 spirits and a couple of bottles of wine.

In summary, impressive design and well thought out but let down by the food and drink options!