In an age when business travellers are watching the pennies, the airport hotel is proving a popular destination in itself, especially for people on tight schedules or those planning a business meeting.
Guild of Travel Management Companies chief executive Philip Carlisle said: “If most travellers have to fly in for a meeting, it makes sense for them to stay somewhere near
the airport and not 30 miles away in the city centre where the head office is based.”
Airports have now evolved into stand-alone enterprises, turning over millions of pounds from accommodation and retail. If you think adjacent hotels are grim buildings decorated in the 1970s, extolling salesman chic, think again; times have changed and they’re increasingly popular.
Accor Hotels chief operating officer Michael Flaxman said: “We will see clusters of small meetings around Charles De Gaulle, Amsterdam and Heathrow…so the nature of business is changing,” in respect to the downturn.
Many airport properties are now luxurious and stylish, overflowing with character and services. Some even offer hotel and parking packages that work out cheaper than airport parking alone.
Just walking to the Fly SPA through the Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich is now an experience in its own right – you get to stroll through the eight-storey glass cathedral of the hotel atrium, designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn.
Certainly there are a lot more airport hotel options out there, many now with spas, others with swimming pools, one even has a golf course – so it’s about knowing where to book.
If you’re ever delayed in an airport, Changi is the best spot in the world to be stuck in. Check in to the Ambassador Transit hotels in terminals one, two and three. They are a haven of serenity, where staff will wake you before catching your onward flight – and you don’t have to clear immigration to check in.
The adjacent Crowne Plaza, with its 30-metre landscaped pool, is the best spot to hang out with a sports bar and spa, as well as quick access to terminal three. This hotel is the first global brand-name hotel to open in the immediate vicinity of Changi; it’s only been open a year. Rates start from £115. (+65 6823 5388)
The SkyCity Marriott is Hong Kong International airport’s latest addition, opening in December last year.
Aside from the signature Quan spa, health club and indoor heated swimming pool, this hotel has a nine-hole executive golf course while the lounge has open views over the South China Sea.
It is also a one-minute walk to the AsiaWorld- Expo convention centre. Rooms start at £89, which includes two Airport Express Line tickets. (+852 3969 2008)
The Regal Hotel still does well and is also adjacent to the international airport. It was voted one of the top airport hotels in the world by BA Highlife magazine. (+852 2286 8888)
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport is the only airport hotel in the world to be placed on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, yet it is directly above the international departures hall. It has a full-service spa, 24-hour health club and a Zagat-rated restaurant.
It’s their ‘Quiet Zone’ rooms that are most appealing, between 8am and 8pm, day-to-day hotel operations cease. So guests can sleep without being disrupted by housekeepers or bellmen carting luggage around. Earplugs and eye masks are also provided.
Rates start from £56 for four hours and £8 for every hour after that for a maximum of eight hours.
What sets this property apart is the fact that you can check in for your flight in the lobby. It is also the first hotel in North America to offer an entire floor of hypoallergenic guestrooms.
The kitchen can also prepare you ‘Food for Flight’ – a menu whipped up in 20 minutes that you can take on board a flight. (+1 800 441 1414)
The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel was voted the best airport hotel in Asia last year by Travel Weekly (Asia) magazine. It is the only hotel located in the Suvarnabhumi International airport and has the largest hotel lobby in the world.
The hotel has an urban spa from France, a Thai garden and an outdoor swimming pool with great views of the city skyline. It offers accommodation on an hourly basis with a minimum stay of two hours for £39. An additional hour will be charged at £10 per hour up to a maximum of six hours per stay. (+ 66 2 131 1111)
The Al Bustan Rotana-Dubai is the flagship property of Rotana Hotels and one of the city’s premier landmarks. The property underwent a major renovation that finished a few months ago.
The facilities here are quite something. They include a temperature-controlled swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, indoor sauna, two squash and three tennis courts; not to mention the new convention centre that has the capacity for 1,500 people. Room prices start from £172. (020 7702 4189)
The Hilton Boston Logan Airport Hotel was ranked number one in the Top Value Hotel category in a recent TripAdvisor survey, coming first out of all properties across major US cities.
It has a lap pool and great views of the city’s skyline, and a complimentary shuttle bus taking you to the subway and terminals. Rooms start from £165. (+ 1 617 568 67008)
Linked to Terminal 5 via a bridge, the five-star, £180 million Sofitel London Heathrow opened its doors last year. Top grade suites come with butler service.
Brasserie Roux offers French cooking by Jonathan Predy, formerly of The Wolseley in London. The stylish Sphere Bar draws its inspiration from Iceland and the Espa spa offers a jet-lag treatments. Doubles start from £99. (020 8757 7777)
In brief: Airport hotel news
The Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel at Pearson International airport is undergoing a £10 million renovation, which is scheduled to be completed by late summer. There is tough competition at this airport since it has more hotels than any other major city in the world: 42 at the last count.
Brisbane, Australia, will have its first airport hotel this year; the Novotel is set to open in October with a rooftop swimming pool and terrace. Also Down Under, the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport is opening a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in the third quarter of 2009.
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