Nobody really wants to stay at an airport hotel. The general reputation that they're notoriously staid and soulless with uncomfortable beds, charmless atmospheres, uninspiring food, and views of a parking lot is not unfounded. But with more travelers taking to the skies on up to 840,000 flights a day, the airport hotel experience is changing.
Airport hotels started to ramp up their amenities and décor to entice well-heeled travelers with a night's stay, and guests are booking without second thoughts. So we're taking a look at the most stylish airport hotels around the world, from design-driven newcomers to redesigned oldies offering world-class amenities, all of whom have helped redefine the airport hotel concept.
Aloft San Francisco
The most groundbreaking airport hotel to recently make waves is Starwood's Aloft Hotels, a "style-at-a-steal" brand that flaunts a contemporary approach with urban influence. It launched its first airport hotel in Montreal and, due to its success, now has a dozen around the world. Travelers are looking forward to its first-ever conversion hotel in San Francisco, opening this summer, which has all the Aloft trademarks (re:mix lounge, w xyz bar, free internet) and will be in a prime location adjacent to SFO.
Hilton Frankfurt Airport
Hilton pioneered the airport hotel concept back in 1959, and now the new Frankfurt Airport Hotel is making waves in 2012. Opened in December, the 259-room Hilton Frankfurt Airport Hotel is located in THE SQAIRE complex (a futuristic skyscraper) and is commanding in design with atrium lobby, panoramic glass elevators, and contemporary "lightning ball" fixtures. There's also an in-house, award-winning pastry chef to boot.
Langham Place Beijing Airport Hotel
In Beijing, the airport is apparently a hot spot—and the Langham has been luring Beijing's cool kids to its ultramodern, stylish hotel. It's so trendy among locals that the hotel hires DJs in its lounge to up its hip factor. All 372 rooms are at a minimum 382 square-feet and include 12 split-level, 1,500-square-foot loft-style apartments and four duplex penthouses with glass skylights. A 24-hour Club L Lounge wins over club members, and a 24-hour shuttle bus to the airport ensures travelers won't miss their flight.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Well-heeled travelers to Vancouver often find time to fit the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel into their itinerary (on purpose). The AAA/CAA 4-diamond hotel has 392, spacious, fully soundproofed rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows that flaunt views of the airport runways, ocean and mountains, with telescopes to boot. The hotel also offers a popular spa with whirlpool, fitness center, and three-lane lap pool. Throw in the award-winning GLOBE&YVR restaurant with Pacific Northwest cuisine, a fishing valet, and rooftop bee community where they source their own honey, and travelers feel like they're at a luxury resort.
Regency Hotel Miami
Only fifteen minutes from South Beach, the 174-room Regency Hotel recently underwent a half-million dollar renovation. Thanks to general manager Robert Todak (who opened Tides Hotel and ran the Betsy), travelers can expect modern amenities, several antique pieces in the lobby and stylish rooms (all with balconies), and a relaxing outdoor pool. Not only does the hotel offer a Regency Club floor with upgraded work stations and Wolfgang Puck coffee, it's "retail therapy" offers Monoi Tiare beauty products from French Polynesia, Estaban perfumes from the South of France, Pan Am travel accessories and, more recently, Victoria's Secret apparel.
Munich Airport Hotel Kempinski
The stylish Hotel Kempinski in Munich is always on travelers' radars, thanks to its terrific design (expect an all-glass atrium lobby lined with palm trees), efficient concierge floor, and location in the heart of the airport. Interestingly enough, its public Fit & Fly Spa has Munich's largest hotel pool, the world's only airport beer garden and the hotel is Europe's largest open-air forum. There are 434 rooms and 46 suites, 30 conference and banquet facilities and cool outdoor visitor's terrace.
Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Airport Hotel
While the Sofitel London Heathrow has ranked high since opening in 2008, the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow Airport Hotel is our top pick. A recent renovation to the 459-room hotel involved a glam makeover, including the Oceanic Bar & Restaurant with outdoor terrace, and guests can find Oriental artifacts collected by the owner's wife. In addition to a spa and an atrium that gives the appearance of rooms floating above the water below, the conference center (up to 700 guests) is one of Europe's largest.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Singapore Changi Airport
Designed by award-winning, Singapore-based architectural firm WOHA Designs, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel has contemporary, eye-popping furnishings and high-tech features complementing the tropical feel of Singapore. Guests will find rainforest courtyard gardens, open and airy corridors, and water-covered skylights for natural light (even in guestroom bathrooms). The 1770-square foot pool is surrounded by landscaped mini-islands with corner Jacuzzis and a Crowne Plaza Club Lounge that overlooks the pool. The 330-room hotel is sleek without being in your face, and the captivating design work is one of Singapore's most prized.
Jimmy Im is a freelance travel writer based in NYC. He's appeared as a travel expert on shows on the Travel Channel and LOGO and teaches travel writing courses. He's also cofounder of OutEscapes.com.
Photo Credits: Aloft San Francisco: Courtesy of Starwood Hotels; Hilton Frankfurt Airport: Courtesy of Hilton; Langham Place Beijing Airport Hotel: Courtesy of Langham Hotels; Fairmont Vancouver Airport: Courtesy of The Fairmont; Regency Hotel Miami: Courtesy of Hyatt; Munich Airport Hotel Kempinski: Â© 2012 Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich; Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Airport Hotel: Courtesy of Radisson Blu; Crowne Plaza Hotel, Singapore Changi Airport: Courtesy of Crowne Plaza