Editor’s note: Business Insider Travel Editor Jennifer Polland visited Singapore’s Changi Airport last year, and was blown away by what she saw.
With the Singapore Airshow open to the public this weekend, and it’s a great occasion to check out the world’s greatest airport, so we’ve republished her report.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is a major hub for international transport, with more than 135,000 passengers passing through every day.
But it’s no boring airport terminal. Changi was just named the Best Airport in The World by Skytrax, a company that tracks and rates airline and airport performance.
Realising that travel can be stressful, the team behind Changi designed the airport to be an open, airy space with lots of greenery (Singapore is the garden city, after all), gardens, outdoor access, and comfortable seating areas.
There are also incredible amenities, like a butterfly garden, rooftop pool, movie theatres, hotels, spas, and showers, and even a four-story slide.
I recently spent several hours in the airport during a trip to Singapore and had a chance to explore. The bottom line: This is a place where you’ll actually enjoy having a long layover.
Disclosure: Our trip to Singapore, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board.
The airport is an architectural marvel. The newest terminal, Terminal 3, was designed by CPG Consultants, in collaboration with Woodhead, Tierra Design and SOM, Bartenbach LichtLabor and Hugh Dutton & Associates.
Most passengers enter the airport at Terminal 3, the newest and largest terminal at Changi, which is where Singapore Airlines is based. At 380,000 sq. m., the terminal is spacious, with high ceilings and an open, airy feel.
There's also a lush vertical garden here called the 'Green Wall.' It has over 20 varieties of plants, vines, and flowers growing on it.
One of the best things about Changi airport is its Balinese-themed outdoor rooftop pool, located in Terminal 1. Passengers can pay to use this pool for about $US14. (It's free for guests who are staying in the Ambassador Transit Hotel.)
Each terminal has an Ambassador Transit Hotel, where passengers can rent hotel rooms for a minimum of six hours -- perfect if you're exhausted and have a long layover. Room rates start at $US76 for a 6-hour block and are charged hourly after that.
Rooms here look like normal hotel rooms, with two twin or one double bed, bathrooms, TVs, and desks. Some rooms have windows that look out onto the tarmac.
The airport has a nature trail, which encourages passengers to go outdoors and breathe in fresh air while at the airport. There are five gardens in the airport, including a rooftop sunflower garden.
There's even an enclosed butterfly garden -- the first such garden in an airport -- which is home to butterflies, flowers, lush greenery, and a 6-meter (20-ft.) waterfall.
There are free internet terminals scattered throughout the airport, making it easy to stay in touch.
Everything here is technologically savvy -- even the bathrooms. Each bathroom has an electronic monitoring system where passengers can rate the cleanliness of the bathroom. If you're not happy with the service, simply tap the frowny face on the touchscreen monitor.
Then tap the reason why you're unhappy with the bathroom, and a message will immediately be sent to the bathroom supervisor alerting them to the issue.
High-end designer shops, like Gucci, Burberry, and Hermes, keep shoppers occupied while they wait for their flights.
There are tons of dining and drinking options. The airport even has an outpost of Singapore's famous Harry's Bar.
When you're tired of eating, drinking and shopping, you can watch a movie. There are two movie theatres in the airport, which show a rotating roster of current movies, like the Bourne Legacy.
The whole airport is designed to help people relax and to make the flying experience less stressful. You'll find seating areas scattered throughout the airport with cushy chairs for napping, reading, or TV watching. The chairs were really comfortable.
Even the art exhibits are supposed to be soothing. This Kinetic Rain sculptural installation in Terminal 1 changes shape in a hypnotic dancing motion.
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