Tim Sargent once spent a week in Dallas, and never left the airport.
Instead, he was checked in at the Grand Hyatt DFW, a plush airport hotel just outside Terminal D. “I’ve been there at least 20 times for meetings,” says the San Diego–based biotech executive.
“Dallas is a huge hub, and it’s central, so it’s convenient for colleagues around the country. Staying at the airport, you don’t have to pay for a lot of cab fares. And the hotel is actually really cool.”
Airport hotels have come a long way since their first mainstream incarnations, as bare-bones motels meant for bleary-eyed layovers. An increasing number of airport hotels now have spas, rooftop pools and fine dining that goes far beyond the toast-your-own-waffle breakfast spread.
One big reason? Business travellers like Sargent. “Airport hotels are finally stepping up to the level of services and amenities we’ve been seeing in downtown business hotels for quite a while,” says Jan Freitag, senior vice president with hotel research firm STR.
The best airport hotels make it tempting to stay past the business meetings and into the weekend. At the Radisson SAS at Oslo’s Gardermoen, for example, travellers can play virtual golf on one of 32 courses around the world. The Four Points Sheraton outside LAX invites guests to join its Beer Club and have a craft beer left bedside for turndown service. The Regal Airport Hotel in Hong Kong even boasts its own luxe wedding facilities.
Want your next airport stay to be more than a fly-by? Check out our list of the world’s best airport hotels.
Talk about a penthouse suite. This one-story, oval-shaped hotel is located entirely on top of the airport's Car Park 3 and is surrounded by a landscaped roof garden with tables and chairs, summer food service and turtle ponds, as well as sweeping city views. There's a 24-hour fitness centre, free computer stations and Wi-Fi, eco-friendly rooms in warm earth tones and a Bavarian tavern with its own beer garden. (starwoodhotels.com; day rates from $106, overnight from $197.)
Tucked into Dallas-Fort Worth's Terminal D, this hotel boasts a rooftop saltwater pool, hypoallergenic rooms, a fully stocked gym (with personal TVs on treadmills and bikes), a spa and even gourmet cooking-class weekends, conducted by the hotel's French executive chef. Even if you don't stay over, a $30 day pass buys you access to the gym and pool (you can even buy gym shirts and shorts for $12 each). (granddfw.hyatt.com; doubles from $284.)
This hotel's location, inside Terminal A, means that bellhops can meet you right at baggage claim. Once checked in, you can watch planes land from the palm-tree-lined rooftop pool, or have the concierge arrange for a ride to one of the Disney theme parks. Among the several dining options are McCoy's, featuring an all-organic kids menu (designed with help from foodie guru Alice Waters); and Hemisphere steakhouse, which hosts monthly wine dinners and recently won an award from Wine Spectator. (orlandoairport.hyatt.com; day rates from $89, overnight from $179.)
This Hilton set inside Terminal 2 has long been a respite for travellers stuck at O'Hare (which is notorious for its flight delays). If you need to kill just a few hours, a $15 day pass gives you access to the hotel's pool, gym and steam/sauna rooms. Its dining options, meanwhile, range from a sports bar to a roaring-'20s-themed steakhouse. Plane-watchers who appreciate great runway views--and who are staying overnight--should request a room on the south side, on floor 7 or above. (www3.hilton.com; doubles from $209.)
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