These properties are so much more than a place to rest your head on a lengthy layover
Historically, airport hotels have offered just the bare necessities for weary travelers: simple guest rooms, a humdrum bar, and a modest fitness center with a few treadmills and exercise bikes. In recent years, however, hospitality companies have upped the ante in airport lodging, with properties that rank high in both convenience and style. Luxurious spas, farm-to-table restaurants, and chic lounges with bespoke cocktails are among the amenities that guests might encounter in the new airport hotel. The improvement in airport lodgings is largely driven by a desire to appeal to business travelers who merge work trips with short vacations. “Dubbed ‘bleisure,’ this amalgamation of a business trip and a leisure trip has been growing in popularity,” says Kevin Caldwell, vice president of development at the website Airport Hotel Guide, which launched in 1998. “Hotel brands are responding by ensuring they design airport hotels that accommodate guests who aren’t just looking for a preflight bed.” From Beijing to Bogotá, we take a look at some of the standout airport hotels around the world.
Westin Denver International Airport, Denver
Travelers to Denver have long bemoaned the 25-mile taxi ride between the airport and downtown, where most accommodations are located. The new Westin Denver International Airport property, located steps from the main terminal, resolves that issue with style. Housed in a sculptural, glazed building, the hotel comprises 519 well-appointed guest rooms, many of which offer grand views of the mountains. Be sure to drop by the farm-to-table restaurant and Sky Lounge Bar, which, as its name suggests, has incredible vistas. Designed by the global firm Gensler, the hotel also features a transit center for a new high-speed rail line, enabling a swifter journey between the airport and the city center.
Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Amsterdam
Curvaceous in form and wrapped in a diamond-patterned skin, the new Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is an instantly recognizable landmark. Designed by Dutch firm Mecanoo, the hotel contains 433 guest rooms, including plush suites with lounge areas and kitchenettes. Interior spaces are organized around a dramatic atrium, topped with a vast skylight that ushers in plenty of natural light. The interiors, by London’s Gallery HBA, incorporate delftware, cartography, and references to the region’s lace tradition.
Prodigy Santos Dumont, Rio de Janeiro
Built to accommodate travelers passing through Rio de Janeiro’s Santos Dumont Airport, the GJP Hotels property offers a bevy of luxury amenities. Guests can take in their scenic surroundings (including Guanabara Bay, the Christ the Redeemer statue, and Sugarloaf Mountain) while relaxing at the rooftop infinity pool or enjoying fresh drinks and Brazilian cuisine on the restaurant’s terrace. Designed by architect Paulo Baruki, the hotel has 290 light-filled contemporary rooms. A helpful bonus for travelers: screens in the lobby showing flight information.
Hilton Munich Airport, Munich
The striking hotel, formerly owned by Kempinski, opened in 1994 to great acclaim. Designed by German-American architect Helmut Jahn, the building features a soaring atrium topped with a curved glass roof. Serving as the hotel lobby, the space features fun details like palm trees and glass shelving with colorful potted plants. The hotel offers nearly 400 modern guest rooms, along with a signature restaurant, two bars, a fitness center, and event space. Acquired by Hilton last year, the property is currently undergoing a 162-room expansion.
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, Singapore
The 320-room Crowne Plaza Changi Airport serves as a sanctuary for harried travelers passing through one of the busiest transportation hubs in Asia. Sheathed in a brise-soleil inspired by batik fabrics, the building has a verdant courtyard with tropical plants and a shimmering pool paved with teal tiles. Open-air corridors lined with lush plants lead to guest rooms that offer modern furnishings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and bath partitions with floral graphics. WOHA, one of the region’s best-known architectural practices, designed the distinctive building and its interiors. Plans are under way to add a 243-room extension.
Hotel Verde, Cape Town, South Africa
Touted as one of Africa’s greenest hotels, this lodging boasts features rarely found in airport properties. Guests can take a stroll on an eco-trail lined with native plants, enjoy seasonal cuisine made with local ingredients, and sip pints of craft beer from area breweries. The architect, Cape Town–based Heinrich Gerstner Harding, integrated many sustainable elements to minimize the building’s environmental impact, such as double-glazed windows and rooftop solar panels. The interiors of the 145-room property were conceived by Les Harbottle Design and include plenty of colorful artworks.
Hilton Frankfurt Airport and Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport, Frankfurt, Germany
In 2011, Hilton opened not one but two outposts within the Squaire, a futuristic-looking, mixed-use structure near the Frankfurt Airport. Together, the hotels offer 580 guest rooms with custom-designed beds and ergonomic desk chairs. Hamburg’s JOI-Design conceived the interiors, using varying types of wood and an earthy palette to create a relaxing atmosphere. In certain areas, guests can enjoy views of the Taunus mountains in the distance.
Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, Manama, Bahrain
The award-winning hotel is set in a tranquil spot next to a sparkling lagoon but offers quick access to an international airport. Designed by Mohamed Salahuddin Consulting Engineering Bureau, the theatrical structure gestures toward the water. Inside, the 106 guest rooms are decorated in a contemporary style that incorporates Arabian motifs; many offer generous terraces with vistas of the water or the Manama skyline. In 2014, the hotel opened an elegant new spa that features traditional Turkish hammam suites with steam rooms and heated wet tables.
Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel, Edmonton, Alberta
The capital of Alberta was the last major Canadian city without an airport hotel until this 213-room Renaissance property opened in May 2014. Given Edmonton’s context—a frontier town that serves as a gateway to the country’s Northwest Territories—the hotel’s architects, Maryland-based Cauhaus Design, took cues from Arctic topography and air travel. Rooms feature geometric gray wallpaper, faceted mirrors and wall lamps, and patterned rugs inspired by flight paths. While the lobby is slick and icy white, the bar and bistro offer a warmer ambience, with ample use of richly colored wood.
Langham Place, Beijing Capital Airport, Beijing
Billed as one of China’s first lifestyle airport hotels, this property opened in 2010. It sits adjacent to the Norman Foster–designed Terminal 3 and offers 372 guest rooms with soundproofing elements. In the grandiose lobby, guests encounter a well-curated selection of art, a DJ station, and a ceiling installation made of illuminated cubes. Dining options include a posh Cantonese restaurant and a casual gastropub with pool tables. A trio of firms oversaw the hotel’s design: Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (architecture), ShenZhuang Group (guest rooms), and Shenzhen ZhongYuan GuangTian Company (public areas)…