The World’s Top Airport Hotels

Giving new meaning to the term 'layover'

By: Yvonne Michie Horn

During a recent Vancouver trip, my plane was delayed due to weather, and the idea that I’d miss my flight home only accounted for part of my despair.

“Airport hotel” whirled through my head, accompanied by dismal mental pictures of iffy shuttle service, a threadbare room, an indifferent restaurant serving indifferent food hardly a grand finale to an otherwise grand trip.

But this was Vancouver International Airport. At the same counter that gave me the no-flight-until-tomorrow bad news, I learned that if I stepped on an escalator located a few steps away it would whisk me directly into the lobby of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel.

There, airport hotel took on new meaning. A gracious lobby, warm welcome and quick check-in greeted me; my room gave every indication that travel magic had transported me to an elegant, downtown, boutique hotel.

From a choice of restaurant possibilities, I opted for an informal bite in the Jetside Bar. Seated in a comfy leather chair in front of a crackling fireplace with wide windows, I had runway view of planes coming and going against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. For dinner, a fabulous martini was followed by an equally fabulous meal, graciously served.

If there was one such airport hotel, surely there must be others. As a travel writer with much of my life spent in the air, I found myself with plenty of opportunities to embark on a personal quest of the best of the best.

My criteria: Embedded in or located extremely close to the terminal with excellent shuttle service provided; ambiance, comfort and service equal to that of a downtown luxury hotel; attention paid to cleanliness and upkeep; all rooms, not just those on executive floors must be spacious, relaxing and well equipped; a swimming pool and fitness center; state-of-the-art business support; no airport noise; and efficient check-in and check-out services.

In short, the kind of hotel in which your clients would want to stay even if it were not dubbed an airport hotel.

A number of airport-positioned hotels came close to meeting my criteria. Those missing my list did so, for the most part, because of interiors and furnishings gone dated or rude staff unschooled in and efficiency. Here, including the 392-guestroom Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, are eight that made my best-of-the-best-list with flying colors.  

Sheraton Gateway LAX: A recently completed $13.5 million renovation by the Kor Hotel Group (see TravelAge West, May 2, 2005) reinvented a standard-issue, big-box airport hotel into a sophisticated, urban, 802-room, boutique-like retreat. Located five minutes from the terminal, constantly running shuttles make coming and going convenient and easy.

Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport: Just opened, this stylish, and reasonably priced, 404-guestroom and 10-suite hotel is located in the new world-class McNamara Terminal. Clients intending to spend time in Detroit might consider it as a place to headquarter a stay. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are 20 minutes away as are downtown Detroit, General Motors World Headquarters, Comerica Park, Joe Louis Arena and numerous other city attractions.

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport: Connected by escalator from the main terminal, your clients will step into a 10-story atrium lobby that doubles as a showcase of fine Chinese art and orchids. A sleek, rooftop pool is a popular hangout. And SeaWorld, the Kennedy Space Center, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World Resort and several beaches wait 15 minutes away making the Hyatt worth considering for a family vacation.

Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur: A sky bridge connects the hotel from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s main terminal. For those with a bit of baggage, a complimentary “buggy” service is provided. Your clients can expect a gracious Malaysian atmosphere, with a recent refurbishment that has lent new shine to the hotel’s five-star status. A newly introduced counter in the baggage claim area allows guests to check into the hotel while waiting for their belongings to arrive on the carousel.

Hyatt Regency Incheon Korea: Opened in 2003 with 523 guestrooms and suites, the hotel offers a gracious and relaxing introduction to the Korean gateway city of Incheon, and Seoul is 25 miles away. Ambiance is high-tech and contemporary with American-style service your clients should not expect immersion in an Asian experience. A snappy airport shuttle service takes guests to and from the terminal.

Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich: High-tech meets nature in this 400-guestroom hotel located within easy walking distance of Josepf Strauss International Airport’s terminal. Built around a glass-enclosed plaza an oasis of tranquility filled with giant palm trees imported from Florida the rooms that overlook the garden feature windows that actually open. The S-bahn into Munich is three minutes away, making this another airport hotel although decidedly non-German in atmosphere worth considering as a place to plan a stay.  

Sheaton Amsterdam Airport Hotel: With direct access to and from Schiphol International Airport’s arrival and departure halls, your clients could only be closer to the airport if they slept on the runway. Blocky on the outside, the inside is another stylish story. Newly renovated, all 408 rooms are large, elegant and functional with large, comfortable beds and marble bathrooms.


Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel

Sheraton Gateway LAX

Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport

Pan Pacific Kuala Lampur, Jalan Putra

Hyatt Regency Incheon

Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich

Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel

All of the aforementioned hotels offer 10 percent commission.

For clients with meetings and conferences in mind, each provides state-of-the-art facilities, with the Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich going so far as to have a number of “Convertible Rooms” in which the bed disappears into the wall to transform the space into a comfortable gathering venue for up to six people.

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