Staying Power: Airport Hotels

by Jeff Heilman
Best Airport Hotels Opening Spread

Investment in upscale restaurants, bars, shops, spas, and entertainment venues have given airports enhanced destination appeal, and airport hotels now include new luxury and boutique properties.

Jeff Heilman

Once owned by TWA, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, which celebrated its centennial in 2019, opened its first airport hotel in 1959 in San Francisco, where the Tiger A-Go-Go nightclub was reportedly a hot address for locals and travelers to meet. New Orleans followed two weeks later, and the rest is history.

In 2016, Hilton embarked on a “new wave” of “stylish, forward-looking and innovative hotels” in the airport category. For consumer insight, the brand surveyed some 5,500 travelers from the U.S., U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, and China.

Presented in “Travel Trends: Rise of the Airport Hotel,” the consensus on airport hotels was mostly positive, despite “ingrained negative perceptions” based on common complaints including “boring,” “expensive,” “crowded” and “outdated.” However, virtually all respondents were receptive to next-generation concepts, especially where “amenities and modernization are differentiators.” Exemplars include Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Schipol Boulevard 701, Schipol, Netherlands. Tel: +31-20-710-4000.

Replacing the adjacent 1972 property of the same name, the 433-room hotel’s fetching geometric design from acclaimed Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo includes 5,500 diamond-shaped windows that accentuate the cubic main tower and twisting plinth structure.

The windows provide scenic landscape views from the soundproofed rooms. There are 12 suites, each with a living room and spacious work area, and 96 executive rooms on the top three floors with access to the scenic executive lounge. Day use rooms are available from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M.

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Premier Room with Runway View | Best Airport Hotels

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Premier Room with Runway View
Photo: Courtesy IHG

Soaring high under a glazed roof, the groovy atrium serves as a vibrant social hub. Conversation with strangers comes quickly at the sophisticated Axis Lobby and Cocktail Bar. The generous gin-driven menu features jenevers, the Dutch national drink from which gin evolved. Evoking “bouwerij,” Dutch for farm, Bowery Restaurant’s three open kitchens dish out contemporary Asian and grilled fare using locally sourced ingredients. Meanwhile, conferees have the elegant Vine Room for private events, with a 640-capacity ballroom among 23 meeting spaces. Other amenities include Hilton’s global spa concept, eforea, and 24-hour fitness center.

The Singapore Changi Airport ( topped Skytrax’s “World’s Best Airports” list for the eighth consecutive year in 2020. I got a fulsome taste of this wonderland while filming a destination video for Visit Singapore, which included shooting scenes inside the airport.

Amid the immensity of Changi’s gleaming steel and glass halls, most transporting were the living walls, topiaries, and themed gardens. The greenery flows throughout the futuristic high-performance complex onto the flower-lined, tree-canopied expressway leading into Singapore’s urban center. By design, nature is Garden City’s official welcome ambassador.

Other standout features include sculptural and kinetic art installations, 24- hour cinema, tube slide between terminals, diverse restaurants, and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport (75 Airport Boulevard, #01-01, Changi Airport, Singapore. Tel: +65-6823-5300.

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