Five of the best airport hotels

Stopovers don’t have to be arduous — you just need to choose your route with care, writes Xenia Taliotis.
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. picture / supplied
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. picture / supplied

Airport hotels - once a necessary evil, associated with badly timed connections, business meetings and cheap dead-at-dawn flights - have now spruced up their act with daring architecture, top dining and leisure facilities that offer great hospitality to travellers. Here are five worth missing your flight for.

1 Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, Singapore

Designed by award-winning architects WOHA, the funky Crowne Plaza provides a sanctuary for travellers passing through one of Asia's busiest transportation hubs. Voted the world's best airport hotel for the past two years in Skytrax' World Hotels Awards, it's a just winner on all counts, from design and dining to sustainability and service.

The exterior is a carbon-fibre sheath that resembles a filigree cage made of frangipani petals, which, as well as being lovely to look at, uses brise-soleil technology to cool the interior by deflecting 60 per cent of the sun's rays.

Many of the public spaces, including the pool and walkways that lead to the rooms, are open-air and filled with tropical plants.

Facilities: Two excellent restaurants - Azur serving an all-day buffet of Asian and international cuisine, and Imperial Treasure serving Cantonese and speciality dishes - beautiful, landscaped swimming pool and verdant gardens; fitness centre and spa; six meeting rooms; and a ballroom with a "twinkling overhead canopy". The sound-proofed rooms have powerful rain showers and baths.

Runway views? Yes.

Distance from airport: It's inside the airport, in Terminal 3, so a five-minute walk along a linked bridge will get you there. And it's half an hour by train into the city.

2 Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Holland

 A relaxing soak at the Hilton Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
A relaxing soak at the Hilton Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.


The new Hilton at Schiphol, which opened in February 2016, is designed by Mecanoo, the Dutch masters of contemporary architecture, and is as gorgeous from the gleaming exterior as it is from the light-flooded interior. Outside you get a curvaceous cube with a facade of grey and white panels and diamond-shaped windows; inside is a 42m atrium topped with a huge glass ceiling and tiers of white balustrades on each floor.

Facilities: An excellent Asian and Dutch restaurant; a great cocktail bar; a fitness suite with a gym, pool, spa, sauna, whirlpool and steam room; 23 meeting rooms and a ballroom. Rooms are elegant, spacious and well sound-proofed.

Runway views? Yes.

Distance from airport: An eight-minute walk to the concourse by a covered walkway. And 15 minutes by train to the centre of Amsterdam.

3 The Westin Denver International Airport, US

Shaped like the wings of a bird in flight, this sculptural beauty has met with gasps of admiration and showered with awards from the moment it landed in Denver in November 2015. Gensler's creation includes an elevated plaza nearly one and a half times the size of a football pitch, a dazzling white lobby and massive windows in all the rooms giving incomparable views of the Rockies, of the distinctive tent-covered peaks of Denver Airport's terminal, or of the runways.

Facilities: A top-floor pool, fitness centre and raised lobby, all with views of the mountains; restaurants serving traditional Colorado favourites such as aged rib-eye steak, pork chops and mac and cheese, and gourmet sandwiches. Or guests can go for the nutritionally balanced "SuperFoodsRx" menu, which promises to change your life - though perhaps not during your one-night stopover. There are 12 conference rooms and three ballrooms and the lovely rooms have Westin's trademarked "Heavenly" beds.

Runway views: Yes, but you may want to trade them in for a room that gives you views of the Rocky Mountains.

Distance from airport: A five-minute walk should cover the 50m from Jeppesen Terminal to the hotel. For trips downtown, take the University of Colorado A line from the transit centre below the hotel and you'll be there in 37 minutes.

 Top service at the Westin Denver International Airport.
Top service at the Westin Denver International Airport.


4 Langham Place, Beijing Capital Airport, China

Adjacent to British architect Norman Foster's Terminal 3, the ultra-stylish Langham Place is "dramatic and animated, with horizontal elements accentuated through small and large shifts that maximise the dialogue between buildings," according to Aedas, its designers.

Behind the hyperbole you've got a damn fine hotel that has taken entertaining guests to a new level. Its 24-hour lounge, Club L, is divided into four zones - relax, refuel, replay and revitalise - where travellers can while away the down-time between flights by playing pool, gaming or chilling in a massage chair. You could wander around the hotel's contemporary art gallery.

Facilities: Three restaurants, including a gastropub with a beautiful garden terrace. The rooms, which include several lofts, townhouses and a penthouse, are kitted out with high-tech gadgets, have luxurious bathrooms with oversized baths and walk-in rain showers, sound-proofed floor-to-ceiling windows and super beds. There's a well-equipped cardio studio but no pool.

Runway views? Yes.

Distance from airport: Five minutes by shuttle bus and 15 minutes to the city centre on the Airport Express Railway.

5 Yas Viceroy, Abu Dhabi, UEA

Okay, hands up, fair cop and all that - strictly speaking this isn't within a wingspan of an airport, but it's a thing of such audacious beauty - and is just 10 minutes by road from Abu Dhabi Airport - that it would be a crime to exclude it. And although you may not get a runway, you do get a Formula 1 racing track cutting through the hotel complex and a marina.

The work of New York architects Asymptote Architecture and designers Jestico + Whiles and Richardson Sadek, the Yas is draped in a 220m veil of steel and pivoting glass diamond LED panels - more than 5000 of them - that ebb and flow over the hotel's two towers, which are linked by a bridge crossing the Yas Marina Circuit.

Facilities: With 11 restaurants and bars, the Yas has international dining covered. There's a rooftop infinity pool that looks up at that amazing LED canopy, an ESPA wellness centre, a ballroom and even a library. If you can bag a suite, you'll get balconies overlooking the marina, floor-to-ceiling glass panels that change colour, over-sized wet-rooms encased in glass boxes and window-side bathtubs so you can enjoy the views as you soak.

Runway views? No.

Distance from airport: About 24km from Abu Dhabi Airport - so about 15 minutes by road - and about 25 minutes from downtown.

Crowne Plaza Changi Airport exterior view. picture / supplied
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport exterior view. picture / supplied
Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport hotel suite. picture / supplied
Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport hotel suite. picture / supplied
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi hotel pool. picture / supplied
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi hotel pool. picture / supplied
The stunning Yas Viceroy, in Abu Dhabi.
The stunning Yas Viceroy, in Abu Dhabi.
The stunning Yas Viceroy, in Abu Dhabi.
The stunning Yas Viceroy, in Abu Dhabi.

- NZ Herald

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