Donna McIntyre checks into a well-designed budget hotel close to the airport

Location:

A 10-minute walk from the international and domestic airports. There is complimentary overnight parking for guests and also a Yellow Bus Airport Hotels Transfer Bus service (about $6). It was the perfect launch pad for the start of my 18-year-old's gap-year trip as he had to be at the airport before 5am on a Monday morning.

Check-in experience: Friendly, swift, and the desk staff have a jar of lollies they offer everyone. Also it's a 100 per cent non-smoking hotel and we like that.

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Surroundings: Airport-related businesses, a few cafes during the daytime, fast-food outlets. Close to the supermarket and other shops.

Food and drink: There's a vending machine and a breakfast bar. We opted to go for a walk to get something to eat and since this was all about being the last night in New Zealand before his trip, my 18-year-old chose to eat at Carl's Jr. But the healthiest choice on a Sunday night was the fruit and vege section of the nearby supermarket.

Decor and architecture: Modern build. Budget means spaces are compact but fortunately well-designed and well-utilised. It fits its purpose of being a clean, accessible place to rest your head before getting up at something past 4am for an early check-in.

Room: Two single beds, flat-screen TV. Cream and green decor. Pull-down, block-out blind, air con but you can't open the window.

Wi-Fi: Available if you pay a surcharge.

The bed: Comfy enough. But who sleeps well when they have to catch an early flight? We kept jolting awake, thinking "is it 4am yet?" grabbing our phones to check the time.

Toiletries: The shower has a soap dispenser container with body/hair shampoo combo.

Bathroom: Small, compact, clean, sufficient.

Noise: Not too bad; you do hear the odd plumbing sound.

Exercise facilities: There's nothing inside the hotel but you can always have a walk/run around the airport precinct.

Price: $129.

Perfect for: Travellers with an early check-in or seeking a transit sleep between domestic and international.

In a nutshell: A practical option for taking the stress out of early departures.

CHECKLIST

The Ibis Budget Auckland Airport is at 2 Leonard Isitt Drive, Auckland Airport, Auckland. Phone: (09) 255 5152.