Key Points:

It's the perfect oasis for a weary traveller: somewhere quiet and comfortable to catch up on lost sleep; a swimming pool and sauna in which to relax; a chance to check emails and recharge mobile phones; nice bathrooms in which to enjoy a hot shower or wash dirty clothes; good food at a reasonable price and entertainment on tap if you need to pass the time.

And best of all, it's free (apart from the showers), because this isn't the Shangri-la Hotel we're talking about but Singapore's Changi Airport.

The Budget Travellers Guide to Sleeping in Airports website has for some years now rated Singapore as the best airport in the world in which to crash.

The website's Canadian creator, Donna McSherry, reckons it almost sounds too good to be true.

"Several contributors have raved about Changi and suggested you stay a few nights there even if you have the money for a hotel," McSherry says.

"I am almost inclined to travel to Singapore, just to camp out in the airport."

But, if your travels don't take you through Singapore, don't despair. Among Asian airports, Hong Kong, Seoul Incheon and Kuala Lumpur are also highly rated as places to sleep.

In Europe, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Oslo have earned Golden Pillow awards from the website's loyal followers.

And down this way Auckland gets a favourable mention for its sleeper-friendly long couches, cleanliness and helpful staff.

But whatever you do, according to the website's eager sleuths, avoid passing through places like Paris, New York, Moscow or Los Angeles, where the airports all rate very badly.

Paris' Charles de Gaulle is graded the worst of all for its filthy washrooms, rude and unpleasant staff, uncomfortable metal chairs, noise, evil-smelling homeless people, dogs excreting on the floors and appalling decor when it is it is "supposed to be a first class airport worthy of a first class city. Instead, even third world nations would reject it. The citizens of France are astonished and ashamed of its poor state".

McSherry started the website 13 years ago as a bit of a joke after doing some shoestring travelling herself.

"I had slept at the Dublin and Geneva airports. When I was writing my internet travelogues for those trips I decided to do a page dedicated to sleeping in airports simply because my friends and family thought I was nuts," she laughs.

"So I started the site with those three listings and then had to beg people to visit others to rate them."

These days Sleeping in Airports is taken very seriously indeed.

Its worldwide network of frugal travellers has built up over five thousand listings. It gets over a million visitors a year and to judge from the postings, quite a few people plan their travels around the recommendations.

The website has even featured on CNN and in the New York Times as well being mentioned in the popular US quiz show Hollywood Squares.

Sleeping in Airports is still primarily aimed, as its home page proclaims, at helping pennypinching globe trotters find somewhere to crash for nothing.

"For travellers who are on a budget and are looking for a way to skim a few bucks off their travel expenses, why not consider sleeping in an airport?" the home page proclaims.

"Many airports are actually better than local lodging. And to top it off, it's free!

"Your friends and family may look at you funny when you return with your airport stories, but that's only part of the fun."

But it's also proving helpful to travellers with a gap between flights who want to decide whether they can risk staying in the airport for a few hours or might be better advised to move to a hotel.

The sort of descriptions which might encourage travellers not to stay in a particular airport include:

CAIRO - "Reports of rats, dogs, lice, questionable yet expensive food, bathroom attendants hold people captive when they are not tipped, disgusting bathrooms, foul odours, dirty, insufficient seating, security ask for bribes, passports are taken and are sometimes difficult to retrieve."

MUMBAI - "Dirty, smelly, mosquitoes (make sure your malaria prescription is filled), loud, stench of faeces and urine, security ask for bribes, even Indians don't like passing through this airport."

KIEV - "Security want bribes, too cold, loud and incorrect announcements, poor lighting, looks like a prison, hard seats, squat toilets, cleaners will give you the scrub brush and tell you to clean the bathroom yourself if it is not to your liking."

LAGOS - "Reports of murders, filthy, lack of comfort and facilities, airline workers ask for bribes, knifepoint robberies at the airport, bottled water is questionable, rats, little seating, overflowing toilets, immigration officials kidnap passports, reports of passengers being mugged on the tarmac."

MOSCOW SHEREMETYEVO - "Poor lighting, dirty, unsafe, you have to pay to use the bathrooms, looting of luggage by baggage handlers, 'scariest in the world', 'longest night of my life', crowded with mafia types."

PORT MORESBY - "An airport in which one of our contributors witnessed seven being killed in a gang shoot-out. When in Port Moresby, be sure you're wearing your bullet-proof vest and run."

Makes the price of an airport hotel seem quite cheap.

ON THE WEB
See sleepinginairports.com
Tips for sleeping in airports

Sleeping in Airports founder Donna McSharry offers the following advice to anyone planning to crash at a terminal:

1. Be prepared for officialdom

Although in 95 per cent of airports you won't be kicked out, you may be asked why you are there, rather than in a hotel like normal people, and you will be asked for proof that you are flying out the next day. Above all, act innocent. Even if you sleep in airports on regular basis, do not behave like a professional, give the impression you really do not want to be there and that there is absolutely nowhere else to go. I find crying helps. Remember, to airport officials "the airport is not a motel". Ha, little do they know.

2. Have an emergency airport survival kit including:

- A cheap inflatable lilo (they fold up nicely and make the hard floor a lot more comfortable)
- A blanket and pillow (not ones stolen from an airline), however keep in mind that in some airports sleeping on the floor is a no-no.
- Eye-shades
- Earplugs
- A walkman/iPod with large headphones (to block out loud announcements).
- An alarm clock or a pen and post-it pad (Write a "Wake me at 5am" note and stick it on you. It works).
- Disinfectant wipes, tissue/toilet paper (remember, in some third world airport bathrooms you will be forced to pay a King's ransom for two single ply sheets of toilet paper).
- A package of potpourri for those special airports where odour is an issue.

3. It's better to arrive than depart

The Arrivals lounges are usually more comfortable than the Departures lounges.

4. Be prepared to entertain yourself...

With books, writing materials, magazines, cards, music - when sleep is impossible. In Geneva (one of those airports with plastic, arm handle, bucket seat chairs) I could not sleep and there was absolutely nothing to do and nobody around to talk to. If I didn't have my journal, walkman and book with me I would have died of boredom.

5. When you really are forced to sleep in the airport, due to airline problems, make sure you are granted access to their lounges

This is especially recommended for airports with uncomfortable chairs, seedy surroundings or sleazy locals.

6. Travelling solo is can be a particular problem when you are an airport sleeper

You will have to take your luggage with you wherever you go. Even if your stuff isn't stolen in your absence you may return to find the bomb squad taking apart your bag.

7. Dress in layers

Have clothes that will make you comfortable if it is unbearably hot or arctically cold in your airport. We beg of you to please apply deodorant and we also remind you to pack a surgical mask to wear when the travellers around you have not applied deodorant.

8. In some airports you will be asked for a bribe just to pass through a metal detector, enter an airport or to use the bathroom

When approached, suddenly speak a new language (maybe Klingon if a real language doesn't interest you), be bubbly and happy but confused by your tormentor's actions, shake outstretched hands, bow and smile. Be incredibly dense and show no fear unless, of course, a gun is pointed at you.

The object is to drag it out as long as you can until he hopefully gives up. Unfortunately, this does not always work and it's better to just pay.

9. Take lots of small coins for tipping

Incase you have to use the toilets and have forgotten your own paper; or to pay bribes, if it's unavoidable.

10. Have fun

Sleeping in airports is an adventure. Enjoy it. As someone who has mostly done it to save money, or between flights, let me tell you it is fun and it adds an extra element of strangeness to your trip.

Best 10 airports to sleep in
1. Singapore
2. Hong Kong
3. Seoul Incheon
4. Helsinki
5. Amsterdam
6. Kuala Lumpur
7. Oslo
8. Istanbul
9. Athens
10. Auckland

Worst 10 airports to sleep in
1. Paris Charles de Gaulle
2. New York City JFK
3. Moscow Sheremetyevo
4. Los Angeles
5. Manila
6. Paris Beauvais
7. Rome Ciampino
8. Doha
9. New York City LGA
10. Brussels Charleroi

Source:sleepinginairports.com