In the old days, when jets were narrow-bodied and Wi-Fi wasn't yet part of the lexicon, airport hotels were lackluster, often Spartan places travelers booked as a last resort--either because of an unscheduled layover, a tight budget or an unavailability of rooms anywhere better, like downtown.
That's all changed. Many airport hotels claim four or five stars, and amenities such as golf courses, full-service spas and decent restaurants can be plentiful.
Some airport hotels are even trendy. Take the Sheraton Gateway at LAX, for example. A renovation in 2004 transformed this clunker into a beauty, with many of the amenities and design elements of a boutique hotel: 24-hour room service, high-thread-count sheets, poolside cabanas and hip modernist furniture.
It's properties like this that encourage road warriors to consider airport hotels as a first choice. In addition, airport hotels are:
- Convenient. Staying in a hotel that's a few miles from the runway, or even on the airport grounds (like the O'Hare Hilton and the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport), may mean the difference between making a flight or missing it.
- Meeting money-savers. Attendees can save time and money by meeting at an airport hotel rather than adding another leg (in a car) after a flight to meet downtown. Further savings can be had if some meeting-goers fly right home after a meeting rather than stay at the meeting location overnight. For delegates who are driving into town, airports are easily accessible and parking isn't a problem.
- Full of bells and whistles. The Miami Airport Hilton and Towers has a jogging trail around a freshwater lagoon, plus tennis and basketball courts; the Fairmont Vancouver Airport has a fantastic spa, a whole floor of hypoallergenic rooms and hotel check-in a few steps from the baggage carousels. And as a nod to time-challenged road warriors, many Hilton and Hyatt airport properties now have lobby kiosks for checking in and out as well.
Julie Moline is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.