A few years ago, producer Christina Wayne decided to close out a trip to Rome by spending a night at La Posta Vecchia, a Renaissance villa once owned by John Paul Getty that features marble staircases, stone fireplaces, and silk drapes that frame views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Its best amenity, though, is it’s easy access to Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport. “Our flight out was very early,” says Wayne, chief executive officer of Assembly Entertainment. She chose La Posta Vecchia as a high-end alternative to an airport hotel, a move that paid off handsomely when she learned her flight had been canceled. “We wound up having to stay the weekend,” she says. “It was glorious!”
Airport hotels, in or next to an airport that cater specifically to people in transit, have upped their game in recent years. The Fairmont Vancouver Airport, which sits directly above the international departures terminal, has a soundproofed spa and serves afternoon tea. Adjacent to the Denver International Airport’s Jeppesen Terminal is a Westin that offers mountain views and a rooftop pool. Next year, the TWA Hotel will debut in the Eero Saarinen-designed terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to provide retro-styled relief to tired travelers.
But for the most part, airport hotels feel like utilitarian sleep boxes; even the best have a you-could-be-anywhere vibe. They’re great if you have a four-hour layover and just need a shower and some shuteye, but if you’re staying longer, they’re not the only option.
Some savvy travelers are booking five-star retreats that are almost as convenient. They’re located close enough to the airport to work for long layovers, early departures, brief business meetings, and international rendezvous, but because they’re designed as destinations rather than stopgap lodging, they offer distinctive design, memorable meals, and even some serious leisure activities.
At the new Solis Two Porsche Drive near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, guests can learn to drive sports cars. The Westdrift Manhattan Beach, 10 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport, has a nine-hole golf course. Farther afield, at the Roseate House New Delhi, a five-minute drive from Indira Gandhi International Airport, you can wander in acres of gardens or take a dip in the 100-meter swimming pool.
While these hotels may not be within walking distance from the luggage carousels, they don’t require a trek downtown. Since many airports are located in outlying areas, an open-minded traveller can find a country property with lots of character. In the United Kingdom these are grand estates-turned-resorts; in France, it’s manors and country inns.
In less cosmopolitan areas, the options can be even more rewarding: Consider the Umstead Hotel and Spa, just a seven-minute drive from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where you can get 24-hour room service instead of a bowl of bagels. At the seven properties below, all fewer than 20 minutes from a terminal, you’ll be praying for a flight delay.
Westdrift Manhattan Beach
A 10-minute taxi from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Instead of battling the city’s notoriously tangled downtown traffic, head toward the beach. Though it’s not directly on the ocean, the Westdrift has a laid-back, modern feel-like West Elm, in a good way. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, a crossfit-inspired gym, and an indoor-outdoor restaurant.
From $185 a night
Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
Ten minutes from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
True to Texas stereotype, this resort does it big. Spread over 400 acres, it has three swimming pools, two golf courses, indoor and outdoor running tracks, and a sandy beach-all just minutes from the airport. If you get in late, there’s 24-hour room service. And if you haven’t had enough time in the air, you can sign up for an aerial yoga lesson.
From $675 a night
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