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 that it’s an easy ride from Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport. “Our flight out was very early,” says Wayne, chief executive officerof 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 cancelled.“We wound up having to stay the weekend,” she says. “It was glorious!”
Airport hotels – those properties 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 sitsdirectly above the U.S. departures terminal, has a soundproofed spa and serves afternoon tea. Adjacent to theDenver International Airport’s Jeppesen Terminal is a West in that offers mountain views and a roof top pool. Next year, the TWA Hotel will debut in the Eero Saarinen-designed terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to provideretro-styled relief to tired travellers.
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 shut-eye, but if you’re staying longer, they’re not the only option.
Some savvy travellers 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, butbecause they’re designed as destinations rather than stopgap lodging, they offer distinctive design, memorable meals, and even some serious leisure activities.