Wave goodbye to generic airport hotels with a five-star upgrade

By Bloomberg Pursuits, November 9 2018
Wave goodbye to generic airport hotels with a five-star upgrade

An airport hotel doesn't have to be code for 'cookie-cutter convenience' – sometimes the perfect five-star escape is just a short drive from the terminal.

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 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 – 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 sits directly above the U.S. 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 (below) 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 traveler can find a country property with lots of character. In the U.K. 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 (LAX)

Distance: A 10-minute taxi from Los Angeles International Airport

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 US$185 a night.

Coworth Park (London Heathrow)

Distance: A 20-minute drive from Heathrow Airport

Though it might not be obvious to the just-passing-through, Heathrow is set in a posh part of the English countryside – Windsor Castle is just 20 minutes away. So is the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park, an elegant Georgian estate set in 240 acres of parkland near Ascot. (For speedier access, the property also has its own helipad.) Instead of a departures board, you’ll find smoked-oak floors, a spa, three restaurants, and even a polo field. From about US$540 a night.

Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas (DFW)

Distance: Ten minutes from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

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 US$455 a night.

Lansdowne Resort and Spa (Washington DC)

Distance: A 15-minute trip from Dulles International Airport (IAD)

You don’t have to choose between a chain hotel or a 45-minute slog to downtown Washington. At Lansdowne, which overlooks the Potomac River, you can book a treatment in the 12,000ft² spa or hike one of the trails winding through the 476-acre property. Deluxe suites from US$569 a night

Solis Two Porsche Drive (Atlanta)

Distance: Five minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Go from the airport to the racetrack in 300 seconds flat. The year-old Solis overlooks the Porsche Experience Center at the carmaker’s North America’s headquarters. Guests can watch the action from the rooftop or partake in it, choosing from a fleet of dozens of vehicles and learning from an expert "drive coach." There’s also an indoor swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and an airport shuttle every 30 minutes. From US$179 a night

Roseate House (New Delhi)

Distance: Five minutes from New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)

Delhi’s airport has not one but several five-star hotels nearby – including a JW Marriott, an Andaz, and the distinctive Roseate. Thai architect Khun Lek Bunnag gave the property a striking contemporary design with dome ceilings, 20-foot-high doors, and a meandering manmade waterway crisscrossed by paths. The Roseate’s eight acres of gardens, 100-meter-long swimming pool, and three restaurants also happen to be five minutes from the airport. From about US$105 a night.

Bloomberg Pursuits

Bloomberg Pursuits curates the best in cars, food, drinks, travel, watches and more for the modern globally-minded executive, and is republished under licence by Executive Traveller.


22 Jan 2013

Total posts 100

Is the headline photo taken at La Posta Vecchia? Or which hotal or concept?. View looks amusing.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

The featured image is from the Solis Atlanta.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

Solis Hotel at 2 Porsche Drive, Atlanta GA


30 Jul 2015

Total posts 109

I've been doing this for 20 years since I was a teenager. Savvy travelers know how to travel. The Andaz at DEL airport is a great pick.

23 Mar 2018

Total posts 21

I would have thought that if you have a budget of USD 569 a night there would be a hundred places within a close radius.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 91

Coworth Park is one of a few excellent hotels near Ascot / Windsor / Sunnigdale. But having lived in Ascot you’d be a brave man who says it’s a 20 minute journey to Heathrow. I’d suspect i maybe managed that sort of time 1 in 20. And plenty of times it’s taken an hour. Especially if you’re using anything other than T5

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 588

"Heathrow is set in a posh part of the English countryside"

LOL the very fact that LHR is within the boundaries of the M25 tells me otherwise

03 May 2013

Total posts 667

Someone needs to show this article to BKK airside airport hotel! What a dump! Ex Louis Tavern

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 91

Joe - ain’t that the truth. Had the pleasure there on a long layover recently. Never been in a jail. But surely couldn’t be much worse than that. Coupled with a room that seemed to have the airport tannoy system wired directly into it.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2017

Total posts 6

I'm a big fan of the Crowne Plaza Changi - great pool and fantastic rooms. Yes, it's fairly generic but it's incredibly comfortable and a short walk from the terminal.

Also not particularly flash but definitely unique - La Costa Motel, a couple of minutes drive from Coolangatta Airport. A lovingly-restored boutique motel just 2 minutes walk from the beach.
Both certainly make for a stress-free flying day.

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