Think ‘airport hotel’ and you’ll most likely picture bland convenience accommodation. In fact, the best places combine luxurious creature comforts with a dash of old-fashioned travel romance – as well as above-average soundproofing. We’ve chosen six of our favourite places to stay near the airport at destinations across the KQ network…
1.Sofitel, London Heathrow
There’s no doubting the class of London Heathrow’s Sofitel hotel, voted one of the world’s top-ten airport hotels at the 2013 Skytrax World Airport Awards. This is the plushest of all Heathrow’s myriad hotels, and also one of only two (along with the Hilton) actually in the airport, located right next to the stunning Richard Rogers-designed Terminal 5 – a major time- and money-saver compared to staying at one of the off-site hotels dotted around the airport perimeter. Outside the hotel is the usual chaos of colliding baggage trolleys, lost passengers and delayed flights. Inside there’s a hushed contemporary calm with a distinct pinch of Nordic Zen – check out the cool Sphere Bar with its unusual fireplace and ‘Icelandic’ decor, a bit like being inside a kind of postmodern igloo. Stylish rooms offer perfect R&R after a long journey, with special MyBed mattresses and soundproofed windows guaranteeing a good night’s sleep. There’s also a 24-hour fitness studio. Given the standards, rates can be surprisingly inexpensive, especially at weekends.
From around US$210 per night. Tel: 020 8757 7777, www.sofitel.com
2. Pullman Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, Guangzhou
The Pullman brand has been synonomous with classic travel for over 150 years, lending its name to railway carriages, limo-style cars, buses, boats, and even a particular type of bread. The original Pullman company started in the USA in 1862, manufacturing upmarket sleeping cars during the great railroad boom, and the name (if not the original company) lives on in a chain of upscale hotels dotted across the globe, including the excellent Pullman Guangzhou Baiyun Airport. Judged one of China’s three best airport hotels at the 2013 Skytrax awards, the Pullman Guangzhou offers stylish modern 5-star comforts and conveniences at a surprisingly modest price, located just three minutes’ walk from the airport. Acquire a taste for the local cuisine at the Tian Yuan restaurant, serving classic Cantonese and creative Dongbei fare, or stretch cabin-cramped muscles in the Fit Lounge. Business travellers also appreciate the hotel’s ‘Pullman Co-Meeting’ concept, offering start-to-finish support from a dedicated team – led by an Event Manager and IT Solutions Manager – for meetings and conferences.
From around US$100. Tel: 020 3606 8866, www.pullmanhotels.com
3. Villa Monticello, Accra
Voted Ghana’s leading hotel at the 2012 World Travel Awards, the Villa Monticello boutique hotel is situated in one of Accra’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, a short drive from the Kotoka International Airport. The Villa offers an appealing alternative to traditional airport accommodation, designed to feel more like an exclusive private residence rather than a mainstream hotel, with high levels of privacy backed up by international-quality service when required. Accommodation is in one of fourteen luxury suites, each with an individual design inspired by various famous places or people – choose from the Coco Chanel or Kwame Nkrumah presidential suites, for example, or other suites inspired by Manhattan, Marrakech and Provence. Facilities include a delectable little pool and hi-tech fitness centre plus the services of the hotel’s ‘Koncierge’, a dedicated luxury concierge service which can arrange further travels and excursions.
From US$345. 1A Mankata Ave. Link, Airport Residential Area. Tel: 030 277 3477, www.villamonticello.com
5. InterContinental, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport
Voted the best airport hotel in Africa at the 2013 Skytrax Awards, the sparkling InterContinental provides a welcoming haven for passengers arriving or departing Jo’burg’s O.R. Tambo Airport. The hotel couldn’t be more convenient – less than a hundred metres from the international arrivals hall, meaning that you really can stagger straight from your plane into a well-earned bed, while state-of-the-art soundproofing means no noise disturbs the peace. The spacious rooms provide plenty of space to swing a bag of duty-free, while staff get consistently rave reviews for their exemplary friendliness and levels of service. The highly rated in-house Quills Restaurant specialises in African game meats – if you’ve a hankering for a portion of springbok, kudu, crocodile or warthog, now’s your chance – while Quills Bar has a superb selection of South African vintages and light snacks. It’s also open 24 hours a day (as is the hotel gym and room service), meaning that wherever you’ve flown in from the hotel can fit around whichever particular time zone you happen to be on.
From around US$370 per night. Tel: 011 961 5400, www.ihg.com/intercontinental
6. Polana Serena Hotel
Maputo’s classiest address, the Polana Serena isn’t exactly an airport hotel but is conveniently located within a short taxi ride of the terminal (as well as being handily placed for the city centre). Built in 1922, the Polana is one of Africa’s colonial classics, located on a leafy boulevard in one of Maputo’s most exclusive residential districts and with two sweeping wings enclosing a spacious pool. Extensive renovations have recently restored this famous old landmark to its former glory as well as upgrading in-house facilities to world-class standards. Check out the trio of in-house restaurants (including the signature French fine-dining ‘Delagoa’), take a treatment in the Maisha Mind Body and Spirit Health Club and Spa, work out in the state-of-the-art gym (complete with heated lap pool) or just splash around in the hotel’s huge main pool in the extensive gardens. Business travellers will also appreciate the hotel’s well-equipped business centre plus conference and social events suite, including a magnificent ballroom.
Around US$400. Avenida Julius Nyerere 1380, Maputo, Mozambique. Tel: 021 491 001 http://www.serenahotels.com/serenapolana
7. Onomo Dakar
Airport Hotel This bright, cheery and very affordable modern hotel is the obvious first port-of-call for passengers transiting Dakar’s Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport (a free shuttle bus runs between the hotel and airport). The neat and cosy rooms are set around attractive landscaped gardens and come with flatscreen TV, free Wi-Fi, safes, Tempur-Pedic mattresses and large walk-in showers, while in-house amenities include a bar, restaurant, 24/7 business centre and conference room. It’s the design which really catches the eye – blending traditional African motifs and contemporary modernity: funky Senegalese style with a dash of Scandinavian minimalist cool. The hotel also has strong environmental credentials, with a solar water-heating system, energy-saving lighting and off-line organic sewage treatment – which also explains the lack of a swimming pool, which is seen as compromising the hotel’s green agenda. An excellent choice if you’re in Dakar for business, especially given the competitive rates.
From around US$120. Route de l’aéroport,
BP 38233, Dakar. Tel: 033 869 06 10,