11 of the coolest airport hotels in Europe

Dec 12, 2019

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They may not be the most luxurious and highly desired hotels in the world, but the lodging options nearby or even inside major international airports today are getting decidedly less grey. Long considered the ugly duckling of the hotel industry — the places where you would never stay by choice but only by dint of a missed flight or perhaps a severe storm impacting departures — airport hotels are having a transformational moment, and Europe is most definitely on time for the party.

So if you’ve got a really early flight and don’t feel like sleeping on the airport floor after the last lounge closes, check out our handy summary of Europe’s quirkiest airport hotels.

1. citizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle, France (CDG)

About a seven-minute walk from Charles de Gaulle’s Terminal 3, the citizenM hotel at CDG offers a breath of fresh air at the busy Parisian airport. The compact guest rooms seem to have taken a page out of the Yotel playbook with their podlike rooms, but they also hit all the millennial touch points like extra large king beds, high pressure rainbath showers and free Wi-Fi. The lobby is big and bright and with Vitra furniture, modern artwork and books that invite you to linger. The 24/7 canteenM food and drink space features “scrumptious food for citizens of the world” like sloppy joe nachos and prawn gyozas.

Put a petite spring in your jet lagged step at citizenM Charles de Gaulle. (Photo by citizenM Charles de Gaulle)

2. Scandic Helsinki Airport Hotel, Finland (HEL)

The Scandic Helsinki Airport hotel, connected by a covered walkway to Helsinki Airport’s Terminal 2, is an airport hotel with a sense of humour. One of the meeting rooms, for example, actually resembles a Finnish sauna. The guest rooms themselves are functional, and the metro-tiled bathrooms are a cool touch. The atrium restaurant is bursting with funky orb-shaped lighting fixtures and the furniture throughout the public spaces leans toward the whimsical. There’s a good-sized gym and sauna, too — so you can sweat off the calories from the copious complimentary breakfast buffet.

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Lobby seating comes with a creative tilt at the Scandic Helsinki Airport hotel. (Photo by Scandic Helsinki Airport)

3. Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel, Belgium (BRU)

Do you know how many steps your airport hotel is to the terminal? Somebody at the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel actually counted, and the answer is 39 steps to the airport entrance. The lobby is a throwback-style, high-ceilinged and huge, and the 294 rooms are soundproofed and feature funky purple curtains.

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Many rooms at the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel feature tarmac views. (Photo by Sheraton Brussels Airport)

4. Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, The Netherlands (AMS)

Think sleek, think geometrically compelling facade and think awesome Eforea Spa — little about Hilton’s Amsterdam airport hotel screams traditional airport hotel. For floor-to-ceiling runway views, book a deluxe room. The standard rooms that don’t face the 42-metre high interior atrium have airport views from diamond-shaped windows. The room decor throughout is contemporary Dutch, which means a mix of luxury and functionality. This is also an airport hotel with food and beverage offerings that are actually fun — the Axis lobby bar is the spot for a gin or Dutch Jenever fix while the Bowery restaurant mixes it up with both hearty Dutch and Asian cuisines. The spa facilities include sauna and steam rooms and are open until 10 p.m. daily. A five- to seven-minute saunter through a covered walkway takes you to the airport itself.

A view of the control tower from a room at the Hiltodn Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. (Photo by Hilton Amsterdam Airport)

5. Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3, U.K. (LHR)

Very convenient when you’re departing from the Queen’s Terminal at the ever-humming Heathrow, this winner of an airport hotel is hidden in plain view right inside Terminal 2, with access to Terminal 3 via a pedestrian underpass. The lobby is bright and modern with plenty of plush sofas so you can pause and regroup before taking on the airport. The Apron Bar & Restaurant is similarly cheerful and airy, and if the design coolness doesn’t quite make it to the guest rooms, they are fresh and fairly new and the location simply can’t be beat.

The Apron Bar & Restaurant at the Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3. (Photo by Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow T2 & T3)

6. Bloc Hotel Gatwick, U.K. (LGW)

The Bloc Hotel Gatwick is tucked inside Gatwick’s South Terminal, on the third floor before security. If the ultra compact rooms lend this place a micro-hotel kind of tilt, the chocolate tones and Artemide ambient lighting create an ambience that’s almost warm. You can splash out on the Gatwick Runway Suite or simply request a room with runway views. In all cases, the beds are king-size with pocket-sprung mattresses and luxe cotton linens that will lull you to sleep. If a good snooze isn’t enough to keep your jet lag at bay, hop under the monsoon shower where the fragrant pump-topped shower gel will give you a jolt of revitalisation. The hotel also has discounted menu collaborations with Joe’s Coffee House, Giraffe and Grain Store.

Get a piece of the Bloc at London Gatwick. (Photo by BLOC Hotels)

7. Tryp Lisboa Aeroporto, Portugal (LIS)

If you find yourself stuck in Lisbon for any reason, the Tryp Lisboa Aerporto hotel, only 200 metres from Terminal 1, could give you cause to linger even longer. The contemporary hotel is easily recognisable on account of its irregular geometric shape and sports an aviation theme in the lobby (try the mock tarmac on for size), while the 168 guest rooms are soundproofed and bright. The Tryp’s breakfast buffet wins high marks and there’s an a la carte restaurant and bar as well. The wellness centre’s a winner with a sauna, Turkish bath and both indoor and outdoor pools.

Looking pretty fly at the Tryp Lisboa Aeroporto hotel. (Photo by Tryp Lisboa Aeroporto)

8. Sheraton Milan Malpensa, Italy (MXP)

The Sheraton Milan Malpensa means business, but with some panache. Located at Malpensa’s Terminal 1, the glassy, elongated structure itself evokes a sort of streamlined terminal building. The 437 rooms (including 21 suites) are more businesslike than brash but still contemporary enough to avoid the stereotypical dowdy airport hotel feeling. There’s a very good spa that has a wet zone with steam bath and sauna, treatment rooms and a large indoor pool naturally lit by floor-to-ceiling windows. The Il Canneto restaurant is a cut above what you might expect of a hotel at the airport, with a three-course “Flying Lunch” served daily, plus a separate all-day bar that’s a nice stop for a morning cappuccino or later aperitivo.

On a clear day you can see Alitalia: facade of the Sheraton Milan Malpensa. (Photo by Sheraton Milan Malpensa)

9. Hotel Tiber Fiumicino, Italy (FCO)

If an airport hotel is not strictly speaking on airport premises, can you still call it an airport hotel? In this case, the answer is yes at the unusual and appealing Hotel Tiber Fiumicino. Not everybody realises that the second name in Rome-Fiumicino International Airport Leonardo da Vinci refers to its actual location, the little town of Fiumicino, which sits along the mouth of the Tiber river. An airport shuttle van takes you on the short ride to this modern hotel, which rather improbably boasts an impressive rooftop swimming pool overlooking the Tyrrhenian coast. Whether your stay here is pre- or post-flight, the cool thing is that Fiumicino is actually very lovely, with an array of trattorias, pizzerias and gelaterias practically outside the door. The rooms themselves are modern and the complimentary slippers are always, for some reason, orange.

Mouth of the Tiber from the rooftop of Hotel Tiber Fiumicino. (Photo by The Points Guy/Anthony Grant)

10. Hilton Munich Airport, Germany (MUC)

The Hilton Munich Airport hotel wins high marks all around, starting with its location at Terminalstrasse Mitte 20 which is located between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The huge curve-roofed glass atrium with tall palm trees and a swish bar says this hotel is not simply an afterthought but also a viable place to meet and greet and take a stylish timeout from the airport bustle. A detour to the hotel’s own Fit & Fly Spa, replete with steam bath, sauna and indoor pool is another way to unwind on the premises. For the best runway views, try to book one of the executive rooms on floors four to six.

The Nightflight Bar at Hilton Munich Airport. (Photo by Hilton Munich Airport)

11. The Ciao Stelio Deluxe Hotel, Cyprus (LCA)

As the main international gateway of Cyprus, Larnaca International Airport is a crossroads hub between Europe and the Middle East. The hotels that qualify as airport hotels are not actually on the airport premises, but rather clustered about two miles up the airport access road opposite Mackenzie Beach. Best among these is the Ciao Stelio Deluxe Hotel. The rooms are breezy pictures of white with light wood accents and bathrooms have luxurious marble showers with better-than-average amenities. The lobby restaurant and bar feature nicely executed local specialties, and if you get a front-facing balcony room you can relax as you watch planes make their final approach over the Mediterranean to LCA.

A sea-facing room at the Ciao Stelio Deluxe Hotel near Larnaca International Airport. (Photo by The Points Guy/Ciao Stelio)

Bottom line

Airport hotels are decreasingly dreary lodging choices. But at busy airports like Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle, there’s definitely some peace of mind to be gained knowing that, by staying at the right hotel, you can almost roll out of bed and onto the plane. In places like Munich, Rome and elsewhere, short spells at airport hotels can not only be be prudent before your flight, but surprisingly enjoyable even after you’ve landed.

Featured image by Tryp Lisboa Aeroporto

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