Ready, Set, Jetset! Six of the World’s Most Incredible Airports
Traveling is as much about the journey as it is about the destination and, while travelers are usually happiest getting to their vacation spot, airports can be an exciting part of the experience. Travelers can revel in the anticipatory joy of the journey ahead and explore all that’s on offer from the champagne bar to luxurious retail therapy. But not all airports are created equal and while a layover or delayed flight can be stressful and exhausting, there are those that elevate the experience from something that has to be endured to something enjoyable with epic rooftop pools, art galleries and wow-factor indoor forests. With almost a fifth (19%)* of global travelers reporting the length of the layover would affect their flight booking decisions, we share six of the most amazing airports around the world, along with nearby accommodations, for sleek stopovers that will extend those vacay vibes.
Singapore Changi Airport – Singapore
Renowned for its unrivalled experiences, Singapore’s Changi Airport is a destination in its own right. The nature-themed airport features a rooftop pool and hot tub, a butterfly garden and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Enclosed in a glass and steel dome within the airport, the lush Shiseido Forest Valley features the 130ft (40m) Rain Vortex waterfall amongst tropical plants and over two thousand trees, something to behold and perfect for the quarter (25%)** of travelers who would like to see more outdoor spaces in airports. To make the most of the experience, book a Jewel Changi Airport Admission that gives full access to the amenities from leafy nature trails to a giant trampoline suspended above the trees and restaurants serving Michelin-starred ramen. A larger-than-life playground, this airport is ideal for families seeking to entertain the kids while awaiting a flight – yet from the canopy mazes to Singapore's tallest slide and even the cactus garden, there’s truly something for everyone.
Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, an IHG Hotel is located in Terminal 3 of this mind-blowing airport and directly linked to Jewel via an indoor bridge. The ultra-luxurious and modern hotel encapsulates the futuristic vibe of Singapore with its floor-to-ceiling glass and landscaped outdoor pool. In addition to overnight stays, there’s also the option of day-use rooms where travelers in transit can gain access to the hotel’s facilities for four, six or eight hours. Make the most of the all-day restaurant that serves Asian and western food from tasty chicken satay with crunchy peanut sauce to warming pulled beef gnocchi pasta – and that offers both vegetarian and vegan menus as a Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay.
Art lovers will appreciate a layover in Helsinki Airport with its minimalist pine-covered walls, 24-hour art gallery and installations such as the dragonfly-shaped Concorde sculpture. This design-centric airport also houses a scenic terrace, a Christmas cabin and a virtual oasis where passengers can experience Finland’s nature and its four seasons through a curved screen, a soundscape and interactive wall projections. With wellness at the heart of Finnish culture, travelers can make themselves at home in the Maja Living Room and utilize the yoga room and reclining chairs to stretch and unwind before a flight. There’s even a book swap where travelers can trade old reads for free and the world’s first second-hand store to be located inside an airport. For a quick power nap, visitors can nab a sleeping pod in-between flights, complete with a pull-up cover to block out any light and noise to rejuvenate for the next leg of their journey – ideal for the more than a quarter (28%)** of travelers who say providing somewhere to sleep would be the main thing to improve airports.
Where to stay: A short two-minute train ride away from the airport is the Clarion Hotel Helsinki Airport, away from the passenger terminals and with soundproofed rooms so nearby runway action causes no disturbance. Travelers can bed down comfortably at this design-led hotel that includes a 24-hour fitness room, sauna and terrace – along with meeting rooms for those journeying for business. A delicious menu of Nordic flavors is available at the restaurant, and the breakfast pastries will get any traveler's day off to a flying start. This haven is a Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay that uses 100% renewable electricity, handy for those striving to adopt more sustainable choices when traveling.
Hong Kong International Airport – Hong Kong
Long layovers don’t sound so arduous when the airport has a virtual golf course, a luxury spa and an Aviation Discovery Center complete with a flight simulator where travelers can live out dreams of becoming a pilot. It even houses the world’s first airport-based IMAX theater offering an immersive cinematic experience, and meeting the needs of the fifth (20%)** of travelers who report that cinemas are the airport amenity they hope for most. Themed breakout zones include a workspace with reclining chairs and a meditation zone, while families traveling with kids can keep them entertained in the Buzz Zone where interactive games and a playground will make the wait for a flight whizz by. Connecting travelers with almost 200 destinations around the world, this expansive and spotless airport serves as a bridge between the buzzing metropolis and locations around the world. To get a flavor of the city, travelers can feast on nourishing noodles and mouth-watering dumplings or head to the roof terrace for sneak peak views over the island of Chek Lap Kok.
Where to stay: Nestled on the banks of the South China Sea and a free five-minute shuttle ride away from the airport is Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel. This sleek stopover is exceptionally spacious and each room features a well-lit workspace. Guests can refuel at one of five restaurants that offer Asian and international dishes, head to the 24-hour fitness center or relax at the luxury spa. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable hotel is as dedicated to providing a more sustainable stay for its guests as it is a comfortable one, making considerable efforts to reduce food waste and offering an oasis of verdant green spaces.
Dubai International Airport – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
With the UAE renowned worldwide for its luxurious and extravagant experiences, it’s no surprise that Dubai International Airport has high standards, too. This upscale airport, a well-known stopover between Europe and Asia, is home to five spas which each feature a swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna and offer first-class treatments from massages to manicures. The Zen Garden provides a leafy oasis with the soothing sound of water from a fishpond nestled amongst trees, while travelers can bed down in between flights at the snooze cubes. For those seeking to stay alert, the Game Space gaming lounge is open around the clock and offers solo and multiplayer video games, while the world’s fastest Wi-Fi means travelers can binge-watch their heart out. The airport is staggeringly large, the size of 297 football fields, and doubles up as a mall with hundreds of shops from high-end designer boutiques to tech and souvenir emporiums, guaranteed to support any kind of retail therapy for the (57%)** of travelers who want to shop for tax-free goods while waiting for a flight.
Where to stay: The colossal InterContinental Residence Suites Dubai Festival City, an IHG Hotel offers stylish apartments just a short drive from Dubai International Airport. With panoramic views of Dubai Creek, a natural waterway known as the heart and soul of this city, guests can immerse in the scenery from their suites, or take a dip in the incredible pool and get some lengths in before the journey ahead. What’s more, this Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint and invests a percentage of revenue into local community projects, providing guests with a more sustainable stay.
Located northeast of the Spanish capital in the Barajas District, the Madrid-Barajas Airport welcomes more than 50 million travelers annually and is just a short drive away from the city center. The airport has been redesigned to help reduce stress and enhance passenger wellbeing, with glass walls, circular skylights and a domed ceiling constructed of bamboo which allows natural light to flood in. The resulting architecture is an iconic wavy roof that flows through the interior producing a bright, spacious environment for travelers to hang out in. To further support wellness, the airport is home to the Elysium Travel Spa which offers relaxing reflexology and the use of mud baths and steam rooms for a uniquely rejuvenating experience. To get a true taste of Spain, the airport offers traditional tapas bars with salty Iberian pork, spicy Padron peppers and fruity red wine on the menu, perfect for the three in five (60%)** travelers who enjoy eating in restaurants when waiting for a flight. Elsewhere, there’s a play area for children, luggage storage facilities and boutiques galore.
Where to stay: Just a short walk away from Madrid-Barajas Airport, Fly Rooms Madrid Airport is a trendy and modern guest house featuring travel-inspired design perfect for those in transit. With air conditioning to keep travelers comfortable in the Spanish heat, this stay has a homely feel along with a fully-equipped kitchenette. Travelers will want to linger here, wrapping up in a soft bathrobe and watching a movie to relax and rejuvenate.
Wellington Airport – Wellington, New Zealand
What better way to showcase Wellington’s culture than with giant sculptures of characters from some of the most iconic movies filmed in this capital city in the airport terminal. Small but full of creativity, fans will appreciate hobbit-themed installations including the enormous dragon hidden in the airport’s rocky facade. Opened in 2010, The Rock international terminal has won awards for its innovative design inspired by the natural environment of the rugged surrounding coast, and this incredible architectural project has transformed the airport into a world-renowned tourist destination. Wellington Airport was also recently rated third in the world for airport sustainability and is committed to protecting the environment, having partnered with an organization to fund the planting of over 5,000 native trees to support the regeneration of the Miramar Peninsula, and currently trialing the composting of takeaway coffee cups.
Where to stay: Conveniently located above the international terminal, Rydges Wellington Airport is a fantastic hotel for those looking for a break between flights. Stylish rooms have sound-proofed windows and oceanfront views and guests can sink into super comfy beds, head to the 24-hour gym or sip on a refreshing cocktail at the hotel bar. The restaurant and room service dish out comfort food at its finest with moreish sandwiches, steaks and pizza and offer both locally sourced ingredients and vegan options as part of this Booking.com Travel Sustainable property.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.
**Research conducted by Booking.com among a sample of 7,299 respondents from Spain, Italy, Germany, US, UK, Canada and Australia. The survey was taken online in December 2022.