The Golden Age of Flying may be behind us, but the era’s finest relic remains open to modern nomads.
Eero Saarinen’s relatively small winged TransWorld Airline Flight Center, originally built in 1962 to welcome travelers to New York, quickly grew obsolete with the rise of the massive Boeing 747 and its millions of passengers.
Taken over by JetBlue, then named a historic landmark, the structure sat idle before finally opening as the retro-fabulous TWA Hotel adjacent to Terminal 5.
Take a swim in the rooftop pool as planes touch down on Runway 4. Grab a laptop and a Knoll stool in the chili pepper-red Sunken Lounge or the Paris Café by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Have a cocktail inside Connie, a restored 1958 Lockheed Constellation. Then retreat to one of the 512 Hollywood-glam rooms in two new purpose-built towers that can be booked for the night or for four to 12 hours by daytrippers looking to freshen up (and party down) between flights.
Set just a two-minute walk from Terminal 3, the no-fuss CitizenM’s CdG edition has all the trappings a road warrior could desire: super-fast Wi-Fi, extra-strong showers, blackout blinds, Vitra furnishings and 24/7 food options.
The 230-room hotel caters to wellness-driven business travelers, which means that, while you won’t find a gym here, you will find workout videos streaming on the guest room televisions and area maps with running routes.
Take your meetings in the hotel lobby, filled with colorful books, classic chairs and “ambassadors” (aka staff) who are trained in all positions, so you never have to ask to speak to a manager should you require a fresh croissant or insight into where to rent a bike.
Next time you fly on a 747, look around and see if you could turn it into a 33-room hotel. That’s what businessman Oscar Dios did after he purchased the 1976-built Boeing aircraft that once flew for Singapore and PanAm (remember them?).
Now guests of the Arlanda Jumbostay at the Stockholm airport can sleep in the upstairs cockpit and store their belongings in the reconverted overhead bin, get some shut-eye in a group “hostel room,” with up to four beds, or take over an engine room, occupying — you guessed it — those oversized turbines.
When it’s warm out, travelers are allowed to enjoy their aperitifs on the wings as planes take flight all around.
But even non-residents can pop by the second-story café, where staff dressed in vintage air-steward uniforms serve coffee, cocktails and snacks to aviation junkies or anyone looking for some fun before boarding.
Beds from $50 per night, standard rooms from $78, suites from $161
The Hilton Munich Airport, set between Terminals 1 and 2, delivers the opposite of what travelers expect on a layover. Rather than sleeping pods or cookie-cutter hotels where design is an afterthought, here a light-filled atrium dotted with 60-foot-tall palm trees that provide much-needed O2 in the Nightflight Bar.
Unlike the chafing dishes in typical business lounges or the boxes of Frosted Flakes proffered at other low-budget airport hotels, this 551-room glassy beauty offers fine dining at the Mountain Hub Gourmet restaurant (order the Balfegó bluefin tuna with wasabi and caviar) and fine therapies at the Mountain Hub Spa.
Even day-users can access the 24-hour fitness center and 55-foot-long indoor swimming pool. How’s that for a restful transit?
A rainforest strewn with exotic orchids is not what one expects from a hotel situated in one of the world’s busiest transit hubs. But the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is not your typical airport hotel. Calling itself an “urban resort,” the 563-room Terminal 3 retreat was inspired by the textiles of Southeast Asia and exudes all the tropical sumptuousness for which the region is beloved.
Million-milers who frequent Asia leave hours early just to hang out in this lattice-wrapped, blooming fantasyland, where a rooftop garden replenishes and rehydrates while a massive outdoor pool washes away yesterday’s long-haul (book a Pool Terrace Room for private entry).
Along with a 1970s-inspired bar and 24-hour dining, the hotel grants direct access to inarguably the most entertaining airport on the planet, complete with a netted suspension bridge, a butterfly sanctuary, a mirror maze and a laser-light show featuring a waterfall that flows through an aperture in the roof. Clearly, America has some work to do on upgrading our airports.