Airport hotels with the best runway views

CNN  — 

Airports are fascinating places, yet with the rush of check-in, security lines and boarding gates as we head out on our travels, we often don’t have time to truly experience them.

Next time you fly, you could experience a view of the airport rarely seen by passengers if you choose to stay in one of these airport hotels. As any aviation fan knows, this is the perfect way to get a window on the world of takeoffs and landings.

What’s more, most large hotel chains have a presence at all major airports, combining luxurious comfort with convenience.

CitizenM Amsterdam Schiphol

An early morning view of Amsterdam Schiphol airport from the CitizenM hotel.

The CitizenM hotel chain began life at this location close to the terminal at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Its unique style of décor and furniture, as well as modern amenities like self-check-in kiosks, living room areas and rooms controlled via a touchscreen device, are a great fit for the modern traveler.

The rooms are compact but functional, with storage space, a rain shower and large bed.

Raising the window blinds reveals a vista of jets parked up at gates and others taxiing past for departure in an ever-changing scene day and night.

If you’re taking a flight or want a choice of eating options, the terminal is only a short walk from the hotel. Amsterdam itself is a 15-minute train ride.

From the terminal: Five-minute walk

CitizenM Amsterdam Schiphol, Jan Plezierweg 2, 1118 BB Schiphol, Netherlands; +31 20 811 7080

From $197 per night
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Sheraton Gateway Toronto Pearson

One of the best views at Toronto’s main airport is from the Sheraton Gateway hotel above Terminal 3. Easy to reach via a walkway, the smart hotel has eight floors with rooms on the higher levels offering a panoramic view of aircraft from Air Canada, WestJet and many other airlines passing by.

Staying on a Club Floor at the Sheraton means guests have access to a lounge with snacks, Starbucks coffee and other drinks available around the clock – perfect for some late-night viewing out of the window.

From the terminal: Outside Terminal 3; five-minute walk from Terminal 1

Sheraton Gateway Toronto Pearson, Terminal 3, Toronto Pearson Airport, ON, L5P 1C4; +1 905 672 7000

From $269 per night
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Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon

Miami is one of America’s most exotic airports. Long seen as a gateway to South America and the Caribbean, and also a major hub for American Airlines, it’s a lively place with all sorts of interesting aircraft coming and going.

Just south of the airport is the Hilton Miami Airport, which faces the intersection of two of the airport’s runways. Guests who treat themselves to an executive double room on a high floor are set for a treat, with large balconies to relax on and a panoramic view of aircraft passing by at close quarters. Forget the beach, this is the best view in Miami.

From the terminal: Complimentary shuttle

Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon, 5101 Blue Lagoon Dr, Miami, FL 33126; +1 305-262-1000

From $214 per night
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Hampton by Hilton London Stansted

You won't get much closer to aircraft than at London Stansted's Hampton by Hilton hotel.

A new addition to the growing London Stansted airport, to the north of the capital, is the Hampton by Hilton hotel. It’s a short walk from the terminal and railway station.

In the lobby, an aviation theme greets guests, with huge propellers on the wall and art depicting flight at every turn. The large open-plan restaurant and lounge offers a place to relax or enjoy an evening meal, or breakfast before your flight.

Airport-facing rooms have great appeal here, where two of the terminal’s three piers stretch out beneath you and the runway lies just beyond.

Stansted is known particularly as a hub for low-cost carrier Ryanair, whose aircraft come and go in steady streams. At night, you’ll be glad the triple-glazed windows are there to drown out the sounds of all the heavy freighter aircraft that trundle past into the small hours.

From the terminal: Two-minute walk

Hampton by Hilton London Stansted, Bassingbourn Rd, Stansted CM24 1QW; +44 1279 701101

From $164 per night
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Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson

The Renaissance Concourse at Atlanta has always been considered the best of any airport hotel; it’s loved by aviation enthusiasts who flock here to get a view of the action at the world’s busiest airport.

Hartsfield Jackson is a giant place with six runways and never a dull moment. This smart hotel sits on the northern perimeter. Rooms have balconies for a great view of the endless stream of Delta aircraft coming and going.

It’s easy to reach from the airport and is connected to the highway network for ease of access to Atlanta and beyond.

From the terminal: Complimentary shuttle

Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson, One Hartsfield Center Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30354; +1 404-209-9999

From $219 per night
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Sonesta Ocean Point Resort St Maarten

The island of St Maarten took a heavy toll in 2017’s Hurricane Irma. Princess Juliana Airport, with the famous Maho Beach at the end of the runway, along with many of the resort hotels, were all left picking up the pieces.

Thankfully the Sonesta Ocean Point Resort has announced it will be reopening in the winter 2018/19 season “stronger and brand new”, retaining its selection of bars, restaurants and pools – plus the amazing balcony views of large airliners swooping over the bay and skimming the heads of those on the beach before touchdown.

From the terminal: Five-minute drive

Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, 1 Rhine Road, Saint Maarten; +1 800-766-3782

From $499 per night
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Felix Hotel Sydney

Take in the views from hanging chairs in the Penthouse lobby of Sydney's Felix Hotel.

One of the more sophisticated hotels on our list recently opened behind the domestic terminal at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport.

Guests arriving to check in at one of the 150 rooms first head to the top floor Penthouse, where hanging chairs by the windows offer a relaxing way to take in the runways and taxiways. Here, a 24-hour food shop, cocktail bar and self-service laundry are available to use.

Out on the terrace you’ll find Sydney’s only rooftop cinema.

But enough of that. You’re here for the rooms, and 70 of them face the action with comfortable beds and all the amenities you’d expect of this boutique hotel.

From the terminal: Five-minute walk

Felix Hotel Sydney, 121 Baxter Road, Mascot, 2020 NSW, Australia; +61 2 8303 8888

From $124 per night
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BLOC Hotel London Gatwick

Don't judge a book by its cover.

A 1960s-era administration block at an airport terminal does not, on first thought, sound like an attractive place to stay. However, give the BLOC Hotel at London Gatwick a chance and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Accessed from a discreet entrance inside the South Terminal, once you’ve ascended in the elevator to your assigned floor and enter your room, you’ll discover a high-spec interior intertwining technology and comfort, with a modern style that travelers simply love.

Moving beyond the comforts for a moment, the view is the next thing which strikes you. Stretching out beneath you are the piers and terminals at the world’s busiest single-runway airport, where the action never stops.

You’ll feel like an air traffic controller directing the flow of aircraft and wonder at the short gaps between one aircraft departing and another landing.

From the terminal: Inside the South Terminal; Take the shuttle from the North Terminal

BLOC Hotel London Gatwick, South Terminal, Gatwick RH6 0NN; +44 20 3051 0101

From $162 per night
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Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket

There are 558 rooms, penthouses and pool villas at the Grand West Sands Resort.

One of Thailand’s most popular tourist areas, Phuket attracts visitors from all around the world for its beaches, sun and local culture. An island of that size requires an airport to match, and Phuket International takes up a sizable portion of the northern part of the island.

Forget the beach at the end of the runway. The sprawling Grand West Sands Resort, which borders the airport’s northern perimeter, is a perfect place to relax with the family, enjoying its many amenities.

Ask for a room in Block 6 and not only do you have great facilities on hand, but also a panoramic view of the airport and its runway. What could be better?

From the terminal: Airport shuttle (with a surcharge)

Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket, 65 Moo 4, Mai Khao Soi 4, Phuket 83110 Thailand; +66 76 372 000

From $101 per night
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Crowne Plaza Singapore Changi

Runway-view rooms at Singapore Changi's Crowne Plaza combine luxury with the best vantage point at the airport.

Changi Airport has been voted the best in the world for an impressive five years running. With amenities like the Crowne Plaza hotel built into its terminals, it’s not hard to understand why.

As one of the more luxurious airport hotels you’ll ever encounter, you can enjoy spas, restaurants, a gym and outdoor courtyard with rainforest-themed swimming pool.

Rooms on the top three floors look out on the action at this busy Asian airport and one of its two runways. Soon you’ll be able to watch Singapore Airlines’ new daily non-stop link to New York take off on the world’s longest flight.

From the terminal: You’re already there

Crowne Plaza Singapore Changi, 75 Airport Boulevard, Singapore 819664; +65 6823 5300

From $264 per night
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Premier Inn Dubai Airport

Dubai as a destination has every kind of hotel you can imagine, including some incredible resorts. However, one of its most recent accommodation options is run by the British chain Premier Inn and is located just behind Dubai International’s terminals 1 and 3.

Rooms in this chain are the same the world over and offer comfortable beds and amenities. Yet here in the sun there’s a rooftop pool terrace to relax in, and over the wall a vista of the world’s busiest international airport.

Close by you’ll see airliners parked at the terminal awaiting their passengers, whilst huge Emirates Airbus A380s lift off in a steady stream flying to destinations all over the world.

From the terminal: Complimentary shuttle

Premier Inn Dubai Airport, Opposite Terminal 3, Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 260 4000

From $46 per night
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Prodigy Hotel Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont

With views of aircraft coming and going, the Prodigy Hotel is an amazing airport hotel.

Rio de Janeiro’s downtown airport is crammed into a small peninsula in Guanabara Bay with two short runways handling lots of domestic flights and biz jets.

Linked to the terminal building, which has plenty of eating options should you need them, the Prodigy is a new facility with rooms facing the runway.

Up on the hotel’s roof you’ll find a relaxing pool area with sun loungers, shaded areas and views of the airport, plus Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue as a backdrop.

From the terminal: You’re already there

Prodigy Hotel Santos Dumont Airport, Av. Almirante Silvio de Noronha 365, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 20021-010 Brazil; +55 (21) 3478-4100

Hilton Chicago O’Hare

Chicago O’Hare is a large and complex airport with a seemingly widespread layout of runways and terminals. To help get a better idea of the place, you could check into the Hilton Hotel above Terminal 2 in the heart of the complex.

You could take your chances and ask for an even-numbered room for a view facing the airport. Alternatively, you can pay a premium on booking for a guaranteed view.

Either way, you’ll be greeted with the panorama of aircraft milling around the American Airlines gates and an array of runways and taxiways beyond. Its proximity to the terminals make this a perfect place to stay if you are flying in or out of O’Hare, too.

From the terminal: Connected to terminals 1, 2 & 3; complimentary shuttle from International Terminal

Hilton Chicago O’Hare,10000 W O’Hare Ave, Chicago, IL 60666; +1 773-686-8000

From $269 per night
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If you have free time during your stay in Chicago, you might want to check out all the interesting things going on in South Side, including the Robie House is on the University of Chicago campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Matt Falcus is a British aviation writer, author, and editor of the Airport Spotting Blog, which delivers daily news on airline and airport operations around the world.