June 02, 2012
AIRPORT HOTELS – FROM BEST TO BIZARRE
ONCE was a time when the prospects of a stay at an airport hotel sent shivers down the spines of even the most-seasoned travellers: pokey rooms, planes roaring overhead like they were about to come through the walls, rattling windows at every take-off and landing, non-existent lounges or bars in which to escape, and restaurants whose offerings were best forgotten …
No more. Today airport hotels are up there with the best, including with social and recreational facilities, business centres, dining and bar offerings – and sound-proofing.
And the more so in value when you search out the bargains: the Ibis Sydney Airport Hotel, for example, currently has Autumn and Winter rates that begin from just $129 per room per night – stay 2-nights and you get a 15% saving and pay from only $120 per room per night (prices based on pre-paid bookings.)
As well the hotel has a Day Rate for those perhaps arriving in Sydney in the morning and not flying out again until the evening: $99 gets you a room up to 5pm.
Day Rates are a particular boon for long-distance travellers, with many overseas airports now having hotels right within their passenger terminals, so you can fly and then flop for a few hours without leaving the terminal.
Japan also has those somewhat bizarre "capsule hotels," up to 700 what look like luggage lockers that are just 2m by 1m by about 1.5m high and stacked two rows high… check your bags into a baggage room, climb into your tiny locker and pull either a fibreglass panel or curtain down behind you for privacy, watch TV, listen to the radio or sleep. Bathroom facilities are separate, and they cost from just AU$30 a night.
In America, the UK and Europe there are also airport in-terminal "Yotels," a fast-growing brand of hotels with rooms as small as 6m by 4m, but complete with bed, ensuite, TV, desk, Wifi and costing from around $50 for a minimum four hours.
And as well as Fresh Up Rates that start from Thai Baht 2000 (about AU$62) per four hours, the huge 612-room Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel Bangkok has an interesting "24 Hours Flexi Meal" offer that others could follow: breakfast is included with your booking… but if its more suited to the time you're there for a Fresh Up stay, you can swap brekkie for a Lunch or Dinner Buffet at no extra cost.
Sydney's Ibis Airport Hotel has Wifi and broadband access in all 200 rooms, carparking and a regular shuttle service to the domestic and international terminals (small fees apply for these services.)
And its iBistro – open from 5.30am to 10.30pm – brings some particularly pleasant surprises.
The dinner menu, for instance, runs from various breads and dips for starters, through to soup of the day, a half dozen entrees, twelve mains, five desserts, and a children's menu for 12 years and under.
And Ibis Area General Manager NSW & ACT, Larry Raffel has a great idea here for wine-lovers: all twenty-plus sparklings, reds and whites are available by the glass, rather than the usual just couple of reds or whites that may not be your regular varietals of choice.
If you do overnight here, don't look past the Antipasto Plate for Two in the entrees list, it comes with grilled Mediterranean vegetables, chorizo, olives, haloumi, dolmades and tapenade served with Turkish bread ($22 for two.)
Mains include Beef Tortellini with tomato-basil sauce ($20,) Creamy Penne Pasta with chicken, bacon and roasted garlic cream sauce ($21,) fish of the day ($28,) thyme rubbed lamb shoulder with cannellini bean puree, grilled fennel and sun-dried tomato pesto ($29,) and for steak lovers a 300g beef rib-eye cutlet ($32) or 300g beef striploin ($30), both of which come with chat potatoes and café de Paris Butter.
And for children cheeseburgers, fish and chips, pastas, chicken nuggets and chips, and hot dogs (prices range from $7 to $8.50.)
Plus end your meal with a choice of $10 desserts including a decadent dark chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and crushed hazelnuts, or an Aussie cheese platter with dried fruits, lavosh and water crackers ($17.)
For bookings or more about the Ibis Sydney Airport hop onto www.ibishotels.com.au or phone toll-free 1300 65 65 65.
 IBIS Sydney Airport: convenience and excellent dining (Photo Accor Hotels)
 ROOMS have come a long way from the window rattlers at every take-off and Landing (Photo Accor Hotels)
 JAPAN'S bizarre "capsule hotels" look more like luggage lockers than a hotel (Photo Wikipedia))
 NOVOTEL Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel Bangkok allow you to swap brekkie for a lunch or dinner buffet if you are taking a Fresh Up room for a few hours kip
(Photo Accor Hotels)