Not so long ago, the smart traveler did whatever it took to avoid staying in hotels near the airport. These benighted places were typically threadbare, noisy, cramped and, at times, downright depressing.
Some airport hotels are still like that. Increasingly, however, international chains are opening airport hotels in major markets around the world that are well-appointed, well-run and well-located, with many right at the airport. Here is a short list of the best:
FAIRMONT VANCOUVER AIRPORT, Vancouver, B.C., Canada:
Arguably the pick of the litter, this sleekly designed, 4-star property has a main lobby that opens directly into the main airport check-in area, down one level. All guest rooms are soundproofed. Most rooms have fine vistas, overlooking the runway and the flat, watery landscape south of the airport or the mountains to the north. The 10-year-old hotel has a spa with Jacuzzis and deep-soaker tubs and offers 24-hour printing and faxing services and a small-business center. Business travelers also can access in-room Internet service.
FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON, Baltimore Washington International, Baltimore:
A well-maintained, 201-room business hotel, this property isn't right at BWI but it's close: half a mile away, linked to the airport by a free, frequent, 24-hour shuttle. While not as sweet an airport as Washington's Reagan National, BWI is a good alternative to the larger, relatively remote Washington Dulles airport. The hotel soundproofs the guest rooms, provides in-room data ports and 32-inch LCD TVs. Guest parking is free.
HYATT REGENCY DALLAS-FORT WORTH AIRPORT:
Hyatt recently spent $43 million renovating this Texas-sized (811 rooms) property, located inside DFW. The 11th floor conference rooms were set to be finished March 28, and the hotel has an 18,000-square-foot meeting hall. Guest rooms have iPod docking stations and Wi-Fi. If you've got time on your hands, the Hyatt Regency runs a shuttle to Bear Creek Golf Club. The hotel also boasts a fitness center and rooms have an iron and ironing board.