Forget noisy motels, there's a growing trend in convenient, comfortable and interesting boutique hotels.
Top 10: Relax in style at the best airport hotels
Custom Hotel, Los Angeles Just two miles from Los Angeles International Airport but close enough to see the runways, Custom Hotel gives the bigger chains nearby a run for their money. It was remodelled this year in a modern, hip style (sheep in the lobby, an expresso machine at check in, iPod docks). The 250 rooms and suites have some of the city's most panoramic viewsover the sea, Malibu and the Hollywood Hills. It also features the cool (and sometimes loud) Hopscotch bar overlooking a pool with stadium sun deck and private cabanas. Soundproofed windows and a complimentary airport shuttle service comes as standard. Doubles from $109 (Dh400) (www.customhotel.com; 001 877 287 8601).
The Jumbo Hostel, Stockholm Due to open in December, this option might not suit every traveller but you can hardly stay closer to air traffic. Parked right outside Stockholm's Arlanda Airport, a worn out Boeing 747 has been converted into the Jumbo Hostel. It has 25 three-bed rooms - dormitory-style - mostly with shared bathrooms and showers, and all equipped with flatscreen TVs which double as departure/arrival monitors. A "luxury" cockpit suite is bigger, en-suite and offers a stunning view of the runway. There is a basic café, WiFi, and a walkway enabling you to stand on top of the aeroplane's wing. Dormitory bed from $50 (Dh184) per night (www.jumbohostel.com; 0046 8 593 604 00).
Sofitel, London This sophisticated Sofitel - the only hotel with direct access to London Heathrow's Terminal 5 - has recently been responsible for changing the definition of what an airport hotel can be. A reported $278 million (Dh1 billion) has been spent on the huge steel and glass atria filled with a pebbled Zen garden, spa, lobby bar, tea salon, five restaurants including the Brasserie Roux, 45 meeting rooms, a theatre and a conference room that can seat more than 1,000 people. At five floors, the interiors by Khuan Chew - responsible for the interiors of the Burj al Arab in Dubai - have been designed to portray the hotel as the gateway to the world. The lobby, for instance, has an Antarctica theme and includes a fountain cascading from a mirrored ceiling onto floodlit ice blocks. There are 605 rooms; the Imperial Suite features bathrooms studded with Swarovski crystals. Doubles from $184 (Dh676) (www.sofitel.com; 0044 20 8757 7777).
Kempinski Airport Hotel, Munich At Munich airport, located between Terminals 1 and 2, you simply wheel your suitcase 150 metres to the door of this soaring steel and glass structure designed by architect Helmut Jahn of Suvarnabhumi International Airport fame. Met by towering palm trees in the futuristic atrium hall, flooded with light, you'd never know that you are at an airport. The hotel's 389 rooms are equipped with the highest technology, and guests can choose from the Thai-Mediterranean-inspired Safran resturant, the Charles Lindbergh restaurant or Lobby Café. The Fit & Fly Spa with a 17-metre indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, massage and 24-hour gym is a great place to relax. Doubles from $232 (Dh852) including breakfast (www.kempinksi-airport.de; 0049 89 97820).
Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong Voted best airport hotel in the world 2008 by Business Traveller magazine, at 1,171 rooms, the Regal, is also one of the largest. Attached to Hong Kong International Airport's passenger terminal, what sets it apart are the two swimming pools (one indoor, one outdoor), a landscaped garden, six restaurants and an award-winning spa, with outdoor massage beds and a menu of more than 30 treatments. There is also a 24-hour business centre and a gym, and Hong Kong Disneyland is close enough for a day trip. Doubles from $264 (Dh970) including breakfast (www.regalhotel.com; 00852 2286 8688).
CitizenM Hotel, Amsterdam This new luxury-on-a-budget, 230-room hotel attached to Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport blends good styling with good sense to produce an experience that's low on cost. There's a funky lobby - crumpled light shades, arty design books, Vitra and Eames furniture dotted around. Each compact room comes with wall-to-wall windows, a super-king-sized bed, rain shower, flatscreen TV and a "mood pad" that allows you to adjust the lighting, ambient music and temperature of your room. There's also free internet access and movies on demand, self-service check-in kiosks (so no long lines or waiting times) and fresh coffee, sandwiches and cocktails are available 24/7 in the no-frills CanteenM. Doubles from$89 (Dh327) (www.citizenm.com).
Sheraton Airport Hotel, Paris Not the most beautiful hotel in the world, but the best of the three located within Paris' sprawling, notoriously difficult Charles de Gaulle Airport. Located inside Terminal 2, which serves European travel destinations, this Sheraton also sits on top of the fast-train (TGV) station. Stay in one of the 240 modern-looking, soundproofed rooms with internet access - there's an extra charge - and movies for entertainment. The hotel has two restaurants, two bars and an executive lounge for the use of guests in the more expensive Club rooms. Doubles from $221 (Dh812) (www.sheratonparisairport.com; 0033 1 4919 7070).
Changi Village Hotel, Singapore There are closer hotels to Changi Airport but this hotel is still convenient, 15 minutes away by free, hourly shuttle and has the feel of a peaceful island resort. Some of the 380 rooms face the sea and lush gardens, and there's a rooftop pool, spa and bar - the best place to unwind and watch the planes in the distance. For business, there are 17 function rooms; for play, there's a beach, access to a nine-hole golf course and free day trips, like shopping, to occupy your time. Doubles start from $159 (Dh584) (www.changivillage.com; 00656496 7699).
The Airport Hotel, Dubai Emirates airline opened the doors of its swanky Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport in October and the equally smart and shiny five-star Airport Hotel can be found right in the centre of it. Featuring chic rooms with calming colour schemes, a business centre and a beer and whisky bar, as well as a health club including a gym, jacuzzi and swimming pool, two things stand out: the 24-hour fine dining and Timeless Spa, enough to help you cope with any long layover. As a transit hotel, rooms are charged at $46 (Dh176) per adult per hour from 6am to 6pm; rising to $340 (Dh1,254) for two adults sharing a standard double room for 24 hours (www.emirates.com; 04 224 4000).
Aloft Airport Hotel, Montreal There are plans to build 500 Aloft hotels in the next five years but this one is set minutes from Montreal International Airport's baggage claim hall. Think modern, fresh and playful. Certainly the boldly decorated lobby, complete with quirky furniture, exposed pipes, a pool table and colourfully lit bar, sets that tone and feels like a giant lounge. The 136 rooms have 42-inch LCD TVs, walk-in showers, free wifi, workspace, and oversized windows to go with loft-like high ceilings. Instead of a restaurant there's a grab-and-go buffet. There's also a pool and a gym. Doubles from $104 (Dh382) (www.alofthotels.com; 001 514 633 0900).