Although most aspects of vacation are exciting, there can be parts that aren’t so glamourous – like the airport. Many would argue that this is the worst part of travelling, from long security lines to stuffy terminal lounges and the waiting game. Well the bad news is airports are here to stay, the good news is they’ve begun changing their ways, with some even becoming destinations in themselves.
Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, wants to show you nine of the quirkiest and most interesting airports around the world. From premium retail therapy, art galleries, zen gardens and unique architecture, you’re sure to be surprised – you may even plan your next trip around the airport itself, or wish your layover was longer.
The best airports are:
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
As one of the busiest airports in the world, it’s essential for LAX to have the best shops, restaurants and services on-site for its flyers – A-listers included. Take your time browsing stores exclusive to L.A., such as the luxurious and trendy Fred Segal, and enjoying the airport’s food and beverage offerings including some of California’s favourites: Coffee Bean, Nate N’ Al’s Deli, La Brea Bakery and Monet’s. If you have time, check some of the rotating art and photography exhibits throughout the airport, or visit one of the spas. The best feature at the airport, however, is LAX PUPS (Pets Unstressing Passengers) Program –a therapy-dog program aimed at providing a less stressful airport environment.
Toronto Pearson International Airport
Recently renovated, this ultra-modern airport has restaurants to beat your cravings, shops to indulge yourself and services to make you feel elite. The airport features food from some of Toronto’s best chefs, from Susur Lee to Zane Caplansky. After visiting the wide array of duty-free shops, discover the eight Toronto-inspired art installations – each created by an artist from around the world. If seeking entertainment, the airport not only has free WiFi, but a few tech stores to test out the latest gadgets.
Singapore Changi Airport
Deemed one of the best airports in the world, Changi Airport offers travellers amenities that can’t be matched by most vacations, with over 300 shops, a rooftop pool, 24-hour cinema, butterfly garden and a spa. So how do they top that? By adding the world’s tallest indoor waterfall of course! The Rain Vortex will be part of the airport’s newest structure when it opens in 2018 and will be one of a kind.
Hong Kong International Airport
For those intrigued by what it would be like to fly a plane, you’ll want to be sure you book a flight into Hong Kong International Airport and check out the Aviation Discovery Centre. The Centre allows visitors to try out a plane cabin simulator and get a feel for the pilot’s seat! If that isn’t your thing, not to worry, travellers can also keep themselves entertained with Asia’s largest 4-D projection screen theatre, a Chinese tea shop and indoor golf course.
Dubai International Airport
With the UAE being such a luxurious and extravagant country, it’s no surprise Dubai International Airport reflects just this. A destination in itself, the airport offers patrons luxury shopping, bars, a swimming pool, gym and even a sauna if you want to de-stress before your trip. Further unwind and escape the chaos by visiting the on-site zen gardens. Located in Terminal 3, and complete with fish ponds, trees and benches the gardens are the airport’s very own little slice of nature.
Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain
As well as offering travellers great shops, boutiques and the Elysium Travel Spa, Madrid-Barajas (the largest airport in Spain) was actually designed to help reduce passenger stress using natural light. The ceiling contains domes that allow natural light to pass through, and combined with its beautiful architecture it’s an attractive and relaxing sight.
Wellington Airport, New Zealand
What better way to showcase Wellington’s history and culture than with a giant sculpture of the Lord of the Rings’ Gollum in the airport terminal? Travellers will appreciate the numerous Hobbit themed installations giving the airport the nickname, Middle of Middle Earth airport. The airport also features a visually stunning airport lounge known as ‘The Rock’, which looks like something out of a movie and funnily enough like…a rock. Designed to represent the story behind the unique rugged shore and landscape of Wellington the lounge has won several design awards.
Male International Airport, Maldives
This airport is truly an escape all on its own as it is one of the few airports in the world to take up an entire island (Hulhule Island). The runway is surrounded on all sides by water, making for both a thrilling and stunning take-off and landing. It’s only a small airport but the view of the seaplanes taking off is enough to keep you entertained while you wait to board.
Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan
Located on an artificial island in the middle of Japan’s Osaka Bay, Kansai International Airport was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. If you have a layover here there are plenty of things to keep you entertained, from restaurants and shops to a Relaxation Forest where you can get a variety of 10-minute treatments. There’s even an on-site dentist, doctor and a pet hotel – in case you know your wanted to experience a root canal in another country.