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There are airport hotels, and then there are hotels in airports. Those two are as similar as tunafish and caviar.
Generic airport hotels are a dime a dozen and range in quality from “good enough” to “avoid at all costs,” but they generally require at least a shuttle bus to get to your bed and shower.
Hotels within airports, however, can be your oasis on a long travel day. These are the hotels where you basically sleep with the airplanes without even leaving the airport. You can have tarmac views and skip all of the extra transitions so you’re at your final destination for the night within minutes of landing.
Not only are runway views pretty clutch for the AvGeeks among us, but at the end of a long travel day, sometimes one more step than necessary to get where you’re going is one too many. With young kids along for the ride, I religiously seek out hotels within the airport whenever possible on travel days that are set to start or end beyond our regularly scheduled hours of operation.
Whether you want to catch up on your planespotting or simply maximize your sleeping hours before or after a flight, here are our nine favorite hotels within (or attached to) airports in the US and Canada.
TWA Hotel at New York-JFK
This 512-room hotel just opened and is still working out a few kinks, but once that process is over, it’s destined to be king of the airport hotels.
The TWA Hotel is a throwback to the golden age of travel and is decked out with everything from the era — including rooms with vintage aviation posters, working rotary phones and TWA amenity kits.
Once it is fully operational, you can also expect a rooftop bar and pool that overlooks JFK’s runways and six restaurants. Rates for many dates start around $215 per night.
Years ago, after we’d cleared customs on a late-night arrival to Vancouver, there was no more welcome sight for our tired family than that of the Fairmont Vancouver, a five-minute walk from the US departures level at Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
This is not your run-of-the-mill airport hotel. Here you’ll find a spa, indoor pool, afternoon tea and a lounge for eligible guests. If you want the best they have to offer, you can pay more for runway views in a renovated room. Rates start at under $200 USD per night, and Fairmont is now a part of the Le Club Accor loyalty program.
Should your travel plans land you at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), you can sleep with the planes without leaving the airport in a room at the Westin Detroit Airport.
Rooms here will set you back 35,000 Marriott points per night (so use an up to 35k certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card). Sadly, standard rooms do not guarantee a runway view. However, all guests of the hotel can make use of the hotel’s dedicated TSA security line.
Do note that the hotel is located within the McNamara Terminal that serves Delta, so those flying other airlines may need to take the hotel shuttle to the airport.
The Grand Hyatt at DFW is one of my personal favorite airport hotels, as it has played host to many beginnings and endings for our journeys. The hotel is inside DFW’s Terminal D, which is accessible by the Skylink train from other terminals. Coincidentally, this location also places the hotel close to the Amex Centurion Lounge at DFW.
Here you will find runway views, large 450-square-foot rooms, above-average menu items in the restaurant and a rooftop saltwater pool. If you have time for a workout or spa treatment, the Grand Hyatt DFW has those, too.
The downside is that rates can get pricey here, generally starting in the $200-to-$300-per-night range. You can also use 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night for your stay. Those points can come from the World of Hyatt credit card or transferred 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Families take note, because your Orlando vacation just got better. The Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport hotel is as inside the terminal as it gets. The hotel’s location puts it close to all MCO airport terminals and, coincidentally, right next to the airport Disney and Universal Studios gift shops (consider yourself warned if you have little shoppers).
Take the elevator up to the hotel or down to clear security lines with virtually no wasted steps.
There are 445 rooms, and you can have food delivered to your room from the hotel’s McCoy’s Bar & Grill or just walk to the airport’s nearby food court or sit-down restaurants, such as Macaroni Grill or Chick-fil-A. There’s even an outdoor heated pool with seasonal poolside service.
Cash rates are often $200 or more, but using 12,000 World of Hyatt points is a steal at this property with a light-filled atrium. You could also use an annual Category 1–4 award from the World of Hyatt credit card.
Staying here with your family after landing in (or before departing from) Orlando is a wise move — especially if you have an evening flight to the theme-park capital or are positioning yourself the night before a cruise out of Port Canaveral because ships wait for no one.
The drive along I-70 to the mountains can sometimes be a harried experience during winter weather, so even if you didn’t plan an overnight at Denver International Airport (DEN), you may find yourself needing somewhere to hunker down.
This hotel is technically not in the airport but connected to the airport’s Jeppesen Terminal by an extremely short covered walkway, right next to where you will clear security.
Rooms here (with oh-so-Heavenly beds) will set you back 35,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, but if you just need a place to rest during the day, ask about discounted day rates. In fact, that tip applies to pretty much all of these hotels.
If you have time and energy to explore or get some exercise, the hotel also has an indoor pool and is connected to Denver’s commuter rail, which takes you Downtown Denver in less than 40 minutes.
If you need to rest at the Tampa International Airport (TPA) without stepping outside, look to the Tampa Airport Marriott. Just as is the case for many other Marriott airport hotels, awards here cost 35k points per night. What is unique about this hotel is that day-use rooms can even be booked online.
There’s a rooftop pool, and if you have Marriott elite status, you might even benefit from the club-level rooms at this in-terminal hotel.
If you want to stay in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), your answer is in Terminal 1 at the InterContinental MSP. Standard rooms in the hotel are normally bookable from $150 or more or 35,000 IHG points per night. However, the hotel has appeared on a recent IHG PointBreaks list for 15,000 points per night, which is a great deal for such pre- or post-flight convenience.
You probably won’t get bored during a stay at this hotel, as there is a complimentary shuttle to the Mall of America, five minutes away.
Excelling not just at runway views, the hotel also has a direct-access TSA checkpoint, spa, thermal pool and outdoor courtyard.
This Sheraton with close to 500 rooms is connected to Terminal 3 of Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), has a club lounge, an indoor pool and costs 35k Marriott points per night. While the location can’t be beat for easily accessible rest at YYZ, there are some reviews that mention noise and the need for an update, so this property may be a notch below others on the list.
Airport hotels are not all drab, depressing places that are only for weary travelers who get stuck overnight. Some hotels within airports are actually very nice, especially if you are the type of aviation enthusiast who enjoys sleeping that close to the planes.
And if you’re a true AvGeek passing through Southern California who prizes planespotting over. say, food, then you may want to look into the H Hotel at LAX, which wont the heart of our managing editor, Alberto Riva.
Featured image by Brendan Dorsey, The Points Guy
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