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Air travel can be tiring, especially when life throws you curveballs and delays along the way. While airport lounges (and even napping suites) can be accessed with a variety of credit cards and can offer much-needed refuge between flights, sometimes you want a real bed, shower and quiet place to recharge — especially if you are traveling with tired children. The best solution for some large gaps between flights is to book a room at an airport hotel using the day use rate. This gets you all of the regular hotel amenities without costing you the pricier regular overnight hotel rate.
On the final day of a recent Colorado ski trip, we found ourselves with about eight hours to kill at the airport before our flight out of Denver. The weather in the mountains was set to deteriorate throughout the day, so we reluctantly left the snowy fun behind and made the drive to Denver much earlier than originally planned.
We arrived to the airport with two little kids and two tired parents. Spending the entire day in the airport would have been a mess as we needed a nap, some good food and our own quiet space after a stressful drive from the mountains.
Booking a Day Room at an Airport Hotel
The Westin Denver International Airport opened in 2015 and is virtually connected to the airport, making it the perfect refuge for an afternoon between flights. The selling price of a room overnight was about $300 that particular night, but a day-use room rate is just 50% of the overnight rate. A day room was available for use between the hours of noon – midnight. Paying $150 for a place to nap, shower and work isn’t cheap, but it was more than worth it for the four of us for around six hours on that day.
You cannot book day rates at many hotels like this online, but if you call the front desk of the specific hotel (not the 1-800 numbers), or ask in-person, it may be possible if space permits. I was told at check-in that many people stay on day rates at the Westin Denver Airport Hotel.
A few years ago, we did the same thing at the Crowne Plaza Changi and took the best five-hour nap of our lives between flights through Singapore. A quick call to the Hyatt Regency DFW revealed they also offer day rates, but their use hours are 9am – 5pm and the rate changes each day. On my test date, the day rate was $131 while the overnight rate was $219.
If you have points to use at an airport hotel, do the math to see if a day use room is the best value. I could have booked a stay at the Westin Denver Airport for 35,000 Marriott Rewards points (assuming they would have permitted the early noon check-in), but since TPG values Marriott Rewards points at .9 cents each, it was a better deal to spend $150 for the day rate (and earn points) than burn $315 in points. In this case, I also earned points on the rate and room service lunch, as well as a night credit toward elite status, though I do not believe that was the case on my day room at an IHG hotel in Singapore. Your mileage may vary with earning elite status credit on day use rooms (but always give your member number just in case).
Afternoon Stay at the Westin Denver International Airport Hotel
As for the Westin Denver International, it was magnificent and now ties the Grand Hyatt DFW at my favorite airport hotel. The lobby at the Westin was bright, open and chic — it reminded me of the Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, but in a more updated and modern way.
The beds lived up to their ‘Heavenly’ name and my family had no issues taking much needed naps. We couldn’t hear any noise from the nearby arriving and departing planes or the 50 MPH winds present at the airfield that afternoon.
Since we had a late-night flight home, the bathroom also served us well by allowing us to bathe the kids and have them ready for bed before getting on the plane.
Our room service meal at the Westin Denver International Hotel deserves a shout-out of its own, especially the bison chili which was the perfect “farewell for now” to Colorado.
It wasn’t the cheapest way to feed a family, but it was by far the most convenient option at half-past naptime. Free dinner in the airport that night at Timberline thanks to Priority Pass helped average out the cost of the pricier than normal lunch.
We did not make use of the pool on the 11th floor on this trip since we were all too tuckered to move, but that would have been a great way for the kids to expend some energy if they had some to spare.
Day rooms at airport hotels are often available on a space available basis. The exact hours and prices for day rooms varies day to day and from hotel to hotel, but expect to pay a good amount less than if you booked the hotel overnight. There are websites such as Day Use and Hotels By Day that allow you to book day rooms online, but I have found the availability to be much reduced over what is available if you ask hotels directly. For example, I didn’t see the Westin Denver International on any of those sites.
Sometimes a nap in a real bed is just the right recipe to recharge before the next leg of your journey, so don’t be afraid to ask an airport hotel about day rates and then decide if that is worth it to your family.
All images by author.
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