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Plane-spotting paradise: Why this hotel rooftop bar is my favorite new AvGeek spot

Nov. 03, 2021
5 min read
Plane-spotting paradise: Why this hotel rooftop bar is my favorite new AvGeek spot
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I stay at a lot of airport hotels.

Yes, there are plenty of early morning flights, but that’s only half the story. By the nature of this job, I frequently visit airline headquarters, most of which are next to runways. On way too many trips to Atlanta or Dallas, I've never been out of earshot of the airport.

But as any good AvGeek knows, airport hotels can sometimes offer some amazing runway views.

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Twice this year, I’ve stayed at the Grand Hyatt at SFO. I was upgraded, as a Globalist member, to the same exact suite both times, hovering above the tarmac at the international terminal. I went to sleep looking down on a parked Cathay Pacific A350. Talk about setting the stage for good dreams.

And I didn’t think that experience would be rivaled until a recent trip to visit Delta Air Lines.

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Over the past 15 years, I’ve probably stayed at every hotel near Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Well, close to two dozen at least.

So, during a trip in late October, I decided to try something new: The Kimpton Overland Hotel.

The property originally opened in 2017 as the Porsche Hotel, but by January of 2019, it was reflagged as an IHG property. (Porsche’s North American headquarters is next door, including a test track where you can pay to drive some fancy cars very, very fast.)

The Porsche Experience driving track in Atlanta, seen from the Kimpton Overland. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

My decision to stay here had nothing to do with cars though. It was all about airlines. Specifically, the rooftop bar overlooking Runway 26R.

Those who know this airport well know 26R is one of the main arrivals runways. That makes the Kimpton’s rooftop bar a phenomenal spot for watching aircraft land.

Plane spotting from the roof of the Kimpton Overland Hotel. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

I didn’t fully understand how amazing it was until I was there, eight stories up, overlooking the planes.

The jets are seconds away from touching down and, given the hotel’s height, you are almost at eye level with the wings. I felt like I could reach over the railing and touch them. (Don’t worry: I didn’t try.)

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 landing in Atlanta after flying in from Amsterdam. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

The only disappointment during my stay was that the actual bar was closed. (The hotel, like many others, was suffering from a staffing shortage. For instance, the breakfast restaurant was delayed from opening since they were short on employees.)

However, I was able to grab a drink from the downstairs bar and bring it upstairs. The hotel staff said that, despite a sign saying it was closed, anybody could still sit outside on the deck.

The sign says the rooftop is closed, but the hotel staff said I was still welcome to sit out there. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

The hotel itself wasn't particularly exciting — airport hotels rarely are — but not a bad option for travelers who value proximity to the airport. I had an executive suite that felt much older than its five years. It had an odd layout and didn’t have the sleek design of either Kimpton or Porsche.

My room cost $200.64 plus tax and I was upgraded to an executive suite. As a Platinum Elite, thanks to my IHG credit card, I earned 3,367 points for the stay. Kimpton is one of my favorite IHG brands, given the distinct character of each hotel. Unfortunately, this hotel did not have that unique feeling.

Let's face it, though. This is not a story about the room or food at the hotel. Both were fine. No, this is a story about plane spotting.

I took dozens of photos of United, Southwest, American and, of course, Delta airplanes landing as the sun set over the airport.

The only issue with plane spotting here is that the overwhelming majority of planes are from Delta. It gets very, very repetitive. The Kimpton Overland rooftop could actually rival the In-N-Out Burger at Los Angeles International (LAX), if not for the fact that the latter has a much better mix of aircraft and airlines.

Featured image by (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases