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

Nov 3, 2021

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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.
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.
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.
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 I was still welcome to sit out there.
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 photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy.

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