Most airport hotels are the ‘best’ because they’re halfway decent and incredibly convenient.
Examples I have in mind are the airport Sheratons in Frankfurt, Paris, and Toronto — all attached to the terminal. None is a great hotel, the Frankfurt property has a pretty good club lounge but the furnishings remind me of a college dorm. (The Kempinski Gravenbruch is a very nice hotel but too far from the Frankfurt airport, I would hate to be heading in during morning rush hour.)
There are a few airport hotels that are actually nice, the Novotel Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok is certainly a nice hotel but way too expensive for what it is, where it is. The Skycity Marriott is a very nice Hong Kong airport hotel, and one of the most convenient to the airport but not to so convenient that you can transit between the property and airport on your own power.
There’s nothing great in Los Angeles, the best is probably the Sheraton (nicer than the airport Westin) and if you want an actually good hotel you need to venture out further to Marina del Rey where you’ll find the Ritz-Carlton (one of the less-nice Ritzes).
New York’s JFK? Just a pit. About 5 years ago I would choose the Hilton Garden Inn as the only one I’d be confident of finding that was clean. Most recently I stayed at the Sheraton which I disliked (poor internet, freeway noise, ratty airport van). I’m staying next at the JFK Hilton, and have some hopefulness attenuated by experience.
When it comes to airport hotels the name of the game is tradeoffs. Except perhaps at the Munich airport Kempinski which is both an excellent hotel and on airport grounds.
And while not as convenient to its home airport, the Intercontinental O’Hare, which I dubbed last year the Greatest Airport Hotel Ever, is the best airport hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
Given that the Munich Kempinski is attached to its terminal, and the Intercontinental O’Hare isn’t on airport grounds, perhaps that was hyperbole — the Intercontinental should probably consider sharing that title, at least there’s an argument as to why they should.
But I returned to the Intercontinental O’Hare about a week ago, and continued to be very impressed.
I needed to be in Chicago, but West of Downtown. I would have stayed downtown even though it was equally convenient not to be there (especially for my Sunday departure since it coincided with the Chicago Marathon, so I was glad to already be away from downtown). The marathon meant that pretty much every hotel in the city had been sold out for weeks. I could have used my elite status to ‘force’ a room, but at the $700+ a night it would have cost me that wasn’t in the cards. So I decided to stay out by the airport. Which necessarily dictated a return to the Intercontinental, since I loved the property so much on my last visit.
It’s often cheap, last time I stayed it was $87. This time it was twice that, but nothing like staying downtown normally is, let alone what it would have cost a week ago. And I would be very happy with this hotel plunked down into any downtown city center as an all-around valuable proposition of price, service, quality, and benefits. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about any other airport hotel.
They have a nice airport shuttle, a black party bus with leather seats that’s in good repair.
The lobby has ginormously high ceilings, it’s incredibly bright, and the entire ground floor has modern art scattered about. It’s its own art gallery.
And as a Royal Ambassador the hotel is an exceptional value — they have plenty of suites, and I got one similar to the one I had on my last visit. My downtown view gave me a wonderful vantage point to watch the planes lining up to land at O’Hare. Internet and soft drinks from the minibar are free. There was fruit and bottled water in the entryway waiting for me (and I was given more bottled water and chocolates with turndown service).
The room had a beautiful master bathroom and a small half bath in the entryway. The toiletries are no longer Elemis as they were the last time I stayed, instead they offered Agraria products which were perfectly fine. And they’re very generous with the toiletries — they were by the sink, tub, and shower in the master bath and also soaps in the half bath all of which were replenished daily.
There was a large living room and separate bedroom.
There was a single shot coffee machine next to the minibar, I only took the waters out since they were free and I drink a lot of water. The minibar benefit was great when I first got it, now most of the time I just am thankful for water and juice.
The last time I stayed on property the breakfast spread was modest. This time it was much-improved. Breakfast was free — one strange thing about the property is that they do not give free breakfast proactively to Royal Ambassadors (it isn’t a benefit of the program), but always seem willing to comp breakfast based on elite status when asked. Knowing this from the last time I stayed, I asked at checkin and was given coupons with no hesitation. The coupons covered the breakfast buffet, tax, and gratuity. I was told in the restaurant I didn’t even need to wait for a check, just leave the coupon behind.
Facilities-wise the hotel is blessed with its own restaurant and bar, a coffee shop with sundries, and also on-property (though you can’t charge to your room for points) a Capital Grille and a McCormick & Schmick’s. I didn’t enjoy the latter last year, this time I met friends for dinner at the Capital Grille and had a fabulous (though pricey) meal.
There’s also an ample gym.
The staff here — from the shuttle drivers to the front desk to housekeeping — are all exceptionally friendly.
The property is a bit of an anachronism. It’s too nice for an airport hotel. But with rates similar to what other nearby airport properties offer, it is also too good a value as well. I’ve never quite understood how they make it work, but I’m happy that they do. (While I was in-house there were a couple of events on-property, and I imagine that the convention business helps. I’m happy to take the cross-subsidy.)