A guide to transit accommodation: airport hotels, sleeping cabins and day rooms

Hotels to sleep inside the airport while in transit rooms flights boarding pass

Do you travel frequently? Would you rather describe yourself as a world explorer or as a business traveler? In either case, it is not uncommon to find yourself in a situation that requires sleeping at the airport: overnight layovers while in transit, outbound flights departing first thing in the morning, late-night arrivals or short business trips where staying in a hotel close to the passenger terminals is the most suitable option are just a few examples. You might have heard about airport hotels, but be aware that there are different types which cater to the needs of each traveler depending on their specific circumstances and budget. This post aims to establish a clear distinction between transit hotels, capsule hotels, airport hotels and rooms for day use, as well as serve as a directory of hotels near and inside airports that we have dealt with in previous articles that will help you find the perfect place to stay on your next airport experience.

What is a transit hotel?

Transit hotels were probably conceived to prevent international travelers from missing their connections when stopping at major aviation hubs in the middle of their long-haul journeys. As a matter of fact, what differentiates a transit hotel from other accommodations inside or near the facilities of an airport is that it is usually located in the departures concourse or the restricted transit area, that is, the zone of the terminal where arriving passengers transfer to their connecting flights, sometimes a few hours later, sometimes one day apart. It is mandatory that you can show your ID and proof of your boarding pass when checking in, and a transit visa is not required as long as you won’t leave the transit zone of the building. This option is ideal for overnight layovers or to get some good rest before resuming your journey. If the same airline is handling all your flights, it is likely that you won’t even have to collect your checked luggage until you arrive at your final destination, so make sure you have everything you need to sleep at the airport.

Are you travelling soon? You may want to take a look at our recommended transit hotels in:

Changi Singapore

Incheon International in Seoul, South Korea

Amsterdam Schiphol airport

Benito Juárez International in Mexico

Cairo International airport

Kansai airport in Japan

Paris – Charles de Gaulle (Roissy)

Indira Gandhi – Delhi airport of India

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport (Mumbai, India)

O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg

Capsule hotels in airports

The minimalist version of transit hotels are capsule hotels, inspired by the Japanese original idea to provide travelers on the move with a soundproofed, small and functional space to rest, charge their mobile devices, relax and unwind and refresh themselves. But the cozy airport sleeping cabins have evolved to incorporate high-speed wireless internet, appliances and oftentimes an ensuite shower or toilet. These hotel rooms in miniature can accommodate one or two travelers, are budget-friendly and we recommend them for spending a few hours in transit away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal; generally, you will only pay for the duration of your stay, estimated either in time intervals or by the hour. The brands Yotelair – by the Yotel hotel group- and Aerotel –by Plaza Premium Group- have become popular for their good-value-for-money guest service and amenities, which are in no way inferior to those provided at conventional hotels. If you would like to learn more about this type of accommodation inside airports, check out our posts about the Yotelair hotel in Istanbul, the Aerotel in London Heathrow and the Nine Hours capsule hotel in Narita International airport of Tokyo, Japan.

Airport hotels worldwide

Every airport, however small, requires some form of nearby accommodation to offer to their customers, whether it is because they land too late to commute safely to their final destination in the city, or because they must sleep close to the terminal in order not to miss their early morning flight. While domestic airports normally have B&Bs and guest houses in the vicinity, major aviation hubs feature hotels by renowned hospitality chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton, or by brands like Ibis Budget or Holiday Inn Express for the thrifty travelers. Since these rooms can be located anywhere between a few meters to a few kilometers from the airport, guests may need a transit visa aside from their required documents to be granted admission into the hotel. This, though, comes with some perks, like being able to explore the surroundings during the layover, knowing that airport hotels frequently boast good connections to both the passenger terminals and the downtown. Four and five-star hotels close to airports often feature onsite gyms, restaurants, swimming pools, wellness centers and business facilities for meetings and conferences. In our blog, we have so far talked about this type of accommodation close to:

Guarulhos International in São Paulo, Brazil

Marrakech Menara airport in Morocco

Casablanca airport in Morocco

Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, USA

Malpensa airport in Milan, Italy

London Luton in the United Kingdom

Stansted airport of London, UK

Vienna International in Austria

Prague International in the Czech Republic

Munich airport in Germany

Edinburgh airport of Scotland

McCarran International in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA)

Day rooms at the airport

Last but not least, the day rooms are the very same units managed by the hotels located close to the airport facilities, only that they are made available during the daytime, generally between 9:00 and 18:00. In line with capsule hotels, passengers in transit may benefit from this type of accommodation and sleep in a hotel room during their layover without paying for a whole overnight stay. While everything inside the room will be at their disposal, reading the fine print of the reservation is necessary in order to find out whether access to other amenities like gyms and pools are included. To learn more, visit this post.

Over the course of the years, we have also featured other international airports and their nearby accommodation. You are invited to discover some of the best places to stay in Dubai airport (DXB), Vancouver, Auckland, Ngurah Rai (Bali), Haneda in Tokyo, La Guardia in New York City, Hong Kong International and HIA Qatar. To find these and many more posts, click on the “transit” menu at the top of this page.

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