13 Runway Hotels with Views for Planespotters
Once, bedding down in an airport hotel was an option of last resort—usually, one step up from the terminal floor for passengers with cancelled flights. But these days not only are some airport-area lodgings positively posh, they also provide ideal perches for a growing global cadre of planespotters. Airports may no longer offer viewing areas to gawk at the jets (in many cases retail space took over), but now it’s almost better: You can “read off” planes’ tail logos, to use the lingo, and identify livery while having breakfast in bed. Check out our selection of some of the best airport hotel bets around the world—and where to go within each one for the best show.
Airways Hotel, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
All roads may not lead to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea—in fact, very few do—but planespotters are well-served by the luxe-but-understated Airways Hotel, located by the edge of Jacksons International Airport. Most rooms and suites have views of the action, but if you book the Presidential Suite, a vintage airplane comes attached.
Regal Airport Hotel, Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a special place in the annals of planespotting, thanks to the legendary but now-closed Kai Tak Airport, which saw inbound aircraft practically swerving around skyscrapers to make it to the tarmac. Those heart-stopping moments ended in 1998, but the Regal Airport Hotel at Hong Kong International connects to the passenger terminal and puts you very close to the taxiing. Just make sure to ask for an airport-facing room on a higher floor—and the best views are from rooms in the North Wing.
Haneda Excel Hotel, Tokyo
The modern 387-room Haneda Excel Hotel is well-positioned for primo planespotting as it's located beside Terminal 2 of Haneda International Airport. There are six floors, so for optimum views you'll want to ask for a room on the fifth or sixth floors, where you can see not only the runways but also Tokyo Bay.
Vancouver Fairmont Airport Hotel
This planespotter’s fave is actually situated inside Vancouver International Airport, right above the U.S. departures terminal (don’t worry, it’s soundproofed). With 386 rooms, we’re talking large, and at this Fairmont, there are views from many rooms to match: runways, mountains, and the ocean make for a mesmerizing mix. The cool Jetside Bar mixes cocktails with cockpit-gawking.
Embassy Suites by Hilton LAX South
It may be the most reviled airport on America’s West Coast, but watching the jets glide into and out of LAX can be almost soothing. Especially if you're spotting while ensconced in one of the two-room suites of the Embassy Suites, a faux-Mediterranean-style hotel on the southern, less congested perimeter of the airport. There are just five floors, so ask for a room at the top—502 and 581 are said to be pretty plum—for optimum vistas of the busy runways.
Crowne Plaza Singapore
Singapore's Changi Airport is one that's usually wrapped in superlatives, and the accolades extend to this hotel both as a posh property in its own right and as a planespotting perch par excellence. The Crowne Plaza is connected to Terminal 3, and you'll get great runway and control tower views from rooms on floors seven through nine ending in 02, 04, 06, 08, 09, 10, 11, or 12—but you'll also catch an eyeful of tarmac activity from the hotel's corridors. There's also a beautifully landscaped outdoor pool on the premises.
Ciao Stelio Larnaca, Cyprus
The chic boutique Ciao Stelio Larnaca is across the street from Larnaca's Mackenzie Beach, with the airport perimeter fence just a short (under 10 minutes) taxi away. What you see from any of the sea-facing rooms—many with balconies—are planes making their approach over the shimmering blue bay to runway 22. The engines' roar is distant enough not to be a bother, but the planes are so near you can identify most aircraft without having to squint.
There is only one hotel right at the Athens airport, so good thing it's a beauty. The Sofitel is situated directly across from the terminal building. For the best planespotting ask for a room on an upper flloor (sixth though eighth) facing the terminal. You'll be able to catch planes from most any room, but rooms facing the terminal are the best, with sweeping views of the Attica landscape in the distance. There's a great rooftop bar with runway-view action, too.
Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel
There is no shortage of airport hotels in and around Charles de Gaulle, but to date, only the Sheraton one is directly inside the busy Terminal 2. And it's literally wedged in there, meaning serial planespotters needn't fuss with requesting a high floor: There are easy read-offs from virtually all of the 240 rooms and 12 suites—and yes, they're soundproofed.
Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
The 276-room contemporary Parkroyal hotel is the best spot for Melbourne planespotting day or night—you're that close to the runway action. For sweeping tarmac views request a Superior Runway View or Deluxe room in ranges 800–825 or 900–925. The large windows let you take it all in.
Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
As far as airport hotels go, Orlando’s Hyatt is pretty badass. There's an outdoor pool with a resort-y feel and sweet runway views, and plenty of rooms with runway views, too. Diehard planespotters should request a Runway View King room, which features floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a direct view of the tarmac. There are also great eats onsite, including a steakhouse with yet more runway views.
See the Sea Hotel, Tel Aviv
The cute See the Sea, in north Tel Aviv's port shopping complex, will please planespotters two ways, because you can read off aircraft inbound to (or outbound from) two airports. The one nearest is Tel Aviv's small Sde Dov airport, essentially a seaside landing strip that handles mainly short-haul flights. Ask for a sea-view room on an upper floor; the planes will seem thisclose. Or gaze away from the roof terrace, where you'll also spot big birds heading to and from Ben Gurion Airport further inland.
Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel
It's fitting that Atlanta has not only one of the world's busiest airports, but also one of the best airport hotels from which to take in all those takeoffs and landings at Hartsfield-Jackson. At this Marriott-owned Renaissance, try to grab a room on the sixth floor or higher (there are 11 floors in all), and if you're on the side of the hotel facing the airport, you'll also be able to take advantage of an outdoor balcony space to see even more. With 387 rooms—all soundproofed—finding a perfect planespotting perch here should be a snap. To "revel at the runway" (as the hotel puts it) with minimum guesswork, just request a runway-view room when booking.
Cyprus, Singapore, Hong Kong, Athens, Larnaca, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Orlando, Paris, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Vancouver