I guess I have to admit it: writing at an airport, or for that matter shopping in one or anything else that is not getting on or off a plane is wearing socks with sandals. Might make sense, but just not cool. So there you go with my explication de brevité. I’m going to tell you about three airport hotels that I’m pretty sure you’re going to love.
The Hotel Tiber Fiumicino is just 4.6 km from the hellpit of human misery that is Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much:
But watch what happens when you get up to the roof:
Si si, you’re looking at the point where the legendary Tiber River flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The vastness of this view is totally unexpected and epic beyond reason. There’s a pool up there from which you can contemplate the sweep of Italian history and gawk at airplanes, spritz in hand. The hotel rooms are contemporary, but skip the restaurant as the trattorias and cafes in the immediate vicinity are cheaper and better.
The Ciao Stelio Deluxe Hotel is an unusual hotel in an unusual town on an unusual island. Is Cyprus in Europe? (yes). Is it the Middle East? (almost). Is it a tree? (No millennial fool, that’s a cypress tree). Yes, the capital Nicosia is split in two, with jerky Turkey occupying the northern half illegally since sending in the troops in ’74. Yes, the beaches in Larnaca where the Ciao Stelio is located aren’t amazing. But this hotel while less than a 10-minute drive from Larnaca’s international airport is the epitome of everything an airport hotel should be: extremely convenient, immaculately clean, oozing with style that you never expected to find, resulting in an experience that uplifts you and reminds you why you left the house in the first place.
You’re located directly across from the beach and I recommend booking a front-facing room that comes with its own balcony. Guest rooms are understated studies in white and the linens are so luxurious that they put Frette to shame. Seriously. The bathrooms are a hybrid look of Greek marble and Finnish sauna and are both functional and sexy. The lobby level restaurant is where you take breakfast and it’s not one of those sad buffets with orange juice substitute and imitation eggs but a true Cypriot affair with the likes of real halloumi cheese (it squeaks!), grilled tomatoes and a variety of local specialties. Finish your breakfast with a coffee on the terrace facing the sea and you will feel like you’re on a private yacht: not too many kids around like at the bigger hotels in Cyprus, unobstructed view to the blue and every reason to miss your flight.
There’s something about Crete. It’s where Zeus was born, where Zorba the Greek was filmed and where I fell hard for the Megaron Hotel, just 5km from the little international airport at Heraklion. Let me just say that most Greeks hate on Heraklion bigtime. And with all due respect to my Greek buddies, they don’t know what the f they’re talking about. Unlike touristy Chania, which might be prettier on the surface, Heraklion has grit, one of the better archaeological museums in the Mediterranean, better restaurants and of course this hotel which is where the loudest lovemaking I ever heard in my life took place. And this is a solid hotel of sound construction, not the kind of place where you can hear your neighbors flush their toilets. I was in one of the hallways walking to the elevator when I heard the pair reaching a fever pitch of ecstasy and I remember a maid right outside the door casually going about her business: what happens in Heraklion, stays in Heraklion.
I was heading up to the roof, where there’s a small pool with a view to the harbor and old Venetian fortress on one side and planes taking off on the other. There’s also a lounge area where you can chill at any time of day or night, millennia of Greek and Minoan civilization behind you and the lights from the Aegean Airlines airplane you were supposed to be on twinkling just overhead.