Anyone who’s traveled more than once knows that airports are a special sort of purgatory: not quite vacation but definitely not real life. What’s the only way to handle the rock-hard seats and lukewarm food? Grin, bear it, and repeat as needed.
Well, unclench those teeth, fellow travelers, because we have good news. Plenty of airports have taken up the task of not being miserable places to spend 500 hours, and it’s resulted in some of the best amenities we’ve ever seen. Here, we’ve listed six of our favorite spots to get stuck. With perks like these, you might just find yourself begging for a layover.
The Entertainer: Singapore Changi (SNI)
We have two words for you: butterfly garden. Thanks to some of the best entertainment options this side of Macau, Singapore Changi is basically a resort with adjacent transportation services. Stroll through the garden lounge and koi pond. Take a dip at the rooftop pool. Grab some Z’s in the nap room, or play some virtual table tennis in the Xbox Kinect room. Just try to resist the temptation to ignore your flight’s boarding call. We know: It’s so hard to say goodbye.
The Stress Reliever: Charlotte Douglas International (CLT)
The rocking chairs scattered throughout this North Carolina spot are reason enough to pray for delays, but that’s not the only way Charlotte Douglas gives passengers a much-needed chill pill. The airport also offers spa services like manicures and massages, so you can soak up a little serenity while you wait for your connecting flight. Who cares about grumpy seatmates, mediocre food, and overbooked cabins when you’ve got this much relaxation waiting for you? Here’s a hint: no one.
The Show Stopper: John F. Kennedy International (JFK)
Maybe we should call this airport the show starter. JFK’s Terminal 5 is known for its concert series, and that means you’ll never have to travel far to catch your favorite artists doing endless covers of “Come Fly With Me.” Okay, that probably doesn’t happen, but the shows are still a great perk. Plus, they’re for passengers only, so you won’t have to elbow your way through 2,500 of Taylor Swift’s biggest fans just to get that soft pretzel you’ve been craving since you landed.
The Fashion Plate: London Heathrow (LHR)
Did you forget to hit Harrods on your way out of town? Don’t sweat it: London Heathrow has a huge outpost smack in the center of Terminal 5, so you can sidle up to those Ferragamo stilettos or snag some gourmet treats before you settle in at the gate. The store even offers personal shoppers if you’re feeling especially swank. Paging Patsy Stone.
The Style Maven: San Francisco International (SFO)
Leave it to San Francisco to create an airport that channels just as much fashionable Zen as the city itself. First of all, there’s a dedicated yoga studio because of course there is. Secondly, the LEED-certified Terminal 2 – the first terminal in the United States to ever achieve that status – features hydration stations where passengers can refill bottles of water. Most notably, however, the entire place feels like an uber-cool art museum curated by your hipster best friend. In other words, it’s just utterly San Francisco. Grab some beauty products from the on-site Kiehl’s, and settle in for a few sun salutations. Waiting out a layover has never been so trendy.
The Tranquility Master: Zurich International (ZRH)
Even the best airports tend to suffer from the occasional scourge of crowded trains, long walks, and broken escalators, but Zurich International is determined to make that transit time feel like a literal walk in the park. That’s where the airport’s nature reserves come into play. You read that correctly: This spot offers several ranger-patrolled areas designed to let you hoof it from one terminal to another without losing your mind. You can even rent bikes, walking poles, or skates to make an afternoon of it. Who knows? You might meet a family of deer along the way.