Most of us have a love-hate relationship with airports. They’re a means to an end, a necessary evil if we’re to have the holiday of our dreams. But every once in a while, an airport comes along that is a little special, and the journey we dreaded becomes a pleasure. Here are our picks for the seven nicest airports in the world.
1. SINGAPORE CHANGI
Singapore Changi is so nice that in places it doesn’t even feel like an airport. I mean, what other airport would incorporate a butterfly garden or a phenomenal display of tropical orchids? Hub through Changi and you’ll be positively begging for your plane to be delayed so you can make the most of the airside cinema and the world’s tallest airport slide. There’s an entertainment deck, cactus garden, koi pond and art installations worthy of a city gallery. You can shower, have a massage and enjoy a swim in a proper pool, take a nap on one of the lie-flat chairs in a quiet corner or book a hotel room for a decent rest. Whoever planned Changi knew what they were doing – and executed it well. The airport even offers free city tours to those with sufficiently long layovers but honestly, who’d want to drag themselves away from the airport when it’s as good as this?
2. Oslo Gardermoen
If you’re a fan of Scandinavian design, then Oslo’s classically elegant interior is bound to give you the warm and fuzzies. Sleek natural wood and plenty of glass give this airport a light, airy feel. Six steel sculptures, the work of Norwegian artist Per Inge Bjørlo, form a prominent art installation. Airside, Carin Wessel created a work that drew its inspiration from clouds and webs. The airport also features what it calls Sound Refreshment Stations; stand beneath them and they’ll make a refreshing sound that can cure you of any flight-induced anxiety.
3. Hong Kong International
Another airport that has won plaudits for its cutting-edge design is Hong Kong International. A series of breathtaking, uncluttered spaces created by British architect Norman Foster, it has won award after award for its architecture. But there’s functionality behind that glossy image: the airport has been designed to cope with the devastating typhoons that occasionally hit the region. Just outside, you’ll find SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course a nine-hole regulation golf course – they’ll rent equipment and store your luggage for you while you play. And if you’ve worked up an appetite, the airport is also particularly good when it comes to food, with an eclectic mix of Asian and Western outlets reflecting the territory’s fusion heritage.