From the most luxurious to the most remote, ‘check in’ to check out some of the most inspired airports across the globe.
Transit time can be daunting, exhausting, and stressful. Thankfully though—a number of airports around the world have made the experience of passing through, luggage in tow, luxurious, awe-inspiring, or totally out of this world.
Here are Lifestyle's favourite innovative and inventive destinations for a long layover.
Extreme beauty: Changi Airport, Singapore
The lush tropical gardens of Singapore are famed the world-over, but one in particular has captured the world’s attention. And it’s inside Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Being the first airport to boast an indoor butterfly garden in 2008, Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 Butterfly Garden soars two-storeys before blossoming out into the open air. Home to more than 50 different species of Singaporean and Malaysian native butterfly that all feast on the surrounding oasis of orchids, travellers are treated to a unique kind of tranquillity that no luxury private lounge can beat.
The butterfly garden at Changi Airport
While a crowd-favourite for both young and old alike, if your next flight doesn’t depart from Terminal 3, don’t worry. With more than 5 gardens generously sprinkled throughout its terminals – including two on the roof, one exclusively for sunflowers, and another for succulents – containing more than 500,000 individual specimens, Changi’s team of 11 horticulturalists are certainly kept busy to keep us all in awe.
Keep an ear to the ground (and a travel agent on standby) to be among the first to see Changi’s next horticultural creation, opening in only a matter of months!
Changi Airport will have an inbuilt amusement park by 2019
Extreme location: Ayers Rock Airport, Australia
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring thing about Australia’s little-known Conellan Airport at Yulara is not the airport itself, but rather the view from the runway.
Surrounded by Central Australia’s famed near-crimson desert, the airport offers flyers an unprecedented view of the remote UNESCO World Heritage site of Uluru. And while it's just a single terminal with standard amenities – it nonetheless attracts over 300,000 travellers every year, all excited to see Australia’s greatest natural geological wonder.
Ayers Rock Airport
Smack bang in the centre of the continent, Connellan Airport is Australia’s most remote airport. And yet, don’t let its isolation deter you. Aside from unmatched views of Australia’s red heart, travellers often report sights of families of camel crossing the dunes as their flight begins touchdown. As a popular stopping point for the country’s private pilots, the airport is the first port of call for a getaway that promises to set hearts racing.
Extreme views: Courchevel Altiport, France
Perched at the very top-top of Courchevel—a ski resort in the French Alps—a trip to this airport is certainly not for their faint of heart.
Due to the altitude’s extreme weather conditions, Courchevel is frequently cited to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Due to the surrounding mountainous terrain, its landing strip is almost gut-churningly short, and with flights frequently having to land in dense fog, mist, snowfall and rain, the world’s pilots flock to Courchevel to test their flying chops.
But for passengers, the next time you’re flying over to the Alps for a spot of skiing, make sure you take in the breathtaking views of the mountainscape surrounds. Everything is covered in a blanket of white, with the black tarmac emerging dramatically, like its sudden appearance in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
Extreme architecture: Marrakech Menara Airport, Morocco
At the very end of Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman hops on a plane headed to Menara Airport, Morocco. Today, travellers are significantly more delighted to venture into what is often considered to be one of Africa’s most stunning examples of modern architecture—and it’s not hard to see why.
Marrakech Menara Airport
In a white aluminum shell, the building emerges from the Moroccan heat as though it were a mirage, blinding onlookers in a style that could only be called melodramatic. Across two terminals, its design presents a space where the light floods through arabesques and stylised cupolas; a rhomboid leitmotif suffuses everything from the building’s entire fabric to the shape of windows, custom furniture, and the play of light upon the floor.
Filled with vendors selling traditional handicrafts, the entire building is brimming with the heady scent of leather, spice and Morocco’s fragrant timbers.