There’s nothing like a long layover to take the spring out of your frequent-flying steps. Despite drinking copious amounts of H20 and applying sheet face masks with military precision, how often have you arrived at your destination looking far more drab than fab?
Luckily, there are a few airports around the world swapping fast-food kiosks for blow-dry bars and vending machines for spinning studios. From in-terminal gyms and yoga rooms to animal therapy, LUXE’s wellness expert Dervla Louli weighs in on the airports with the best health and wellness facilities.
The superb 17-metre swimming pool, sauna, and fitness centre at The Hilton Munich Airport Fit & Fly Spa have been responsible for my missing a connecting flight or two out of Munich. Taking a walk in the nearby park, cycling around the 18-km bike path, chilling out in the meditation room, hiking up a man-made hill, playing a round of mini-golf, and enjoying some shut-eye in one of the nap pods are a few more ways that travellers can decompress.
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport
If you don’t have time to check out luxe SHA Wellness Clinic in southern Spain during your trip to Europe, you can enjoy their signature treatments and therapies during your layover in Madrid airport. The well-known retreat and spa centre has opened an Esenza Mini-Clinic, which offers a range of holistic, high-tech and beauty treatments plus fresh, organic food.
London Heathrow International Airport
Heathrow can be hectic at the best of times, but thankfully, FlyFit is creating a fitness haven for travellers in autumn this year. Clock up some cardio kilometres on the treadmills, feel the burn on the weight machines and enjoy instructor-led classes, which are perfect if you’re lacking motivation between flights. Opening in Terminal 2, the studio will also offer workout kit to rent, shower facilities and healthy food, but natch.
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Bangkok‘s main airport is a big hit with cycling aficionados who can ride around the 23.5km and 1.6km tracks (though, currently closed for renovations, they’re due to reopen in April 2018). For a more relaxing stopover, the Novotel Airport Hotel’s spa and swimming pool, set amid a tropical garden, is just a few minutes away by foot. The spa offers traditional Thai massages and treatments, while the 25-metre outdoor pool, gym, sauna, and Jacuzzi will soon diminish your jet lag. Day passes are available.
Seoul Incheon International Airport
With a 24/7 Korean-style sauna, medical centre, hair salon and indoor skating rink, it’s no surprise that Seoul Incheon Airport is often rated as a top place to spend time in transit. The affordable and very basic Spa on Air looks after your luggage while you enjoy showers, sleeping facilities and dipping pools.
Hong Kong International Airport
If you have a long layover in Hong Kong and are too tired to venture into the city, The Regal Airport Hotel’s room and spa day pass (available 9am-9pm) is a perfect sleep and spa stop. The Marriott Hong Kong SkyCity (the only five-star on Lantau Island) also offers a day rate – it’s not advertised online, so call ahead to book in advance. The 24-hour gym, award-winning Quan Spa, and feather-soft beds are three great reasons to check in. A shuttle service is provided.
Read More: How to do Hong Kong on a Layover
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco is one of a handful of airports to provide a free-to-access yoga room. Mats and props are available in the small studio located in terminal two. For a quick wellness fix there are four XPress Spas located throughout the airport offering grooming, mani/pedi, massages, waxing and facials. Going one step further, the airport’s Wag Brigade, aka friendly rescue pups and Lilou the pig, make the entire airport experience more fun and friendly.
Denver International Airport
While Kentucky, North Carolina, LA and San Francisco airports have all taken measures to integrate animal therapy into their wellness programmes, Denver International Airport seems to be (literally) leading the pack. More than one hundred dogs and a single cat make up the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) who walk around wearing blue vests with ‘Pet Me’ written on them. Scientific research suggests that interacting with animals can make us happier and more relaxed, so if you’re feeling anxious about flying or a little worse for wear upon arrival, keep an eye out for the fluffy brigade.
Baltimore Washington International Airport
Roam Fitness has everything you need to workout at the airport including complimentary fitness wear. The top-notch cardio equipment, free weights, TRX systems, stretching space, and private showers with Malin+Goetz products are a dream come true for fitness fanatics. Better yet, skip the plane food and take their healthy snacks and drinks with you onboard.