A hard tile floor with a rolled up jacket for a pillow used to be about the only option once stuck inside an airport overnight. Maybe you got some awful vending-machine coffee and snacks if you were lucky. Air travel and its attendant on-ground industry within airports have come a long way since those days. Choices for layover eats and entertainment are ever-evolving, becoming more sophisticated and tasteful with each new airport incarnation. We’ve found three international airports that check all the boxes for travelers’ needs between flights, even overnight.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta
You might think creature comforts would get lost in the shuffle and chaos of the world’s busiest airport terminal. With its massive main terminal and six concourses covering 130 acres, and accessed by more than 180 gates, Atlanta’s airport dimensions may make it sound user-unfriendly. However, trains and pedestrian tunnels between terminals keep things timely for passengers scurrying between connecting flights at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Those with time to roam have ample opportunity, with miles of inter-terminal tunnels and more than 200 bars, restaurants, shops, and concessions along the way. Not enough entertaining diversions for you? There's even live music in the food court, which also happens to feature plenty of mobile-device-friendly electrical outlets at the tables.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Once you get through security at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a major international hub, you’ll be near the entrance to the world's first major museum annex within a flight terminal. Step into the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, an airfield outpost of the famous Rijksmuseum in town, and you can get up close to the works of Dutch masters such as Van Gogh -- with no entrance fee. If high culture isn’t on your radar at that particular moment, not to worry. A different kind of entertainment awaits in Departure Hall 2, where the Holland Casino beckons the gambling crowd. Other upscale amenities at this world-class airport include micro-office rental spaces, along with a vast array of dining and shopping options. For those with really poor planning skills, or a penchant for impulsive life decisions, you can actually get married at Schiphol, while the airport's in-terminal wedding-planning service takes care of the details of your nuptials.
Changi Airport, Singapore
Calming live greenery and soothing water sounds from koi ponds winding through the terminal make Singapore’s Changi Airport a great place to get stuck for an extended layover. If it gets really extended, there are cozy, pay-by-the-hour napping cubicles. You may need a nap just from all the airport exertion. Amenities and distractions abound. There is free Wi-Fi and free movies. You can check out the aforementioned themed gardens filled with sunflowers and fish ponds, enjoy spa treatments, pursue world-class shops, indulge in decadent dining, even take a swim. That’s right, the Ambassador Transit Hotel in Terminal 1 offers non-hotel guests pool and whirlpool access for a nominal fee, towel included. At this rate, why limit yourself to the airport itself? If your layover is a minimum of five hours, you have plenty of time for the free Singapore city bus tour. The two-hour round trip departs from the main terminal and covers the major cultural and colonial sites within the city.