Two words: world class.
I must start this review with a disclaimer: I’ve poked fun at bloggers on more than a few occasions for traveling around the world, just to stay at airport hotels, and then fly back. If all airport hotels were like this, it would never happen again. The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in sunny Singapore is a lot more like a five star destination hotel with easy city access, than what traditionally comes to mind with the “airport hotel” stigma, and since the hotel has been voted world’s best airport hotel four years running, I’m hardly alone in my thoughts. With spa facilities, an elaborate pool, a club lounge, and of course – runway views, there’s hardly a reason to ever leave. And when you do, you’re already in the terminal. Is the the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport the world’s best airport hotel?
The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is located in Singapore Changi International Terminal 3. Each terminal is accessible from the hotel via indoor pathways, for free and takes mere minutes. One beautiful feature of Changi Airport is that security is done at each individual gate, and therefore you’re practically airside already when you leave the hotel. The convenience factor is immense.
After popping up the escalators of Terminal 3, I strolled past an attractive hotel bar to reach the check in area, which at 3PM was absolutely humming. It appeared that a flight to the U.S. had been cancelled, and what I’d now consider to be “lucky” people were getting a free night at the Crowne Plaza. Despite a busy lobby, check in was done quickly and efficiently, within 3 minutes of arrival, without using any priority check in lanes! A quick lift later and I was on the 9th floor. One admirable instant differentiator between this hotel and virtually every other airport hotel in the world, is that there’s an indoor/outdoor feel to the entire space. After exiting the elevator I was out catching some fresh, breezy air, with the benefit of covered ceilings, just in case.
Starting at 36 square meters, all rooms are above average size, especially for an airport hotel. Upon entering the Premier Runway View Room, I knew I was in for a treat. It’s hard to describe it, but the decor made me feel as if I was in 1970’s Palm Springs. In the best of ways, it felt like a scene from “Catch Me If You Can”, and the pool set below only helped to drive this image home.
The first thing to love about the room: endless elevated wall space for cases. I have a disdain for hotels that fail to address the novel idea that people coming to the room may indeed have bags, and I found that this room somewhat humorously had more dedicated space to open my luggage than my large suite in a central Singapore hotel the evening before.
The second thing to love, is an obvious one. Changi Airport is home to the “big boys” of aviation, with a seemingly never ending supply of Airbus A380, Boeing 747, Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft lining up for takeoff or landing. With unobstructed views, I could’ve spent days at the window. Rooms tend to start around the $150 per night price point, and it’s valuable to note that “business” rooms can be booked as day suites, where connecting guests can have an office and a bed for the day, for up to 8 hours, at lower rates.
But down to the practical stuff: wifi was extremely fast, there were power ports with USB options alongside the bed, shower pressure was great and having a couch at the end of the bed, to do things like put on shoes, or sit and work made for an excellent work flow. I very quickly realized that I would’ve been thrilled with this room anywhere in the world, let alone at an airport. I must admit, I did also receive a welcome gift of chocolate shaped like airplanes, and I can’t pretend I didn’t love it.
I was reminded that although I’m practically airside, just minutes away from departure at one of the world’s best airports, the city of Singapore is also a mere $2-$3 easy mass transit ride away, and only takes 25-30 minutes. This makes a solid case for anyone looking to potentially save on extreme city hotel costs, while enjoying the most convenient arrival and departure experience imaginable.
The pool scene is a unique treat, with palm trees, an extensive pool deck and great views of Changi’s iconic control tower in the background. Walled in from a few angles, it’s not always the easiest place for a spot of sun, but in Singapore, you can almost always bet you’re still getting some, even if you don’t quite feel it! It’s the perfect place to read a book, do a few laps or just hang out, with poolside cocktail service. Yes, they do that!
The hotel offers a very high quality gym, which I’m told is expanding. You’ll find machines, free weights, next generation treadmills and floor space for any core activities. Coincidentally, the gym is directly across from the hotels Club Lounge, for club level guests, where someone could in theory go directly from gym to lounge, for the 5:30-8PM complimentary cocktail and canapés hours. Just a thought. If you do happen to find yourself in the club lounge, do say hello to Raymond, who offered truly outstanding service, despite high capacity.
For food, there’s no shortage of choice: while I didn’t sample the cuisine in either Azur or Imperial Treasure, they looked like very appealing places to dine, and actually seemed to draw a crowd from inside the terminal. In addition there’s a spa, a lobby bar and Bar ’75, as well as conference rooms, business centers and more. One night was simply not enough time to sample it all, though I hope to never set foot in a conference room, no matter how long I stay!
Occasionally, after reading too many amusing articles about ridiculous celebrity hotel requests, I enjoy putting staff to the test, just to see the vibe behind a guest request. I asked for a pair of scissors and a black sharpie pen about 8:15PM, and by about 8:25, both were in my possession. Perhaps even more surprising, the kind staff member who brought the items wasn’t even looking for a tip, I had to actually motion to them to offer a couple SGD. The entire encounter was a breath of fresh air, and not just because leaving any guest room, you’ll actually get some. I’ll be back. So is the Crown Plaza Changi Airport better than the Fairmont Vancouver Airport? It’s like comparing fine champagne and fine champagne. Depending what you’re looking for, it just might be. You can learn more about the hotel here.