How 5 Airport Hotels Are Redefining Their Category

These properties prove that convenience doesn't have to sacrifice style and comfort.

A rendering of the new renovations at the Holiday Inn Houston Intercontinental Airport.
A rendering of the new renovations at the Holiday Inn Houston Intercontinental Airport.

As a rule, airport hotels are convenient, affordable and accessible -- but rarely comfortable, attractive or exciting. The following crop of properties is changing that perception. All have been (or are being) revamped with the conviction that such hotels should be as stylish as they are serviceable, in the process redefining what it means to rest one's head near a runway.

Exhibit A: The Holiday Inn Houston Intercontinental Airport announced this week that is has commenced a multimillion-dollar renovation just a mile from George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport. The hotel originally opened in 1971 and was last renovated in 2012. Scheduled for completion in late 2019, its latest upgrade will encompass "nearly every inch" of the property, according to a press release. Highlights will include all 414 guest rooms -- each of which will be updated with new flooring, walls, lighting, artwork, TVs, furniture and bedding -- and fitness and recreational facilities, which will be updated to include new sand volleyball courts, a refurbished tennis court and a revamped fitness center with all-new cardio and weight-lifting equipment.

Also receiving updates are the hotel's food-and-beverage outlets, including the grab-and-go bar and full-service bar and restaurant; all meeting and event spaces, which total more than 8,000 square feet; and the lobby, which will be redesigned with the addition of a new "arrival lounge" where guests can plug in and work outside of their room.

"It is the beginning of a new era for the hotel, and we are excited to provide our business and leisure travelers as well as our Houston neighbors with top-notch facilities and amenities," said general manager John Muller. "This hotel will transform into a place that exemplifies modern comfort and will offer superior hospitality for our guests throughout their stay."

Four Recently Renovated Airport Hotels

Here are four properties already out of the renovated gate, representing the next generation of airport accommodations.

Holiday Inn Orlando Airport (Orlando). Last May, the Holiday Inn Orlando Airport completed a multimillion-dollar renovation encompassing its 290 guest rooms, 7,000 square feet of meeting space, lobby and other public areas. The project's goal: to implement Holiday Inn's new H4 design concept, unveiled in 2017 to "meet the changing needs of modern leisure and business travelers," said parent company InterContinental Hotels Group. H4 guest rooms are designed to be flexible enough to be adapted to guests' individual needs. One highlight is a "Welcome Nook" where guests can drop their keys, hang their coat and plug in their electronic devices, as they would in an entryway or mudroom at home. Rooms also feature open floor plans, moveable desks and more than five dedicated charging points that allow guests to work and play virtually anywhere in the room. In addition, the hotel's on-site restaurant, Drift Kitchen and Bar,  now features a 23-foot television wall that can either display up to four separate programs and flight statuses or function as a single screen during a big game or other televised event.

Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel (Portland, Ore.). The oldest property at Portland International Airport, the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, feels brand-new thanks to a $7.5 million renovation that was completed in January 2018. Originally built in 1974, the hotel was redesigned by Portland-based interior design firm IDEA-Interiors, which incorporated numerous design elements that gave the property a local sense of place. For example,  a lobby centerpiece by architects at Ludin Cole features depicts disparate Pacific Northwest imagery such as pioneers, bicycles, wine glasses and Portland's famed bridges. There's also a new restaurant, Rose & Compass, that serves Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine; 215 refreshed guest rooms and suites decked out with new wallpaper, carpet and mattresses, as well as additional media outlets for charging devices; and a new lounge that's available for private events, along with 22,500 square feet of versatile meeting space.

Phoenix Airport Marriott. Near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Phoenix Airport Marriott completed the first phase of a multimillion-dollar, two-phase renovation this past November. Updates encompassed all 347 guest rooms and suites -- each of which was redesigned with new bedding, furniture, TVs, wall cladding and bathroom fixtures, as well as the requisite additional outlets and USB ports -- and the hotel's pool, which now includes cabanas where guests can receive F&B service. Scheduled for completion this spring, the renovation's second phase will include the lobby -- where there will be new front-desk "kiosks" and Marriott's signature Greatroom concept for lounging, dining and connecting -- as well as the hotel's meeting space, which totals over 24,000 square feet.

Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel. One of the most anticipated airport-hotel renovations of the past year took place near Los Angeles International Airport, where the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel unveiled a top-to-bottom makeover last June. The revamp -- which according to the hotel mixed "the personality of a boutique hotel with the urban style of L.A." -- began in the lobby, which now sports a curated photo-album wall, as well as live music in the evening. Just off the lobby, a new restaurant, Studio 12, specializes in California cuisine and local craft beer. Each of the hotel's 502 guest rooms and suites also was updated; designed for "decompressing," the rooms were outfitted with new beds, bedding, décor, televisions, refrigerators, artwork and, you guessed it, additional connectivity for device charging. Also refreshed were the fitness center, outdoor pool, club lounge with runway views and 18,350 square feet of meeting space.