When having a morning flight, there’s always the question of whether it’s better to stay at a hotel near the airport or should you stay in the city. My best answer to this question is an emphatic, “It’s Complicated.”
I know, you’re thinking what a cop-out that is. You wanted me to tell you what to do. If you’ve read any of my posts, you should know I’m not going to tell anyone what to do. What I will do is give you some of the questions you need to ask to make the best decision based your situation and throw in some examples we’ve been in and what we’ve learned from the choices we’ve made.
Yeah, my dad and his wife’s travel agent booked them a non-refundable room at the Best Western Incheon Airport before they talked to me and I would have booked them a room at the Grand Hyatt instead.
While we’re not here to question their taste in hotels, was it a good idea for them to stay at the airport or should have they found a room for the night in Seoul?
In their case, staying at the airport made sense. Here’s why:
- They were arriving around 5 P.M. and leaving at 11 A.M. the next day.
- After spending 6 weeks in Southeast Asia where it was in the 80s every day, it was snowing when they arrived in Seoul. Even if it wasn’t snowing, they didn’t have clothes for the cold weather, so there’s no way they were even leaving the hotel.
- It’s around an hour trip to get from Incheon to downtown Seoul so even if they wanted to do something, they would have had limited time available and would have needed to wake up extra early the next morning to get back to the airport.
We’ve also stayed at airport hotels in the past because it made sense for those trips.
In one instance, we were flying home from Manchester. For this trip, it made sense for us to stay at an airport hotel:
- We were traveling from Leeds, so we needed to travel a significant distance to get to the airport, necessitating a hotel stay.
- Hotels at Manchester Airport are convenient to the airport terminal and the rail station.
- It’s only a 20-minute train ride to the city and trains leave every 10 minutes. It was quite easy to stay at the airport and still visit the city.
- Our flight was at 11 A.M. so staying at the airport would be easier than traveling from the city with all our bags on the morning of our flight.
So when would it make sense to stay in the city instead of at the airport?
I’ll use another example from one of my father and his wife’s and trips:
- They were landing in Taipei at 5 A.M. and leaving the next day at 10 A.M.
- They wanted to see a night market in Taipei
- Travel time from the airport to the city by the Metro is around 35 minutes
With a more extended layover, you’ll have time to see something of the city. Unless you have a really early flight, staying in the city can be a great way to get a sense of somewhere you may have never visited before.
Here’s another example of when staying in a city hotel might not be such a good idea:
On a trip to London, Sharon and I were staying at the Great Northern Hotel near King’s Cross station.
- We were already staying in the city so we would have needed to check out of our hotel to check into a hotel near Heathrow for one night
- We had tickets to see Harry Potter And The Cursed Child on our last day in London so we’d have no way to get to the airport hotel and back to the city.
However, staying in the city presented some problems when getting to the airport. Our flight from Heathrow was at 8:45 in the morning and it’s around an hour trip on the Underground from Kings Cross station to the airport. We had to catch the first train in the morning to make sure we’d be able to get there on time.
It might have been a good idea to check into an airport hotel in the morning and just leave our luggage and travel back to the city to see our show. Not looking at how we could get to the airport for our flight was an oversight on my part. I almost had to pay for a costly taxi ride just so we could be sure to make our flight on time.
The main things you need to think about when choosing between a city hotel and an airport hotel are:
- How close is the airport to the city?
- What forms of transportation are available (including their times of operation and costs)
- How much time will you have to explore?
- Do you want to see the city or do you need to get work done?
- What time does your flight leave in the morning?
- Are you staying for one night or multiple nights?
All of these things should factor into your decision. You might want to see the city and have plenty of time, but if you have an early morning flight, it still might be necessary for you to stay at the airport hotel.
I hope these case examples have shed some light on the things you need to consider when choosing where to stay before a flight or on an overnight layover.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary