Many airports provide gyms and yoga spaces for the layover set. Use your time to unwind at Chicago O’Hare (ORD), which has a yoga room in Terminal 3 that features bamboo flooring, wall-to-wall mirrors and complimentary mats, with a video loop of poses on repeat to keep you inspired. At Helsinki Airport (HEL), a common yoga area open to all passengers is located in the high-design-meets-enchanted-forest Kainuu Lounge. San Francisco (SFO) and Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) also have yoga rooms for those on layover.
Gyms are also becoming de rigueur in high-traffic hub airports where layovers are common. Toronto Pearson (YYZ) has a GoodLife Fitness facility in Terminal 1, and shoes and equipment are available for rent. Zurich (ZRH) and Dubai (DXB) have decently sized gyms as well, while Singapore Changi (SIN) takes it a step further with a swimming pool. Be warned, though: Airport gyms tend to charge by the hour, so make sure your layover is long enough to make your gym session worth the cost.
For some privacy or shut-eye without the fear of stolen baggage, look for mini-hotels located directly in airport terminals. Sleepbox zones are open at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta (ATL) and Edinburgh Airport (EDI), where you can rent a wooden, box-like pod that comes with a bed, LED reading lamps and sockets to charge your electronics. Have a layover at London’s Heathrow or Gatwick (LGW) airports? Yotel offers rest-boxes that come complete with rain showers.
As airports expand and renovate to accommodate more people, they are bringing in large-scale features to help improve their environments. Singapore’s Changi (SIN) is not just known for its layover-friendly pool (above): Don’t leave the airport until you’ve experienced some of its other unexpected features and amenities. There’s a two-storey butterfly grotto with lush greens and a six-metre waterfall, a Balinese rooftop pool located at Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel in Terminal 1 (which includes a Jacuzzi and poolside bar), a fish spa in Terminal 1’s East Lounge, a sauna and, of course, a koi pond. Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is home to two Vancouver Aquarium marine exhibits on Level 3 in the international terminal. The first is a 114,000-litre main aquarium with fish native to British Columbia, such as striped perch and colourful anemones. The second is an 1,800-litre jellyfish aquarium. Watch the fascinating creatures and the time will pass quicker than you can count all the jellyfish.
While you might not have time to leave the airport and see the city, you can still get a feel for the local culture during your layover. In Terminal 2E of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), you’ll find Espace Musées. The 250-square-metre museum was designed by the architects of the Musée d’Orsay and showcases original works from the likes of Rodin and Renoir, year-round and free of charge. Similarly, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) offers a cultural section called the Korean Traditional Culture Center where visitors can make Korean crafts, try on clothing and listen to music.
TASTE A BIT OF CULTURE
Munich International Airport (MUN) has an on-site Biergarten in the chestnut-tree-shaded Airbräu tavern, where you can sample some of Germany’s most notable beers. Complete with its own brewery and live music, the hangout is open until 1 a.m. James Beard Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson brings his classic New York-style restaurant to JFK. Uptown Brasserie in Terminal 4 serves up some seriously delicious dishes, like the house-smoked salmon, which is flavoured by smouldering hickory, marinated with brown sugar and sea salt, then served on a toasted brioche. Grab the warm berry cobbler for dessert.