Weary travellers will meet even the most humble airport hotel with intense relief but Singapore’s Crowne Plaza Changi Airport could never be described as such. If Changi is the world’s best airport – and it is, according to the authority on such things – then this airport hotel is keeping up its end of the bargain. With its new 243-room Jewel Wing (bringing the room total to 563), designed by Singapore architects WOHA, the Crowne Plaza is staking a claim for the title of best airport hotel in the world.
The Jewel Wing, a short walk from the main hotel, coincides with Changi Airport’s own massive expansion: construction of a further runway, terminal and enormous shopping mall is in full swing. The 10-storey wing is aimed squarely at the business traveller: rooms are equipped with all the necessary paraphernalia and the business centre provides additional office apparatus, including wireless printing (staff will deliver pages to your room), meeting rooms and workstations.
This hotel isn’t all work and no play, though. There’s a truly beautiful pool that meanders into the courtyard, a sort of grotto set amid tropical gardens. If it weren’t for the constant stream of take-offs, guests could be forgiven for believing they’re luxuriating at a tropical resort.
The palatial courtyard adds to the feeling, with comfy outdoor seating arrangements, benches beneath the branches of established trees and one side that’s completely open, allowing guests to watch the comings and goings of Changi Airport. The building’s façade, a purled crisscross of heat- and noise-regulating cladding, is striking, with an eye-shaped opening providing a glimpse of the lush jungle-like central courtyard.
The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is a port in the storm for travellers in various states of transit through Changi Airport’s interminable terminals. You can walk through Terminal 3 customs directly into the foyer at any time – the hotel offers early check-ins and late check-outs to accommodate 24-hour travellers.
Suites in the Jewel Wing are ideal for the business travellers who stream across the globe through Singapore. They’re fitted out with all the accoutrement a working exec could want: wi-fi, generous writing desks with Herman Miller swivel chairs, universal power points, USB charging points and soundproof windows from which to view planes taking off and landing. The Handy Phone is aptly named: it’s a smartphone you can use to make complimentary calls to 11 countries; it’s also possible to take it out and about with you and tether for free mobile data to your own Australian handset.
Done up in soothing shades of terracotta, coffee and green, rooms are well proportioned and include a desk, sitting area and king-size bed. The rather luxurious bathroom has a generous bathtub and rain shower, with bathroom products by Orla Kiely and fluffy bath towels and robes at the ready. The most fun part is the glass wall that separates the bathroom from the rest of the space – through some wizardry (or polymer dispersed liquid crystal, apparently) the glass turns opaque at the touch of a button, providing privacy or just an amusing pastime for the easily entertained.
Each room is equipped with blackout blinds for travellers whose body clock is out of whack. Double glazing means aircraft noise is kept to a minimum, while Elemis Sleep Advantage room mist imparts a soothing scent. For very light sleepers, though, there’s a series of dedicated Quiet Zone rooms that promise zero distractions and as little noise as possible.
There’s also the option to book a Club Room, which gives guests access to the Club Lounge, where a private breakfast can be enjoyed, as well as cocktails and canapés in the evenings.
There are two excellent dining options at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. Fine-dining Cantonese affair Imperial Treasure, located on the first floor, serves set menus devised by Hong Kong chefs, including tender slivers of smoky duck, delicate prawn ha gow dumplings and claypot dishes, plus yum cha from 11:30am to 3pm.
The Azur restaurant on level two serves both Eastern and Western fare. Watch chefs in tall white toques shucking oysters, cracking lobsters and slicing salmon sashimi behind the various stations during the regular seafood buffets or scrambling eggs, flipping pancakes and stirring congee during breakfast. À la carte offerings include Australian lamb, pasta alle vongole and Singapore classic Hainanese chicken rice. Kids under six dine free.
The Lobby Lounge, replete with ergonomic sofas, benches and armchairs, acts as a café, serving signature cakes and teas during the day then transforms into an elegant cocktail lounge by night. For a nightcap, there’s Bar ’75, a 1970s-styled space where the bartenders can help you unwind after a long flight.
If you can bear to leave the comfort of the hotel, Changi Airport has no fewer than 80 restaurants and eateries including Ippudo, the Japanese ramen specialists; Chutney Mary for Indian street food; Killiney Kopitiam for Singaporean café delicacies such as kaya toast and kopi (Singaporean-style coffee); and Paradise Inn, serving Chinese yum cha dishes including pork belly bao, hand-pulled noodles and dumplings.
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport is located at Terminal 1, right beside the Changi Airport Skytrain, with an air-conditioned walkway connecting it to the terminal. This means visitors can go from collecting luggage to comfortable bed in a matter of minutes.
Try a work-out at the 24-hour fitness club or head to Essence Vale Spa for a massage or facial to add a hint of holiday to your trip. The business centre can handle all your work needs and also provide conference and meeting spaces.
Nothing is too much trouble for the front-desk team: they’ll get you checked in quick smart, help with booking tours, restaurant recommendations and give you advice on what to see during a limited stopover.
Flexible check-in and check-out times mean the long-haul traveller can stumble in off a midnight flight to a friendly face, a hot meal from room service and a comfy bed. You can sleep for a full eight hours before checking out even later that the already generous 12pm check-out time.
Location: 75 Airport Boulevard, Singapore
Style: Airport hotel
Perfect for: Business travellers
Number of rooms: 563