The Airport Perks Arms Race
Budget Hotel: The Citizen M (from $93/night) made its debut in 2008 at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. In addition to providing easy airport access, its Jetsons-like vibe includes LED-lit rooms (adjusted using touchscreen mood pads), futuristic rain showers, and extra-large beds.
Luxury Hotel: The Gaudí-like Aviator Farnborough (designed to look like an airplane propeller) is sustained by the Hampshire (England) airport's private jet-setting clientele. Rooms and suites (from $395) are reminiscent of a luxury ocean liner, with free Wi-Fi, movies, and REN bath products. The hotel also offers flying lessons.
Gambling: Las Vegas' McCarran International Aiport has slots all over. However,...the "hold" here is higher than anywhere else in town (in other words, you're even less likely to win). If gaming is what you're after, the Golden Gate Casino is just three minutes from Seoul's Incheon Airport.
Approach: Flights coming into Rio de Janeiro's Santos Dumont land on a narrow waterside strip (requiring special training), with Sugarloaf Mountain looming in the distance. Once you deplane, you're basically in the heart of the city.
U.S. Spa: The sleek Elemis Travel Spa at JFK's Terminal 7 is geared toward the quick fix: The majority of treatments take just 15 minutes, from the post-trip Flight Rehydrator facial to the Flying Feet, a scrub and hot stone massage. First Class and Club World travelers spa for free.
International Spa: Hong Kong International's OM Spa ($20/weekdays; $25/weekends) includes a gym, steam room, and 70-foot outdoor pool surrounded by cabanas, where—if you have time—you can get an al fresco rubdown.
U.S. Lounge (For Cost): Virgin Atlantic's sleek Clubhouse at San Francisco International ($35/day) has floor-to-ceiling windows with endless views of the bay. There are also moving glass panels, mood lighting, and digital art—not to mention top-shelf cocktails, a juice bar, and an Xbox station.
Shower and Nap Combo: At London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Amsterdam Schiphol, Yotel cabins can be rented in four-hour blocks. (No, it's not that kind of hotel.) The podlike rooms (from $40/4 hr.) are tiny but comfy, with private baths and storage units.
Pet Friendly: Miami International Airport has two (soon to be three) fenced-in grassy dog runs.There are also disposal bags and benches (for humans).
Gift Shop: The SF MOMA Museum Store at SFO has something for every last-minute shopper, from environmentally friendly wooden block sets to high- end office tchotchkes and Wayne Thiebaud notecards.
International Lounge: The Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney offers iMac stations and private offices (each with its own printer, television, and lounge). There's a Neil Perry restaurant serving flights of Australian wine to go with your chili caramel pork belly. The five-room Payot spa books out well in advance.
Gym: The expansive 8,000-square-foot gym at Chicago O'Hare's Hilton ($11/admission) has everything you'll need for a pre-flight workout, including treadmills, stationary bikes, free weights—even gym shorts.
Pool: At Marriott's Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel (from $199/night), the glass-enclosed indoor pool gives guests a prime view of takeoffs and landings.
Airport Food: One Flew South, in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, is a fine-dining restaurant with a southern accent, serving barbecued scallops and pan-roasted snapper with grits and collard greens. It also offers a separate sushi menu.
Architecture: Madrid's $7.2 billion Barajas Terminal, designed by Richard Rogers, features an undulating ceiling and an airy, luminous arrivals hall. In 2006 it won the prestigious Stirling Prize.
Entertainment: Singapore's Changi has three theaters featuring stadium-style seats that screen movies and TV shows 24 hours per day free of charge. Changi also offers free Internet and Xbox lounges.
Domestic Lounge (members-only): The top of the three-tiered, $10 million Lufthansa Lounge at JFK's Terminal 1 has white-linen dining and private showers, and is reserved for First Class passengers. The bottom tier (open to Star Alliance frequent fliers) is catered by Vienna's DO & Co and offers a full bar.