There is something about airport hotels. They tend to be full of stressed people; rushing to check out to make sure they catch their next flight; suffering from jet lag or heading to meetings in an unfamiliar time zone.
What a pleasure, then, to come across the Stamford Plaza Hotel at Sydney Airport - an airport hotel that's actually close to the airport (not a 20-minute drive away) and where the smiling staff do their best to make sure your stay is more enjoyable than fraught.
The Stamford is actually more like a resort than an airport hotel, although travel buffs will be happy with one of the rooms actually overlooking the runways and aircraft hangers - and you can easily walk to or from from the domestic terminals in around 5-10 minutes.
There's no aircraft noise to bother those desperately needing sleep; the sound-proofing and blackout curtains do their jobs - and the wake-up calls are reliable (not something that can be said for every airport hostelry).
It comes as no surprise, then, to find the hotel has been voted best airport hotel in Australia by Skytrax for three years in a row; there's quality feel here, along with facilities including a large gym and outdoor swimming pool. The panoramic sound-proof windows offer guests the thrill of plane watching, with views of Botany Bay.
The Stamford has 315 luxury rooms including nine Raffles suites, each featuring a large master bedroom, with separate living area and spacious luxury bathroom.
The Grove restaurant is a casual eatery with helpful stuff, the highlight of which, for me, is the large selection of Singaporean/Asian dishes on the menu, including beef rendang, a traditional Indonesian dish of slow-cooked beef in a mildly spiced coconut curry served with roti and steamed rice; and nasi goreng – fried rice with chicken, shrimp and Asian greens, topped with fried egg and prawn crackers.
There's also the AV8 Bar and Cafe with gourmet pizzas, burgers, fresh pastas and steak and a lobby bar.
Winter Warmer packages start from $167 per night, with buffet breakfasts a dollar more, while Park and Fly packages include overnight accommodation, car parking for up to seven nights and a return shuttle bus transfer to either the domestic or international terminals with Sydney Super Shuttle.
For details, current prices and bookings see Stamford.com.au/ssa