I spent the night at London's Gatwick Airport once. Not slumped in a chair but stretched out on a short bench with a a scarf for a blanket and pillow fashioned out of two precariously balanced, over-stuffed backpacks. I wasn't stranded; I was merely trying to save a few pennies during my backpacking days. Looking back though, it hardly seemed worth all the trouble. Or discomfort.
However, long (legitimate) layovers are often unavoidable due to delays or the dreaded cancelled flight. Airports are not known for their comfort, but today many now deliver thoughtful snoozing options for people who want a few decent hours of shut-eye before their onward journey.
Airline lounges aside, here are some short-term sleeping options that offer some R&R without any fluorescent-lit disruptions. Welcome to the 21st Century.
Rented by the hour, GoSleep sleeping pods are inspired by business-class airline seats. These ergonomic capsules also safely store your personal belongings, offer internet access and charging facilities (tablets are available to rent on request), plus cocoon-like partial or full privacy thanks to a sliding shade amidst the busy hub of the airport.
Locations: Gate 35 (Terminal 3) in Abu Dhabi International Airport; Marhaba lounges at Emirates Airline Concourses A and B (Terminal 3) in Dubai International Airport; and Gate 28 and 18 in Helsinki-Vantta airport.
Cost: Prices start from $14USD* per hour, with a minimum two-hour stay.
With a swipe of your credit card, you'll have a full single bed and work space, iPod dock, charging station, flight information, an alarm, internet access and adjustable light settings at your disposal for up to 12 hours.
The tariff is calculated by the hour, and on check-out, cleaning staff are automatically notified to clean and prepare the napcab for the next guest.
Location: Level 04 at Gate G06 and Level 05 at Gate H32 in Munich Airport Terminal 2.
Cost: 10-15* Euros per hour, with a minimum charge of 30* Euros
In the frenzy that is Dubai International Airport, there's a little slice of paradise to be found near Gate C22. The Snooze Cube is a micro-hotel suite offering a basic, yet comfortable and clean space to bide your time between flights.
Choose from 10 single or double occupancy cubes, and enjoy the spoils of a bed, internet access and a touch-screen television streaming the latest tunes and movies.
On a side note, the silver fern that adorns each door is a nice little nod to the Kiwis – the Snooze Cubes were designed and built in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Location: Dubai International Airport Terminal Gate C22.
Cost: $21USD* for an hour in single cube or $28USD* for an hour in a shared cube.
Offering a bit more room than the Snooze Cube, Minute Suites are popping up in airports all over the US.
Each sound-proof traveller's retreat features a sofa that can transform into a day bed (complete with fresh blankets and pillows), a work desk, internet access and TV with flight tracking capabilities. Not to mention access to shower facilities. Request a wake-up call if you're likely to oversleep.
Locations: Concourse B at Gate B16 in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; Terminal A-B Link in Philadelphia International Airport; and Terminal D at D23 in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Cost: $38USD* an hour or two hours at $76USD*. Special rates apply for 5- or 8-hour stays in Philadelphia and Dallas.
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SAMS Snooze At My Space
If you ever find yourself stuck at Delhi Airport, make a beeline for these state-of-the-art sleep pods.
SAMS Snooze At My Space sleep pods are the first of their kind in India. Transiting passengers will find all the necessities in these comfy, yet compact vessels, including free Wi-Fi.
Location: Opposite Gate 17, International Departure Piers at New Delhi International Airport Terminal 3.
Cost: $12USD* an hour for single occupancy or $22USD* an hour for double occupancy
The Haven By JetQuay
The Haven by JetQuay is the only pay-per-use lounge in Singapore's Changi Airport. Whether you stretch your legs, freshen up with a shower, conduct meetings or catch up on the latest TV shows, The Haven is perfect place to unwind before a late night departure.
Though, there's so much to do at Changi Airport, you're probably not going to want to waste your time sleeping.
Location: Public area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3.
Cost: A lounge package, inclusive of a shower and facilities starts from S$35* per person for two hours, while a nap room package (inclusive of a shower, meal and lounge access) starts from S$70* per person for three hours.
This isn't your average Japanese capsule hotel. The rationale behind 9hours is one hour for showering, seven hours for sleeping and one hour for resting. However, guests can check in for as little as 60 minutes.
There are separate locker facilities for women and men, a lounge to eat, drink or catch up on work, as well as sleep pods with ambient control systems to ensure a good nights' rest.
Get comfy in their exclusive 9hours pyjamas while you're there, too.
Location: B1F Multistorey Car Park P2 in Narita International Airport
Cost: 3900Yen* for anytime check-in and check-out at 10am, 1500Yen* for two hours use of a sleeping pod and 1000Yen* to use the shower for up to an hour.
The Yotel state-of-the-art cabins range from seven to 10 square metres, rewarding guests with a little more space than the usual sleep pod, not to mention the biggest drawcard: your own ensuite bathroom.
There's plenty to take advantage of here, including free Wi-Fi, ultra-plush bedding, complimentary tea and coffee from Mission Control, as well as the 24/7 Food To Go menu service. You'll forget why you're even there.
Location: Lounge 2 near Pier D at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (temporarily closed due to terminal renovations until August 2015); Terminal 4 Heathrow (public area on the 'landside'); and South Terminal Gatwick Airport.
Cost: Approximately 35 Pounds* for four hours