From Singapore's fun-filled Changi, to Qatar's luxurious Hamad International – these five airports were voted best in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards 2018
A city, nature reserve, shopping mall and hotel all rolled into one, Changi Airport has always led the way in showing what an airport can and should be. Light, spacious and with a judicious mix of quiet corners and glitzy shopping, it has dominated the ‘Best Airport’ lists since opening in 1981.
The airport is always evolving. It features six gardens, a koi pond, movie theatres, an entertainment deck with Playstations and Xboxes, and, in Terminal 3, the largest slide in an airport. A new heritage zone features shopfronts mimicking the multi-coloured facades of old Peranakan houses and a 1960s-themed food street where you can feast on local favourites from Hainan chicken rice to bak kut teh (pork rib dish).
The Changi website suggests things to do, based on the length of your layover, including a spa treatment and a free guided tour of Singapore.
Opened in 2014 to replace the old Doha International Airport, Hamad International airport has quickly staked its claim as the most luxurious in the world, featuring gold-plated coffee kiosks, a pool with runway views, and a concourse that doubles as an art gallery featuring the work of international artists.
The shopping is high-end too, with over 80 designer stores including Armani, Hermes and Bulgari, as well as shops selling gold. There’s a five-star hotel with a 1,400 square foot Presidential Suite, a games room with pinball machines and table footballs, and a play zone for kids complete with a full-size Formula 1 car.
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport bills itself as the ‘Most Relaxing Airport in the World’ and, laying back on its beanbags, listening to recorded birdsong in the Airport ‘Park’, you’ll be hard-pressed to disagree.
Elsewhere, Massage-o-Matic chairs offer a quick massage, complete with soothing music and serene images. XpresSpa offers a deeper massage, as well as various beauty treatments. The Meditation Centre offers a non-denominational and interfaith space, where you can pray, meditate, or just relax in silence.
If that all sounds too calm for you, there are exercise bikes in the Airport Park that also charge your phone, plus a casino where, if you feel lucky, you could put all your loose currency on black.
Known for its luxurious lifestyles and towering skyscrapers, the rich experience of Dubai starts at the suitably lavish Dubai International Airport. It's a major hub for connecting travellers around the world through international flight transfers, as well as the universal language of music with live performances on its concert stage.
Among the airport's many facilities, visitors can take a dip in the whirlpool and sweat it out in the sauna at the Health Club, or relax with a spa treatment at one of the many Relax and Refresh stations.
Their VIP Al Majlis service offers a hassle-free experience, with a personal assistant on hand to organise baggage and check-in details, while the latest BMW 7 series is on standby to transfer passengers to their departure gate.
Tokyo International Airport, otherwise known as Haneda Airport, offers an introduction to the beauty of Japanese culture, with decorations of its signature cherry blossom flower and traditional artwork on display in the airport's Discovery Museum.
The airport caters to passengers with a 24-hour vending machine that serves sweet and savoury meals, as well as a pet hotel that welcomes dogs and small animals. Entertainment in the form of film previews, music concerts, fashion shows, and public talks can be found in Haneda International's Tiat Sky Hall.
Other services include shoe shine and repair stores, a dental clinic, phone-charging areas, and a staggering 33 nurseries.
Observation decks located in Terminals 1 and 2 make for an ideal spot to watch planes take off and land – a sight that's even better with a chilled beverage in hand.
Find out more about the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards and discover the winners in all other categories, including Best City, Best Airline, Best Tour Operator and Best UK Destination.
Main image: Plane with sunset background (Dubai Airport)