BY MARTIN DESMARAI
Stranded in a storm, skimping on a hotel, or just arriving way too early for your crack-o-dawn departure? Most airport sleep is an exercise in modern discomfort, but some stand-outs offer amenities such saunas, sprawling seats, and even late-night yoga. Not to mention walking paths, slot machines, and a 24hr aquarium -- here are the five best American airports for overnight stays.
5. Denver International Airport
Sleeping options: Denver doesn't have designated rest areas, but the airport's been known to roll out cots when the weather gets bad. The seats have armrests (so assume "the slouch"), but the business center at the B Gates on the Mezzanine Level has large cubicles in which to curl up for some privacy.
Lounge life: The USO has a nice setup for military personnel and their families, while others can buy day passes to one of the airport's other three lounges (two United, one American Admiral’s Club).
Food & drink: Grub's available 24/7, but after midnight you're pretty much stuck with fast food. Best bet's to fill up on local suds at the Boulder Beer Tap House in the Jeppesen Terminal, West Side, Level 5. Other options include Colorado Sports Bar, Denver Chophouse, Elway’s, and Red Rocks Bar & BBQ. There're also three different Climax Jerky stores, so plan ahead and stave off late-night cravings by stocking up on treats such as Elk, Buffalo, and Wild Boar jerky.
4. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Sleeping options: Hartsfield-Jackson's a huge East Coast hub, servicing a ton of international routes, so there should be plenty of people around on most nights. Wander about and you'll discover some good-as-gold areas of armrest-free padded seating in both Concourse A and Concourse F, the International Terminal.
Lounge life: Apparently afraid that travelers wouldn't know which airline runs the show here, Delta went and put in nine, count 'em, NINE Sky Club Lounges. The Airport Art Program also puts on concerts in the atrium, which is great if you're not trying to sleep.
Food & drink: Three words (actually, one long, hyphenated word) -- Chick-Fil-A. Inside the airport. Set aside your political views and try some; it's seriously good. Plus, they recently opened a second location in Concourse C. If you're from Boston and still boycotting, roll up to Sweet Water Brewing Company Draft House & Grill in Concourse B for a 420 Extra Pale Ale.
3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Sleeping options: Couches and large padded chairs are plentiful at DFW; snag one of the brightly colored ones near the children’s play area at Gate D10 or, if you prefer leather, wander around a little -- they're scattered throughout (pssst... check Gate D27). As Dallas tends to get hit with frequent bad weather, roll-out cots are often available for stranded passengers.
Lounge life: The Club at DFW is available to all passengers, regardless of which airline you're flying, and the $35 access fee will buy you a hot shower, plus food and drink. The airport has a Walking Path in Terminal D that measures about two-thirds of a mile, if you feel like wandering aimlessly to kill some time.
Food & drink: There isn't much open after midnight, so eat before the bell at Cowtown Bar (Terminal A), Texas Stadium Skybox Bar & Grille (near Gate C25), or any of a handful of quick-stop BBQ joints.
2. San Francisco International Airport
Sleeping options: While most of SFO's benches are padded with metal armrests, longer benches are available that're big enough to recline fully on -- assuming you can scare off other tired travelers. The airport also has something in the International Terminal dubbed The Berman Reflection Room, which offers a place for “quiet self-reflection and meditation” or, as we like to call it, sleeping. Just expect someone to wake you from your “meditation” at 11p when it closes.
Lounge life: After grabbing a shower in one of the many airline/ USO lounges, or the Freshen Up store in the International Terminal, you can spend the entire night staring at marine wildlife in the 24hr aquarium. Yes, a real aquarium. There's also a 24hr Yoga Room (with mats available) in Terminal 2, so stretch that shavasana into more of nap.
Food & drink: Although SFO doesn't rock all-night food to accompany its late-night yoga and fish meditation, there're plenty of options that stay open until midnight, namely Anchor Brewing Company, which produces Anchor Steam and a number of other tasty brews, and is located in the Terminal 3 board area near Gate 70. When ABC closes at 10p, try Buena Vista Café, Legends of San Francisco, or Perry’s.
1. McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas
Sleeping options: All the seats at LAS have armrests, so plan on sprawling out on the floor. There's a fitness center on-site (that closes at 11p) in which you can sauna or steam away the carpet fuzzies you accumulate for just $9.95.
Lounge life: Yes, the airport has a handful of lounges, but be prepared for steep prices -- as much as $40 for three hours at The Club (two locations -- one in Terminal 1, Gate D16, and one in Terminal 3, Gate E2) compared to the $30-$40 most airports charge for an entire day pass. Then again, that money might be better spent in one of the airport slot machines. Just keep on gambling until that final boarding call.
Food & drink: McCarran has an Irish pub called Corcoran’s, as well as Dewar’s Clubhouse -- both are worth hitting. If you need a change of scenery, Bud 29 Track Lounge and the Las Vegas Chophouse and Brewery are good options.