Airports behold a kind of pre- or post-journey for the travelers passing through the lines of security and suitcases; the air of mingling languages and peeks of the passports revealing nationalities of your fellow peers in that very moment, on that very day.
Yet all too often this leg of our trip tends to conjure the negative connotations of dread and stress. As an unavoidable moment in our travels, shouldn’t the airport experience be slightly more positive? These five bars think so.
Airbräu in Munich, One Flew South in Atlanta, Casa Bacardi in Stockholm, Center Bar in Zurich and Poolside Bar in Singapore whisk you away before you even step on a plane. The carefully designed spaces and uniquely curated menus were designed to add value to your pre-flight experience, and dare we say, actually look forward to those in-between hours while in transit. From a 600-seat rooftop beer garden at Airbraus, to a swim up bar and chaise lounge at Poolside Bar, the offerings at these bars and restaurants are sure to settle even the most anxious of travelers, while proving the airport experience doesn’t have to be a dull or dreaded one.
So, whether your time at the airport is the first sentence, a turning point between two tales, or the concluding chapter in your story, keep these airports in mind as inspirational innovators of what travel could be—maintaining a consistent joy in not just arriving at your destination but as the time old saying goes, in the journey it takes to get there.
Munich Airport, Germany – Terminal 2, Level 5
Outstanding feature: Rooftop beer garden
As the only airport brewery in Europe, Airbräu is a destination in itself. Headed by master brewer René Jacobsen, the tarmac-side brewery prides itself in a selection of unfiltered beers that guests can enjoy with a “clear conscious.” Along with using sustainable brewing techniques, Airbräu also takes advantage of regional and local ingredients to enhance the authenticity of its product, and enjoyment of its guests. As if this isn’t enough to sell you on a beer or two, the Brauhaus boasts a rooftop beer garden that seats up to 600 guests. It’s here where you can experience German fare with a side of traditional music and where “one more” is never enough.
Changi Airport, Singapore – Terminal 1, Level 3
Outstanding feature: Swim-up bar
Changi Airport has consistently rounded out the list of the world’s best airports for the past five years. With a rooftop pool, jacuzzi and day beds to lounge poolside on your multiple hour layover, it’s no wonder the airport continues to snag the world’s best title. Although the airport is an attraction throughout, this rooftop haven is a place for travelers to escape the crowded common areas and soak in the essence of Singapore, while enjoying the luxuries of a swim-up bar; which may just allow you to revel in your vacation a little longer, escape from the suit and tie for a deserved break, or to simply say you’ve sipped a cocktail at this must-visit bar. For SGD17 (around $13), you can take advantage of it all from 6 a.m. to midnight any day of the week–just don’t forget to save time for a shower and stroll to your gate.
Zurich Airport, Switzerland – Terminal 2
Outstanding feature: Sushi and dim sum lover’s dream
In a chic, open-air setting, alongside floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the runway, is Center Bar. The black decor and modern appeal draw you in as you descend the escalators and enter a lounge with a Baby Grand as its centerpiece, and a menu rooted in Asian favorites. From curry, to dim sum, to sushi, the sleek and contemporary Asian offerings reflect the modern atmosphere of the bar, encouraging you to stay awhile–and to maybe even course your meal as the piano starts up and you lean back to enjoy.
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Atlanta, GA, USA – Concourse E
Outstanding feature: Prohibition-inspired lounge
In an effort to recognize Aeromarine Airways–the 1920s airline that transported the very wealthy from Miami to Nassau and Havana in order to drink during the Prohibition-era–One Flew South distinctively stands out as the first of its kind at Hartsfield-Jackson. The upscale, travel-dining restaurant provides guests with a “Southernational” menu, offering dishes of local and fresh ingredients. To wash it all down? The unique cocktail list pays tribute to a variety of Prohibition-inspired drinks that are sure to pair perfectly with your meal as well as aesthetically please.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden – Terminal 5, Gate 4
Outstanding feature: A menu of rum
Welcoming Sweden’s first Bacardi bar, the Stockholm Airport makes Cuba the first leg of your itinerary–no matter where you are jetting off to. Inspired by 1950s Cuba, the lounge offers a wide variety of rum drinks, showcasing the vital role of the sugarcane alcohol in Cuban cocktail culture from then, until now. The bongos and claves set the atmosphere, as they pull you off the main hall of the concourse and transport you to another country, another era. Enjoy a fresh mojito with Bacardi’s classic white rum, or a standard rum and coke, choosing from the dozens of varieties lining this bar’s shelves.