For years I’ve heard people talking about Changi Airport’s Transit Hotel. The airport itself has frequently won Conde Nast Traveller Awards and is legendary for its amenities, including a rooftop swimming pool, next to the T1 Transit Hotel.
I flew in from Bali late on Friday night, but my connecting flight to London wasn’t until 1245hrs on Saturday, so I booked myself into the Terminal 1 Transit Hotel. (I chose it as, even though I was flying from T3, I wanted to swim in the rooftop pool on Saturday morning.)
It’s quite a strange set up. From all the PR and general efficient shininess of Changi, I was expecting maybe some hyper modern capsule arrangement, at the very least a proper hotel – you know with glass doors leading to a lobby. The transit hotel isn’t like that at ALL. You walk all the way to the end of Terminal 1 (there are also ones in T2 & T3), take the up escalator to a large, blank, carpeted space around a central light well, and that’s it. There’s no sense that there is ANYTHING there at all. It just looks like the end of a corridor.
Off to one side is a desk that looks like a left luggage counter at the end of the world and, when you hand over your money, you get a painted wooden key tag.
I do think that the Transit Hotel is a particularly good idea: You can check your luggage straight through to your final destination, grab a few zzzzs, and then continue onto your next flight. Singapore is a refuelling stop for so many airlines, and has one of the highest numbers of transfer passengers in the world.
Booked in an initial block of six hours, with hourly extensions, the Transit Hotel has a choice of either Standard with en suite or Budget accommodation with a bathroom down the corridor.
I booked and paid for a budget room – I really don’t care where I lay my head, as long as it is clean, cool and quiet. So the lady pointed to the opposite wall, to an entrance under a Departure screen that looked like a fire exit door in a local leisure centre.
In a brown corridor that looked like a hangover from the Seventies, there were a series of anonymous numbered doors. Frankly it could have been a brothel. Without the hookers, obviously.
My room was a very single, single. Clean, very brown, with a narrow single bed with Persil-white laundered sheets & a solitary flat pillow, a desk with a china lamp, a whirring aircon unit and a small table supporting a flat screen telly, there was just enough floor space for me & my cases.
And that would have been it, if there hadn’t been construction going on somewhere else in the airport. After half an hour of someone drilling through my head, I pulled a dress on over my knickers, to go make doleful eyes at the woman at the counter at the end of the world.
She was surprisingly charming, (turns out I wasn’t the only complainant) and gave me a key to an anonymous grey door on the other side of the atrium, upgrading me for free to a huge triple Standard room with en suite, another anonymous brown hotel room, the kind in which people do nothing but sleep, f*ck, and maybe get murdered in CSI.
But you know what? It was cheap, clean and a whole lot better than sleeping on a bench.
Standard Double Room (for a block of six hours): SGD 91.81 Extension per hour (after one block of six hours): SGD 16.48
Budget Single Room (for a block of six hours): SGD 47.08 Extension per hour (after one block of six hours) : SGD 14.12
As I discovered, the Transit Hotel in Terminal 1 is undergoing a refurbishment which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012. The Transit Hotel will still be in operation but the visibility and quietness may be affected.