Susie has as much fun in the sky as you can without actually flying.
My head’s in the clouds, and I’m loving it. Aircraft taking off from Sydney’s massive adjacent domestic and international airports complex howl and whine as they climb, a constant parade of power, into the sky just, seemingly, metres above my head. I do a mental “duck” every time – in case they hit me! Just as a plane dips and waggles its wings from side to side in a salute, my shoulders do a shimmy, an involuntary frisson of excitement at being so near to these screaming skybirds, yet so far … closeted safe and sound in my room atop one of Sydney’s newest airport hotels.
There’ve been a number of fresh hotels opening in this vicinity over the past year or so, to add to – greatly improve on, actually – old favourites. The reason, I venture, is the horrible eternal tangle that is Sydney traffic these days. If you want to get to the airport in reliable comfort to catch your flight, you need to leave v-e-r-y early. And then, of course, on the odd day that traffic is smooth, you sit around after check-in twiddling your thumbs with nothing to do but indulge in yet more wasted phone-time.
If yours is an international departure, the regular two-hour minimum check-in window, plus added time for heightened security measures, plus duty-free shopping, plus loooong walks to many boarding gates – plus allowing time for traffic snarls – means getting away on holiday becomes an endurance test over a period of crazily extended hours. By the time you hit the aircraft seat, you’re exhausted … and that’s even travelling without kids. My sympathy to parents.
So, the smart traveller nowadays checks in at an airport hotel overnight prior to d-day. And so, I’m checking out the new Mantra at Sydney Airport … just a few months old, on Ross Smith Drive. If it were any closer it would be on actual airport territory (just over the fence). Ross Smith Drive is the little side street you slip through on the way from the city via Southern Cross Drive to the domestic terminal – near the light aircraft area, where all the fast-food joints are located. But there’s nothing “fast-food” (basic) about the Mantra. It’s very smart and stylish indeed.
And a smart location, too: domestic travellers can literally wheel their bag to the corner, 20m away, and they’re virtually on the departures ramps. Of course, it makes sense instead to use the airport shuttle bus that arrives regularly at the hotel’s front door, rain or shine – there’s going to be no traffic jam between Mantra Reception and the airline counter.
Similarly, this new Mantra’s located right next to the intersection that branches one way to domestic … the other to Qantas Drive and the international terminal. As one with a reputation over the years for pretty much grabbing onto the tailplane to catch a flight, I can’t think of anything easier, more sensible or more gentle on the nerves than making use of this hotel. I’ve dubbed it Goldilocks: not shabby/simple, not too flash/expensive … in fact, just right. Its newness adds to its appeal: freshly-painted rooms, brand new appointments and linens; the sweet smell of soft new carpet; enthusiastic foundation staff. There’s 24-hour reception, restaurant, cafe, bar and safe parking available too, if you’re arriving by road. Rested and relaxed, you can take a 20-minute taxi or train ride into town the night before your departure, secure in the knowledge you’ll easily make your flight next day.
Book at: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 8398 0700. Guests can sign up free to Mantra Hotels’ newly launched and revitalised loyalty program, Mantra+, to receive enhanced offers and value such as free arrival drinks, WiFi, late checkout.
Travel Editor Susie Boswell.