by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | January 10, 2011

I tried a new category of hotel last week -- the airport hotel. And frankly, this skeptical traveler is now a complete convert. After an exhausting 10-hour drive from Oaxaca to Mexico City, and facing down a crack-of-dawn flight back to New York, it suddenly seemed more prudent to grab a room at the 129-room Hilton Mexico City Airport inside Benito Juarez International Airport, rather than navigate another hour of harrowing traffic into the city center to our pre-arranged hotel. Airport hotels, I discovered, offer far more than just a convenient location between flights.

Amongst the multitude of offerings at the Hilton were two meeting rooms, a 24-hour business center with fax and printing services, a 24-hour gym and a multilingual concierge desk that offered a substantial lineup of excursions to area highlights. What's more, there was a well-stocked mini bar (remember those?), an ample room-service menu, and in-room Internet access was complimentary, as was shuttle service to the international departures terminal the following morning. What more could any traveler ask for?

Hilton Beijing, hotel, meetingHilton Hotels & Resorts, research reveals, has the lock on airport hotels, which the company began pioneering in 1959. Today, the chain has taken that initial product concept to a whole new design dimension and outfitted the properties with cutting-edge meeting capabilities and high-end dining and leisure options. In July 2010, Hilton added to its airport inventory with the opening of the 320-room Hilton Beijing Capital Airport. This hotel, inside Terminal 3, features 21 meetings rooms, two enormous ballrooms, a full-service spa and five restaurants that have a total of 32 private dining rooms between them. "Opening China's first luxury international airport hotel generations after our founder pioneered the airport hotel concept is more than a noteworthy milestone," said Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels brand. "Hilton Beijing Capital Airport reflects the innovation, refreshing hospitality and contemporary relevance that enable us to deliver an exceptional experience for our guests and set Hilton as a leader in the eyes of today's savvy global travelers."

Hilton Frankfurt, hotel, airportNext up for Hilton, in another major gateway city, is the 248-room Hilton Frankfurt Airport hotel in Germany, which was scheduled to open in March but has now been pushed back to Sept. 1. Located inside the slick and futuristic SQUAIRE building, a multi-use complex within Frankfurt International Airport, the property is connected to Terminal 3 by skywalk and features 10 meetings rooms, a ballroom capable of seating 570, two restaurants and a 24-hour business center.