I was recently on a long haul trip to Japan, and the only option we had included a 14h stop over in Amsterdam airport. We considered different options but then I remembered having seen the list 10 best airports to sleep in and the thought of sleeping in the airport became an option.
The aforementioned list is actually housed on a website dedicated to Sleeping in Airports full of useful tips, traveler experiences and a whole community of people who have been sleeping in airports. You can also find them on Twitter here.
Knowing we would have to stick to our budget during our two week stay in Japan, we decided to sleep in the airport. This was also based on the fact that we knew we would be in Schiphol which is meant to be one of the best airports in the world, (sleeping or not). Thanks to research we also knew that there were quite a few comfortable places to sleep.
Here is the lowdown on our experience:
– Airside or landside? As you will see when doing research there are many people talking about air side and land side and how all the best stuff is available air side. Don’t worry, if you are in transfer you will most definitely be air side and don’t have to worry about leaving the airport to re-enter on the less glamorous side.
– Luggage: this is a tough one. Some research beforehand led us to believe we may have to collect our luggage on the belt and then check it in again the next day, this caused us some worry as we weren’t sure this would mean we would also have to exit the airport. Thankfully the lady at check in said it wasn’t a problem at all.
– Where to sleep: in Schiphol there are undoubtedly tons of places. We discovered (as indicated on their map) many lounge type chairs all over the airport which you can recline in. There is also (as mentioned on Sleeping in airports) a sort of tropical rainforest rest area which is where we slept. There are some giant beanbags and huge amounts of space where you can easily sleep. We put two large bean bags together and that was our bed.
– Showers: Schiphol has free showers in several locations. The ones we used were clean and really pleasant so top marks for that!
– What to do? There is no end of stuff to do in Schiphol. It’s a wonderful airport: huge, well-organised, a variety of stuff to do from shop, visit a museum, get a massage, go to the spa, visit the library, eat… You name it! I doubt it’s possible to be bored in Schiphol.
– Quality of sleep: well…. I would recommend you take Sleeping in Airport’s advice here. Do bring earplugs or better huge headphones and an MP3 player to block out the noise. There are incessant announcements (even throughout the night) and even with earplugs it’s hard to get some shut eye. Do also bring an eye mask as it will never be dark in the airport.
Finally, don’t worry about being the only one sleeping in the airport. At first I was also concerned but little by little I saw people settling down or trying to sleep and in the end there were many of us. The best thing was, no one ever came to bother us to try and kick us out. We didn’t get the best night’s sleep, but if you’re looking for an adventure and a cheap option, I would recommend you try it.