Staying at an airport hotel isn’t always the first choice for travelers. Most people want to be close to a city center, for easy access to tourist sites, restaurants, shopping and so on. But there are times when you need to stay close to the airport. You might have a very early flight (and want to avoid a long drive in the middle of the night!), or you might have a long layover and need a place to crash before your connecting flight. For times like that, it’s always good to know your options around the airport.
I have several criteria that I use to pick the best place for me to stay in or near an airport.
- How close is the hotel to the airport terminals?
- If the hotel is not located in the airport itself, is there a free shuttle to get me between the airport and the hotel (and back)?
- How often does the shuttle run? Are reservations necessary?
- If there’s a problem with the shuttle, can I get a taxi to the airport? How much would that cost?
- Does the hotel accept debit/credit cards?
- Does the hotel have an elevator?
- Does the hotel have a restaurant? Are there other eating options near the hotel?
- Does the hotel have parking facilities? Does it offer a “Park and Fly” option for long-term parking?
In Munich, there several places within a few miles of the Franz-Josef Strauss Airport (MUC), but most of them lack one or more of the things I want in an airport stay. Many don’t run a regular shuttle to the hotel, but just pick up passengers when they call after arrival. This becomes a problem if you don’t have a German cell phone! Some hotels (especially the smaller ones) don’t have an elevator, which normally wouldn’t be a serious issue for me, but when I arrive from a long flight, what I want to do is get some rest, not schlep heavy bags up several floors! And most of the “airport” hotels around MUC don’t have any place to eat nearby. Again, if I’m hungry and tired after a flight, and can’t get something to eat, I’m not going to enjoy my stay.
Before we look at the hotels that “pass the test” for me, let me share some tips that’ll help you at MUC.
MUC offers quite a few restaurants and fast-food options outside of security. The usual suspects (McDonald’s, Subway) are open late. There are also several very good German restaurants in the airport, as well as pizza places, bistros, and cafes.
There is an EXCELLENT, large grocery store (Edeka) in Terminal 2. It’s big, well-stocked, very convenient, and most amazingly, you won’t pay ridiculously high prices like you’d expect in the airport. AND it’s open from 0530-midnight every day! Many locals actually drive in to shop here, because of the long hours!
There are great local transport links right in the airport. You can get to the enter of Munich in 40 minutes by taking the S-Bahn, the local light rail system. There are two lines (S1 and S8) that run from the airport, and both will take you to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station) in downtown Munich. From there, you can catch a local, regional or international train to pretty much anywhere in Europe. There are ticket machines in the airport station, and they can be accessed in several languages. You can pay with bills, coins or cards.
There are two hotels that fit my criteria for a stay at MUC. I’ve stayed at both, several times, and here are my reviews of both.
Hilton Munich Airport
(Outside shot of the Hilton Munich Airport Hotel)
Formerly a Kempinski property, this was taken over by Hilton several years ago. It is the only MUC airport hotel that is actually IN the airport. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2, and requires no shuttle at all.
The hotel has most everything you’d expect to find at a Hilton: a spa with a heated pool, an overpriced bar and restaurant, 24-hour fitness center, and king beds in the rooms.
All rooms have individual controls for heat and air-conditioning.
The hotel has room service.
The cost for one night’s stay is around $175.
The biggest advantage to staying at the Hilton is, of course, convenience. You’re already in the airport! No shuttle to catch, and plenty of food and drink available to you.
Novotel Munich Airport Hotel
This hotel, part of the Accor Hotels Group, is close to the MUC terminals. In fact, it’s right next to the remote parking lot (P41).
There is no shuttle. The hotel will tell you that you can use the local bus #635 (which stops right next to the hotel and at all terminals) for free. Technically this is not true: the only people that can use the bus for free are those using the nearby parking lots. However, I have never been checked in all the years I’ve stayed here, so I don’t worry about it much. (The shuttle trip, depending on your terminal area, can take up to 15 minutes.)
There are some serious negatives to the Novotel. None of the rooms are air-conditioned. The restaurant is only open for (overpriced) meals until 10:00 PM. (After that, you’re lucky if you can get a sandwich.) There is limited room service. So if you’re arriving late, eat before you get there.
There is a fitness center, though the hours are limited.
The basic room rate on the hotel website is around $190, although you can always find it much cheaper on other booking sites. Speaking of which: if you are a “Le Club” member (the loyalty program of Accor Hotels), you will ONLY get points for your stay IF you book on THEIR website. If you do it through any other agency (booking.com, Kayak, etc.) you get no credit at all.
I generally shop around: whichever hotel is cheapest, that’s where I stay. Both hotels are perfectly fine for a short stay, but if I can get it cheaper, I stay at the Hilton! It’s just a much better hotel.