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A Comfortable Haven For The Weary Traveller

If you’re often at airports for long hours at a time, you’ll know that, glamorous as it may seem, air travel can sometimes be unpleasant.  Travellers are regularly draped over armrests on uncomfortable chairs in noisy terminals, desperate to catch a bit of shut eye, or praying that the advertised Wi-fi actually works so they can get through some emails.

An airport business lounge is a reasonable option to help you through the long hours in greater comfort, allowing you the possibility of a shower and some decent snacks to eat.

But it doesn’t beat access to a hotel room: a bed for a decent rest, your own bathroom, and a desk and Wi-fi in a far quieter environment.  When the wait between flights is substantial – more than six hours, for example – being able to spend time in your own hotel room makes great sense.

If you’re a transit passenger, the difficulty is that access to hotels is often not possible because of immigration requirements that stipulate that you must have a visa to leave the airport.  “If you travel on a Nigerian passport, for example, you’ll need a visa to enter the majority of countries in the world,” says Sandra Woest, Senior Manager of Henley & Partners South Africa, specialists in residence and citizenship planning.  “This means that you wouldn’t be able to leave the airport for a few hours between flights to take a room in a hotel nearby, unless you are cleared through the immigration desk, and that implies that you need a visa.”

You may be in luck, however, if the airport has a transit hotel.  Located within the secure (international) part of an airport, a traveller can access it without having to go through immigration – and so no visa is needed.

Business Centre

Business Centre

It’s a special type of hotel – and there’s only one on the entire African continent.  According to Nicholas Barenblatt, Group Marketing Manager for Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels, “The OR Tambo International Transit Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been run by Protea Hotels for a number of years. It is situated at the busiest airport in Africa, one of very few in the world that offers direct, non-stop flights to six continents.

“So there are large numbers of travellers from around the world who use the international airport as a hub for flying to other parts of the world.  For many people from elsewhere on the continent, it’s a way to travel to cities in the world that may otherwise be difficult to reach from their own countries.”

The hotel, located inside the duty-free mall of the international terminal at the airport, offers passengers hotel facilities for as little as one hour. There’s also a day use category which applies to stays of more than six hours and up to 11 hours.  A longer stay involves an overnight rate. An added bonus is that members of Marriott Rewards, the world’s largest hospitality loyalty programme, can use their loyalty points to cover the cost of an overnight stay at the hotel. A business lounge offers various services useful for a business person, and guests have access to the numerous restaurants and shops in the duty-free mall.

According to Bryer, “Most of our guests at this hotel are business travellers, and they have generally planned their stay with us because they are using Johannesburg’s airport as a route to get elsewhere.  But, when there’s a long flight delay, such as in the event of a dangerous storm somewhere or a technical fault with the plane, the airline may reserve rooms for their passengers at the hotel.”

The hotel clearly offers a solution for the regular traveller who needs a comfortable spot to unwind and relax.  With thousands of guests having already enjoyed its facilities, the hotel is always attracting new ones.

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