Could this be the world's most alluring airport hotel? Aesthetically, it's got the requisite wow factor, thanks to its sensuous chocolate-colored, polished-plaster foyer with a subtly lit, fiberglass staircase sweeping up into a spiral. And its location at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England fast becoming the main European hub for private aviation adds undeniable cachet. The hotel's opening in August was smartly timed too, pre-empting the centenary of the first officially recorded powered flight in Britain, made by Samuel Franklin Cody at Farnborough in October 1908.
The latest project from Ken McCulloch, creator of the Malmaison hotel chain, and interior designer Amanda Rosa in collaboration with Farnborough's owners TAG Aviation, Aviator (www.aviatorfarnborough.co.uk) is a spectacular contemporary building. Incorporating dramatic curves of aluminum, its design was inspired by the shape of an airplane propeller, with 169 guestrooms along its sinuous, elongated twin wings. (See 10 things to do in London.)
The rooms are large and their look deliberately aerodynamic: soft flowing lines with an Art Deco influence; contoured chrome aviator accessories; tripod lamps; Bose sound systems and leather window seats. The bathrooms, with their black glass and taupe walls, all have flat-screen TVs and extra-deep bathtubs.
Throughout the hotel, the furnishing details ooze luxury even the elevators, which are lined with black American walnut and leather. The purple-themed Skybar has a slinky after-dark appeal (try the Aviator Sling: gin, parfait amour, cranberry and lime juice), while the Brasserie is all cream-leather seating and walnut finishes. It's here that chef Allan Pickett (formerly at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe in London) makes use of local produce to create a tempting take-off menu: the piquant steak tartare is already proving a runaway success. And on the walls, black-and-white photos of Hollywood stars getting on or disembarking from airplanes add a touch of nostalgic air-travel glamour. As airport hotels go, Aviator is a real departure.