April 07 2011
In my peripatetic, self-appointed role as a sort of low-rent Tyler Brûlé, I like to report from the departure lounges, shopping centres, concourses and hospitality zones of the world’s great airports when I come across something that deserves to be shared with a wider audience. So I feel compelled to share my enthusiasm for the Basel Airport Hotel.
Usually when visiting the Basel watch fair I am fortunate enough to find myself put up in town. But this year, for reasons too complicated to go into here, even though I was offered a sprawling set of rooms at Les Trois Rois, the best hotel in the city, I wound up staying at the Airport Hotel.
The augury was not auspicious. The Basel Airport Hotel is located as its name suggests, with the added bonus of being just across the road from a meat processing plant and a nameless factory with smokestacks that tower elegantly into the air and belch out a continuous, although not unattractive, dense white cloud.
Inside the hotel, instead of mini-bar and shoe-shine service, there was a vending machine in the corridor and a mechanical contraption equipped with revolving brushes by the side of the lift.
However, it grew on me. By the end I felt as if I was starring in my own Lenny Henry advertisement for budget accommodation. The staff were incredibly friendly; they thought nothing of running me into town to visit the fair and picking me up again at the end of the day. Moreover, their suggestion as to the best pizzeria in Basel, Pomodoro, was faultless.
The rooms were clean, wi-fi was not an extra, and, if I needed to unwind, I could go for a stroll into nearby France and Germany or enjoy a few spins of the roulette wheel in the casino located conveniently close to the breakfast buffet.
This was all explained when I was told that it was in some way linked to Les Trois Rois through one of the directors. That said, before you think I am about to go backpacking around Europe this summer, I will be perfectly happy to rough it next year and make do with the best suite on offer at Les Trois Rois.