Between security hassles and being charged fees for everything but the oxygen we breathe on board a plane, air travel has become something to be endured rather than enjoyed. But a new service that recently opened in Atlanta Hartsfield airport, called Minute Suites, wants to serve as travelers’ oasis from the stress of life traveling the unfriendly skies.
Atlanta Hartsfield’s Minute Suites is located on Concourse B in a space that was formerly a business center, and bills itself as a “traveler’s retreat”. Minute Suites offered me the chance to give them a try during a layover on a recent cross-country trip.
Although my flights were not arriving or departing from Concourse B, the location was convenient to reach. Minute Suites is close to the intersection at the center of Concourse B, where passengers can board the train that shuttles people between Hartsfield’s concourses. It was a two- to three-minute trip each way from Concourse A where my flights were arriving and departing.
The Minute Suites host on duty when I arrived, Michael, was cheery and welcoming despite the extremely early hour and my jet-lagged, exhausted demeanor. He lead me to my suite and gave me a tour of its amenities.
Minute Suites are 7ft x 8ft units that are entered through a sliding door. I was told the five suites are sanitized between each use. Each suite is furnished with a sofa that pulls out into a bed, and a desk with a chair. The suites could easily accommodate three adults or two adults and two children.
The only amenity that Minute Suites doesn’t have is plumbing. If you are looking for the restroom, you’ll have to step about 100 feet down the concourse to find one.
In the wall next to the desk is an HDTV that serves as the unit’s entertainment system and Internet terminal; the television service offered is DirecTV with the NFL package. The TV can also be used to check on the status of your flight, since it can display the airport’s Flight Tracking system.
If you have your own computer along, Minute Suites offers ethernet and Wi-Fi internet access included in your suite rental in addition to the provided Internet terminals. I used my MacBook to try out the Wi-Fi access. Getting on was as easy as entering the password I was provided, and the connection felt snappy enough (at least for the web surfing and email that I was trying it out on).
There is very nice attention to detail in the Minute Suites. There is a hook with two hangers for hanging up jackets, and each unit has its own thermostat so each visitor can set their own comfortable temperature. The desk chair rolls and is nicely cushioned. There are controls for the lights and sound system in the wall at one end of the bed.
Since I had just gotten off a red-eye flight, I was particularly interested in trying out the daybed for a nap — something that I would normally never do in an airport. Pillows and blankets are provided. The suite contains an alarm clock on a ledge behind the bed, or the Minute Suites staff will provide you a wake-up call (or actually, knock). Michael was extremely prompt with my wake-up knock, although I had set my iPhone alarm as a back-up.
The bed was very comfortable. I tried out the Nap26 program that is built into the entertainment system, which is supposed to make you feel as though you’ve had three hours of sleep in only 26 minutes. I found the program soundtrack so annoying that it actually kept me awake instead of putting me to sleep even though I’d had only two hours of sleep in the previous 24. I turned it off after only a few minutes and promptly fell asleep.
A key component in my ability to sleep was the suite’s sound masking system. Essentially a giant white noise machine, the masking system’s volume is adjustable by the suite’s occupant. Thanks to this system, I was able to sleep completely unaware that I was in the heart of one of the world’s busiest airports, in a suite 10 feet away from a congested concourse. The only sounds I heard were a few loud bangs that I believe originated in the service area below the concourse.
If all of this sounds like a wonderful way to spend your airport layover, it is. But there’s a catch to this luxury: the luxury price. Minute Suites rent for $30/hr, with a one hour minimum. Eight hours costs $180, since at eight hours a rate decrease of 25 percent takes effect.
But if you aren’t turned off by the price, Minute Suites can be a great place to recharge or get some privacy to do some business on the go.
Would you try a “traveler’s retreat” if there was one available ton your trip?