Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport: Making Flying Fun

One of Schiphol's many modern, healthy shops. Photos courtesy of Max Hartshorne.
One of Schiphol's many modern, healthy shops. Photos courtesy of Max Hartshorne.

How the Netherland's flagship airport is reinventing the flying experience

By Devinne Zadravec

Low light and wood furniture makes the airport feel more comfortable.
Low light and wood furniture makes the airport feel more comfortable.

Long lines at security, delays, overpriced food and drinks, hectic hallways, slow and expensive Wi-Fi, lost luggage, and a seemingly perpetual scarcity of comfortable seating and outlets. Low light and wood furniture makes the airport feel more comfortable.Anyone who has ever braved a modern airport has surely encountered one (or possibly all) of the multitudinous inconveniences associated with air travel. Schiphol airport changes that, with some of the things that make flying more fun.

While more people are flying than ever before, it’s an unfortunate circumstance that airports remain one of the most congested and stressful elements in the life of the contemporary traveler.

However, not all airports subject their users to such misery. Visitors flying to the Netherlands or passing through on a connecting flight may be pleasantly surprised to find that Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a comfortable deviation from the example established by other major airports.

Schiphol boasts some notably unique features, such as 24/7 free Wi-Fi, a library, onsite hotel, spa, children’s playground, and a slew of restaurants and cafes that serve real, fresh food.

Considering all the amenities that Schiphol offers, it’s almost easy to forget that it’s only an airport and not an entire destination in its own right.

The Holland Casino, where fliers can try their luck at popular casino games.
The Holland Casino, where fliers can try their luck at popular casino games.

Voted Number Nine

In 2015, Schiphol was voted number nine in a contest of the world’s Top 100 Airports. The annual World Airport awards are the most distinguished in the industry, and are chosen by airline customers around the world over the course of a nine-month survey period.

Amsterdam Schiphol was one of only three European airports recognized in the top ten of 2015, surpassed only by London Heathrow and Zurich Airport.

Online reviews of Schiphol on websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are overwhelmingly positive. It seems airline customers simply can’t get enough of the features that make Schiphol such a unique and comfortable stop:

When you get the chance to arrive or leave via Schiphol Airport I can only say that you won't be bored for a second…There is so much to look at and to do, the massive duty free stores are perfect for shop-a-holics, the panorama deck gives plane enthusiasts great views of the airport and for those who just want to relax before the flight there are many seats and massage chairs to relax in.

For the foodies there are lots of things to try (sometimes for free) in the restaurants or duty free shops. GoNOMAD Editor Max Hartshorne enjoyed some of the best and freshest sushi and other delectable seafood at the terminal on a recent flight to Amsterdam. "I couldn't believe that this was airport food, and it wasn't expensive--it was a deal. When do you get a deal in an airport restaurant?"

Another great advantage of Schiphol is that there is a train station right at the airport, with easy connections to all major European cities.

The comments from contented Schiphol customers go on and on.

Free Wi-Fi all the Time

Perhaps the most accessible and easily appreciated feature of Amsterdam’s flagship airport is the 24/7 free Wi-Fi. In stark contrast to the system that many other major airports favor, with pay-by-the-hour plans or members-only internet access of the likes of Boingo, offering free (and fast!) internet is a welcome change from other airports. Wi-Fi is the most important thing to many travelers, who need to be able to log in to check hotels reservations, book train trips or just have something to do using their laptops during a long layover.

For those passing through Schiphol with a long layover, there are an abundance of fun and affordable dining and entertainment options. Some perennial favorites of frequent fliers are Bubbles Seafood and Wine Bar, where customers eager to indulge can enjoy fresh seafood and a selection of fine wines. For the more budget conscious traveler, Schiphol's other eateries are a far cry from the boring fast food cafeterias of yesteryear.

Very sleek and modern baggage inspection security checkpoints make getting through very easy versus other airports.
Very sleek and modern baggage inspection security checkpoints make getting through very easy versus other airports.

Diners can enjoy a variety of cuisines, with locations such as Harvest Market, Dutch Kitchen, Café Comunal, and East Bar and Bites offering everything from fresh juices and salads, to typical Dutch meals and snacks, and even tasty sushi and Asian fusion meals.

Once hungry appetites have been sated, fliers can explore the many activities and shops available within Schiphol. The duty-free shop is widely known for being quite expansive, and the airport has many other shops to peruse before the first boarding call is made.

Play at the Casino

Those looking to have a little fun with their money can visit the Holland Casino on their layover and test their luck with popular games like Black Jack, Roulette, and of course, the slot machines.

Travelers can also make use of the many relaxation and wellness amenities available throughout the airport, such as the Airport Library, XpresPa, Rituals Spa, or one of the many Massage-O-Matic chairs where weary travelers can enjoy a five minute massage with relaxing music for only €2.00.

For those stuck with an overnight layover or a restless redeye flights, Schiphol has two onsite lodging options available for its sleepier patrons. At the Hotel Mercure Schiphol, flyers can check in to a four-star hotel and catch a few winks before their next day connection. Travelers with a shorter connection can check out the “small but smart” Hotel YOTEL; a cabin hotel with rooms available for as few as four hours.

It’s clear the Schiphol stands above the rest in an industry so often characterized by frustration, discomfort, and difficulty. The many features offered at this airport continue to please many visitors each day, and to make flying both easy and fun again. A worthy destination itself, travelers can look forward to passing through Schiphol on their next European adventure.

Devinne Zadravec

Fond of big dogs, stargazing, and foods covered in hummus, Devinne Zadravec is a writer/photographer/explorer from New England. Her favorite hobbies include hiking, yoga and writing. Currently, you can find Devinne hanging with her sisters in her Massachusetts home, or off adventuring, writing, and loving life in some new corner of the globe.