In general, airports are drab, lifeless hunks of bad carpet and asbestos that make you want to depart as soon as you arrive. However, this is not the case at Skukuza Airport in South Africa, where every aspect of the airport from the fancy font to the bathroom soap feels like a 5-star hotel.
If you had blindfolded me and brought me here and told me, “This is the Four Seasons Hotel in Bali,” I would have been like, “Yes, what a lovely and understated hotel. Look at the creative use of natural elements.” But this is not a luxury hotel. It’s a fully-functioning airport, and not just a private airport either. Anyone can book a flight here on Airlink, which you should do if you’re planning on visiting Mpumulanga or Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Admittedly, this is no transport hub. The check-in space resembles a hotel lobby because there are only about 20 people checking in per flight. Most planes that fly here are tiny bush planes that shuttle guests from the airport to private safari lodges with their own runways. The interior is a comfortable and bright indoor/outdoor lobby with cozy couches, wooden tables, and a small open-air courtyard with trees and a pond. There are even jazzy little birds flapping around in a totally not-annoying way.
Consider the bathrooms at La Guardia. Then, picture this: in the bathrooms at Skukuza, you’ll be transported to the bathroom of a fancy restaurant, with pebbles as floor tiles, a real sink with knobs you can actually turn (none of that motion-sensor stuff here), and fancy delicious-smelling soaps and moisturizer.
There’s free wi-fi everywhere. Even the font at this place is unlike any other airport. It says: upscale Asian-fusion restaurant you might bring your mother-in-law for her birthday. And when it’s time to board your plane, there are no ghastly loudspeaker announcements. The gate agents just come over and whisper in your ear that it’s time to board before they escort you onto the tarmac.
This is probably the only airport in the world where you’d wish for a delay just so you can spend a little more time here.