The first airport hotel opened its doors on 15 July 1929 at Oakland International Airport in California. The Oakland Airport Inn, as it was known, was modest – the building housed 37 rooms along with a restaurant, a ticket office and a barbers – but convenient for the US’s first generation of air travellers. The hotel barely lasted a year before it was forced to close for lack of customers, but the innovation stuck. Today, hundreds of similar properties dot the grounds adjacent to some of the world’s busiest airports, catering for passengers who have either arrived very late at night or are eagerly awaiting to board some of the earliest flights out of the airstrip.

The problem is that this can be a very expensive way for travellers to stave off exhaustion. For many, the alternative is simply to ride the night out in the airport and lay one’s head down on the hard seating around the departures area – not a comfortable, private or, indeed, safe way to spend the period before a long-awaited holiday. Larry Swann went through the same realisation while watching the actor Tom Hanks perform a similar feat in the film The Terminal.

"A flash went off in my head," he recalls. Suddenly, he knew what passengers sorely needed: an easily accessible, affordable, but above all, private space within the airport. The result was the Snoozecube, a small, prefabricated room inured to the hustle and bustle of the surrounding terminal.

"When people arrive at airports, they are disorientated," explains Swann. More often than not, passengers have spent hours on their flight attempting – and often failing – to sleep in an upright sitting position inside what is essentially a noisy metal tube. "Snoozecube offers respite for travellers before their next gruelling flight."

Comfort at last

With 13 units in Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport, the rooms themselves are cosy and comfortable. Priced by the hour at $21, with a minimum stay of two hours, passengers can treat themselves to a twin bed, storage space underneath for their luggage, a plug socket, a touchscreen computer for entertainment – or simply to access the internet – a thermostat and a roller blind to safeguard individual privacy. Additionally, the provision of storage space protects passengers’ belongings from the possibility of theft that may take place, if they were to sleep on seats in the departures lounge.

Most importantly, however, Snoozecube’s rooms restore a measure of dignity to those travellers on layovers who would otherwise be forced to sleep out in the open.

"The bed itself is made of high-quality materials," says Swann. Indeed, the response from travellers has been consistently positive. "Passengers have actually commented that the beds are the most comfortable they have rested on for a long time."

Swann looks ahead to Snoozecube expanding beyond Dubai International Airport to other hubs around the world. "I look forward to the powers that be giving us the chance to operate in their airports," he states. "There are many passengers out there who are regular travellers and have requested that we open in other hubs. Snoozecube is respected the world over for what we offer. We’ve established ourselves in Dubai – now, it’s time to expand."