Airport Location: Stansted (London), England, UK
Amenities: Lots of great armless benches, 24/7 cafes, nooks and corners to sleep in
Disadvantages: You and the rest of the backpacker world are here together. If you don’t arrive by 10 PM, good luck finding a bench.
Stansted is famous for being a local budget airline hub. As such, hundreds of flights daily go in and out of this medium sized airport carting thousands of budget travelers to and fro around Europe. As such, this airport caters to overnight guests. There are lots of flights leaving before 8 AM and as such, it’s a tempting option to stay at the airport rather than booking at a local hotel or hostel in London as sometimes the transfer times can render your departure impossible. Because of this, Stansted provides dozens of options for overnight cafes and really does it’s best to enure that overnight guests get the best floor treatment possible.
The catch 22 of this reputation is that on any given night, there are hundreds of people camping out in the airport, knowing it’s a cheaper alternative to the local lodging.
My choice was honestly not a choice. I arrived in Stansted from Malaga at approximately 1 AM and departed from Stansted the following morning at 8. By the time I would have carted myself into London and back, I would have only been checked into a hostel for a couple hours and the local lodging options were astronomically priced.
When I finally made it through customs, at just before 1, I began the rounds, looking for anything resembling a cushion to call my bed for the evening. Unfortunately, after about 3 delirious rounds around the arrivals and departures lounges, I realized I was destined to join the nearly 100 people already camping on the floor in the awnings of the several closed stores.
Knowing I had a later departure, I was ready to get my full night’s rest and as such, wasn’t going to camp in someone’s front yard only for them to wake me up at 4:30 AM so they could open their store without the fear of vagabond bums (aka me) sleeping in front of them. So on about my fourth rotation of the airport, I finally found myself on the floor underneath the awning on the side of a vodafone kiosk, cleverly tucked under the side so as not to be disturbed by anyone in the morning. I was so close to benches that were fully occupied, and it made me a bit jealous, but something about sleeping about 30 deep in a space the size of my parent’s kitchen made me feel a bit secure. I popped in the headphones, turned up my white noise and awoke 6 hours later very rested and ready for my flight to Croatia
Overall ranking: 10/10 as long as you get there early enough to get a good spot.
Also... I met Tinie Tempah when I woke up. So I win. BAM