"Hotel in the Sky" Is a Real Thing Now: Etihad Airways Offers Private 3-Room Cabins with Ensuite Showers & Butlers

First-class air travel has seen its share of luxe new amenities in recent years, including truly horizontal sleeping chairs, distinct chambers, sexy cocktail bars, and celebrity-chef cuisine. This week Etihad Airways takes the concept of the "hotel room in the sky" to new (ahem) heights with the introduction of "The Residence by Etihad," a three-room cabin comprised of a bedroom (with room for two), living room (pictured above), and ensuite shower.

For now, it's still a very exclusive proposition: There's only one on the upper deck of each of the airline's new A380 planes, which arrive this December (in London) and will roll out in other cities (like New York) in 2015. The cabin will set you back $20,000 for a one-way flight from Abu Dhabi to London or New York (personal butler included).

If that feels a bit steep, there are also nine "First Apartments" with sliding doors, minibars, wardrobes, vanities, and swiveling televisions, so you can binge watch your favorite series from your full-length bed or lounge chair. Traveling with a special someone? Six of the apartments have connecting doors.

Moving down a notch in comfort, the airline's B787 crafts (due for delivery in October) are also getting a serious facelift. The Dreamliners' First Suites have seats that convert into a six-and-a-half-foot-long bed, and armrests for the middle seats that retract so that you can form a double bed. These first class offerings will cost in the neighborhood of $6,000 each way.

Both planes will have "Business Studios"—70 for the A380, 28 on the Dreamliner—with 20% more wiggle room than the current business class seats. And business and first class passengers will have access to a lounge called "The Lobby." The cost is about $3,000 for a one-way ticket.

Etihad isn't the only airline to start thinking like a hotel. American Airlines is at work on a new design that will replace the galley entry with a lobby bar and lie-flat seats with "beds" with duvets and "headboards". Other extras include do-not-disturb buttons and candlelight-inspired lighting. Now if they could just offer dry cleaning and shoe shines...

The Residence's bedroom.

The Residence's ensuite shower.

The A380's galley.

The A380's aisle.

• • •

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Images courtesy of Etihad Airways.
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