Dulles Airport SleepBox Closure: 6 Alternatives to Sleep

The sleep situation for layover passengers at Washington’s Dulles Airport (IAD) isn’t so promising. SleepBox’s sleep pods, which once provided a convenient resting option, are now closed. You’re in the right page though.

This Dulles Airport Sleeping Guide has details on all sleeping spots that other fliers have recommended in their reviews and have included some details on nearby hotels to consider as well.

This airport scores below average in sleep quality with a score of 45.5/100. More details below.

Can you Sleep at Dulles Airport?

Yes, you can sleep at Dulles Airport, and can choose between free in-terminal options and paid options. For free in-terminal sleeping, fliers recommend armrest-free benches in Concourses C and D for makeshift beds, specifically near gates C20 and D1, as the best spots for resting.

For paid sleep options, the in-terminal options are limited. The Polaris Lounge offers comfortable seating that can be used for sleeping but is exclusive to First or Business Class travelers and closes at 10 PM. The SleepBox, an innovative sleep solution previously available, has been permanently closed.

If you want more comfort and willing to pay, nearby airport hotels like the Hampton Inn Dulles-Cascades and the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott provide convenient lodging options.

Those are your main options. There are no other innovative sleep tech facilities available at this airport when I last checked in April 2024.

Check out Ronald Reagan’s DCA Guide on Sleep

Does Dulles Airport have sleeping pods?

Unfortunately, the sleep pods previously available at Dulles Airport are no longer in service. The SleepBox rooms, provided by a company called SleepBox, were permanently closed in January 2020 for undisclosed reasons, likely unrelated to the spread of COVID-19.

These sleep boxes, occupying a 1,200-square-foot area in Concourse A, provided travelers with a private and comfortable place to rest during layovers or delays. Unlike other compact sleep pods, the SleepBox design included a bed measuring about 6 by 3 feet, offering a more spacious sleeping arrangement.

There haven’t been any other innovative sleep technology that has taken the place of SleepBox. A check on Minute Suites website reveals that it currently doesn’t operate in at Dulles Airport and there are no info on its blog or on IAD Airport’s strategic plans to introduce innovative sleep amenities. Check out benefits of sleep pods here.

How About Polaris Lounge Day Rooms?

Although Dulles Airport does not currently offer sleep pods, day-use sleeping rooms are available in United Airlines’ Polaris Lounge, introduced in October 2021 near Gate C18.

These cubicle-style rooms provide privacy and comfort, with amenities such as a mini-table and charging outlets. However, it’s important to note that these pods are not available after 10 PM and are not intended for overnight sleep.

In all airports with Polaris Lounge resting rooms such as Chicaog’s O’Hare, Las Vegas, SFO, Newark Airport and Houston Intercontinental, none of them have overnight sleep options.

To avoid confusing innovative compact sleep pod innovations that feature basic sleep amenities and allow overnight sleep, we do not regard Polaris Lounge day rooms as sleep pods but as day rooms or quiet suites. Despite being as compact and featuring a flat bed surface, they lack blankets although some feature pillows.

Below is an image of the Polaris Lounge resting cubicle at ORD:

Dulles Airport Sleeping Pods at Polaris Lounge
Dulles Airport Sleeping Pods at Polaris Lounge

SleepBox Sleep Pods at Dulles Airport:

In December 2018, SleepBox, the company responsible for these cozy sleep rooms, unveiled a micro-hotel at Terminal A in Washington Dulles International Airport. Complete with soundproof rooms, memory foam beds, power outlets, and wireless entertainment, this oasis allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the airport and enjoy a moment of tranquility.

In September 2019, thepointsguy.com did a detailed review of this SleepBox giving a first-hand feel of how it is to book, check-in and actually sleep in this airport compact suite. In January 2020, eactly 14 months after it formally opened its doors in 2018, the Dulles Sleep Lounge and Sleep Suites were closed. It appears that the closure wasn’t related to the spread of COVID-19 as the COVID began to spread in the US later in the Summer of 2020.

I tried accessing SleepBox’s app on Appstore and on Google Playstore and it appears that it has been removed. Its website also appears to be hosting only one page with a ‘coming soon’ write-up and a number of images.

Sleepbox website coming soon snapshot

Features of Dulles Airport SleepBox

Sleepbox at Dulles Airport introduces a novel concept for travelers seeking rest between flights, offering 16 pods that can be rented in 30-minute increments. Located in Concourse A, these pods are easily accessible and designed to enhance the airport resting experience with their convenience and array of features.

Key Features of Sleepbox:

  • Two Room Sizes: Sleepbox provides two pod sizes. The compact pod is essentially a bed with a small standing area, optimized for travelers with minimal luggage. The standard pod offers more space, including luggage storage, a couple of drawers, and a mirror, catering to those with slightly more belongings.
  • Comfortable Bedding: Inside each Sleepbox, travelers find a comfortable bed equipped with two pillows and a blanket, ensuring restfulness even in a compact space.
  • Environmental Control: Occupants can adjust the lighting, including mood lighting options, and room temperature through the Sleepbox app, allowing for a personalized rest environment.
  • Charging Stations: A nightstand with ample space includes a double outlet and two USB ports, addressing the needs of modern travelers to keep their devices charged.
  • Privacy Features: Sleepbox offers privacy controls, including the option to frost the glass window of the pod via the app, ensuring a private and secure resting space. While not soundproof, the pods are located in a quiet area, with select pods positioned for optimal tranquility.
  • Functional Space: Although the standard pod includes a fold-down panel that acts as a desk, it’s more suited for brief use due to its distance from the bed, emphasizing the pods’ focus on rest over work.
  • App Integration: The Sleepbox app facilitates easy booking, payment, and control over pod features. It requires users to upload identification and flight details for security purposes, aligning with airport safety protocols.

Compact Room Features:

  • Bed Size and Room Length: Both room sizes share identical bed dimensions and room length, ensuring a comfortable resting space.
  • Efficient Use of Space: The compact room maximizes its small footprint by focusing on the essentials—a bed with enough room to stand beside it, optimizing space without sacrificing comfort.
  • Minimalist Design: Designed for simplicity and efficiency, the compact option is ideal for travelers with minimal luggage who prioritize a straightforward, cozy place to rest.

Standard Room Features:

  • Additional Space: The standard room offers more space, making it easier to accommodate luggage and providing guests with a less constrained environment.
  • Storage Solutions: Equipped with a couple of drawers, the standard room allows for better organization of personal items during the stay.
  • Mirror: A built-in mirror enhances the functionality of the room, adding convenience for guests as they prepare for their day or continue their journey.
  • Optimized for Moderate Luggage: While not offering extensive additional amenities like a true desk, the standard room’s extra space is valuable for travelers with more than minimal luggage, offering a balance between comfort and practicality.

Cost of Dulles Airport SleepBox

Compact rooms were priced at $30 to $31.25 per hour, while standard and handicapped-accessible rooms range from $42 to $43.75 per hour.

Non-American Express Priority Pass members could enjoy one free hour and a 20% discount on longer stays, along with a 20% discount on their first visit. In contrast, Minute Suites cost slightly more than SleepBox at $55 per hour, with an additional 30 minutes priced at $27.5 and Priority Pass members also enjoy complimentary first hour and a discount for each additional period.

Snapshot showing SleepBox Prices at Washington Dulles Airport.jpg
Snapshot showing SleepBox Prices at Washington Dulles Airport. Credit:thepointsguy.com

Alternatives to Dulles Airport Sleep Pods: Where to Sleep:

Sleep In Terminal Waiting Areas for Free

Based on the reviews, the best places to sleep at Dulles Airport include:

  • Near Gate C20: This area has been mentioned for having sleeping cots set up by airport staff, making it a designated spot for rest. However, be aware that it is brightly lit and can be cold, so bringing an eye mask and extra layer for warmth is advisable.
  • Near Gate D1: Suggested by a flight attendant as a quieter alternative to C20, this area offers benches without armrests and was recommended for those seeking a more restful spot. It’s worth noting that this spot might offer a more tranquil environment away from the customer service desk noises mentioned near C20.

These spots are highlighted for their armrest-free benches and the provision of cots, indicating a certain level of comfort and accommodation by the airport for overnight guests. However, travelers have also noted the importance of being prepared for bright lights and potential cold, suggesting the usefulness of bringing along eye masks and extra layers for comfort.

Other Dulles airport locations to consider to catch some ZZZs

Other notable locations for sleeping at Dulles Airport, as suggested by fliers, include:

  • Behind the “rainbow glass wall” art sculpture near Gate C28: This secluded area is highlighted for its quietness and reduced foot traffic, offering a more private space away from the main concourse areas. The motion-sensor lighting in this section dims during the night, providing a darker environment conducive to sleep.
  • Terminals C and D: Specifically, areas with armless chairs by the D gates are mentioned as good spots for lying down. The absence of armrests on benches in certain parts of these terminals allows for more comfortable resting positions.
  • Baggage Claim Areas: While not as comfortable due to chairs with armrests, the baggage claim areas are noted for being open 24 hours with nearby shops, including a Starbucks for late-night or early-morning refreshments. However, the main advantage seems to be the availability of spaces to settle down for the night, even if not the most comfortable.
  • Near the 24/7 Dunkin’ Donuts in Terminal A: Massive benches with no rails that are perfect for sleeping on were mentioned in proximity to Dunkin’ Donuts, offering a spot for those needing to stay landside and wanting access to food options throughout the night.

These additional locations offer a mix of benefits, from quieter, secluded spots to areas with amenities like nearby food options, though comfort levels may vary. The presence of armrest-free benches and designated quiet areas like behind art installations appear to be key factors in selecting a suitable sleeping spot at Dulles Airport.

The website sleepinginairports.net also notes that the most recommended sleeping areas with armrest-free benches that you can combine to make a makeshift bed are located in Concourses C and D. In Concourse C, find some benches bear C20 and in Concourse D, find some comfortable chairs near D1.

Sleep at Comfortable Hotels near Dulles Airport:

Below are some hotels close to Dulles Airport that you can book;

  • Washington Dulles Airport Marriott – Offers free shuttle service to all Dulles International Airport terminals. >>Check Rates
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Dulles Airport at Dulles 28 Centre – Free airport shuttle, and free parking.Check Rates
  • Hampton Inn Dulles-Cascades – 0.14 Miles from Dulles, free parking and free airport shuttle. Check Rates.
  • Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Sterling Dulles – 0.25 miles from Dulles, free parking, no shuttle. Check Rates

Consider Rest Lounges for Daytime Layover Sleep:

Several lounges at IDA offer the option to purchase day passes for access and can acces them to get a desk nap if you don’t mind napping in a table or in a counch.

It’s important to note that these lounges, with the exception of the Polaris Lounge, do not offer dedicated sleep facilities like beds, and are primarily equipped with lounge chairs that may not be ideal for sleeping.

Additionally, none of these lounges remain open overnight, and even the Polaris Lounge shuts its doors at 10 pm, making it impossible to stay overnight.

  • Concourse A: Air France – KLM Lounge opposite Gate A22; Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse near Gate A32; Etihad Lounge adjacent to A14 Gate
  • Concourse B: British Airways Galleries Lounge; Lufthansa Business Lounge near Gates B49-B51;Turkish Airlines Lounge next to B43 Gate
  • Concourse C and D: Polaris and United Club – Near gates C4, C7, C17 and D8

Get Lounge opening and closing hours on FlyDulles official website here.

Polaris Lounge Pods by United Airlines:

The Polaris Lounge Pods offered by United Airlines are cubicle-style seating arrangements outfitted with plush cushions. These seats can be utilized either for sitting or transformed into makeshift beds for sleeping, akin to converting a regular airport bench into a bed.

It is important to note that these sleeping facilities are not accessible to any traveler. They are only accessible to United passengers flying First or Business Class on long-haul international flights. You cannot purchase a day pass as you would with United Club’s $59 pass.

Dulles Airport Sleeping Pods at Polaris Lounge.jpg
Image showing Polaris Pods at Dulles Airport. Credit:upgradedpoints.com

Polaris Lounge at IAD is located near Gate C18 right across from United’s Gate 17 and near United Club Lounge. It is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. In other words, you CANNOT sleep in Polaris Lounge’s sleep pods overnight.

IAD Sleep Pod Amenities:

Along with the day pass access to Polaris Lounge which gives you access to the day bed, below are other amenities that the day-pass will give you:

  • A narrow bed that can fit only one person – narrower than Minute Suites’ convertible bed
  • A full buffet
  • Full-service bar
  • Pre-flight dining
  • Showers
  • Wi-Fi

Where to avoid sleeping at Dulles Airport:

Based on flier reviews, specific areas at Dulles Airport to avoid for sleeping include:

  1. Near the Airline Ticket Counters, particularly after 10 PM: The kiosks shut down, leaving no employees to assist, and seating options with armrests make it uncomfortable for resting. Additionally, the lack of available food or vending machines can be inconvenient for travelers.
  2. Seating areas inside the terminal with stiff metal arms: These are widespread but particularly problematic for those looking to lie down. Such seating is common throughout the terminal areas, making most gate proximity zones less than ideal for sleep.
  3. Landside areas, especially after security checkpoints close (around 11 PM to 4:30 AM): Without access to more comfortable airside locations, these zones can leave you stranded with limited options. Specific terminals weren’t mentioned, but general advice would apply to all main terminal areas before security.
  4. Baggage Claim areas (Landside): Noted for being exceptionally cold and furnished with very uncomfortable arm-chairs, making it a poor choice for rest. These areas are found at the arrivals level of all terminals.
  5. Areas adjacent to loud and busy operations or under bright lights: Specifically, avoid sleeping near customer service desks or operational zones that could remain noisy throughout the night. Gate C20 was mentioned for being particularly bright.

More views from fliers:

Based on several flier reviews, here are some excerpts that showcase disappointment or dissatisfaction they experienced at Dulles Airport to get you prepared for what to expect:

  1. Customs and Border Control Experience:
    • US Customs and Border Protection – who manages this institution? I think the person who destroyed his brain in an accident.. 1 h 45 min waiting on passport control.”
  2. Lack of Comfort for Rest/Sleep:
    • I arrived at the airport early and wanted to take a nap- inside the terminal were chairs with stiff metal arms between-not comfortable and really no way to lay down.”
  3. Service Shutdown After Hours:
    • Kiosks shut down after 2200 (10pm), no employees to help… Only facility staff around. Benches all have arms so no way to rest comfortably.”
  4. Baggage and Transportation Woes:
    • Both Dulles and DCA have incredibly long luggage delivery times… and THEN wait another half an hour!”
  5. Misleading Information on Overnight Stays:
    • Dulles/DIA will tell the general public if you have a ticket and an ID then you may sleep or rest overnight in the terminal – this is not true.”

Dulles Airport ZZZ/Sleep Score:(45.5/100)

Based on flier experiences, research about Dulles Airport facilities and specifically sleep quality, below is a detailed breakdown of the ZZZ or Sleep score for Dulles Airport.

1. Sleep Accommodations (13.5/37.5 points)

  • Innovative Sleep Technology (Pods/Suites): 0/9 Points. Despite the presence of facilities like the SleepBox in the past, currently, no operational sleep pods or suites are available for travelers seeking innovative sleep solutions.
  • In-Airport Hotel: 0/9 Points. There is no mention of an in-airport hotel providing direct access for weary travelers needing rest without leaving the airport premises.
  • Hotels with Free Shuttle Service: 5/5 Points. Proximity to hotels such as the Hampton Inn Dulles-Cascades and Washington Dulles Airport Marriott, which offer free shuttle service, provides convenient lodging options.
  • Designated Rest Zones: 3/6 Points. The provision of cots near Gate C20 hints at efforts to accommodate resting travelers, though these areas are not formally designated as rest zones.
  • At Least One Identified Sleeping Spot in Each Terminal: 3/6 Points. While certain areas have been pinpointed for being more conducive to sleep, comprehensive coverage across every terminal is lacking.
  • Access to Day-use Rooms in Airport Hotels or by Nearby Hotels: 2.5/2.5 Points. Starting from around $100, you can book Marriott or Hilton for day-use rooms from 8 AM to 6 PM

2. Seating and Space Availability (10/20 points)

  • Armrest-Free Chairs: 3/7 Points. While there are armrest-free benches near Gates C20 and D1, they are very few and most chairs have armrests.
  • Availability of Seating Spaces: 5/7 Points. There’s an acknowledgment of available seating, albeit with potential for improvement in terms of comfort and quantity.
  • 24/7 Operation: 2/6 Points. The airport’s 24/7 operation is noted, your flight must be leaving before dawn for you to be allowed to sleep in stay in the terminals. There are cases of fliers being asked to come early the next morning instead of being allowed to check-in and stay in the airside if their flights were far out, say 8 AM the next day.

3. Ambient Environment (7/15 points)

  • Lighting: 4/8 Points. The airport’s lighting situation received mixed reviews, with some areas being too brightly lit for comfortable rest.
  • Sound Level at Night: 3/7 Points. Noise levels vary, and while quieter spots exist, the overall environment could be more conducive to sleep.

4. Amenities (15/25 points)

  • Cleanliness: 3/3 Points. Cleanliness within the airport, particularly in potential rest areas, appears to meet travelers’ expectations.
  • Security: 3/3 Points. The perceived security within the airport suggests a safe environment for resting passengers.
  • Wi-Fi and Charging Stations: 3/3 Points. The availability of free Wi-Fi and inferred access to charging stations meet modern travelers’ connectivity needs.
  • Food and Beverage: 2/3 Points. Limited 24/7 food and beverage options are available, indicating room for improvement in catering to overnight travelers.
  • Shower Amenities: 1/3 Points. Access to shower facilities within the Polaris and Lufthansa Business Lounges provides some level of amenity but is restricted by lounge access policies. Low 1/3 score for access limitation to these lounges.
  • Pay-Per-Use Lounge: 1.5/2.5 Points. The availability of day passes for lounges like the United Club ($59) and Air France-KLM Lounge($50) offers additional comfort options for travelers. Lost points for limited number.
  • Luggage Storage: 0/2.5 Points. The absence of luggage storage facilities at Dulles limits travelers’ options for securing their belongings while resting.
  • Access to Smoking Areas: 1.5/2.5 Points (While all smoking lounges at Dulles were closed recently, there are still designated smoking areas outside terminals)

Total Points: 45.5/100

Here’s a simplified breakdown of the points awarded to Dulles Airport in each category, along with the total points:

  • Sleep Accommodations: 13.5/35
  • Seating and Space Availability: 10/20
  • Ambient Environment: 7/15
  • Amenities: 15/25
  • Total ZZZ/Sleep Score for Dulles Airport: 45.5/100

Closing remark

Dulles Airport has commendable strengths, such as high cleanliness and security standards, alongside excellent connectivity to nearby hotels, which are essential for travelers.

However, the airport significantly lacks in providing sufficient sleep accommodations and a conducive ambient environment for rest. The scarcity of innovative sleep solutions, such as pods or in-airport hotels, alongside limited comfortable seating and restrictive overnight stay policies, highlights areas ripe for development.

Improvements in these areas could vastly enhance the traveler experience, particularly for those facing long layovers or delays.

Increasing the availability and variety of comfortable rest spaces, alongside easing restrictions on overnight stays, would make Dulles a more welcoming airport for weary travelers. Addressing these weaknesses while building on existing strengths could transform Dulles into a much more sleep-friendly airport.

Comparison Table of Hotels Close to Dulles Airport as Nap Pod Alternatives:

Hotel NameAddressDistance from Dulles Intl AirportPrice Quoted for May 2024(subject to change)
Candlewood Suites Washington-Dulles Herndon13845 Sunrise Valley Drive, Herndon, VA 201711.7 miles$128
Hampton Inn & Suites Washington-Dulles International Airport22700 Holiday Park Dr, Sterling, VA 20166-94972.7 miles$119
Hilton Washington Dulles Airport13869 Park Center Road, Herndon, VA 20171-32182.1 miles$239
Best Western Dulles Airport Inn45440 Holiday Dr, Sterling, VA 201662.7 miles$97
Hyatt Place Herndon / Dulles Airport – East13711 Sayward Dr, Herndon, VA 20171-63051.9 miles$148
Sonesta ES Suites Dulles Airport13700 Coppermine Rd., Herndon, VA 201711.9 miles$180
Comfort Inn & Suites Airport Dulles-Gateway45515 Dulles Plaza, Sterling, VA 20166-43242.2 miles$112
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Washington Dulles International Airport, VA45620 Falke Plaza, Sterling, VA 20166-94792.5 miles$109
The Westin Washington Dulles Airport2520 Wasser Ter, Herndon, VA 20171-61771.5 miles$305
Hilton Garden Inn Dulles North23000 Flagstaff Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20148-24003.3 miles$153
Washington Dulles Airport Marriott22390 Flagstaff Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20148-24023.3 miles$359
Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport, an IHG Hotel45020 Aviation Dr, Dulles, VA 201660.6 miles$314
Embassy Suites by Hilton Dulles Airport2200 Centreville Rd, Herndon, VA 20170-43052.8 miles$250
Hampton Inn Washington-Dulles Int’l Airport South13341 Woodland Park Rd, Herndon, VA 20171-30592.7 miles$136
Holiday Inn Washington-Dulles Intl Airport, an IHG Hotel4050 Westfax Dr., Chantilly, VA 201513.6 miles$136
Fairfield Inn & Suites at Dulles Airport45425 Holiday Dr, Sterling, VA 20166-94112.6 miles$143
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Dulles Airport23000 Indian Creek Dr, Sterling, VA 20166-67082.2 miles$134
Washington Dulles Marriott Suites22595 Shaw Rd, Sterling, VA 20166-43742.9 miles$314
Homewood Suites by Hilton Dulles Int’l Airport13101 Worldgate Drive, Herndon, VA 20170-43752.9 miles$186
Courtyard by Marriott Dulles Airport Herndon13460 Sunrise Valley Drive, Herndon, VA 201712.5 miles$238
Residence Inn by Marriott Dulles Airport at Dulles 28 Centre13715 Sayward Boulevard, Herndon, VA 20171-63051.9 miles$439
Aloft Dulles Airport North45250 Monterey Pl, Dulles, VA 20166-25033.9 miles$152
Hyatt House Sterling/Dulles Airport-North22390 Flagstaff Plaza, Ashburn, VA 20148-24023.3 miles$135
Extended Stay America Suites Washington DC Sterling Dulles45520 Dulles Plaza, Sterling, VA 20166-43232.3 miles$96
Extended Stay America – Washington, D.C. – Herndon – Dulles45345 Catalina Ct, Dulles, VA 201662.0 miles$105
Home2 Suites by Hilton Chantilly Dulles Airport1021 Elden St, Herndon, VA 20170-38023.4 miles$191
Residence Inn by Marriott Chantilly Dulles South43340 Defender Drive, Chantilly, VA 201523.4 miles$263
Fairfield Inn & Suites By Marriott Dulles Airport Chantilly14440 Chantilly Crossing Ln, Chantilly, VA 20151-16673.9 miles$134
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Dulles Airport3960 Corsair Ct Dulles Business Center, Chantilly, VA 20151-32474.1 miles$149
Extended Stay America – Washington, D.C. – Chantilly – Dulles South22744 Holiday Park Dr, Sterling, VA 20166-94972.7 miles$103

Related: 14 Fun Things to Do at or Near Dulles Airport

Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.