Everyone loves a good comeback story.
In 1962, Finnish industrial designer Eero Saarinen designed what was, at the time, a neo-futuristic TWA Flight Centre at JFK Airport in New York City. Fast forward a few decades, the airport’s needs grew and grew, and eventually, Saarinen’s building was closed to switch operations to a larger terminal. It sat unused, and forgotten—or so we thought.
This May, the defunct terminal has been reopened, and reimagined, as the TWA Hotel. Taking cues from Saarinen’s design, this new hotel is a mid-century modern lover’s ultimate dream come true.
Each room (of which there are 512) features mid-century modern furnishings straight out of the set of Mad Men. There are Saarinen chairs and side tables, authentic Knoll furnishings (also designed by Saarinen), a vintage rotary phone (that makes free international calls), walnut for days, a full martini bar and Hollywood-style bathroom, all set against the backdrop of big windows of airplanes touching down or taking to the skies.
Even the amenities are cool. Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, shave cream, after shave are all exact replicas of the vintage TWA toiletries kit.
The Sunken Lounge
The Sunken Lounge is a cocktail bar set in Saarinen’s revamped airport seating area. Historically, it gets even cooler, as this was the same place crowds gathered to welcome the Beatles in 1965. Everything is red carpet and it’s peppered with Saarinen tulip tables—you’re going to love it.
The Connie Airplane Bar
A 60-year-old airplane, the Connie L-1649A, has been turned into (hyperbole 100% appropriate) the coolest, retro airport bar on the planet. The hotel design team found and purchased this rare plane, restored it beyond its former glory, and now it sits just outside the hotel as a plane you can board that’s also a cocktail bar.
A Jean-Georges Restaurant
They call this space “Jean-Georges meets the Jet Age.” The JG superpower of restaurateurs sets up shop at JFK with a cool medium-price point Paris Cafe-style restaurant. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and cocktails—all with that sweet air traffic view.
Pool Bar Overlooking the Tarmac
It’s not open yet, but there will be a rooftop infinity pool with a big deck that has a view of the whole airport! What?! And it’s going to be open 365 days a year, as it turns into a jacuzzi in the fall.
The World’s Biggest Gym
A 10,000-square-foot fitness centre is exactly what you should expect from a former airport.
There’s Even a Museum
Look out for museum exhibitions on vintage TWA, the mid-century modern design movement and more.
Kim-Marie Evans from Luxury Travel Mom’s Tips, advice and reviews about staying at the TWA Hotel at JFK:
- Book a runway view room, the thrill of watching planes land in the dark at the foot of your bed is worth the $280.
- They say they don’t have bell service – but they were super helpful! Store your bags just so you can get the old fashioned TWA paper luggage tag. I had it on my hat box flying back and so many people stopped me just because of the little tag.
- The hotel is a mix of a Jean-George’s restaurant that serves $28 Fish and Chips, but when you check in you make your own key card, so you check yourself out as well.
- If you’re not flying JetBlue, give yourself time to commute to your terminal. We flew out of Terminal 4, I gave us 30 minutes, it wasn’t enough and we missed our flight. We were on track to be checked in an hour before the flight and missed it by 5 minutes and they wouldn’t check our bags. Learn from our mistakes.
- The rooms looks small and utilitarian, but the beds are really comfortable. They have plush robes, and there is more than enough space for an overnight stay. It was more comfortable than I thought it would be!
- If you are stranded at the airport for a day or have a long layover they offer day stays starting at $149.
- Take your kids, give them a dime and see if they can figure out how to make a call on the rotary pay phone…it’s the most fun you can have for ten cents 😉