While air travel is coming back, you can visit JFK Airport and take a trip without ever having to step foot on an airplane (at least an airplane that isn’t permanently grounded). The TWA Hotel, located at Terminal 5, has amazing amenities along with restaurants and great views that will make you feel like you are taking a trip back in time. In fact, each of your five senses is included in this experience, so you’ll really feel like you’ve been somewhere else, even if the destination is sometime in the 1960s. Keep reading for more about this historic hotel, perfect for adults and kids alike.
The History of the Terminal Space
TWA (Trans World Airlines) was once a premier airline to travel. With flight attendants decked out in chic uniforms from some of the most renowned designers of the time, TWA promised travelers a luxurious travel experience.
Formally known as “The TWA Flight Center,” this architecturally appealing building was designed by world-famous architect Eero Saarinen, who is known for his classic, mid-century designs. The terminal serviced passengers from 1962 until 2001 when the airline merged with American Airlines after experiencing many financial troubles.
The flight center lay dormant as the bustling terminals around it saw more than 160,000 passengers a day. That is, until renovations were completed in 2019 and the LEED-certified TWA hotel opened its 512 rooms to the public.
As soon as you arrive, by car or even the air train, you feel like you are back in the 1960s. There are two large split-flap signs similar to what travelers would’ve seen during the terminal’s heyday. You can hear the clickety-clack of the flaps flipping over to reveal updated flight information.
The check-in area resembles a baggage drop, and there are relics of TWA at every turn. Make sure to check out the display of flight attendant uniforms through the years on the second floor above the check-in area.
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy things about the lobby is the constant music track playing hits from the 1960s. Again, the sound effects add to the authenticity and the fun of the experience.
What to Expect: Rooms
There are a few different room options from standard kings and double queens to the presidential suite, all with differing views including the tarmac, for the right price.
The walk to the rooms is through travel tubes, which honestly leave something to be desired. The hotel posted a “mea culpa” sign noting that the stained carpets are original, and they are working on updating them. But, maybe that authenticity is part of the time-traveling experience.
Once you get down the curved hallway, you get to your room, which is decked out in mid-century modern furniture. Everything is covered in TWA branding, even down to the soap they leave in the room.
The room itself may be small, but it has all the modern comforts including USB charging ports on the side tables. However, if you need to call down to the front desk, make sure you know how to use an old-school telephone. Touching the buttons is part of the sensory experience, and you’ll remember exactly where the phrase ‘hang up the phone’ comes from when using the vintage handset.
Food and Fun
The lobby itself is fully open with different dining options sprinkled around the space. There are a surprising number of restaurants to try. And since the tastes and smells are a critical, and favorite, part of any trip, we had to explore.
If you’re looking for a quick grab-and-go option, then head to the Food Hall with “fare for your entire crew.” There are a few stations to choose from whether it be ice cream, paninis, bagels, smoothies, and more.
Just above on the second floor is The Paris Café by Jean-Georges, which takes up the entire space of the terminal’s original Paris Café and Lisbon Lounge. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and the menu offers a full array of entrees and beverages. The shaved broccoli and kale salad is a must-try.
The Sunken Lounge is a unique stop to enjoy one of the bar’s travel-themed beverages, or a quick bite from the shareable eats menu. The lounge overlooks the staged tarmac which includes the outdoor roller skating rink and Connie Cocktail Lounge. The rush of the engines overhead and busyness of the airport will remind you that you are in fact, somewhere else.
Perhaps one of the most special places to visit is Connie Cocktail Lounge. This bar is located inside a 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” airplane. The bar is in the back of the plane, and the cockpit is fully restored to see what it would’ve looked like. The seating options are actually old seats to give the most realistic experience for customers. Connie’s restoration left no detail unaddressed. The plane’s livery, the design scheme of the exterior of the plane, is authentic to the TWA livery of the 1950s.
If you’re looking for something a bit more dynamic, then check out the rooftop infinity pool that overlooks an active JFK runway. To visit the pool, you need to be a guest and make a reservation, which will cost $25 – $50 for adults and $25 for kids (ages 5-12). There is also a Pool Bar to enjoy food and drinks while you soak up the views.
The Roll-A-Rama is the outdoor roller skating area located on the tarmac near the Cocktail Lounge. Since it’s outdoor, the opening is weather dependent, but the hours are Fridays from 2P M to 8PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 12PM to 9PM. Capacity may be limited, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Past winters have seen the rink turned into an ice skating rink, so stay tuned to the hotel’s social media for updates. The rink can even be rented for private events, such as birthday parties.
If you have the opportunity to stay at the TWA Hotel, either before your next vacation or even as a quick getaway, it’s a fun destination for all ages. The vintage vibes make for a memorable experience.
The hotel also offers a ‘Daytripper’ package, which allows travelers to book a room in four-hour increments. Guests then have access to all of the hotel amenities, making it a great choice for a place to spend time while waiting for a flight or just spending the day.
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