New York's TWA airport hotel a cool homage to the Golden Age of travel

New York's TWA airport hotel a cool homage to the Golden Age of travel

The world's coolest airport hotel is now open for business, but this is no ordinary slab of real estate. 

Taking the term 'airport hotel' quite literally, New York's TWA Hotel sits the 1960s-era TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport.

Eero Saarinen's eye-catchingly futuristic terminal was a cathedral to the then-new jet age, and it hasn't lost an ounce of its retro-chic mojo.

Once the NY home of Trans World Airlines (TWA), the terminal has been restored to its former glory and repurposed as a five-star luxury hotel which raises a cocktail glass to to the Golden Age of travel.

Most public spaces of the building retain their original look and feel.

However, the eyes of many travellers will be drawn to the beautifully-restored Sunken Lounge nearby: a venue carpeted in 'chili pepper red' – TWA's signature colour – pouring a variety of retro cocktails, with views to the airport outside:

That view isn't what you'd see from your typical airport window, however.

Outside, the hotel has restored and parked a 1958 Lockheed Constellation, nicknamed 'Connie': a former TWA aircraft that also served as Air Force One for US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.

This also doubles as a cocktail lounge for both hotel guests and airport visitors – accessed via the airport tarmac from the main Flight Center building – although reservations are recommended.

Sharp-eyed guests may notice that the signage throughout the property reflects styling originally used by TWA, reinvented by the hotel as a custom font dubbed 'Flight Center Gothic'.

Inside that TWA Hotel, The Paris Café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and cocktails designed by French chef Jean-Georges, with the airport as a backdrop.

That signature red carpeting takes you through to one of 512 guestrooms, equally inspired by the year 1962, but with a fresh modern look:

Inside one of the 'runway view' rooms, you'll enjoy more views of the airfield – after all, this airport hotel is right at the airport itself – and to ensure a good night's sleep, each room features a soundproof 'glass curtain wall'.

Constructed of seven consecutive glass panes at a total depth of 4.5 inches (11.5cm), the hotel claims this to be the second-thickest glass curtain wall in the world, bested only by the high-security windows of the US Embassy in London.

The room itself trades in the bold TWA reds in favour of more subdued walnut elements on the doors, feature wall and ceiling trim.

The bedside is lined in brass and accented with a quilted 'leather-look' headboard atop a crystallised glass ledge, serving as a bedside table.

Retaining that connection to TWA, you'll spot themed artwork, an appropriately-coloured statement chair with coffee mugs to match, and in a nod to the decades gone by, a 1950s-era rotary phone.

It's more than a desk accessory – retrofitted with a pulse-to-tone converter, guests can make unlimited free national and international calls during their stay:

Business travellers gracing the hotel will appreciate that their working space takes full advantage of the view (and offers desk-level power points), but after hours, are sure to be tempted by the in-room Martini bar: a staple of every room here.

As for the bathroom, a Hollywood-style vanity also comes as standard, drawing inspiration from the former Four Seasons' iconic ladies’ lounge in New York City.

As for the amenities, this replica of an authentic TWA toiletries kit is yours.

In need of some relaxation? Go for a swim in the rooftop infinity pool – once it's opened, as some construction works are still being finalised.

There's also an observation deck.

Elsewhere in the hotel, spend time exploring a collection of original TWA uniforms on display from designers such as Balmain, Valentino and Stan Herman.

Other museum exhibitions cover TWA, the Jet Age and mid-century modern design as curated by the New York Historical Society.

If duty calls, the hotel boasts a variety of event spaces.

When it's time to depart, you can walk the iconic 'flight tubes' to JFK Terminal 5 – made famous in the 2002 Leonardo DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can – as the hotel is attached directly to the airport.

Prices for an entry-level Deluxe King room start at US$271/night in late May (including all taxes and fees).

The hotel also offers a variety of 'day stay' rates for visits of 4-12 hours – tailored primarily to travellers seeking comfort during a long flight connection – commanding between US$185 and US$254 as an all-inclusive lead-in rate, depending on the timing and duration of the visit.

Bookings are now open via the TWA Hotel website.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

17 comments

  • lafleche

    lafleche

    17 May, 2019 06:11 am

    I'd booked a room here for my RTW trip later this year and was really excited to check it out. But, when I cancelled my OneWorld fare and switched from RTW to point-to-point with EK.... no more JFK transit in the itinerary! I read somewhere that the designers purchased hundreds of rotary phones online in order to outfit the rooms and public spaces authentically.
    As a consolation, 2 of my EK flights will be in the new First on the 777 which sort of makes up for not staying at TWA hotel.
    No member give thanks

  • Boof

    Boof

    17 May, 2019 06:29 am

    This is awesome. Just amazing the level of detail they have gone to.
    No member give thanks

  • gaschmon

    gaschmon

    17 May, 2019 07:46 am

    I remember passing through this terminal in 1980 with my father on a world trip. Arrived from LAX on a TWA 747 and departed days later to Paris, also on a TWA 747. I remember being in awe of the cavernous transit hall and the 'tubes' to get to the gates. Wow indeed and kudos to the designers of this re-invention. It looks spectacular!
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    17 May, 2019 08:33 am

    Oh for a return to the Golden Age of travel...
    Members who gave thanks

    firstclass, J_seeker

  • sgb

    sgb

    17 May, 2019 09:01 am

    I've never known any hotel to provide free unlimited National and International phone calls, very generous.
    No member give thanks

  • gaschmon

    gaschmon

    17 May, 2019 10:58 am

    Many upmarket hotels in Hong Kong provide this now on a mobile phone that you can use during your stay, including a data allowance for google searches and map directions.
    I stayed at The Pottinger Hotel in Central a few years back and had this available.
    No member give thanks

  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    17 May, 2019 11:39 am

    fairly standard in Singapore and seen it once in Tokyo also
    No member give thanks

  • Darren

    DGP

    17 May, 2019 10:07 am

    How amazing is that Swimming Pool - What a view!
    Member who gave thanks

    Moose64

  • RHM

    RHM

    17 May, 2019 11:56 am

    Amazing restoration. First read about it a few months ago. Had me at "in-room Martini bar" 😄 The 1950s-era level of detail is stunning. Note the classic Eero Saarinen side table which the rotary phone is sitting on.
    No member give thanks

  • Fonga

    Fonga

    17 May, 2019 02:51 pm

    This should win awards. A diamond in the middle of the JFK dross.
    No member give thanks

  • fiscal

    fiscal

    17 May, 2019 04:19 pm

    Nice now, but today I saw a review on what it was like when it opened. A right disaster. I was not completed in time for the opening, and spoiled a large number of excited guests experience. Anyway, a few weeks have past, so should be near to what was expected.

    No member give thanks

  • Mark Ferguson

    Moose64

    17 May, 2019 08:58 pm

    Nice now? It only opened yesterday...
    No member give thanks

  • No member give thanks

  • fiscal

    fiscal

    18 May, 2019 08:17 am

    Sorry, I cannot seem to post the link to the trip report I saw on airliners.net. Maybe you are not allowed to post links?
    No member give thanks

  • fiscal

    fiscal

    18 May, 2019 08:21 am

    In the comments section there is also a link to a daily mail newspaper article, that has lots of photos on the hotel.
    No member give thanks

  • Aidan

    Aidan

    19 May, 2019 10:40 am

    Will stay a night at this place next time I’m at JFK.
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    23 May, 2019 04:05 pm

    Hope guests won't be expected to drag along those awful 1960's suitcases doing their back in all for the sake of authenticity.
    No member give thanks

Guest

20 Jul, 2019 01:37 pm

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