Is there a list of AvGeek wonders of the world? Probably not, but if there was, the new TWA Hotel at New York’s JFK International Airport was trying from the outset to make it onto the list. Initially I was worried that the project — build around the historic TWA Terminal at JFK — might be a victim of stratospheric expectations. But from the moment I walked into the historic gem of a building it was clear that the attraction was everything we all wanted it to be, and more.

Just like the beautifully restored Lockheed Constellation sitting on the premises, the TWA Hotel fires on all cylinders. It’s as much a museum as a hotel, with tons of exhibits about the jet age’s golden years. The staff is having a total blast, with 60’s-style uniforms to match. There’s even an infinity pool on the roof with an incredible view of the ramp and runways. I mean seriously, how can you beat all that??

If by this point you’re not itching to click the “Read More” button — and see all the photos and videos we took during our visit — we’re questioning your AvGeek credentials. Enjoy!

The TWA Flight Center — An Aviation Icon

Airport hotels are a dime a dozen. What makes the TWA Hotel stand apart? The wow factor all begins with a world-renowned architectural aviation landmark. Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal, opened in the early 1960s and preserved for years after the airline collapsed, has a soaring graceful design that fits in perfectly at an airport.

The approach to the TWA Hotel at JFK

A quick lay of the land: the hotel is located at the airport’s core, right by Jetblue’s Terminal 5. Only the head house of the old TWA terminal remains, and if you’re arriving by car you can pull right up to it. The hotel rooms are in two newly constructed towers — the Hughes Wing and the Saarinen Wing — on either side of the head house. A walkway connects the hotel and T5, and from there you can walk to the AirTrain to connect to other terminals.

Image: TWA Hotel

You check in to your room at the terminal’s old check-in counters (duh). There’s staff on hand, but there are also plenty of self check-in counters if you’re in a hurry.

A Monument to the Jet Age

TWA memorabilia and museum-style exhibits fill almost every bit of free space in the main hotel building.

For the dedicated aviation history enthusiasts out there, the exhibits could keep you busy for the better part of an afternoon.

Incredibly, the hotel’s collection has well over two thousand items.

BONUS: A Night in the TWA Room at the 816 Hotel

As someone who wasn’t around during TWA’s heyday, the huge collection of vintage destination posters was a fascinating reminder of how many cities the airline connected.

The decor wasn’t the only thing repping TWA’s history. The entire hotel staff was decked out in period costumes. And they were having a blast with it.

Connie and Cocktails

One aviation icon deserves another. And just outside Eero Saarinen’s terminal building you’ll find a beautifully restored Lockheed L-1649A that the TWA Hotel moved heaven and earth to acquire.

Here’s the full backstory of Connie’s renewal and journey to New York, including how she turned heads while rolling through Times Square.

And get this: the hotel turned the plane into a cocktail lounge.

What an amazing way to make Connie a living breathing experience instead of just a museum relic.

The menu was well thought out. Objectively the prices weren’t cheap, but considering we were on airport property — not to mention on a decades-old restored plane — they seemed reasonable.

BONUS: LAX’s H Hotel is a Spotter’s Paradise

They even had old-school TWA aircraft seats, perfect for an AvGeek date night.

And don’t worry, they kept the cockpit as-is.

You can’t step inside it, but you can poke your head in through the door from the cabin.

A Rooftop Pool With Runway Views

Somehow, Connie was only the second-best spot at the hotel. The gold medal goes to the restaurant and infinity pool on top of one of the hotel towers.

It offers a breathtaking view of the ramp and runways.

The hotel was near-capacity thanks to the TWA flight attendant reunion going on during the weekend of my visit, so the rooftop was more packed than usual. During the summer I’d imaging crowding could become a problem. But even if there’s a bit of a wait, the result is worth it.

The pool has a front-and-center view of JFK’s Terminal 4, which serves a variety of international carriers.

Wine and Dine

While I didn’t get a chance to try the food myself, I noticed a host of intriguing dining options from full-service restaurants to a cafe and Halal Guys counter on the ground floor.

Mini Details, Mega Experience

The attention to detail on display at the TWA Hotel is impressive. The small touches — like the restored transit lounge seating and the Solari split-flap Arrivals/Departures display — make it feel like you’re back in the 1970s.

BONUS: New American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK

Making your plans at the TWA Hotel

Okay we’ve established that this is an amazing place to visit. So when and how should you make your visit happen?

The most obvious time to swing by would be on the first or last day of a trip to New York, especially if you’re flying via JFK. It could potentially be worth a standalone trip for real die-hard aviation history nuts, TWA fans, or people who live a short/cheap flight from JFK.

As a transit hotel if you’re just passing through JFK, the hotel is by far the most convenient one in terms of proximity to the terminals. Price-wise the most basic rooms are around $196/night including taxes and fees. Not all the rooms face the runways. But aware of its audience, the hotel website lets you book a room with a guaranteed runway view, though the price goes up to around $265 for that. The website also lets you book short daytime stays for layovers. Twelve hours from 8am to 8pm will run you $162, and a four-hour stay from 7am to 11am is $128.

Will the TWA Hotel Survive and Thrive?

As great a time as I had at the TWA Hotel, the path ahead of it isn’t an easy one. It straddles roles as a tourist attraction targeted at a niche interest, and as a hotel in a competitive market. Will it do well enough in either domain to operate sustainably? I loved my visit so much that I want the answer to be yes. But it depends on enough people — AvGeeks and others — feeling that the experience is worth the visit.

Time will tell. But here’s hoping I run into some of you aboard Connie some time soon!

Now it’s time for us to hear from you. Would you make the trip to JFK to spend time at the TWA Hotel? Share your thoughts and reactions in the comments section below. 

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - NEW YORK, NY. Manu got his private pilot license in high school, setting the tone for his interest in all things aviation. He earned his frequent flyer credentials working as a journalist, and is now a medical resident in New York City. He enjoys writing about air travel from a millennial's perspective.

http://www.airlinereporter.com
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7 Comments

How cool is that! TWA was the first time I ever flew, that was 1965 ‘ish from the very airport the hotel is located. Ahh, I still remember where I sat and the subsequent takeoff. All that started my interest in aviation and travel in general. Fifteen years later, I’d be flying a plane myself. Now that age and health have dealt a blow to that, I quested to build an ultimate flight simulator based on the still great 738. That done I’m again “Flying the Friendly Skies” with…oh wait! That was another airline! Up! Up! and Away! TWA aaaa!
Hopefully, I’ll be reunited and visit this fabulous and beautiful piece of history. It’ll be a long haul from LSZH, but, hey, the love of flying is in my DNA! Up up and away!
Happy landings Captains!

Steven Zwerin

Great article, and absolutely, I’d love to stay there!

You must not have been to the hotel recently, or you just used stock content, because Halal Guys is gone and there are only 3 options left in the food hall, The Corner Store, Fly-by Bagles and Vinny’s Panini.

alan j schechter

Awesome article. I visited the hotel on my layover from Havana Cuba. I so will stay here and make a trip to New York that will include a stay. It is an incredible place. When I entered the TWA Hotel I was overwhelmed with emotion!!!! Why??? Because may parents have passed on and I remember as a child all those halls and tubes heading to our 747 jet to Los Angeles as my parents held my hand!! Great memories!!!!!

Leonard R. Shilton

That TWA Constellation embodies everything that was great about 1950’s and 1960’s commercial aviation. One of my favorite airliners of all time. Next is the Boeing 707, with TWA livery, of course!

The new TWA Hotel is amazing in everyway.
Truly and really grand masterpiece TWA Hotel. I was a stewardess in the early 60s for TWA and
was always so proud to be working for such a class organization. There was never a day that
I was not absolutely happy to be working for TWA as a cabin attendant. I was in the very first class
trained on the jets. First class of TWA cabin attendants trained on the Boeing 707. The hotel
brings back so many great memories. Thank you for its creation. Would love to stay there one day.
Pamela Covilli Heinbecker
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Hello, lovely article. I just read your post. This is very interesting blog which you have shared with us. Amazing pictures in your article. Thanks for posting with us.

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