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!
It’s been almost twenty years since TWA folded, but some of its employees still stay in touch. Every year, the Silver Wings organization of former TWA flight attendants hosts a get-together where they celebrate their shared history. The meetings usually rotate between U.S. cities, and this year there was only one logical choice: New York, thanks to the awesome new TWA Hotel that opened in May. If you’re one of the few AvGeeks out there who haven’t heard about it, the hotel is built around Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA terminal at JFK and features historical displays, a rooftop pool with tarmac views, and more.
We got to join in for the Silver Wings meetup, and it was as awesome as we were hoping it would be. The turnout was incredible, and attendees were having a blast touring their old stomping grounds and seeing the old TWA terminal brought back to life.
Read on for a recap of the weekend and an insider look at the TWA Hotel, which — spoiler alert — is everything an AvGeek would want it to be.
Lockheed Constellation Mural in the TWA Room at 816 Hotel
It’s not often that we here at AirlineReporter review hotels. In fact, a property must be exceedingly special to attract our attention. Take, for example, prime PlaneSpotting properties like the AvGeek favorite Renaissance Concourse Hotel in Atlanta, or equally impressive Fairmont Vancouver Airport. And of course, who could forget the world’s only seven-star hotel, in Dubai.
But what about a lowly three-star former Holiday Inn Express turned independent hotel in Kansas City? What could they possibly offer of interest to a fiercely loyal major brand status holder and admitted hotel snob like me? A lot, it turns out. KC’s 816 Hotel (that’s our telephone area code for those not in the know) has done a lot to distinguish itself from the pack in appealing to folks from all walks of life. The property has over one hundred rooms, with twenty themed rooms. These unique rooms range from representing our various sports teams to our local newspapers to themes far off the beaten path: KC Mob or BBQ room, anyone? And while any of these might appeal to the general population, the gems that caught my eye were those dedicated to the Roasterie DC-3 and TWA.
I was lucky to score a night in the ever popular TWA room. Here are my thoughts…
Memorabilia overload awesomeness in the main room of the TWA Museum
Kansas City is indisputably a TWA town. Most don’t know that the airline can trace its roots back to KC. Additionally, one of its two former KC-based headquarters is, in fact, now home to the one and only TWA Museum. It’s here at 10 Richards Road in Kansas City that Howard Hughes once officed, and where the airline witnessed explosive growth as passenger aviation quite literally took off.
Before we get too far, I must concede, TWA had nearly vanished from the skies by the time I was really getting excited about commercial aviation. And for that reason, unlike many of my local aviation pals, I don’t have the same fondness and sparkle in my eye when I talk about the airline. Still, I fancy myself a bit of an AvGeek historian and as such do my best to understand the excitement of others for this once-great airline.
The TWA Museum had been established a handful of years ago, but for some reason I never made the time to visit. I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Thankfully the TWA Museum carried through with the airline’s 1970s slogan: “You’re going to like us.”