THE TWA HOTEL
By Ena Escallier
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel back in time? If you’re like me, you’d answer absolutely YES and are truly fascinated with everything nostalgic. A more interesting time before cell phones, “selfie’s” and social media obsession. Well the TWA Hotel is your temporary escape to 1960’s mid-century glamour.
Trans World Airlines, or TWA, was an iconic American airline founded in 1930 and was later considered one of the Big Four domestic airlines in the United States. Surely you’ve heard the famous slogan “Up up and away with TWA”.
In 1939, Howard Hughes, an investor, film tycoon and aviation lover, acquired control of the airline and led the expansion to serve Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Famed Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, whose legendary designs include the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Washington Dulles International Airport and the tulip chair, was commissioned in 1955 to design the TWA Flight Center. Saarinen’s intended vision was to express the drama and wonder of air travel.
Close to two decades later, a team of preservationists, architects and the development firm of MCR, came together to resurrect the iconic TWA hub at JFK International Airport.
Quick Hotel Stats
- TWA Hotel is located in JFK Airport at Terminal 5, Jamaica, NY 11430, www.twahotel.com
- Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 Flight Center at JFK International Airport
- 512 ultra quiet hotel rooms
- Connie, a Lockheed Constellation L-1649 airplane transformed into a cocktail lounge
- 200,000 square feet of retail outlets, restaurants and bars
- 10,000 square foot fitness center
- Classic Solari split message board with authentic original mechanical operations
- Accessible via Airtran to all JFK terminals
- 12 miles from Midtown Manhattan
- Rooftop infinity pool and 10,000 square foot observation deck and pool bar overlooking runway
- Valet parking and parking lot
I know what you’re thinking: a good nights rest at JFK airport? Yes, all of the rooms are equipped with ultra quiet, 7 layered, 4.5 inch thick glass. The rooms are transported back to the 1960’s with every midcentury furnishing you can think of, like Saarinen’s classic modern furniture by Knoll, vintage rotary phone, glamorous walnut cocktail bar, Hollywood themed bathroom and authentic replica TWA toiletries kit to name a few. Rooms start at $249 for an overnight stay, and as low as $149 for 6 hour day stays, which is great as a layover option.
The Sunken Lobby
The legendary lobby, where crowds once gathered to watch the Beatles arrive in the United States in 1965, has remained intact with Saarinen’s iconic design. Every renovated detail is quite fascinating to absorb, from the pedestal dining tables, tulip chairs, 1960’s inspired cocktail menu and dreamy overhead music. The infamous chilli pepper-red carpeting is so expansive and the penny tile flooring was preserved.
Solari di Udine Departure Display
As I observe the floor to ceiling windows, I’m mesmerized by the clicking of the oval shaped split-flap board which I’ve never seen at any airport to date. The custom-made Solari di Udine message board was originally designed by Italian architect Gino Valle. For the past 50 years, thanks to flip technology, travelers where able to view arrivals and departure details via a distinctive flipping sound. For a moment, I envisioned picking a destination, grabbing my luggage and heading out of town.
“Connie” is a vintage Lockheed Constellation that flew her first TWA flight in 1958 and had previously broken the earlier era’s transcontinental speed record on a flight from Burbank, California to New York in 1946. After a 6 month renovation, Connie was transformed into a cocktail lounge with vintage inspired seating and cocktail menu offerings. While approaching Connie, the ground strip lighting (that mimics an airplane runway) and the “Up Up and Away with TWA” on the steps, caught my attention. Once you reach the airplane entryway, you’ll be greeted by staff in 60’s themed uniforms and also advised to “watch your head” because it’s a bit narrow. Inside there is an equally clever cushioned airplane and cocktail styled seating. I gladly took the opportunity to sit inside the cockpit, which was also a first for me.
The TWA Shop
The TWA shop is filled with a variety of really fun themed tees, hats, sneakers, pins, toiletries and bags. I searched for the infamous TWA bag that I vaguely remembered my Mom carrying during childhood, but couldn’t find it. Perhaps they were sold out. The 8-piece amenity kit is super cute and of course it’s TSA compliant.
If you’re stopping over in New York City en route to Cuba, or Iceland, or any of our many destinations in Europe, staying a night at the TWA hotel would be a great option. The hotel will help you to step back in time, while still enjoying modern amenities and comforts.
Have you already stayed at the TWA Hotel? Tell us what you think, in the comments below.