On one of my latest trips, I had the opportunity for a layover in New York City. Since I would be flying out in two days, I opted to decline a drive into Manhattan and stay instead at The T.W.A. Hotel in J.F.K. Airport. It’s the only on-airport hotel, and it’s a “trip!” The hotel is housed in what used to be the T.W.A. (Trans World Airlines) flight center which was designed in 1962 by noted architect Eero Saarinen. It’s as if the building has been preserved in a time capsule, which in essence, it actually has been. Saarinen’s office is there, complete with his plans, desk, files, etc… And the best part, it’s not behind glass or a rope. It’s out in the open for visitors to walk into and hang out in as if you were his close personal friend.
Added touches include a “sample” living room that represents a typical family home in 1962. Again, this is open and free as a “hang out” zone. It comes complete with board games, record albums, glassware, and other fantastic decor. I found my lookalike in the Doris Day album on the coffee table.
The T.W.A. Hotel services 512 guest rooms total in two separate wings. The upper floor features a rooftop pool with views of the runways (it’s not loud) and a bar/restaurant. The pool is heated year-round at 100 degrees and is referred to as a “Pool-Cuzzi.” It’s open 365 days a year.
The interior of the hotel has multiple floors with attractions of note. The hotel displays many vehicles from the iconic ’60s, including baggage trucks, personal cars, and chauffeur-driven golf carts to pick up V.I.P. guests. I enjoyed the fashion display of T.W.A. flight attendant uniforms from all eras of the airline. Scott liked the cars.
Another display has large pods for reading or relaxing in. They also have activity areas for “children of all ages,” such as the “Twister Room,” an outdoor Roller Rink, an outdoor Ice Rink, and a Photo Booth.
There is no lack of food and beverages to be had at the T.W.A. Hotel. Jean George has a high-end restaurant there called the Paris Cafe. The Sunken Lounge is a bar in a “luxurious gate environment,” remember those? The rooftop pool spot is called, of course, the Runway Chalet. There is a cocktail lounge INSIDE a 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane called the Connie Cocktail Lounge. (This model plane has a fascinating past! Commissioned in 1939 by T.W.A.’s eccentric owner, Howard Hughes, the Lockheed Constellation “Connie” broke the era’s transcontinental speed record on a flight from Burbank, California, to New York in 1946. The plane also served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.) For casual fare, there is a food hall (at the old check-in counters) and a gourmet coffee bar.
To my surprise, the 10,000 square foot gym is the biggest hotel gym in the world! There are numerous shops and kiosks inside the hotel, including a T.W.A. shop with trademark items and retro goodies. For any baby boomers, this hotel is a bucket-list item.
My room was small but clean and cozy. Rooms run for $160 a night. If you fly Jet Blue, you can walk to the hotel from the baggage claim. If you fly other carriers, you can take the J.F.K. tram right to the hotel entrance. It’s an excellent way to break up a trip to Europe or the Caribbean. Add it to your ‘to-do” list, and you won’t be disappointed.