Updated: Oct 3, 2019
If you're a fan of The Beatles, bright shift dresses, rotary phones, and old-world cocktails aboard a vintage airplane with a glamorous past, then visiting the new TWA hotel at JFK Airport in NYC should be on your bucket list.
I'm a Queens NYC native so naturally I heard the buzz about the opening of the TWA Hotel through social media and the news, and I knew I just HAD to go. And I'm glad I did.
The Trans World Airlines Flight center opened in 1962 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, and was designed by architectural icon Eero Saarinen, sadly it was not completed until after his death in 1961. TWA ceased operations in 2001, leaving the landmark building deserted for nearly twenty years, until now. In May of 2019, the TWA flight center was reborn thanks to architects at Beyer Blinder Belle and Lubrano Ciavarra. They created a captivating, charismatic hotel with nostalgic details at every turn.
The New TWA Hotel Overview:
Two new buildings were added on either side of the existing flight center, containing 512 guest rooms with runway views and soundproof windows ( I can say, I didn't hear a thing!).
The hotel is located right across the way from the Jet Blue Terminal. If you are driving in, I recommend parking in lot 5, it is a longer walk, but will save you in parking fees.
Right when I walked in I felt as though I had been transported to another era. The split-flap display was everything I could have dreamed for, and more. If you're wondering what a split-flap display is, it's the old school arrivals/departures board that makes that alluring flapping sound, the sound of possibility. Designed and manufactured in Italy by SOLARI DI UDINE SPA, all 34,000 flaps are created by hand. Below this iconic staple was the chili pepper red sunken lounge I had seen in photographs, filled with happy faces sipping craft cocktails, I couldn't wait to join the masses, but it would have to wait, I had some exploring to do. Behind the sunken lounge are floor to ceiling windows with a view of the Connie, TWA's Lockheed Constellation airplane that has been restored into a cocktail lounge. Incredibly, a wedding was taking place just as I arrived, it was spectacular to see the bride and groom take their vows alongside the epochal aircraft that has been through more lives than anyone there.
Scattered throughout the hotel are vintage touches including old cars, luggage, and magazines. It felt like I was living on set of the movie "Catch Me If You Can", especially since the movie was actually filmed in parts of the TWA Flight Center.
Check-in was a gas (had to throw that word in!). All the kiosks are original flight check-in counters now modernized with digital self check-in screens for convenience. Want to have your luggage stored? Allow the staff to place your suitcase on a conveyor belt which will transport your luggage to the lower level before being sent over to your room.
Walking through the flight tube to our room was exhilarating. Once inside the room I spotted a fridge full of Tab and Hollywood style vanity lights in the bathroom - I was overjoyed (and couldn't wait to do my makeup!). Complete with a mini bar that would make Don Draper swoon, my husband and I were both very pleased. The room was thoughtfully decorated with old world classics, but also included modern day amenities. Retro posters adorned the walls, and there were pops of chili pepper red accents throughout. I was especially charmed by the original vintage Life Magazine and Rotary phone, which actually worked! Our bed was extremely comfortable and we slept so well, it was hard to believe we were at the airport!
The Paris Cafe:
My husband and I had dinner reservations, which I highly recommend you making if you plan on dining at the Paris Cafe. Renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten oversees the Paris Cafe and Lisbon Lounge at the TWA Hotel. The views are exceptional, but more, the food and service were impeccable. We split the Salt and Pepper Calamari appetizer which was light and fresh. My entree was heavier than what I would normally go for, but I knew cocktails were coming down the pike so I wanted to make sure I had a filling meal, and boy did I! I went with the Black Truffle Pizza (which later became a midnight snack for my husband). The pizza was rich with cheese and a delicious creamy farm egg cracked on top, so decadent, and so worth it. We split a bottle of Chateau De Breze, which was an incredibly crisp and delightful sparkling Rose. My husbands entree portion was a little small, he had the Fish and Chips. I do agree, the portion could have been a tad bigger. Lucky for him, I didn't finish my meal! Overall it was a very lovely experience and our server was genuinely nice and attentive.
The Sunken Lounge:
What a fun concept! We had reservations for cocktails after dinner, but first, I had to have an outfit change of course! We had such a great time at the Sunken Lounge, when we made the reservations online we were able to add a special occasion (our 8 year anniversary), so our server surprised us with two complimentary glasses of champagne which was so thoughtful and made us feel special. If you are celebrating any occasion, make sure to add a note to your online reservation! If you want a pair of flight wings, order the Sunken Lounge Martini, it comes with it!
The Connie Cocktail Lounge:
If I wasn't done having kids, I would name my 3rd born Connie. The Connie is a beautiful 60 year old airplane that has been restored into a cocktail lounge. The staff uniforms are TO DIE FOR. Retro orange and green plaid, I felt like I was on an episode of The Brady Bunch. You can play in the cockpit, order cocktails and snacks, and mingle with people from all over the world, without ever leaving the ground. Old tunes and dim lighting really made for a vintage inspired ambiance that I have never experienced in any other lounge before. I drank Ginger Margaritas and they were exquisite! We didn't eat but they do have light snacks on the menu. The absolute best part of my Connie experience has to be the stairs leading up to the aircraft, it's a dream come true, I felt like Jacki O. I hear they make a mean Shirley Temple, I'll have to take my kids one day!
Have you ever lounged poolside while watching airplanes taxi down the runway? Me neither, that is until I experienced the rooftop pool at the TWA Hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the red and white striped towels, Ibiza-like music, and the warm infinity pool with views of jets in the distance. I wish I had gone up earlier to snag a lounge chair because the space is limited and there aren't that many chairs. There is a full bar and also a few tables and chairs which were all reserved. I'm going to give you the low-down on how to get pool access if you're not a guest, and which options are best.
Weekly day passes to the pool are $25, weekend pool day passes are $50. Lounge chairs are on a first come first served basis, you do get a towel and there are spots on the perimeter (the floor) where you can lay out. You must reserve in advance, and you can order from the bar but cannot sit at the bar/tables.
Non-hotel guests can make meal reservations for up to 6 guests. It is a $50 per person minimum food/beverage charge plus 20% gratuity. You only get two hours at your table, and you are able to swim in the pool during this time.
Since I was a hotel guest, I had access to the pool, however I didn't have a place to sit since all tables were reserved and loungers were taken. Honestly, the pool was so warm and relaxing, that I was happy just taking a nice dip before heading home, since I don't have a pool at home, I made sure to indulge and enjoy every last drop!
The TWA exceeded my expectations, and all I had to do was drive 20 minutes and 60 years into the past. Check out my must do's below, and make sure to pin it!
TWA MUST DO'S:
- If you live in NYC, or if you are visiting and have a layover, then you must spend a few hours at the TWA Hotel, It's free! It's fun for the kids too. You can't access the pool, but you can walk around, and check out the more than 2000 artifacts that were donated and curated by the New-York Historical Society.
- If you plan on dining or having cocktails in any of the restaurants or lounges, reservations are a must!
- If you're staying the night, be sure to get up early (or make your husband get up early), and secure a lounge chair poolside.
- Drink a classic cocktail off the menu, they're delish!
- Get inside the vintage cars for a photo, it's allowed.
- If you have a long layover, day hotel room passes are available, prices vary.
- We took the best photos of the Connie at about 8:00am, there was nobody around and the sun was perfect, so if you want the perfect shot, that's the sweet spot.
- Besides the Paris Cafe, food is limited. We ended up getting croissants and coffee for breakfast from Intelligentsia, It was nearly $30 (tasty though). Nearby in the Jet Blue terminal there's a Dunkin' Donuts if you want something a little less pricey. If you want a full on breakfast, you can go to the Paris Cafe but you'll need reservations, even for breakfast!
Come fly with me, and leave a comment if you enjoyed my experience at the new TWA Hotel, and be sure to share this article. You can follow me for more
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