It’s hard to talk about the TWA Hotel without talking about its location—not only in regards to place but also in regards to time. Stepping into this unique hotel that’s connected to JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK Airport is like stepping into the swinging ‘60s. (In case there was any confusion, the elevator that connects the hotel to the airport only has two buttons: one says “Present Day JetBlue” and the other reads “1960s TWA Hotel.”) Why, you ask? That’s because the hotel is taking its cue from the building it’s located in: Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 TWA Flight Center. Like the building itself, a stay here is one-of-a-kind.
Entering the hotel from the street feels like arriving at a bustling terminal during the bygone age of glamorous air travel. (If you’re coming from the airport, you traverse an equally memorable sloping tunnel with blazing red carpet.) Not surprisingly, check-in is located at what used to be the check-in area for flights—adding to the feeling that you’re about to take-off on a jet as opposed to landing in a comfortable bed. From there, you’ll head to one of two mid-century modern wings that flank the historic building and contain 512 guestrooms.
If you can, it’s worth booking a room with a view of JFK’s runways. It’s hard to beat the experience of laying in a bed, staring out a window and watching planes take off and land. If you want to get even closer to that aerial action, head to the hotel’s rooftop infinity pool and observation deck (reservations are required). Taking a dip in a pool with planes flying directly above you is a leisurely pursuit that’s worth having at least once—if only to bring up as a fun anecdote over future drinks.
The hotel has plenty of other memorable amenities that make a visit to the property worthwhile. A vintage Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A jet that’s been transformed into a cocktail bar is parked outside the hotel on a mini tarmac. Also on that tarmac, you’ll find a rink used for ice skating in the winter and roller-skating in the summer. Museum exhibitions on the history of TWA, the Jet Age and midcentury modern design can be found throughout the property and what’s billed as “the world’s biggest hotel gym,” a 10,000-square-foot fitness center, has a sizable amount of Pelotons available to guests. There’s also a “Twister Room” with a wall-to-wall version of the classic ‘60s game and a “Photo Room” with a free photobooth that you can take advantage of.
When it comes to dining, a Food Hall near the hotel’s entrance offers plenty of grab-and-go options including breakfast sandwiches, coffee and bagels. For more of a sit-down experience, you can make reservations at The Paris Café by Jean-Georges which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. (The Caesar Salad is excellent and the Cheddar Cheeseburger with yuzu pickles and frizzled onions is a hearty and delicious way to refuel after a long trip.)
After your meal, enjoy a cocktail in the very era-appropriate Sunken Lounge located in the middle of the hotel. The cocktail menu there is stocked with ‘60s favorites like the Vodka is My Co-Pilot (an original take on the martini) and the Jet Fuel with cucumber mint vodka, Aperol and muddled watermelon. A couple rounds of those and you’ll be ready for takeoff.