- The long-awaited TWA Hotel opened Wednesday at JFK International Airport.
- Located in the iconic Trans World Airlines Flight Center terminal building, the hotel makes use of a classic building that’s been abandoned since the airline went bankrupt in 2001.
- The hotel has six restaurants, a cocktail lounge in a classic Lockheed Constellation airplane, shopping boutiques, and an infinity pool overlooking JFK’s runways.
- Business Insider had an opportunity to tour the hotel during the opening day ceremonies, and it’s a dream for any travel geek, aviation nerd, or history buff.
After years of back-and-forth, planning, and negotiations, the long-awaited TWA Hotel finally opened Wednesday at JFK International Airport in New York City.
The project transformed Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA Flight Center — the main trans-Atlantic hub for Trans World Airlines up until it went out of business in 2001. The original building, which sits adjacent to the newer construction that makes up JFK’s Terminal 5, is a New York City landmark and a living artifact from the so-called “Golden Age” of air travel.
While the hotel is officially open for business, and most of its 512 rooms and suites are ready for guests, the developers are still finishing up work in the public areas, installing items in kitchens and dining rooms, finalizing the pool, and installing furniture.
Even so, the hotel is already an impressive sight. With retro styling, themed restaurants, and a pool that promises to make kids and adult aviation fans geek out, it’s worth a visit the next time you find yourself flying into or out of JFK.
A ribbon cutting was held in advance of the hotel’s first-ever 3 p.m. check-in time, and various media outlets, former TWA employees, and aviation history buffs had a chance to walk through the property. Although it’s obvious that work is still being finished, read on for a first look at one of the world’s most stylish airport hotels.
While the hotel isn’t part of any major chain — and isn’t bookable through online portals just yet — you can still earn rewards points on a stay by using a credit card that earns bonus points on travel purchases. Be sure to check out our guide to the best travel credit card rewards here.
Wednesday was opening day for the TWA Hotel.
The TWA Hotel was built in the classic TWA Flight Center, which is next to JFK’s newer Terminal 5.
The original Flight Center makes up the hotel’s massive lobby, restaurants, and lounges, with guest rooms off in other connected buildings
A prolific feature of the lobby is a vintage-style split-flap sign board — also known as a Solari board, after the company that makes them. While it doesn’t show live flight times, it’s still fun to watch and helps set the atmosphere.
Over in the “arrivals” area…
You’ll find the front desk. There are self-serve kiosks, although the desks will be staffed with attendants as well. These are the original kiosks from when passengers would check in to TWA flights — obviously, the self-service computerized parts on top are new.
There are stacks of blank key cards on top of each kiosk, waiting to be programmed for your room.
There’s a conveyor belt for luggage running behind the check-in kiosks. During the TWA days, this took checked bags to the planes. Today, it leads to a luggage storage room for people who are checking in before their rooms are ready.
There are a few boutique retail outlets in the hotel. This stylized newsstand is more for overnight essentials, but there’s also a shop around the corner selling TWA merchandise (I wasn’t able to access it when I was there)…
A Shinola shop…
…And a Warby Parker boutique.
Towards the back of the building, the “Sunken Lounge” offers a comfortable and spacious place to have a seat, and maybe a cup of coffee or a drink.
The Paris Cafe, run by restauranteur Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is the hotel’s flagship restaurant. It’s scheduled to open Wednesday night.
There are some smaller eateries and cafes, too, including the London Club and the Lisbon Lounge …
… with a ton of comfortable seating.
Then, there’s the main attraction: The Connie, a 1958 Lockheed Constellation L-1649A that’s been converted into a cocktail bar.
You enter the Connie, a restored TWA aircraft in the airline’s original livery, just like you would have if you were taking a flight.
At the very back of the plane, there’s a full-service bar.
There are a few different seating options, including restored aircraft seats, and regular tables. According to a representative for Gerber Group, which operates the lounge, some of the furniture still needs to be installed …
… But the airplane seats are a permanent fixture. For anyone wondering why you’d want to sit on a plane when you’re not actually flying, keep in mind that these aren’t the slimline plane seats we’ve grown used to. These are comfortable and padded, and a fun throwback to what flying used to be like.
You can also take a seat in the cockpit, which has been left more-or-less as-is.
There’s a live radio feed from one of JFK’s air traffic control frequencies, and anyone — kids or adults — can sit in the original pilots’ seats.
There’s TWA memorabilia all over the hotel …
… including classic uniforms …
… and reproductions of vintage posters.
There’s also 50,000 square feet of event space, including social areas outside of the conference rooms (which were mostly still being painted and furnished).
Sadly, I wasn’t able to get access to one of the hotel’s coolest novelties, a roof deck and infinity pool overlooking the tarmac.
The hotel has 512 rooms and suites. I toured a standard king room, the base-level accommodation, which looked bright, airy, and comfortable.
While there’s definitely still work to be done …
The TWA Hotel is a creative, fun use of a classic building, and looks like it will be a fantastic place to stay — allowing for any initial bumps as it begins its first operations.
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