July 19, 2021
I arrived JFK last night on a late flight, and I had booked a room at the TWA Hotel in advance so that I could stay there for the night before commuting to NYC the next morning.
This report is a review of my one-night stay at the TWA Hotel located in the JFK Airport in New York.
Table of Contents
TWA Hotel is connected to Terminal Five (JetBlue Terminal) and is just a short ride on the Airtrain from other terminals. Since my United flight arrived on Terminal Seven, I took the train traveling in the clockwise direction and the hotel was just one stop away.
The walk to the hotel, however, was quite confusing. I thought the hotel was connected land side to the terminal, so I was looking for ways to get to the hotel within the terminal building. However, the signs pointed me to another direction, and I ended up having to exit the terminal and walked to the hotel on the street.
It didn’t bother me as it was a nice and warm summer evening. Had it been a rainy and freezing winter night, it would not have been nice. The management needs to install better and clearer signs to direct travelers to the hotel from within the terminal building.
The Main Lobby
The centerpiece of the hotel is the iconic TWA Flight Center which was decommissioned in 2001. The building’s architecture was so unique and majestic that it was declared a New York City Landmark in 1994 by NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Hotel rooms are located in two adjacent wings.
Food and Beverage
Just steps away from the main lobby was a food court where each storefront was designed to look like an airline check-in counter. In fact, this was exactly where TWA customers used to check in for flights.
There were only a few options late at night and the Italian place – Vinny’s – was open 24/7. It seemed to be the most popular counter and there was actually a line. I ordered a turkey panini there which turned out to be quite delicious. Note that there was no alcohol for sale at the food court. For an adult beverage, I needed to go to the bar at the Sunken Lounge, which closed quite early, at around 11pm.
The main restaurant was the French bistro themed Paris Café, which I did not get a chance to visit due to my late night arrival.
More food and beverage options were available the next morning. I grabbed an espresso at Intelligentsia Coffee and a bagel at Fly-By Bagels. Crêpes Your Way served a mix of breakfast, savory, and dessert crêpes. A soft ice cream place was also open from 8am.
TWA’s most iconic plane was probably the Lockheed Constellation. Nicknamed the “Connie”, the plane broke the era’s aviation speed record for a transcontinental flight from California to New York in 1946. The Connie also served as Air Force One for President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950’s.
The plane was fully restored and transformed into a cocktail lounge. It must be one of the most unique lounges in the World where one could be transported back in time while sipping cocktails. Unfortunately the Connie was closed during my stay (probably due to Covid), but I was still able to view the elegant plane from the lobby and took the picture posted above.
Throughout the different levels of the main lobby and the hotel, there were many exhibits and memorabilia on display, accompanied by pop music from the 60’s and 70’s. The hotel did a good job in creating a sense of nostalgia. You can’t help but reminisce the bygone era when TWA, and its rival Pan Am, were the leading airlines in the United States.
There was a photo booth where you could take pictures of yourself with selections of TWA backdrops. Unfortunately, it was not working when I was there.
Rooms were equipped with rotary phones which matched the equipment in the days of TWA. There were plenty of bright red pencils and coasters with the TWA logo to make sure your room was filled with memorabilia.
Room, Prices, Etc.
The standard room which I booked was small, but not bad by NYC’s standard. It had large floor to ceiling windows that were accompanied by electronically controlled shades operated from a remote control. It did not have a desk but had a long work bench that would suffice as a workspace or dining counter. The room had plenty of outlets for electronics charging.
On the flip side, the hotel, albeit quite new, was not well-maintained. The carpets throughout the place were stained badly and needed deep cleaning. Bathroom amenities were lacking for a room at this price range. Prices were sort of steep, even when taking the location into consideration. A small standard room including taxes and fees could cost $300 or more a night.
I think the TWA Hotel is a good choice if you are arriving on a late night flight and would rather stay at a hotel connected to the airport than going elsewhere. It also works if you are departing on an early morning flight, and you are willing to pay the premium for its proximity to the airport. Or you are there just to experience the nostalgia of the days of TWA. It worked out well for me since I arrived on a late night flight, and I have been wanting to see this hotel. However, I might be hesitant to fork out $300 a night to stay there again.
If you have a long layover at JFK, this might be the perfect place to grab a meal or a drink and experience the nostalgia without having to spend a night (and a small fortune) there!