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Hotel Check: TWA Hotel JFK Airport – New York, NY

The only hotel directly at New York JFK Airport honors the history of its namesake airline with a refreshingly modern twist

WHERE IS IT? Located at Terminal 5, now home to JetBlue and Aer Lingus among others, but once the JFK hub for Trans World Airlines, this hotel is connected to the airport. It is within walking distance from the terminal and the Air Train, which takes guests conveniently to all other JFK terminals.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? This is an aviation geek’s dream. Its centerpiece is the Eero Saarinen 1962-designed TWA Flight Center, which is now the youngest nationally protected historic landmark. Guests enter the bright and airy terminal to discover the original design protected and restored with great glamor. Curvaceous ceilings, tiled floors, immense windows and the Solari split-flap flight boards displaying imaginary flights to worldwide destinations. To the right of the entrance is a 24-hour food hall with the reception desks located to the left. Behind reception is a luggage conveyor belt making the experience reminiscent of checking in for a flight.

The Sunken Lounge at the TWA Hotel boasts a split flap departures board by Solari di Udine — and a view of the hotel’s restored 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie.” (Image: TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)

Further inside, there is plenty to explore before heading to your room including a lounge area that was once the Ambassador Club (TWA’s premium lounge) and museum exhibits displaying TWA’s designer uniforms through the decades. The lobby also has an airline memorabilia gift shop, photo booth, sunken bar and a room where you can play a life-size game of Twister. Tucked into other corners of the hotel are small museum-quality displays including the original architectural drawings for the terminal and an original office desk that belonged to Howard Hughes (one of TWA’s many leaders).

Rare vintage TWA air hostess uniforms are part of museum exhibitions curated by the New-York Historical Society at the TWA Hotel. (Image: TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)

ROOM FACILITIES The guestrooms are divided into two wings that branch off the main building. Two iconic, red-carpeted tunnels take guests to the retro-designed rooms. Like the public areas, vintage TWA destination photos line the walls. Enormous king or queen beds are the centerpiece of the room, and an important feature for an airport hotel. Cozy duvets and bedside power and USB outlets are a highlight. Refrigerators, wide work desks with more power outlets, and open-plan closets are in all rooms.

Some of the larger rooms and suites have sitting areas with coffee tables, and all enjoy beautiful views. Options include airport-facing rooms or those looking over the main TWA Flight Center through floor-to-ceiling windows with electronic blackout shades. The classic 1958 Lockheed Constellation aircraft (now a cocktail lounge) on the hotel’s patio is also visible from the rooms. Bathrooms have vintage-style lights, glass shower stalls with C. O. Bigelow toiletries from eco-friendly pump bottles. Frette towels are a lovely addition. Pets are welcome at the hotel for a fee.

Visitors to The Sunken Lounge and the Paris Café by Jean-Georges can watch planes take off as they sip cocktails. (Image: TWA Hotel/David Mitchell)

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Dining here is impressive for an airport hotel and worth the walk for those with plenty of pre-flight time to enjoy. The 24-hour food hall has everything from warm paninis and salads to grab-and-go to hot dogs and ice cream. On the mezzanine is Paris Café by Jean-Georges Vongerichten where his signature recipes are on offer. The food is varied including everything from crispy sushi to delectable cheeseburger and fish tacos. The poolside café serves cheesy flatbreads and nachos while the coffee shop across from reception prepared piping hot Intelligentsia Coffee. There’s an iconic cocktail lounge inside the fully-restored vintage ‘Connie’ on the terrace, as well as another lobby bar in the sunken lounge.

LEISURE FACILITIES A 24-hour fitness center, which is open to outside guests for a fee, is said to be one of the largest hotel gyms in the world with more Peloton machines than any other facility. Shower and locker facilities are available making it great for those with a long connection at JFK who want a quick workout. On the rooftop an infinity-edge pool overlooks the airport and runways. This is a highlight of the hotel and exceptionally popular. Towels, lounge chairs and a bar menu are available to make relaxing easy while plane spotting. During the winter months, the patio has an ice-skating rink, which in warmer weather converts to a roller skate park.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Free wireless Internet is easy to connect to, and the bottom-floor meeting venues have ample space for groups large and small.

VERDICT JFK’s only on-airport hotel honors one of America’s cherished past airlines with great attention to vintage detail.

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS The only hotel directly at New York JFK Airport with incredible aviation memorabilia and history honoring its namesake airline

HOW MANY ROOMS? 512 rooms and suites

CONTACT John F. Kennedy International Airport, JFK Access Road, One Idlewild Drive, 11430, Phone 212-806-9000,