I have to admit that I wasn’t very excited about traveling to New York City and staying out in the Queens borough for the night. The bright lights and the big city of New York were calling me, but there was something at JKF Airport that I couldn’t find anywhere else in the city. The TWA Hotel is something that everyone should see. The ’60s are alive and well!
In case you aren’t aware of the history, the hotel is actually the abandoned TWA terminal at JFK Airport, which has been turned into a hotel. The designer of the terminal was the king of cool named Eero Saarinen. I’m sure you have seen his mid-century modern furniture. The low profile design and clean architectural lines for structures and furniture were his calling cards. The hotel reminds me of The Jetsons cartoon.
Recently I flew out of JFK on an international trip to Egypt. Many international flights depart from JFK, so you should keep this in mind. When you are traveling, whether or not you spend the night, go in and have lunch, or even better a cocktail at the Connie (I’ll get to that soon) you should make it a point to visit.
We were lucky to have a room block for people that were interested in staying in the hotel. The TWA Hotel is unlike any hotel you may have experienced. The hotel is booked far in advance and it’s difficult to get a room there. Louis Vuitton presented its 2020 fashion show at the hotel. It’s definitely a trendsetting property.
The hotel has a super cool vibe, but don’t get me wrong, it has some imperfections to work out. Check-in wasn’t the warmest experience I’ve ever had, a refresher class in customer service is much needed. The reception we received mirrored the hotel, stark and a little cold.
When you walk into the hotel, you hear click, click, clicky, clicky. It’s the old fashioned ticker board of incoming flights. The board is the ’60s version of the tv monitor you see now in the terminals. It’s a really, really hip feature. One of the cocktail lounges is called The Sunken Lounge and overlooks the tarmac. It’s groovy baby!
One of the interesting features of the hotel is the large space-like tubes that are on both sides of the hotel. You have to walk through the tubes to get to your room. White walls and the cherry red carpet is the trademark of the hotel. You really expect to see Don Draper, martini in hand, at any minute!
The rooms are fairly big, which is rare for New York standards. It’s very retro with minibars, complete with crystal martini and wine glasses. That was a very nice touch. Who wants to drink out of plastic! Be sure to check out the TAB.
A lot of people these days may not have seen a rotary dial telephone. It was a blast from the past!
There is one very important detail to remember if you stay at The TWA Hotel. Most hotels that you are used to staying in are one-way glass. You can see out, but people can’t see in. The TWA Hotel has a two-way glass. Our room happened to look directly into the JetBlue Terminal. Imagine the show, that I’m confident happens every day! People not only in the terminal but also the taxi’s and cars leaving the airport are able to see in the hotel. Remember to pull your shades if you don’t want to be on display!
After settling into the room, we traveled down to get a cocktail. The upstairs lounge is called the Lisbon Lounge, and it’s a John-Georges chef property. We happened to be there when they were shooting a commercial for American Express. It was fun to watch the actors sip their martinis and try to look like normal people at a bar.
The Lisbon Lounge has floor to ceiling glass that overlooks the runway. It’s a great place to wind down and watch the planes go in and out. It’s actually very peaceful.
The restaurant in the hotel is called the Paris Cafe. It’s also a John-Georges creation. The menu’s inspiration was taken from the ’60s and it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu has casual dining options such as pizzas, hamburgers, and salads. There’s also a food hall downstairs that serves a variety of carryout and more casual dining options.
I ordered the pizza with broccoli rabe, pepperoni and lots of cheese. All I can say is that it was delicious. I’ve never heard of having broccoli rabe on pizza, but hey, it was fantastic!
I’ve been to several John-Georges restaurants. He has two restaurants in Manhattan that I’ve been to, as well as several properties in Las Vegas. John-Georges is one of the best chefs in the country, hands down. He’s known for his creative menus, his excellent food, and his attention to service and detail. The TWA restaurant needs a little TLC, quite frankly it’s not yet up to par. The service needs some work.
While we were there, there was a wedding that was taking place on the tarmac. We watched from The Sunken Lounge as the guests were escorted on the red carpet which led to the outdoor seating on the tarmac. The wedding was, of course, a ’60’s theme! The guests were all decked out in 60’s attire. The bridesmaids all had little box purses that they carried and wore Jackie O pillbox hats. It was fun to watch!
The Lockhead Constellation, affectionally known as The Connie, is a plane that is parked on the tarmac right outside the hotel. You can sit in The Sunken Lounge and see it. According to the TWA website, the plane was commissioned in 1939 by none other than Howard Hughes. The plane broke the transcontinental speed record and also served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. A storied past for sure. Guess what, it’s now a cocktail lounge!
I had to visit The Connie for a cocktail. She still looks like a traditional plane. There are airline seats and also small cocktail tables for groups. Whether you are drinking martinis or champagne, this is a very unique feature of the hotel. It would be worth it to visit there if you have some time between flights. You really have to experience it!
All in all, it was a great experience. There are definately some customer serivce issues that need to be addressed, but that’s an easy fix.
The TWA Hotel is really a showstopper! The stark white walls and the bright red carpet take you back to the heyday in the ’60s. The hotel is totally different than any hotel experience you’ve ever had. It’s groovy baby!