Walking into the new TWA Hotel lobby not only makes you feel like you’ve traveled to a different place, but like you’ve traveled back in time — 1962 to be exact!
It was a time when flying was a bit more sophisticated. A time before travelers were herded like cattle, and long before there were baggage fees that cost more than an actual flight. Travelers dressed to impress to take flight. A gentleman might wear a suit while, for a lady, a mink stole would be considered completely appropriate garb. Today, donning your finest Lululemons is getting dressed up for wheels up.
On the downside, in 1962 you were also permitted to smoke cigarettes on airplanes and it cost twice as much to fly. In today’s world of accessible travel, we take the good with the dreaded economy middle seat ( . . . that only cost $130 to get to Paris).
Complaints about the current state of travel aside, arriving at the TWA hotel — located at JFK Airport in the refurbished TWA Terminal that was designed by Eero Saarinen in 1962 — gives visitors a glimpse of what it was like to travel during those early days. The hotel lobby is decorated with vintage cars and luggage and the mod architecture reflects the luxury of travel.
Guests are invited to climb aboard Connie, located on the hotel’s tarmac, a 1958 aircraft turned cocktail lounge. Connie is one of only four aircrafts of its kind left in the world, and she’s been restored to her original condition. And while the 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane had quite the glamorous past, her future looks pretty promising as well. In her heyday, she was all about style as she was selected for TWA’s Jetstream fleet. Within each Connie was a Starlight Lounge, which offered pre-dinner cocktails. Guests enjoyed while sitting on gold leather banquettes (a far cry from today’s seat in your Group F boarding zone that you didn’t pay extra to select).
The rehabbed Connie cocktail lounge was created to model the original and she has all her authentic parts. Flooring and windows were installed, and the cockpit even has a full set of controls for revelers to admire.
The vintage-inspired cocktails just add to the experience. Try the Idlewild hot toddy, a negroni, or old-fashioned. Order the Royal Ambassador Martini, made with Absolut Elyx, Dolin Dry Vermouth, and olives. It comes with a set of TWA Flight Wings. For junior, there’s always a Shirley Temple ready to be served. Snacks are also available like a cheese board or the smashed avocado. The experience of walking up the stairs that read “Up, Up, and Away” and boarding the lounge might be the highlight of your travel, even if you haven’t left the airport yet.
If you’re looking at a layover at JFK or want to experience the hotel before a flight out, you can check in to a room, enjoy a swim or workout, or just relax at the cocktail lounge or restaurant. You can even book a hotel room for four-hour intervals, perfect in the case of a late night or early morning flight. There’s also an ice skating rink on the frozen tarmac and a plethora of Instagramable moments created within the space.
Be sure to check out the Paris Cafe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s on-site restaurant. Try the black truffle pizza, you won’t be disappointed.
You can find the TWA Hotel at Terminal 5 of JFK (same terminal as Jet Blue). Arrive a little early, drop your luggage, and go experience all that 1962 has to offer.