We enjoyed 10 days on the East Coast of the U.S. with our children and grandchildren for the Thanksgiving holiday period, and decided our last night in the New York City area to spend the night at the recently opened TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy Airport. While we had read very favorable reviews about the refurbishment of the old TWA Flight Center terminal at Kennedy and knew that two new building wings were constructed for the soundproof guest rooms, our experience far exceeded expectations. So much so that we would recommend the hotel for anyone flying out of JFK on an early morning flight (to avoid the long and nerve-wracking drive) or arriving late afternoon or evening and wanting to relax before heading into Manhattan or another destination in the New York area the next morning (after rush hour). Our stay was too short to take advantage of either the roof-top swimming poor or the expansive, well equipped gym, but both look terrific – unexpected amenities at an airport hotel. The gym, in fact, is open to day visitors (including those with a long layover at JFK between flights).
The entrance to the former TWA Flight Center (terminal) is now the entrance to the TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA; note the split flap departures board with TWA flights from the 60s – the first departing flight was nostalgic for me, as my hometown growing up was Jacksonville, Florida!
“The new TWA Hotel is a seven-story split structure that humbly perches behind Eero Saarinen’s Jet Age landmark, the TWA Flight Center, at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Designed by Brooklyn-based firm Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, the glass-clad building features 512 rooms, a rooftop infinity pool, and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck that looks out over incoming international flights in Jamaica Bay. It’s these things and more that have allowed the revered terminal to reopen as the hotel’s lobby and reception after being closed to the public for over 18 years.” — https://archpaper.com/2019/05/
The former terminal check-in area is now the hotel check-in area – now heavily automated with guest self-check-in on computer screens; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
Set in the iconic former TWA flight center designed by architect Eero Saarinen, this chic airport hotel on the grounds of John F. Kennedy International Airport features soundproofed floor-to-ceiling windows. The stylish, retro rooms come with complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, plus minifridges, safes and fully stocked cocktail bars. Some have airport views. There’s a sleek 1960s-inspired bar, a food hall with grab-and-go options, and a celebrity chef-helmed restaurant/cafe. Amenities include a 10,000-sq-ft gym, meeting space, and an outdoor pool with runway views.
Outside the terminal (hotel) entrance there is a vintage Lincoln Continental parked for nostalgia – inside the terminal (hotel) by the snack and coffee stand is a 1960s Chrysler; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
The central area of the former TWA terminal, now the TWA Hotel, opens up to the check-in area, the snack and coffee stand, the restaurant, lounge and special exhibits areas; JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
“In 2015 MCR, a New York development company led by Tyler Morse, won the right to lease the disused Flight Center and turn it into a hotel. Mr. Morse’s business owns and operates the High Line Hotel in Manhattan along with dozens of midrange chain hotels around the country. He saw TWA as a shrine for architecture buffs and a potential retreat for transients power-napping between flights. It lets guests rent rooms for the day as well as overnight.
“The room designs by the interior design firm Stonehill Taylor are crisp, compact and clean — pretend time capsules from 1962 — with brushed-brass fixtures, walnut paneling and floor-to-ceiling windows of 4.5-inch glass to keep out the sound of jet engines. Maybe I missed it, but I failed to locate a USB port. Each room is stocked with pole lamps, Saarinen tulip tables and womb chairs, martini glasses, cups of bright red TWA-embossed pencils and copies of Life magazine.” — www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/travel/
Our grandchildren have no idea what these devices – wall-mounted pay telephones – are, or what they are used for; they can’t imagine not walking around with a telephone (and Internet computer) in your pocket, e.g., a smartphone; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
How many readers – yes, you! – know or remember what “TWISTER” was?; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
When Saarinen built the TWA Flight Center (terminal) at Idlewild Airport, two long concrete tubes like this one connected the main terminal to the airplane gates – today the tubes lead to the elevators of the hotel wings and the Saarinen tunnel also leads directly to an elevator in the new Jet Blue Terminal 5; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
“The room designs by the interior design firm Stonehill Taylor are crisp, compact and clean — pretend time capsules from 1962 — with brushed-brass fixtures, walnut paneling and floor-to-ceiling windows of 4.5-inch glass to keep out the sound of jet engines”, TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA; text credit The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/travel/twa-hotel-jfk.html
The desk in our room had a functioning rotary dial telephone (another device our grandchildren have never seen and have no idea what it does) along with snack items, along with a mini Etch-A-Sketch, for purchase; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
The Sunken Lounge was returned to its original 1962 design, including the same historic shade of chili pepper red carpet and another split flap departures board in operation – it serves 1960s classic cocktails as well as the Royal Ambassador (Champagne, orange juice and Grand Marnier) which was once served to TWA passengers in gold-flecked glasses; TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
“Connie,” a 1958 TWA Lockheed Constellation L-1649A Starliner has been converted into a 60’s-era cocktail lounge, TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
We enjoyed a nice dinner in the Jean-George Vongerichten Paris Café Restaurant, now occupying the space of the original Paris Café and Lisbon Lounge in the 1960s, TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
Enlarged reproductions of photos taken at the TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA and in the photo booth in the hotel lobby
“Now & Then – Instant Photos: The first photo booth – dubbed the Photomaton – opened in New York City in 1925 and soon became a sensation. (Wait time for the ‘instant’ pics back then? About 10 agonizing minutes.) By midcentury photo booths were everywhere. Newlyweds John and Jackie Kennedy stepped behind the curtain to pose on their honeymoon, Marilyn Monroe used one of her 25 cent images as her passport photo and Andy Warhol took models to Times Square photo booths to sit for portraits that later appeared on a 1965 cover of TIME.
“Today, of course, mobile phones make it possible to carry a photo booth in your pocket. Since the TWA Hotel opened on May 15, 2019, tens of thousands of visitors have snapped and shared their memorable moments. [Including your blogger!] Use some of our favorites as the backdrop for your own self-portrait — then grab some friends, hit the booth and try a few the old-fashioned way!” – sign at the TWA Hotel Photo Booth
Period TWA flight attendant uniforms – here from 1968-1971 by Dalton of America — and flight bags are in one of several museum-quality exhibitions curated by the New York Historical Society at the TWA Hotel, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
A lounge for hotel guests at the TWA Hotel, near the flight attendant uniforms exhibition, JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
“When was the last time you lingered for pleasure at Kennedy Airport? When was the last time you felt happy to be there? An architectural advertisement for the thrill of air travel at the sunny dawn of the jet age, Saarinen’s reincarnated terminal is an unavoidable reminder of just how sad and degrading the experience of flying has become, if you’re not rich.
“Some history: In 1955, the architect Wallace Harrison came up with a master plan for what was then called Idlewild Airport. It prescribed stand-alone terminals built and run by competing airlines encircling a traffic loop. The plan was a kind of recipe for architectural scene-stealing. During its early years, Kennedy boasted the world’s longest continuous cocktail lounge (in the since-demolished American Airlines terminal designed by Kahn and Jacobs), and Tippett-Abbett-McCarthy-Stratton’s (now also sadly demolished) 1960 Worldport for Pan Am, the architectural analog to Marilyn Monroe’s billowing skirt in ‘The Seven Year Itch.’
“The 1950s and 60s were the days before airline deregulation, when the government still set ticket prices. So airlines competed not over who could offer the cheapest, no-frills fares but over who could offer the best-dressed flight attendants, the most scrumptious Chateaubriand on the plane and the best terminal experience. Back then, Howard Hughes’s TWA was the nation’s glamour carrier, the Veronica Lake of airlines. Hughes is said to have spent his five minutes with Saarinen demanding something truly out of this world — money being no object.
“Saarinen earned his spurs conjuring up a raft of rectilinear behemoths for big companies and swooping spectacles of sculptural engineering like the St. Louis Arch, Ingalls Hockey Rink at Yale and Dulles Airport in Washington. He was a chameleon and a master of corporate branding.
“For TWA, he seems to nod both toward Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel and the Las Vegas Strip. The building, an amazing feat of technological improvisation in the days before computer design, was a populist proto-emoji for flight, all free-flowing, liquid curves, improbably poised on four slender buttresses like a winged bird on skinny legs. Its sheer formal poetry kept the aviary and female allusions from tipping into kitsch. This was high modernism at its most seductive and crowd-pleasing.” — www.nytimes.com/2019/07/01/travel/
The TWA Flight Center architect, Eero Saarinen, on the cover of Time magazine in 1956 – famous before he won the commission to design and build the TWA Flight Center (terminal) [now the TWA Hotel] at JFK International Airport, New York, NY, USA
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