I’ve always been intrigued by the glamor and elegance of aviation and the jet age in the 60s. Back then, flying was an enormous privilege, and it came with a level of sophistication and excitement. Right at the center of that was Trans World Airlines (TWA), and the TWA flight center at JFK airport (then known Idlewild Airport). This terminal, built in 1962 and designed by Eero Saarinen, was a true model of the times. Recently, the iconic TWA terminal was transformed into the brand-new TWA Hotel, a step back in time to the 60s.
The TWA Hotel opened May 15, 2019, and we stayed there from May 24-26, 2019. Things are always subject to change as the hotel evolves.
We paid in full for our stay at the TWA Hotel. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase / click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
Review of the New TWA Hotel at JFK Airport
Location of the TWA Hotel
The TWA Hotel is connected to JetBlue’s Terminal 5 (T5) at JFK International Airport. Upon deplaning at JFK, we walked to the baggage claim area and followed the ample signage to the TWA Hotel airport. Once you arrive at the hotel, you can walk through the beautiful red-carpeted tubes to the main terminal area, where you’ll find the “arrivals” area.
The check-in section, which is the former airline check in desks, offer self-service kiosks. There, you can check in, swipe your credit card, print your keys, and get your room number. Although this area is self-service, a staff member kindly walked us through the check in process. We were handed a map, and were directed to our room.
Once you exit that elevator from T5, or enter through the main entrance, you are immediately inserted into the 60s. From the 60s era flight arrival/departure board right above the main entrance to the 60s music playing in the lobby, it really feels like a trip to the past.
During our stay, costumed flight attendants and pilots walked through the lobby greeting guests, adding to the atmosphere.
Rooms at the TWA Hotel
When booking your room at the TWA Hotel, you’ll be faced with a variety of options. You can also pre-pay for your room for a discount, but won’t be able to cancel.
Room types include:
- King bed rooms with a standard view, Historic TWA view, or Runway view
- 2 Queen bed rooms with a standard view, Historic TWA view, or Runway view
- Accessible rooms, and suites are also offered
The TWA Hotel also offers day stay rooms. If you have a flight delay or a long layover, you can spend the day in a room, enjoying the amenities of the hotel. These can be booked in advance so you know that you’ll have a room available when you arrive.
We booked a room with 2 queen beds with the historic TWA view. There are two separate wings to the hotel – the Hughes wing and the Saarinen wing. Our room, located on the 6th floor, had a beautiful view of the main building.
Rooms are small, in line with what you’d expect from a New York City hotel. These are beautifully appointed with fun little touches that are reminiscent of the 60s in a midcentury modern style. Room features include a full minibar (including cans of Tab!), comfortable beds, rotary phones, TWA pencils and paper, shower-mounted shampoo/conditioner/body wash, television, and hairdryers. While the minibar is huge, there is no coffee maker in the room.
One big negative I noticed about the room is a complete lack of storage space for clothes. There are no drawers for clothes and no closet. I suspect they planned this hotel to really be for just overnight guests who don’t want to unpack. There’s no iron/ironing board in the room, but there is a steamer if your clothes are wrinkled.
In the main room, there’s just a tray for garbage rather than a basket. I could see this being a mess, so we just used the garbage can in the bathroom. Over time, I imagine these trays are going to get pretty dirty.
We went to Manhattan for the day during our only full day at the hotel, and when we returned at 6pm, our room hadn’t been cleaned. It wasn’t a big deal, because we had barely used it. Otherwise, I would have talked to the housekeeping staff to see if it could have been cleaned at that hour.
If traveling with kids, I definitely recommend having a minibar conversation before you arrive. There’s a tray full of temptations on the desk, and it isn’t immediately obvious what the charges for these items are.
Rooms have wall to ceiling windows, and automated blackout shades. When we arrived, our room was pretty warm from the sun beating down in the room, but the air conditioning kicked in quickly. The windows are a bit awkward as anyone can see in the room unless you have the full blackout shades closed.
Our room was fairly quiet, but we were located by the elevator. I’d recommend requesting a room away from the elevator because we could hear the dinging of the button starting at 3:30am. It didn’t keep me up, but when I woke up in the middle of the night I heard it.
My son and I loved checking out all of the little touches in the room.
Amenities at the TWA Hotel
While the theme and location are probably the top two reasons why someone would book a room at the new TWA Hotel, there are some fun amenities as well.
The fitness center, located on the bottom floor, is probably the nicest hotel fitness center I’ve seen. It’s huge, with loads of equipment. We were down there twice, and only saw a handful of people working out.
The rooftop pool was closed during the first part of our stay, but officially opened while we were there. It’s a small pool, but it’s absolutely gorgeous with a full view of the runway. Tables at the Pool Bar can be reserved in advance, and I’d recommend doing that. It’s likely to be a very popular spot.
The pool will be opened year round, transforming into a jacuzzi in the cooler months. It’s located on the roof of the Hughes wing.
The TWA Hotel offers several shops, including a TWA shop filled with merchandise with the TWA logo (things like water bottles, t-shirts, tote bags, and sneakers). There’s also a Warby Parker pencil shop as well as a Shinola watch shop. Two sundries stands are set up in the lobby, and those purchases can be paid for at the TWA shop.
Valet parking is offered at the front of the hotel. Bell service isn’t offered, so you’ll need to walk your own bags to your room. However, bags can be held if you arrive before check-in time or leave after check-out time. The official check-out time is 11am, but our request for a noon check-out time was granted.
One of the hallmarks of the TWA Hotel is the Lockheed Constellation aircraft located outside the hotel. Nicknamed Connie, this beautiful aircraft has been restored and transformed into a cocktail lounge. It’s one of only 4 Constellation aircraft remaining, and is a must-see for any aviation lover.
Aviation lovers will also enjoy looking at the various museum exhibitions located throughout the hotel. These include Howard Hughes’ desk located right by the elevator to T5, as well as original flight attendant and pilot uniforms.
Food at the TWA Hotel
Admittedly, this is where the TWA Hotel could do better. The food options are fairly limited, although I believe this will improve with time.
The main restaurant, Paris Cafe, is overseen by famous chef Jean-Georges. It offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During our first morning there, my son and I walked in for breakfast and were immediately seated. The food is a bit expensive, but in line with other hotel breakfasts. We loved our breakfast so much that we returned the following morning. Although the restaurant appeared empty, we were told that they were only able to accommodate those with reservations. If you want to eat there, I’d definitely recommend making a reservation.
The departures lounge offers kiosks operated by popular local food trucks. It was closed during our visit, and instead, the food trucks were parked outside the hotel. When this area is fully opened, I think it will be a great option for quick, reasonably priced food.
The centerpiece of the hotel is the Sunken Lounge, located off the lobby. This gorgeous red carpeted cocktail bar serves cocktails, wine, and light bites. I was traveling with my son and we visited it twice, so it’s definitely okay for kids to visit.
There’s also the Connie, which offers a small menu of cocktails and very light bites (olives, etc). It’s so fun to visit, even if you aren’t planning to eat or drink there. The Connie does offer non-alcoholic drinks if you are bringing your kids.
Coffee by Intelligentsia is served throughout the hotel and is absolutely delicious. There are several carts where you can get some basic coffee drinks and pastry. Coffee bars with more intricate drinks were being installed while we were there.
Because we were unable to eat at Paris Cafe on our second morning, we walked into the JetBlue terminal and got Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s a good option if you want a lighter breakfast and is just a few steps from the hotel.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend a stay at the TWA Hotel if you are an aviation or 60s lover, or have an early morning flight at JFK. While we did experience a few hiccups during our stay, these were definitely growing pains that I’m sure will be ironed out shortly. The staff was incredibly friendly and the theme/decor absolutely can’t be beat.
More resources: Read our New York City Travel Tips post here to read hotel, attraction, and restaurant reviews, tips, and ideas.