Review: TWA Hotel New York JFK

Filed Under: Hotel Reviews, Hotels

This past week I finally had the chance to stay at the TWA Hotel JFK. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited about staying at an airport hotel… or even about staying at any hotel, for that matter.

Not only is this hotel an aviation geek’s dream, but it has become a mainstream topic of conversation, and we’ve seen a countless number of fashion shows and other parties being hosted here.

However, the hotel hasn’t opened without issues. The opening in mid-May was apparently a disaster, and currently the hotel is ranked number 418 of 498 hotels in New York on TripAdvisor, which is pretty awful.

So, how good/bad is this hotel?

TWA Hotel JFK Basics

The TWA Hotel JFK is possibly the most incredible airport hotel ever built. It’s located within the former TWA Flight Center terminal, which was designed in 1962.

The terminal as such is a city landmark, so when designing the hotel they went to great lengths to not only maintain the essence of the terminal, but to revive the TWA experience as much as possible. The hotel is supposed to be a step back in time, in a good way.

The hotel has over 500 rooms, so it’s huge. The rooms aren’t actually in the former TWA terminal — rather they’re in two newly built towers that are attached to the main building. The terminal as such just consists of many of the public facilities.

Booking The TWA Hotel JFK

The TWA Hotel isn’t cheap. Not only is this a “premium” hotel, but it’s also the only hotel located directly at JFK Airport, so they can command a premium for that (especially when you consider that many other JFK area airport hotels are now homeless shelters, so there isn’t as much capacity as before).

For the night we stayed the entry level room rate was $199. However, I couldn’t stay at this hotel and not get a room with a view of the runway. That cost $309, so the premium was steep.

At that point I noticed that a runway view suite was $349, so I figured that was worth an extra $40.

Obviously at this point it’s a very expensive airport stay, but this also wasn’t just any airport hotel…

There are two really annoying things about booking this hotel:

  • The TWA Hotel has a $10 facility fee, which is more frustrating on principle than anything else
  • Even the flexible rates at this hotel have to be fully prepaid in advance, have a $10 fee if you cancel, and don’t allow cancelations within seven days; any one of those three is unreasonable for a flexible rate at an airport hotel, in my opinion, but the combination of all three is ridiculous

TWA Hotel Review

Let’s get right into the review, which I’ll break up into a few parts — the location and arrival process, the room, the incredible pool, the gym, the dining options, the service, and more.

Getting To The TWA Hotel

The TWA Hotel is attached to JFK Terminal 5, which is JetBlue’s terminal. If driving to the hotel, the hotel has a driveway that’s separate from all of the terminals.

TWA Hotel exterior

If you’re arriving at any other terminal you can just take the AirTrain to the JetBlue terminal, and then follow the signage towards the TWA Hotel. The JetBlue terminal has an incredible view of the hotel, including of the Connie.

TWA Hotel JFK exterior

From the terminal there’s an awesome retro hallway leading into the lobby of the hotel.

TWA Hotel walkway to terminal

TWA Hotel Lobby

O. M. F. G.

I’ve just never seen anything quite like this before. I had seen countless pictures of the lobby before, but that really doesn’t do justice to just how spectacular this space is. It’s massive, it’s so gorgeously restored, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

From the huge open spaces, to the old school departures board, to the Connie (Lockheed Constellation) parked outside, this place is beyond words.


TWA Hotel lobby


TWA Hotel lobby


TWA Hotel lobby


TWA Hotel lobby


TWA Hotel lobby

TWA Hotel departures board

TWA Hotel Check-In

While this hotel is stunning beyond words, it also has the worst signage I’ve ever seen at a hotel. I feel like there were speakeasies with better signage than this hotel. And it’s also woefully understaffed in non-dining venues.

There was very little signage throughout the hotel, and in particular I couldn’t find any signs towards check-in. You’d think there would be an intuitive path from the airport terminal to check-in. At a minimum you’d think there would be someone standing there when you enter the hotel to point you in the right direction. But there wasn’t.

I ended up having to ask a bartender which way check-in was, and then ended up having to ask someone else, because the directions weren’t clear.

It can take a while to figure out where everything is in this hotel, almost as if you’re staying in a big resort. The difference is that most people spend several nights at resorts, rather than just a quick overnight at an airport hotel.

The check-in desks looked like airport check-in counters, which I thought was cute. On departure I even needed to briefly check my bag, and when I claimed it it came out on the baggage belt, and was put on the scale. How cool is that?!

TWA Hotel JFK check-in

There were also check-in kiosks, though it wasn’t clear if the intent was to do self check-in, or what the purpose was.


TWA Hotel JFK check-in


TWA Hotel JFK check-in seating

The guy checking us in wasn’t particularly friendly at first — he didn’t even acknowledge me until I asked if someone could help me with check-in — but he warmed up.

Within a few minutes I had a room key, and was also handed a map of the property as well as two junior pilot wings.


TWA Hotel map

TWA Hotel pilot wings

He tried to explain some of the hotel’s features, some of which I found confusing.

He explained that breakfast starts at The Paris Cafe at 8AM, and reservations are required. Wait, breakfast at an airport hotel starts at 8AM, and I need to make reservations?!?

“Do you know if they still have availability for tomorrow morning, and could you help me make a reservation then?”
“You’d have to go to the restaurant. They outsourced everything here, so we can’t help with that.”

For what it’s worth, later on I found out you could just make reservations online, in which case I feel like he should have told me that, or should have just gone to the website and helped me.

TWA Hotel Room

The hotel’s 500+ rooms are spread across two wings — the Saarinen Wing (rooms ending 01-50) and Hughes Wing (rooms ending 51-85).

These are the separate buildings to the side of the main terminal.

TWA Hotel “wing”

You can access the wings on either side of the terminal, and this requires once again walking down a long corridor. While the red carpet looks chic and retro, it’s also really thick, so isn’t ideal for rolling luggage. I feel like there should have been some compromise between practicality and style there.

TWA Hotel Hughes Wing

We were staying in room 770, located on the seventh floor of the Hughes Wing (there are a total of eight floors, plus the rooftop). There were three elevators leading up to the rooms.

TWA Hotel elevators

Our room, 770, was located about halfway down the hall on the left.

TWA Hotel hallway

The room was stunning, and once again, I found it hard to believe I was staying at an airport hotel. The rooms are just so beautifully appointed, and they paid so much attention to all the little details.

While this was technically a suite, it was definitely on the “junior” side.

Inside the entrance was high-top seating as well as a large minibar setup.


TWA Hotel suite

The minibar was extremely well stocked, though my money is on this being cut pretty quickly. Realistically most people staying at an airport hotel aren’t using this, and the cost to manage minibar inventory isn’t insignificant.


TWA Hotel minibar


TWA Hotel minibar


TWA Hotel minibar

Further into the room was a really comfortable king size bed, and next to it was a chair with ottoman.


TWA Hotel suite bedroom


TWA Hotel suite

Then in the far corner of the room was a TV and couch, as well as a desk.


TWA Hotel suite


TWA Hotel suite

On the desk was a TWA notepad, over a dozen TWA pencils, and a rotary phone.


TWA Hotel goodies

The bathroom was back towards the entrance, and featured double sinks, a walk-in shower, and a toilet (this was an accessible room, so I’m not sure how different this is than other rooms). Notice that one of the lights was out.

TWA Hotel room vanity


TWA Hotel suite bathroom


TWA Hotel suite shower

Toiletries were in wall-mounted dispensers — while this is something many people don’t like, it’s at least a little more environmentally friendly than the little plastic bottles you usually find at hotels.

TWA Hotel room toiletries

Of course the highlight of the room was the view — we paid extra for the runway view, and boy was it worth it. The room did directly overlook the outside roadway to Terminal 5, though you also had great views of planes. Obviously most planes were from JetBlue.

View from TWA Hotel runway view room

However, there were also lots of great views of planes taxiing into Terminal 4. We had an Air India 777 and Kenya Airways 787 taxi right by our window, and I also saw an Uzbekistan Airways 787 taxiing in — SO COOL!

TWA Hotel views


TWA Hotel views


TWA Hotel views

TWA Hotel Pool

The TWA Hotel has an incredible rooftop pool, which I’m sure just about everyone is familiar with.

TWA Hotel rooftop pool


TWA Hotel rooftop pool

The rooftop also has a bar and restaurant, so you can eat up here. I’ll talk more about that below.


TWA Hotel rooftop pool


TWA Hotel pool view

As an aviation geek this is probably the coolest rooftop in the world. I would note however that there doesn’t seem to be very much swimming going on in the pool, but rather it’s a pool people just lounge around in and plane spot from.

TWA Hotel Gym

The TWA Hotel has a 10,000 square foot gym. That’s ridiculously impressive, though I don’t really get why. I checked it out three times just because I was curious if anyone was using it, and I saw at most two people.

So that’s totally awesome, but also unnecessary for an airport hotel, in my opinion. The only downside to the gym is that it lacks views.

TWA Hotel gym


TWA Hotel gym


TWA Hotel gym


TWA Hotel gym

TWA Hotel Memorabilia

I think it’s pretty obvious that the hotel has gone great lengths to integrate the TWA brand. In addition to the touches found throughout, there are several areas of the hotel that are almost a TWA museum of sorts.

Old TWA uniforms


TWA memorabilia 

TWA memorabilia 


TWA posters

Dining At The TWA Hotel

The dining options at the TWA Hotel are simultaneously really impressive, and also sort of poorly thought out, in my opinion, depending on how you look at it. Note that for The Connie, The Pool Bar, and The Paris Cafe, you may want to make reservations in advance, and those can be made online.

Let’s look at the dining options.

Food Hall

The TWA Hotel has a food hall right next to reception, which features multiple vendors, including Halal Guys.

TWA Hotel food hall

This is open for breakfast from 8AM until 11AM, for lunch from 11AM until 3PM, and for dinner from 3PM until 9PM. I feel like those dinner hours are quite limited, especially when you consider this is an airport hotel, where it doesn’t seem unreasonable to want to grab food at 9:30PM.

Intelligentsia Coffee

Rather oddly breakfast at the hotel is only served starting at 8AM, which seems super late. Fortunately there’s an Intelligentsia Coffee stand right across from reception, which opens at 5AM. That doesn’t have any substantial food, but at least you can grab a coffee and a muffin early.

Intelligentsia Coffee

So when I woke up I grabbed drinks for us there.


Intelligentsia Coffee

The Pool Bar

Our flight from Miami was delayed a bit due to maintenance (shocking), and we had a 10PM reservation at The Connie for drinks, so we decided just to have a light dinner at The Pool Bar.

While this is the casual dining option here, the weather was perfect and plane spotting was amazing, so I’d have dinner here again in a heartbeat. We watched heavy plane after heavy plane take off.

The drink menu read as follows:

The food menu read as follows:

To drink I had a Grapefruit Tonic and Ford had a Negroni.

The Pool Bar drinks

Then to eat I had the fish tacos, while Ford had the cheese and charcuterie.


The Pool Bar food


The Pool Bar food

The food and drinks were both good, though a bit pricey (but worth it for the view).

The Connie

Perhaps the most well known feature of the hotel is The Connie parked out front, which is a Lockheed Constellation that was commissioned in 1939, and which even acted as “Air Force One” in the 1950s. At this point the Connie is one of the few of these planes remaining in the world… so they turned it into a cocktail lounge!

Anyone can walk out towards the plane, and they even have it in an area that looks like a runway.

The Connie TWA Hotel


The Connie TWA Hotel


The Connie TWA Hotel


The Connie TWA Hotel

The Connie TWA Hotel

How cool is that?!?

Inside The Connie there are some couches along the walls, as well as some actual airplane seats.


The Connie interior


The Connie interior


The Connie interior

We managed to get exit row seats (we were willing and able to assist), which are the most spacious forward facing seats. Funny enough, the people seated across from us accidentally popped open the emergency exit, which was an adventure.


The Connie interior

You could even peek into the cockpit.


The Connie cockpit

The Connie has a pretty limited food and drink menu, which read as follows:

I had the Royal Ambassador Martini, while Ford had an Old Fashioned.

The Connie cocktails

We were tired after one round of drinks, but this was such a cool experience.

The Paris Cafe By Jean-Georges

The hotel’s signature restaurant is The Paris Cafe. Since we had dinner at the pool, we only had breakfast here. The restaurant is beautiful, and has both dining tables and counter seating.

Tne Paris Cafe TWA Hotel


Tne Paris Cafe TWA Hotel

The breakfast menu read as follows:

I found the pricing to be odd — for example, $4 for my cappuccino seemed reasonable, while $12 for a green juice seemed outrageous. I have to add that my cappuccino was one of the best I’ve ever had in the US, so that’s impressive.

The Paris Cafe breakfast

We both had egg dishes for breakfast, which tasted great, and service was very good as well.


The Paris Cafe breakfast


The Paris Cafe breakfast

Next to The Paris Cafe is The Lisbon Lounge, which has a similar menu but doesn’t require reservations.

The Lisbon Lounge TWA Hotel


The Lisbon Lounge TWA Hotel

TWA Hotel Service

I found service at the TWA Hotel to be wildly inconsistent. It ranged from friendly and polished to friendly and unpolished to rude and unpolished to… well, anything you could imagine.

For example, service at The Pool Bar and The Paris Cafe was excellent — both our servers were genuinely friendly. At The Connie, service was genuinely friendly but extremely slow.

Beyond that service wasn’t amazing. First of all, there was a lack of employees to direct people around. Furthermore, the hotel just seemed so disorganized.

For example, when it was check-out time Ford was getting the car so I had to bring four bags downstairs by myself (we had packed a lot, since we’re gone for a while). Check-out time is 11AM, and at 10:40AM I called the front desk (after Googling how a rotary phone works), and after waiting on hold for five minutes someone finally answered.

“Hi, I have a lot of luggage and am checking out soon. Is there somewhere I can get a luggage cart, or a bellmen who could help me?”

“Let me see if I can arrange something, I’ll call you back.”

For 20 minutes there was no call, and at 11:05AM a rooms supervisor knocked on my door to ask if I was checking out. I explained the situation, and asked if she could give me info about where I could get a luggage cart.

As it turns out, the hotel doesn’t have any sort of luggage carts or bellmen. So the rooms supervisor helped me carry my bags down, which I felt horribly about. What on earth…?

Visit The TWA Hotel As A Non-Guest

Before I share my summary of the hotel, I want to  note that you can visit any of the restaurants (including The Paris Cafe, The Connie, The Pool Bar, etc.) as a non-guest just by making a reservation. Furthermore, you can always just check out the lobby and other public spaces as a non-guest.

I think this hotel is potentially a game changer for JFK layovers. I’d far prefer to kill a couple of hours during a JFK layover working, eating, and drinking from The Pool Bar, rather than sitting in some mediocre lounge.

So while I recommend staying here, it could also be fun to just visit the facilities during a layover.

TWA Hotel Summary

The TWA Hotel was almost exactly what I expected — the hard product delighted me, while the soft product was a mixed bag.

Let me say that despite my criticisms, this is my favorite airport hotel in the world, and I’m actually thinking of having my 30th birthday party here, or something. Ford even loved the hotel, and it’s not often he loves an airport hotel.

The attention to detail in this hotel is absolutely spectacular, and between the incredible TWA elements, the amazing views, and the convenience, this hotel is a winner.

But there’s also so much I don’t understand — breakfast at an airport hotel only starts at 8AM? There are no luggage carts or no way to get help with luggage? There’s virtually no signage? So much of the staff is indifferent? The policies associated with flexible rates are outrageous?

I guess my takeaway is that out of five stars I’d give the TWA Hotel seven stars when it comes to the hard product and three stars when it comes to the soft product — that still balances out to five stars. I can’t emphasize enough just how impressive the hard product is — it’s the best case scenario of what I was hoping for.

So if you’re an aviation geek you absolutely must stay here. Just make sure you come in with the correct expectations when it comes to service, make reservations for all your meals in advance, and plan your time here.

Lastly, I do have concerns about how this hotel will age. Airport hotels are known to age especially poorly, given that the average guest is staying for one night, has a bunch of luggage, etc.

This hotel has such incredible attention to detail in terms of design, and I just can’t help but feel like it will take a lot of cash to keep this place looking as good as it does today. Given the economics of airport hotels, I’m curious if that will happen.

Have you stayed at the TWA Hotel? If so, what was your experience like? If not, do you want to stay?

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Comments
  1. Thanks for the honest, detailed and interesting review. Let’s hope then issues you mention are just teething problems.
    Needles to dat I’d looove to stay there!

  2. Wow, that looks gorgeous! Are the restaurants, bars, etc., including the pool bar and Connie, open to non-hotel guests? It would be cool to spend some time there during a layover.

  3. Even though many soft products seem hilariously bad, boy I’m stoked for the hotel and all their crazy TWA details. Oh AvGeeks…

  4. @ Billiken — That’s a great point. I updated the post with a section about that. This is potentially a great option for a JFK layover as well.

  5. Sounds indeed as though everything is outsourced with multiple companies handling all sorts of stuff at the property, hence the wildly varying levels of service and competence.

    Which of course holds true over decades for literally other NYC property — wildly varying levels of service and competence, even at the $300/night price points.

    Interesting notes about the breakfast not starting before 8, that is kind of ridiculous. On the other hand if flying JetBlue regular flyers know the sit-down restaurants do excellent early-morning breakfasts at similar price points to the hotel.

  6. Nice photos, especially the lobby. I attempted this a couple of weeks ago on a bright day with my iPhone and the results were atrocious so good for you.

  7. @ Bandmeeting — Thanks! You should have seen how many pictures I took that I narrowed down to ~100 in the end, because lighting can indeed be a challenge.

  8. Ben–

    I am so looking forward to staying!!! I had a Lifetime Membership to the Ambassador Club and over 1M miles in my TWA account when the airline folded. [Damn that Carl Icahn.] So many memories their L-1011s with massive pitch in F (and easy upgrades if you were willing/able to arrive at the airport 2 hrs before departure).

    With regards to the hotel map: What is “The 1962 Room”? And what about “The Ambassadors Club”? And “Pope’s Room”? Did you visit any of these locations?

  9. I noticed the teething issues with service too but hope it all gets resolved.

    It’s a really nice place particularly if flying JetBlue. I also find it to be an excellent way to avoid the traffic of T5’s pick ups / drop offs though I wonder if they’ll crack down on that.

  10. Ben–

    From the hotel’s reservation page, it appears even refundable reservations are charged to your credit card immediately upon making the reservation. True?

    And if you cancel a refundable reservation, the site says there is a $10 fee.

  11. Love the rotary phone – and I figured there would be people who have no idea how to use them. (Showing my age now).

  12. Great review.

    I think they went for the wrong era. Not the Lockheed Connie era but they should have gone for to the 1980’s. A TWA 747 is probably too big but a TWA 727 would be more modern and appropriate. By the time the terminal was in full use, the Connie was gone or nearly gone. I also think the rooms look dated to the traveler with no interest in history. The rotary phones are unnecessary.

    It appears that this hotel may be a combination of museum, sparse labor/modern, budget hotel. The pool may introduce high cost and little usage.

    I don’t like the $10 fee that you have to pay to book a room. I want to book a room for real travel use but, as of now, am only 90% certain of the date.

    The hotel might have tried to be similar to a Hilton Garden Inn for the two annexes with rooms and tried to be a TWA Hotel only for the terminal building.

  13. Sounds like the hotel needs an experienced general manager to come in and really fix up the service side of things. I imagine it’s also difficult to staff up such a large hotel from scratch, so hopefully over time they’ll be able to bring in experienced staff and get rid of the ones bringing it down.

  14. Were you just lucky to get an Exit Row in the Connie? Or were you able to reserve it online?

  15. Great review. And wow, what a massive gym. Idk who owns this hotel/operates it. But I could see a bankruptcy in their future or a watering down of amenities. Going to very difficult to continuously turn a profit with the luxurious way this hotel is designed.

  16. I stayed there last month and agree that the hotel is physically impressive. But there were so many issues from 8am breakfast and lack of luggage assistance, to bathroom doors in the standard rooms that don’t work. Not sure if you noticed but there wasn’t any security. You could walk right from the terminal to the rooms without passing the front desk or needing a key to use the elevators. I had a reservation for next week and cancelled it. I’d rather pay less at a vanilla airport hotel until they work out their issues. I hope they do, but from what I can tell the ownership thought a great location and impressive architecture would overcome a myriad of deficiencies.

  17. Despite the many documented teething problems, we decided that our trip to World Pride NYC / Stonewall 50 wouldn’t be complete without a stay at the TWA Hotel. Overall we had similar experiences:
    Check-in: Hard to find, poor signage – you have to look for a very small “arrivals” overhead sign. Similarly we were not sure whether the sole agent on duty was meant to help or not – imagine buying an AA Flagship First ticket then being pointed to a self check- in kiosk on departure

    Room: standard King Runway View: Excellent hard Product, of course since everything is new, disappointed that the red chair by the window had left quite a large scuff mark on the white wall, and that there were a few pegs on the wall with hangers – no room for a wardrobe.

    Dining: little to report since we had not made reservations so could not get into the Paris Cafe had no reservations available and the Lisbon Lounge was “full” according to the 3 staff huddled around the greeters’ station whilst there was plenty of open seating.

    The empanada concession was however excellent, but the area in which the concession stands were, looked like an afterthought other than the cool vintage car.

    Finally we made it to the Pool Bar, it had just rained and our server had to mop up before we could be seated. We both ordered, when the food arrived the server announced which dish was which and both orders were in fact incorrect. I noticed several instances where servers brought food to other guests only to be sent away. Nice to know we were not alone. Service continued to be anything but premium. We waited so long for the bill that we assumed it must have already been added to our room and started to make our way from the table. This somehow sparked the only quick and spontaneous staff action during the whole stay – the server RAN towards us waving the bill. The two redeeming features of the bar – the incredible views, obviously and the grapefruit IPA. Outstanding.

    The Pool: The absolute jewel in this amazing building’s crown. We had evening reservations around the pool. I thought I had died and gone to heaven – warm night at dusk, aircraft departures and arrivals every few seconds. The drink glasses are in fact plastic so are safe to take into the pool. I did swim as well as drink. What is not to love, oh more poor service again unfortunately but hey I wasn’t there for the cocktails.

    Service: I cannot think of even one interaction with any staff member, other than the super-nice lady selling empanadas, who seemed to know what their job was and had been trained to do it well. We asked a Manager in the check-in area whether we could store our bags when we checked out as we were heading back for more Pride festivities before our flight home, to which we got a vague reply “Well I think sometimes they store then behind the desk over there”. Before heading to the pool we called Room Service to request a second room since only 1 was provided in the room. A knock at the door came soon after, but there was no rope since the attendant had been told we “had something that needed moving”. One of the staff stationed under the fabulous vintage departures board admitted several of them were hired to “look the part” and didn’t have much training

    Clearly this is a landmark property, but it is not a premium destination. Less marketing and more training dollars could easily turn this hotel into one that travelers and avgeeks will want to return to again and again. I won’t be back anytime soon until staff issues are fixed, well maybe just for another swim at dusk.

  18. Your pics are SO much better than other bloggers (and youTubers)! I remember leaving from this terminal every summer to visit relatives in Europe and I can’t wait to revisit in its new incarnation (service warts and all).

  19. They must be planning on providing pay access to the gym for non-guests or airport employees. Looks like no full rack it all that equipment

  20. @ jmd001 — Was just lucky. I made a normal reservation online and got that seat. I’m not sure if that’s actually considered more premium than the couch seating.

  21. @ jmd001 — Yep, even refundable reservations are charged up front. That’s a great point, and something I noticed as well. Will update the post to reflect that.

  22. Hey Ben

    Great review. I was there just over a week ago and thought it was amazing also. Re the pool, there was lots of swimming going on when I was there .. well more bobbing around .. but the pool was busy from around 6pm to 9pm.

  23. It’s kind of interesting the MCR company involved in it has both this TWA Hotel and The High Line Hotel that aren’t part of any of the big franchises (MCRdevelopment.com). Odd choice I think.

  24. Ben, I was a guest at the hotel last month with a few work colleagues. It was a customer experience disaster (across many areas) and I will never return. Have a look at the tripadvisor reviews if you feel that you need to stay here. FWIW, you don’t need to be an overnight guest to explore the terminal building, which is the interesting part. Have a drink in the bar or on Connie, take your pictures, then save yourself the misery and get out of there. MAYBE, wait until next Spring to stay at the hotel, once they’ve fixed everything….but they’ve got a long way to go.

  25. Loved the photos! Thanks for this review. We stayed there on opening night and as aviation geeks we loved it! Sure there were mishaps and it wasn’t perfect but it was amazing! Lots of former TWA employees stayed in the hotel as well and we got to meet a few in the lobby bar area. Looking back it was a cool experience to go to a hotel opening, especially an airport hotel opening dedicated to a former airline like TWA.
    I agree with you in regards to the service. Some employees were amazing and went above and beyond; whereas some seemed quite indifferent (ie elevators were broken but no one told me and there was no sign; and there were two employees standing by the door doing nothing..) I literally stood there for 5-7 mins before I finally asked them whether the elevators were working.

  26. Joe and I are staying here for 2 nights in December – planned stop over between Orlando and Germany (Ford just helped us with a reservation at Goldener Hirsch). Your review was awesome and I’m looking forward to the good stuff and hoping the bad stuff gets fixed between then and now.

    re: “Googling how to use a rotary phone.” That’s adorable. Reminds me of how old I am, but still adorable 😉

  27. While understandably there are a few teething problems I think there is something to be said by how much money they’ve put into the hotel making it a finished products- especially shown by the Connie with it being whole with engines and avionics and not just the fuselage.

  28. This seems like a hotel that could have more use of management that has experience of theme park hospitality management. The staff can’t just look the part, they need to live the part, recreating a piece of the golden era of aviation (including at the very least taking care of your luggage all the way).

    If the employee’s comment about everything being outsourced is true, maintaining the experience of course becomes even more difficult, as the job is just a passing gig for an even larger part of the staff.

    That being said, I really hope to visit once I (eventually) make my way to NYC. Being a Finn, it of course makes me really happy to see one of the hotel wings named after the terminal’s architect.

    Fun fact for @Lucky:
    Don’t know if you saw the National Museum or main railway station when visiting Helsinki. Did you know these were designed by Eero Saarinen’s father, Eliel Saarinen.
    The styles of father and son are obviously very different, but grand buildings nevertheless.

  29. I’m not making excuses but the lack of signage may not be accidental. A lot of effort has gone into preserving the building and attaching even modest sized signs can completely ruin the look of the unique curve look of the building. Given your problems maybe some standalone floor mounted signs might be in order.

    I transited this terminal many times during it’s heyday and the memory of those long arching walkways is still imprinted in my brain. It was a wondering place to depart from and in those days 50,000 miles got you an award for a free first class ticket anywhere in the world (no capacity controls either) and an upgrade from the cheapest coach ticket to F for a companion.

    Then there was the year TWA offered triple miles so just over three transcontinental round trips (at $198 each rt) earned you that award and the miles earned from the companion could almost get you to another one. At that point I was close to earning more miles for every international award trip in F than the award cost. No wonder TWA went bankrupt.

  30. Umm, yair. With three options of pick up key, check in or check out vividly displayed, not sure what those kiosks are for. A real mystery.

  31. Hi Ben,

    Perhaps we were there similar time. I have to say the bed is much comfortable than the upper east fancy hotel I stayed in the night before. Although the check out guy promised to send me the name of the mattress forgot to do so.

    Cheers,

  32. Sounds cool and the geek in me wants to stay. Sounds like the management needs to change and stick a boot up a few employees butts to motivate them.

  33. I walked over to check it out the last time I was at JFK. It’s worth noting it is quite the trek from the AirTrain. Terminal 5 is already particularly bad but this is even worse as you cannot cut across the road which would be the most logical route. Allow a solid 10-15 minutes. It’s also not particularly well marked in the terminal. Need to go down to arrivals level then take an elevator back up.

    With that said the lobby photos don’t do it justice. It is really neat to check out. But I can’t help but wonder what it will be like in another year. Going to be a lot of work to maintain and sounds like there are a lot of service kinks to work out.

  34. “Then there was the year TWA offered triple miles so just over three transcontinental round trips (at $198 each rt) earned you that award and the miles earned from the companion could almost get you to another one.”

    I can go one better than that. In the 1980s you could fly JFK-LHR-JFK on BA and credit the miles to BA, United, USAir and Piedmont. There were no cross-checks so you effectively got quadruple miles.

    This was before the BA/AA alliance and BA was more cozy with other US airlines. In fact I believe that BA was thinking about buying UA or merging with them at one point.

  35. No mention at all about noise from the airport or other guest rooms? Or comfort of the bed/linens?

  36. Thanks for the great review Ben! I stayed at this hotel last week as well and agree with all of your points… to me the amazing hard product vastly outweighed the very clear problems with the soft product, although they clearly have a lot of work to do on that. In particular the restaurant situation needs to be re-thought; while the Paris Cafe is great, it is becoming a “destination” restaurant for non-guests passing through JFK making it hard for hotel guests to get reservations there if they don’t book well in advance. Given the lack of room service they need to fix this with another restaurant option.

    Having said all that – it fulfilled almost all of my aviation fantasies and brought back so many memories of flying through that terminal as a kid (it looks much better now!). I would go back in a heartbeat if I have an early flight connection out of Kennedy. Saarinen’s soaring, stupendous architecture is reason enough to spend an evening there!

  37. I stayed at the hotel a week after opening. My impressions were similar. I had no problem finding the checkin counter as I knew it was where the airline check in counters once were. I found the service spotty as well. I was in a standard runway view room. The room was nice, but I was surprised that there was no closet. Ben, those are pencils next to the phone not pens. I am not sure if Millennials have seen pencils.

  38. Well done. I must see the Connie. It was my first plane ride. I remember boarding through the “D. B. Cooper” stairs in the tail and trying my hand at eating peas with a knife. Big time fail.

  39. I actually saw the body of that Connie being towed-up 6th Avenue, towards Times Square! (In the early hours of an early spring morning.) Was a sight to behold!!

  40. 5 hour layover in T4 next month. This might just be worth going landslide and taking the air train over. Plane spotting from the pool bar could help pass the time for sure.

    Does anyone know about any luggage storage in T4? Or should I just roll my carryon with me?

  41. Back in the day it was called “ WING ONE “ !
    I was a high school kid in Queens and the endless number of times I played hooky
    it would always bring me there ! I would spend entire afternoons sitting by the gates
    admiring 727s and 747s , watching passengers getting in and out and of course the
    stewardesses ! Back then flying was a unique experience tinted with glamour !
    Stewardesses were handpicked , fashionable and could have easily passed for models !
    Pilots selection process was very tough as well as exhaustive and would eclipse immediately the less talented ones ! In many ways WING ONE represented the core of
    Air Travel and incidentally my very first flight began here , I was fortunate to fly on their first 747 and this marked my loyalty for all future flights ! I still have a TWA GETAWAY CREDIT CARD !

  42. We stayed here mid-week in early June prior to a daytime flight to LHR on Virgin the next day and we were happy to be able to stay on airport instead of getting up at home at 2am.
    I’m no AV geek by any stretch (but I am old enough to have grown up with rotary phones). Having flown out of this terminal way back when, I was quite excited to stay here. I even dug out our TWA Aviator cards. But we were somewhat disappointed in the hotel experience:

    Booking – booked the room in February – $239 + all the taxes and fees for standard non-runway view. Payment not required in advance. So it seems things have changed.

    Service – not very existent, except one person did show us how to get from check in to the tube to the elevators to avoid the stairs. Not fun trying to get bags uphill on that carpet. The staff were not unpleasant, but just seemed to lack training.

    Food: Food Hall was pretty limited, offerings sparse. This was about a week to 10 days after the health department shut down so maybe that was a factor. Paris Café- I had made a reservation as soon as they started taking them, but we were able to move it up by 30 minutes about an hour beforehand. Decent service, friendly servers. Food there was good, but nothing special. Menu pretty limited, especially if you aren’t a burger or pizza person (I’m generally not). For breakfast, we just headed to terminal 5 and went to the Wingtips lounge since our flight was boarding around 7:15am.

    Pool deck – it was a very cloudy, windy day so not pleasant to be up there. We don’t drink so we just stayed a few minutes. Only 2 women in the pool while we were there. Strong smell of jet fuel.

    Room – comfortable bed, but very SMALL – just enough room to walk around the bed. No storage and just about enough room to stash the bags. Would be a pain to open a hard-sided clamshell bag. Oh, and the only wastebasket is in the bathroom. And the body cleanser dispenser was either empty or not working.

    NO wakeup calls – seriously? Luckily I travel with an alarm clock.

    Overall, glad we stayed there. Very convenient for an early morning flight. But I thought it was really over-hyped. Not sure I would ever stay again unless I had an early flight out.

    But I am curious – how did you manage to get all those pictures with no people in them? Everywhere we went there were people all over.

  43. I was also caught by surprise at the rotary phone conundrum. I completely understand that the technology pre-dates a lot of people. But isn’t it also somewhat intuitive that since it’s a “rotary” phone that you would move it in a circle?

  44. I grew up with rotary phones .. it wasn’t intuitive how to dial a number? 😀

    Reminds me of Scotty in Star Trek IV trying to talk to a 1980’s computer …

  45. How does the pool compare to the Changi rooftop pool in Singapore? It looks even more amazing.

  46. JFK is such a shlep from New Jersey. I fly into Newark nowadays. If I ever fly out of JFK again I wouldn’t have time to go to the hotel not like I’m going to show up to the airport 4 hours early.

  47. You googled on how to use a rotary / dial phone ?!? …
    Oh FFS ..!
    I’m out ..
    this blog has totally lost it

  48. So you took AA again when you had a non-stop option on another airline from South Florida. Troll on.

  49. @Nev Johnson Okay. You should Google how to use punctuation properly instead of putting it in random places.

  50. @ Nev Johnson — Alrighty, if that’s what makes you stop reading this blog, adios!

  51. @ TM — I’d just roll your carry-on, or maybe they’ll even check it at the hotel if you make a reservation at one of their venues.

  52. @ Bogan — Hah, that was a typo, I do know the difference between pencils and pens. :p

  53. @ Chris149 — I found sound insulation to be excellent, and thought the bed was extremely comfortable.

  54. @ Andre — I actually didn’t even look at the minibar pricing, I apologize. With an option to drink on a rooftop or inside an airplane, I probably wouldn’t ever consider paying for an in-room drink.

  55. Interesting – I stayed on opening night, and it sounds like not much has changed with the service. At least all of the core facilities seem to be working, which wasn’t the case when I stayed.

    I think (and consistent with feedback I received from management I talked to that night) the core problem is that the hotel ownership’s senior management is accustomed to running Courtyards/Fairfields/Hampton/Garden Inns, and they haven’t the faintest clue as to how to run a hotel catering to more sophisticated travelers, especially at a full service hotel. Hopefully they’re at least trying to figure it out.

  56. Loved this terminal! Lots of travel from LAX into and out of JFK back in the day and remember running through that long, tubular hallway trying to make many a flight!

    It was also the golden age of frequent flier programs! Not sure what happened to @Jeff who had some great observations of how you could maximize the fun back then. As he mentioned, you could earn enough miles for first class awards anywhere in the world at a cost that was much lower than what you could then sell those awards for. Of course, this was back in the day that you could freely transfer your awards.

    I made a 6-figure living for a couple years back in the early 80’s doing this. Earned status pretty quickly and usually got the upgrade to first without much hassle. Once, at LAX, waiting to see if I would clear into first, the last ticketed passenger for first class checked in. It was Frank Zappa. As soon as he headed for the ramp, the agent gave me my seat assignment and said, “Follow him.” Sat right in front of Frank who was technically in the ‘smoking’ section and proceeded to chainsmoke throughout the flight!

    Saw lots of the country and had many adventures at the time that I would never had been able to afford without TWA’s generosity! Man, I loved that airline!

  57. Ben, There is something you didn’t talked about: doesn’t the hotel have a shop selling TWA collectible items? They have a full page on their website selling them – but stupidly don’t ship out of the U.S. If there is no hotel shop, they should have one, they’ll make a lot of money selling TWA items to guests, and specially to guests not staying in the hotel but only coming to visit or have a drink.

  58. @Lucky

    I think long layover visits here are a great idea. Just so you can share this info with your readers, here’s what they say on their website:
    “Luggage larger than 12-by-6-inches is not permitted on the pool and observation deck. Bags are subject to search by security. Please check large luggage in the Arrivals Hall.”

    A previous commenter made it sound like even managers don’t know what to do bag checks, so I’m hesitant to leave anything with the front desk at this hotel. Hence why I’m curious about a bag check in T4.

  59. Ben, if I’m flying with Jetblue out of T5, how long does it take / is it feasible for me to wait for my flight at the pool bar, then return to the terminal, considering I arrive plenty early of course because of security, etc?

  60. Wife and I stayed at this hotel on Sunday – didn’t have a ton of time to check out the facilities since we arrived around 11:30 p.m. and had to catch a 9 a.m. flight the next morning. I too felt like the check in experience was super confusing, especially with the hybrid self-check in on an iPad experience while talking to an employee walking us through the process. I also agree that the carpets are much too deep for rolling luggage, and the uphill slopes in the hallways make this even worse when carrying heavy suitcases (of which we had 3). The room was beautiful, but wasn’t without issues – the electric blinds would get stuck because they would fall off the railings, which was a bit of an annoyance. There wasn’t even a coffee machine in the room which seems like a pretty standard amenity for any hotel, especially one located in an airport. Biggest problem was actually the communal soap/shampoo/conditioner dispensers – I get that hotels pretend to be environmentally friendly by putting those in rather than mini bottles (when in fact they’re just being cheap), but if they’re going to do that, they still need to make sure that these dispensers are refilled when guests arrive. As it stands, our body soap dispenser was completely empty (like dry empty) – we ended up using shampoo as body soap instead, which is not the experience I would expect from a $300 a night hotel. We may try out this place again in the future and stay longer to experience the facilities like the pool and Connie bar, but they have a lot of work to do.

  61. Stayed here 9 days after the official opening, and I note from your review that many of the problems I encountered still persist. I found the carpeting in the hallways and the connecting walkways (uphill slope) a challenge with wheeled luggage and a walking stick. The inch thick carpet was like dragging bags through soft sand at the beach (I imagine!). I silently cursed the fact there was no baggage assistance, even now.
    There are too many problems and inconveniences to make this hotel more than a once only must see deal. I would however recommend a day-long, non stay visit to snoop around and check it out, have a meal or two and drinks. F & B is generally well priced IMO.
    (Ben, you do not mention the cute TWA branded amenities pack in your bathroom description and photos. They are still there, right?)

  62. I’ve been waiting for this review for a long time. Thanks for taking so many detailed photos. Like you said, that mini bar will definitely be cut.

    I showed this post to my mom, who actually traveled during that era. She said she only traveled on PanAm during that time and never TWA. I can’t wait to visit the hotel. Hopefully after they get all the kinks out. Great post!

    Kelcy

  63. Just forgot: you said that even if you don’t stay at the hotel one can come ( with a reservation ) to have a drink at the pool bar. But can you also enjoy the pool itself, swim in it, if you don’t stay at the hotel ( i suppose that you have to pay for it )?

  64. It is somewhat ironic that they brought in a Connie for this hotel.

    By the time this TWA terminal was opened at Idlewild Airport in 1962, TWA was primarily if not fully an airline served by jets. I don’t ever recall seeing a Connie at that terminal after it opened. To have been more historically accurate, they should have brought in a 707 which was the aircraft that TWA featured in and out of Idlewild at the time!

    It is also sad that whatever aircraft was brought in, it wasn’t restored to original interior conditions. In the case of the TWA Connie, that was the first aircraft I ever flew in between LaGuardia and St. Louis in 1954 as a five year old child – I have very fond memories of it as well as the high quality of service in those days. (Everyone, including children, got dressed up to fly!)

  65. Great review and I am tempted to stay here sometime. I did read a negative review of the hotel online, but your review makes it sound much better. Love the idea of plane spotting on the pool deck.

    Thank you for you excellent reports as always!

  66. Great review and excellent photos. Outstanding timing for me personally as I’m reading this from the bed of our runway-view executive room at Moscow SVO’s Radisson Blu. Very comfy room, by the way, and similarly a killer view from the overpriced (but in need of renovation) restaurant on the roof. I’m watching the Aeroflots take off while checking out your pictures of JFK’s planes!

  67. @Dov, you are right that the Connie was disappearing by the time the terminal opened, but the terminal was designed specifically for the Connie. It was a problem for the terminal virtually from opening day that it didn’t properly accommodate the planes in service. Hence the Connie parked at the hotel makes sense.

    @Ben, your suite was MUCH larger than mine. Mine was so small that I asked if it was a suite and they showed me the standard room. Small even by NY standards. Ironically, the next night I was at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square which probably has the biggest rooms in NYC. I think I could have put my TWA Hotel suite in that standard room at least three times.

    My experience was much the same. Some staff incredibly helpful. Some rude and blatantly ignoring me as I stood right in front of them at the desk waiting for help. My bill was a hopeless mess, but it clearly showed a credit due back to me which I never received (and given it was $20 I couldn’t be bothered to try to get them to take care of it beyond my effort at checkout. And I agree that prices at the Paris Cafe were completely illogical.

    Be aware that you need to pull the doors closed as some don’t latch without a tug.

    Also, did you see the conference space? Wow, it would make for a great party!

  68. One thing to note, is that the pool access is FREE (well, you techincally have to buy food/drinks) for non-hotel guests. So if you have a long daytime layover, may be a good idea to store the bags, bring your swimsuit, have a drink and enjoy the pool. It’s summer after all.

  69. @AD, yup the terminal was designed in the mid 1950s during the heyday of the Connies and due to the design being optimized for the Connies, IIRC, there was an awful lot of retrofit in order to accommodate not only the 707 but later, the 747. The problems were not only in accommodating the aircraft, but also the large number of passengers at the gate waiting to board. The terminal looked beautiful from the outside and the central lobby very futuristic, but in practical terms it was a disaster.

  70. “the carpets are much too deep for rolling luggage”

    Will all you spinner fan-boys now accept that there’s a fundamental flaw in the products you worship?

    Similarly all those B&R and Tumi bags with oh-so-tiny wheels.

    This is exactly why those of us who spend our lives travelling with luggage to more places than just the insides of airport terminals are changing to the mega-wheeled G-Ro products. Newsflash: most places don’t have billiard-table-smooth marble flooring.

    But no human being ever looked more sexually desirable as a result of saying “I told you so”, so I won’t say that… 🙂

    The terminal building is a work of art by one of the 20th century’s greatest architects. I couldn’t care less about the bog-standard bedroom wings. But that soaring lobby… Makes you glad to be alive.

  71. My guess, as a photographer myself, and considering the light, is that Ben shot the pictures early morning, probably between 6 and 8 am.

  72. @Alain: Yes, there is a TWA themed giftshop, which actually has nice T-Shirts and Sweaters and stuff. You can even buy the pencils there.

    @Marilyn B: I can echo what you had to say about the standard rooms. They are REALLY tiny (think a Tokyo hotel room) and don‘t even have a closet. They don’t seem to have realized that they need to refill those shampoo bottles every now and then. Ours were completely empty as well.

    Otherwise they are so nicely done, it is just amazing. The minibar has regular (outrageous) prices, but has a little mirrored “bar style” cabinet with hanging glasses and 250ml bottles of Hendricks Gin and I think Balvenie or so Scotch. Very cool. I also missed the coffee maker, but the coffee in the lobby is very good quality.

    The gym is so huge and well appointed. I have never seen anything like it at a hotel. They literally have every fitness item you can imagine.

    To access the pool deck as a non-guest you must have a reservation at the bar or be lucky enough for a free table. But boy is it worth it. Yes, it smells of JetA1 which makes it even better. I think I stayed in the pool for three hours straight. Love it that you can take your drinks into the pool.

    The service issues are massive though. I tried to check out at 11am. There was one single agent at the reception (for a 500 room hotel!). Had to wait 20minutes only to find out they had put 180$ of someone elses charges on my bill. Took them about about 15 minutes to address that, much to the dismay of the people in line behind me.

    All in all what a great place and I hope they can fix the issues and preserve the building as it is now. I will definitely come back, but probably for a long daytime layover at the pool.

    @Lucky: You didn’t mention the valet guys in TWA mechanics overalls. So cute!

  73. I’d stay in a heartbeat, teething issues notwithstanding.
    As for the rotary ‘phone: it would have been better in fire engine red, to pick up the red accents elsewhere in the property/TWA signage. That model ‘phone was ultra modern ‘space age’ in 1962 ,cf the clunky 50s Bakelite that preceded it ( for my sins I have a collection of 750 or so ‘phones , mostly 1900-1970 from 80 countries; still struggle with IPhone max though).

  74. @ tuotuo — Alain is mostly correct, many pictures were taken around 6AM. In fairness, the lobby area never really got full. I specifically made sure I visited the pool before other people showed up, because that tended to be quite busy.

  75. @ The nice Paul — I actually found it significantly harder to roll Ford’s four wheel Rimowa than to roll my two wheel B&R…

  76. @ Alain — I don’t think you’re supposed to be able to swim as a non-hotel guest, but I also don’t think they have an easy way of controlling it, so…

  77. @ schar — It depends on the time of day and how bad security wait times are, but I’d say it’s maybe a 10 minute walk at most from the pool bar to the security checkpoint, so personally I think leaving an hour before the flight would be plenty.

  78. Thanks for the answers, Paul. For those of you who don’t intend to go to the hotel soon but who are TWA fans, here is the page of their site where you can find and order cool TWA merchandise, most probably the same than in the hotel shop. Warning: they DON’T ship outside of the U.S ( unfortunately for me… ), which i think is a big mistake, but that’s another story: https://shop.twahotel.com

  79. Definitely on my lifetime to-do list even with its flaws, just for that view.

    The food and drink as you noted is a bit on the expensive but manageable side, even the cocktails. But oh the wine pricing is more than a little obscene. A glass bubbly is half the price of the bottle, a grumble but hey gotta cover costs right?..and then they want to charge the price of a whole bottle for a glass of still wine I assume with tips on top of that?! I guess I’ll have to BYO that part in my room.

  80. With regards to the hotel map: Can anyone describe “The 1962 Room”, “The Ambassadors Club”, and the “Pope’s Room”?

    Looks like the “The Ambassadors Club” is located where the Club was that last time the terminal was operating. Am I correct?

  81. @Ben did you study the fine art of Rotary Dialling enough to achieve a Hannibal Lecter level of competence? And, for those of you who at comparing Ben with Hannibal, you’re probably not familiar with Switch-Hook dialing, which was indeed possible on Rotary Dial phones and ol’ Hannibal took advantage of. 🙂

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse_dialing

  82. I stayed at the hotel in June, for my boyfriend’s birthday (even though we live in Brooklyn and had no need to be at JFK). I agree with Ben that the hard product is SUPER cool but a lot of the service and policies are lacking in polish or thought for a premium hotel. In particular, for a terminal- adjacent hotel at a major international airport, the opening hours for the dining options in particular are terrible.

    We arrived on a Friday after work (around 7) and after check-in, went immediately to the pool bar to do some plane watching while the sun was up (no reservation but no problem getting a prime table–it was too cold to swim but they have towels at the pool and I have no idea how they would prevent you from swimming as a non-guest). Because none of the restaurants had online menus, we had NO idea that the pool bar was the best chance we had of eating more than a very light snack that evening (didn’t have a reservation for Jean Georges for that evening) and so we just had a drink.

    After we were done at the pool bar, we walked into Connie and got a table with little fuss and had a drink. By that point, it was around 10 but I was STARVING and definitely didn’t want another drink without food. We were horrified to discover that there was no open kitchen or substantial food available (we tried to get by with two of the small plates at the Sunken Lounge (cheese plate & smashed avocado) but it wasn’t cutting it). I could not believe that an airport hotel didn’t have any real food available after 9 PM. We ended up taking the AirTrain to T4 where we went to the land side 24-hour diner. Also–no room service as far as I can tell which also seems really weird given the odd times people might be checking in and out of an airport hotel (but be functioning on other time zones and thus might be hungry).

    Our room was also extremely tiny but mostly well done. The first time I used the toilet, I discovered there was a thin layer of dust around the rim which makes me think we were the first to stay in our specific room.

    I also found their policies a little odd. I tried to call after making the reservation to add my boyfriend as an additional guest so he would be able to check-in in case he arrived before I did due to his office’s summer Fridays policy. I was told that “any change” was a $10 fee, including something as simple as this! If I had been sure he would arrive an hour or more early, I would have just sucked it up but it didn’t look like that would be the case so I declined to pay the ridiculous money-grabbing fee. When I arrived and we checked in, I also found that it appears to be a mostly self check-in (and check-out) model; no one checked my ID at any point and he likely could have gone ahead and checked in anyway.

    Things like the self check-in, the food hall, and the online-only minibar price menu seem incongruous given the historic theme (the rotary phone! the pay phones in the lobby! etc) as does the fact that the hotel does not accept cash, anywhere.

    I think you can take advantage of most of the hotel services without staying there and I would definitely go back if I had time to kill at JFK or to take someone visiting from out of town. It is a really cool place! I would not encourage someone to go out of one’s way to stay there, however. It’s so expensive and the overnight stay didn’t really add very much–if anything, the various fees, etc led to a feeling of being nickel and dimed. Obviously, it ultimately is the most convenient airport hotel at JFK by a mile so if you legitimately need an airport hotel, fine.

    You can check your bags gratis at the check-in desk (per their website’s FAQ!) without being a guest (or even having a reservation at a restaurant or bar) and then enjoy the Connie, Pool Bar, fitness center, and most of the rest of the hotel at your leisure. Don’t waste your money on a room.

  83. Lovely, classic design.

    Everything else, meh.

    Kudos to them on the gym. There are many of us travelers who are in peak shape and want to stay that way in a large, well-equipped facility.

  84. Kinda excited that my sister and I got to stay at this hotel before Ben did.

    Just to add, during my stay, you couldn’t access the pool deck unless you had a room key. And it was enforced, I saw people get turned away without having key. So if you are not there as a guest, go to the pool at your risk.

  85. To whom it may concern
    You hit the nail on the head .As father would say Every shoe meets a sock.
    Yes a perfectionist like myself. Trying to be humble. I had the privilege to have been chosen from hundreds to have been associated with this iconic Airline TWA and Building As well. since Nineteen Eighty Four the details are priceless.
    What entered into this terminal . Timeless . a true Emerald was politeness manners .Educated passengers who respected Authority, I remembered it so well your description Ben was Right on target with detail. What a story thank you .
    Was politeness manners educated passengers for the most part .

  86. Thanks for such a terrific and detailed review! I have been looking forward to staying at this hotel but I’ll temper my expectations. It’s a miracle that the hotel came about at all. For years I expected this masterpiece by Saarinen (who sadly died a year before the terminal opened) to be demolished.

    I spent so much of my young life going in and out of this iconic terminal, which while always awesome to look at, was not all that convenient for flyers. Those endlessly-long ‘tube’ corridors were murder when you were rushing to catch your flight!

  87. Well, Yirina, that’s really a pictorial report of the TWA Hotel square inch by square inch! Thanks for the pictures!

  88. Hi,
    I loved this review! Thank you for it and all the excellent photos. I’m shocked that there was no luggage cart or help with your bags?!
    One question: were the arrival/departure info on that cool looking board correct and up to date, or just there for decor?
    I definitely would like to check it out someday but now I’m nervous to stay a night, so probably will just enjoy the surroundings as a non-guest.

  89. We stopped by last week after landing at 8am on a Jetblue flight and it took only 2 minutes to get to the hotel lobby from baggage claim despite the carpet making it tough to drag suitcases around. The majority of the staff were wildly incompetent, seemed uninterested in doing their jobs and knew virtually nothing about the facilities. A manager took us in circles around the terminal in search of an elevator before she gave up and left us to find it ourselves.

    The Paris cafe was quite empty for breakfast, so it was easy to walk-in for a table and the staff were friendly albeit a bit unpolished but the food by Jean-Georges was mediocre like so many of his restaurants and especially at that price point. Connie was a real highlight but had slow service despite us being the few ones there and cocktails were served pre-mixed which felt cheap when ordering a $20 cocktail.

    Overall though it was definitely worth going to see the restoration which was stunning and there were many cool insta spots.

  90. In my opinion, in my opinion… ‘Course it’s your opinion, this is your travel blog, who else’s opinion would it be? Lose the phrase, it’s unnecessary.

    Loved your need to google dial phone. Just as well they didn’t install party line phones with no dial and the rotary handle on the side….

    Your usual thorough and entertaining review with loads of good photos. Place looked like it was empty though maybe that’s you being courteous and shooting at odd hours so as not to invade privacy.

    Any avgeek has to now have this place on the bucket list. Howard surely would approve.

  91. Heck, I’m impressed there are 10+ Peleton bikes in the gym! That’s the most I’ve ever heard of given their price point and cache!

  92. Millenial here (27) who knows how to use a rotary phone 😉 My grandparents had one until a few years ago.

    Thanks for the review. I considered staying here right when it opened because I had a flight out of JFK in May, but decided to stay in Manhattan instead. Looks like this was a good decision. The place looks amazing but man, do they have issues to sort out. I hope they get them figured out, as I’d love to stay here once it’s improved.

    Whoever asked about the noise/the windows: I recall reading on the site that they have extra-thick, 7-layer windows to block runway noise.

    Lucky: whoever posted about the Radisson Blu SVO is correct, it is also amazing! I got upgraded to a gigantic room on a top floor with a runway view, and they also have a rooftop bar (though its runway view isn’t as great). A fantastic use of points and very convenient for an early flight out of Moscow.

  93. Stayed there two weeks ago. Thought it was amazing. Specifically moved by the architecture of the terminal. I had only seen the interior once before in 2000 when still used by TWA. The Saarinen Building and airlines like TWA were hopeful symbols of progress and embodied the essence and excitement of air travel. Now, it is the ongoing “race to the bottom” that defines the airline industry. Boeing cuts corners for profit to the point of manslaughter, and things have gotten so bad a piece-of-sh*t airline like Delta is considered the best by US standards. Times have so sadly changed.
    On another note, I informed the management of the TWA Hotel that their “retro” Departures and Arrivals boards were listing airlines that were not actually operating at the time of TWA- such as West Jet and Sri Lankan. They replied that I have a “keen eye.” But at least they’ve got those rotary phones! Lol.

  94. I have no need to stay at this hotel as I live in Manhattan. I do however, have fond memories of the terminal. In the early 80s I worked several times for the “I LOVE NY” campaign which included TWA as it’s travel partner. We did trade shows in the largest European cities for foreign travel agents and we were given got non-rev TWA tickets to our destinations which were upgradable with available space. Though the actual work was never more than three days, they allowed us to stay up to three weeks in Europe if we chose and I often did.

    The terminal inside reminded me of “MOD” and “Carnaby Street” era. I love the photo you took of the tunnel-like corridors which in those days took you to the circular gate areas; I think there were three. The red carpet and the departures board are so familiar and remind me of when I really got excited about flying, especially internationally.

    Thanks, Lucky.

  95. Is it true that the hotel cannot be booked by anyone other than the hotel itself? No online travel services, as in none?

  96. @Eric Vincent…beyond solely booking the hotel direct, the payment is collected up front, and if there’s an issue, the hotel does not respond to issues via email or phone (this has been my experience), and is compounded by the fact that the checkin and checkout are self service.

  97. I was honored to be a TWA Airlines Hostess in 1953 for a couple of years when we were forced to retire when we married. I loved it as it was so special, even if we were required to wear very restricted under garments, finger nail polish to match the TWA on our uniforms, high heal shoes in the cabin, no eye glasses, nor color of any kind on our hair, and could not gain any weight at all. I loved it because we were special, and we not only served our passengers we treated them as guests in our home, and that is why we were called hostesses, and not flight attendants. You may call me any time for further comments on how wonderful flying was in those days. Yes, it was glamorous. gloria russell……currant age 87.

  98. Omg just had chance to read this review and it amazing. Love this place and I will travel to LAX just to try it out #gamechanger

  99. Hi Ben!
    Thanks for your post, your photos came out way better than mine. I will be sure to share this post with my own pictures as I feel you hit the mark. Thingsreally have not changed now that summer is almost over. I just stayed at the TWA Hotel this week. I felt the service was clunky and that the limited menu could have allowed for more options. Many of the staff did not know the answers to basic questions (As a hotel guest can I bring food hall food to the pool? Where can I coffee or drinks after the bars close. I also found that the cost of the cocktails with tax just under $18.00 you really don’t want to drink too many and with limited food choices that was a good thing. The food hall had many selections that were clearly cooked in a commercial kitchen offsite and heated on-site. Also on my visit at 6:00 at night there was no one Hala Brothers or the Playa Bowls. The paninis were premade and could not be further customized or ave things made differently. As you said, ” it is every aviation geek’s dream” that is true. Living in PHL I have not seen any A380 and I believe I saw all that have served to JFK so that was. I am glad I was able to go because I feel that once the service gets works out, this place with being out of reach financially for myself and many. Safe travels to you and I look forward to reading other revierws from you in the future.

  100. Is it possible to take a terminal 5 luggage cart to the hotel?
    How can I catch the train from the hotel to terminal 7.

  101. thanks for your post
    i am staying at the TWA hotel today
    STILL the unfriendly guy checked us in
    other than this everything is perfect

  102. It is a long walk from terminal 5 to the front desk.
    If we could use the airport luggage cart I would definitely have made a reservation this week.
    Instead we opted to go with another hotel that has a shuttle from the Federal Circle.
    The luggage cart is allowed in the train to the Federal Circle.

  103. It’s a beautiful place, but so horribly mismanaged. I can not imagine any pro in the hospitality industry using a monochromatic carpet. The place is only weeks old and the carpet is already showing spill spots from food and drink.
    The seating is uncomfortable. The cushion fabric looks old already.
    This place would be so great. But Lucky’s comments are right.
    They need new management pronto.

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