TWA Hotel Limits Observation Deck Access

Filed Under: Hotels

The TWA Hotel JFK opened this spring, and is a dream come true for any aviation geek. I reviewed my mixed experience at the TWA Hotel a couple of weeks ago.

The hotel absolutely blew me away in terms of the design. Wow, wow, wow. I can’t even imagine how much money they spent turning this into an aviation geek’s paradise. However, there were also aspects of the service and some policies that didn’t make much sense to me.

As I noted in my review, this hotel is most definitely changing at what US airport I’d try to overnight. But beyond that, this hotel might even impact at which airport I’d try to connect:

  • The TWA Hotel JFK has day rooms available
  • You don’t even really need a day room, though; anyone can hang out in the lobby, and non-guests can make reservations at all of their food & beverage outlets

One of the coolest aspects of the TWA Hotel is the rooftop pool & bar. This outdoor space has a pool, as well as a restaurant and bar.

While the setup in general is nice, what makes this so special is the plane spotting, as you have a direct view of Terminals 4 & 5.

Up until now the observation deck has been open to the public. Frankly I’m a bit surprised that has been their policy. Not only could non-guests make reservations for the bar up there, but anyone could just walk up there and plane spot.

The policy is surprising, and I definitely noticed it “in action” while having food & drinks here. I saw people bringing outside food and drinks and sitting down at one of the bar’s tables.

Well, it looks like the TWA Hotel is now limiting access to the observation deck, per a policy change in the past couple of days. As before, hotel guests have unlimited access to the pool and observation deck.

However, for non-hotel guests:

  • You can make a reservation at The Pool Bar, but there’s a $50 per person minimum for food and beverages, plus a 20% gratuity
  • You can purchase a day pass to swim in the pool between 11AM and 11PM; the cost for anyone over two years of age is $25 per person on weekdays, and $50 per person on weekends

Bottom line

The TWA Hotel has changed their policy when it comes to observation & pool deck access.

Previously all non-guests could go to the rooftop for free and/or make a reservation for free. Now there’s a $50 per person minimum for food & beverages, or otherwise you can swim for $25-50. You can’t just go to the rooftop without a reservation or pass anymore.

The only positive here is that I don’t believe non-guests were previously supposed to swim, while now they can. Then again, since anyone can access the rooftop, I do wonder how they previously prevented non-guests from swimming.

What do you make of this TWA Hotel policy change?

(Tip of the hat to Joseph)

  1. > there’s a $50 per person minimum for food and beverages, plus a 20% gratuity

    So like two waters and an apple last I checked the prices?

  2. I’ve been seeing posts on Instagram showing dozens of people in the pool, the deck loaded and people partying….but I never saw many picture of drinks or food. They were seemingly there for the afternoon…. and not hotel guests. Obviously they couldn’t control who was on the pool or up on the deck and the local crowds were driving out the paid guests, all while spending little or no money.

  3. @Ben I’m surprised they had an open door policy on the pool deck because when I went, they didn’t. You had to have a reservation to use the pool deck and someone at the front of the pool would check to see if you had a key. So this doesn’t surprise me that they are doing this now. Kinda inconsistent. ‍♀️

  4. I’ve been up there a few times (I live locally) and it’s always been really busy. I’ve had a few drinks and, on one occasion, dinner and it seems to be the people in the pool aren’t generally buying drinks or eating anything.

  5. This has to be one of the worst run hotels. Architecturally and from a design perspective, it is stunning. Service wise, nearly 3 months since it opened, it is still a mess.

  6. I just stayed there a couple of days ago. I am glad that they are instituting this policy because, as a hotel guest, we could barely find a chair. They should have done that from the beginning. I wrote a review of my stay in Yelp and TripAdvisor. Facilities are great. But the service sucks greatly!!! And for what they charge, definitely hotel guests should have priority.

  7. When I was there for 2 days in June, the pool deck was closed, which in context, was a minor inconvenience given the goat rodeo that was the rest of my stay. My advice to anyone thinking about touring this hotel…go have a drink on Connie, maybe a sandwich in the renovated terminal (if the food venues are open…it’s still a roll of the dice). Then, save yourself some grief and a pile of cash, and get out of there.

  8. Interesting to read this. I think it would be cool to swim there on a long layover, but I don’t have any flights through JFK planned in the near future!

  9. I stayed there in early June just after the rooftop pool opened. While there were many issues with the hotel (particularly regarding a limited food operation that required reservations for each of 3 meals a day) the more I look back on my stay the more incredible I believe it was. And the biggest secret of all about it ? The gym! In the hotel cellar and bigger than most commercial gyms! Been in hotel gyms from Havana to Hanoi and this appears not only the largest but most well equipped I’ve ever seen.

  10. @Ben why day rooms don’t make sense you recon? To me it makes. Imagine a transit passenger coming after a long flight and a tough jet-lag. He lands in the morning and has a ten hours transit. So he can get a room and rest .

    No? Or am I missing something?

  11. LNYC: I found this also – it’s a shame that VERY VERY few US independent hotels have a clue on how to run things these days. There are exceptions but they are far and few between

  12. They allow you to reserve a deluxe king room for US$ 149 (plus fees) for 2 people from 10am to 4pm which includes full use of all the hotel facilities. Great deal if you are looking to use the pool and have a snack and drink at the rooftop.

  13. Once again people bringing outside food and drink, thinking they are above the rule ruins it for everyone. I don’t even use a bathroom at a gas station without buying something. Its costs money to maintain things and its just common courtesy to.

  14. We were just there 2 days ago. Although we took a room for the day which gave us access to the pool, they did not ask if we were a hotel guest. All they asked was if we made a reservation for a table at the bar. This leads me to believe that yes technically anyone can come in and use the pool. However, what bothered us most was that the rooftop pool and bar area is quite small with only about 8 Beach chairs and a few tables . So if most are reserved and some are taken by outsiders that left us paying hotel guests with our bags and clothing in a corner on the floor. To top it all off a crew came in doing a photo shoot for Bergdof Goodman, on hot wheels like they’re God’s gift to humanity and kicked 4 out of the 8 chair users off their chairs. Overall it’s a nice pool and experience but not such a professional atmosphere.

  15. I’d sad to read that your experience was mixed. I grew up in St. Louis, so when my dad traveled for business in the 80s and 90s, he flew TWA several times per week—our hometown airline! I would love to go here with him!

  16. Stayed here 11 days after opening. Pool empty then, service throughout a shambles. Doesn’t appear to have changed much. Common sense to restrict day-trippers from the pool area; why didn’t they work that out from the start?
    What grated on me was the necessity to make reservations for everything. Who knows when you will feel like eating, or having a cocktail?
    The end bill is as long as your arm with all (their) fees, surcharges, and taxes. What appears reasonable works out expensive.
    They need to bring in a small team from a 5 star chain hotel to do a wholesale re-set of the entire operation. Otherwise it will continue to get word-of-mouth ‘meh’ ratings, meaning plenty of vacant rooms. Would be a great pity to see it overrun by large groups of package-tour Chinese getting cutprice deals to fill it up. Just sayin’ ……..

  17. Well consider my upcoming reservation cancelled. $50/person plus 20% gratuity is absurd. Not only is that a lot for one meal, it’s borderline irresponsible on their part considering their limited food menu and the price of the drinks. Most of the food items on the menu range from $16-20, so you’re expected to hit the $50 min. with alcohol during a reservation that only lasts two hours. Beer is $9, wine is mostly $14-17/glass, and the cocktails are $16. Sure, I can handle two-three drinks in that time span, but it’s not exactly what I plan to do before boarding a TATL flight in J where I’ll be served even more alcohol.

  18. Our recent stay was the least comfortable of any hotel I’ve stayed in. The zoo that was the pool deck and bar was completely unacceptable lacking both service and exclusivity. We were ignored both on the pool deck and in the bar. My observations to this effect upon departure were ignored. Even the most cursory look at the reviews of this hotel reveal a deeply flawed business plan. Entirely unacceptable.

  19. They should take a page from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, which strictly limits the pool access to guests. They do enforce it, so their guests will not be overwhelmed by outsiders.

    It is a spectacular pool and well worth booking a stay.

  20. Visited for an hour, and had a weird experience in the lobby bars – the upstairs ones were open “only from 1300 again” if I remember correctly, while the downstairs one had service and an alcohol-only menu (at 10-ish). Server was friendly and nice, but had to ask (!) if there was tea or coffee (there was), which was then served in a (nice and branded) paper cup. Don’t remember what I paid, but it wasn’t out if the ordinary.
    Have to agree that setup still seems pretty messy. The souvenir shop with all the TWA avgeek stuff is cool though, and the rotary payphones allegedly have “a special message from TWA” if you dial 5 (which only yielded a busy signal when I tried).
    Stunning property, and wouldn’t mind paying 25 USD for a day pass – after all it’s one of two pools known to me with a direct airport view, the other one being at Changi.

  21. Wel I like exclusivity :-), I hope they get a better game going by time I get there on Thanksgiving Eve for the start of RTW19 3.0. Probably won’t worry about the pool, but hope the bar is still open.

    As far as the minimum charge, it is not out of line. I celebrated my Prime # Birthday a couple weeks ago at the Spire 73 high atop the Intercontinental DT with a $200 minimum for 3 people to have a table reservation. Well with a not cheap bottle of CA sparkling wine and $21 martinis and bar food (good burger) we blew past that minimum in no time. Still lots of fun.

  22. @Bill n DC

    Except going to the TWA pool bar before a flight isn’t exactly like celebrating your birthday. Time, place, and context all come into play here. Reservations here are for a two hour window and at the prices listed on their menu, you’re talking about two-three drinks plus an entree to hit $50 in that time. Certainly doable, but not advisable IMO if you’re then going to board a flight in J class and continue to drink. Plus, if you’re travelling alone or with one companion, you’re not likely to order a whole bottle of wine. Considering how many reports there are of drunk and unruly pax there are these days, they should be encouraging moderation.

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