Imagine hopping off your plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport and strolling into your hotel room in a matter of minutes. This isn’t your standard, sterile airport hotel. It’s a playground, a museum, a dining destination, and a time machine that plops you back into the “Golden Age of Flying.” Once you get to know the TWA Hotel, you’ll be booking a longer layover at JFK.

Main lobby and great hall of the TWA Hotel
Architect Eero Saarinen’s soaring 1960s TWA Airlines terminal serves as the heart of the TWA Hotel. Image: TWA Hotel

Why stay here?

As a frequent traveler to Europe, I have come to appreciate day flights so much more than overnight ones. I’d rather have a full night’s sleep in the States, fly during the day, and start my international trip sleepy in the morning but alert at night rather than desperately trying to sleep on the plane and then forcing myself to stay up once abroad. But even if you’re just at JFK for a few hours, TWA Hotel welcomes you with open wings.

The Sunken Lounge at the TWA Hotel with a split flap departures board by Solari di Udine
The Sunken Lounge at the TWA Hotel boasts a split flap departures board by Solari di Udine. Image: TWA Hotel

The convenience of TWA Hotel opens up your travel plans. You can fly into JFK one afternoon and then book the morning flight to your international destination. Delta, Jet Blue, and American fly direct to JFK from Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston, and New Orleans. Your jet lag will thank me, but you’ll also start your trip in the most perfect way. (We love direct flights and have comprehensive guides to no-layover options from Memphis and Nashville.)

Explore the hotel’s architectural wonders

As you walk into the colossus, cavernous main hall, the mid-mod architecture stops you in your tracks. The hotel opened in 2019 and centers around the original headhouse of the TWA Flight Center. It was designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1962 and stopped functioning as an air terminal in 2001. The developers (Morse Development) added two flanking similarly designed buildings to house the hotel’s 512 rooms, conference space, restaurants, and aviation history museum.

The TWA Hotel pool club on the runway at JFK airport
The hotel is steps from the airport, making it both conveniently close to your arrival or departure gate and the perfect place to watch the comings and goings of one of the country’s most famous runways. Image: TWA Hotel

Ogle the original details and historic ephemera

Checking into TWA Hotel feels like checking into a flight in the original 1960s terminal. A conveyer belt with luggage moves hastily to nowhere behind the check-in desk. Multiple old-school split-flap boards magically spell out fresh departure and arrival information every half hour or so. Everything is chili pepper red and high-wattage white, trimmed in brass, and wrapped in boucle and velvet.

TWA Hotel lounge at JFK
If you don’t need an overnight room but want a place to hang out and work for multiple hours between flights, the hotel offers a Daytripper rate and Resort Pass pool reservations. Image: TWA Hotel
Checkin at TWA Hotel
After checking in at the mile-long counter to the left, you’ll want to ditch the luggage and explore. Image: TWA Hotel

Step back in time

After checking in, I wandered over to the Hall of Kleins, where dozens of artist David Klein’s famous, color-drenched TWA travel posters flank the hall. Enlarged photos and news blurbs of historic aviation moments line the tubular walls to the appropriately matching hotel “wings.” Navigating your whole stay is like walking through a museum. You’ll want to read every word on every plaque and, once you’ve documented enough to make your friends jealous, put the phone away and unplug to the soothing tunes of Elvis and Frank.

Vintage TWA airline crew outfits and uniform on display at TWA Hotel
A collection of rare vintage TWA crew uniforms — including those designed by Valentino, Stan Herman, and Ralph Lauren — are on display on the hotel mezzanine. Image: TWA Hotel

After taking in the vintage artifacts and photos that paint the airline’s history, it’s time for some FUN. There’s shopping, drinking, dining, swimming, playing, and more.

Sweet N Glow salon
At the Sweet’N Glow Salon, the famous pink sweetener packet has decked out a 60s beauty parlor with beehive hair dryers, vintage magazines, and wacky wigs you can pose in. Image: TWA Hotel
Sweet N Glow retro salon and Twister Room at the TWA Hotel
One wall away, a giant Twister game fills a boxy room complete with a wall-mounted spinner. Image: TWA Hotel

Hang out in Connie: a 50s plane turned cocktail bar

In 2018, a Lockheed Constellation L-1649 Starliner (cutely named Connie) traveled more than 300 miles from Maine to the hotel site to be converted into a dreamy cocktail bar. She was featured on Saturday Night Live and even made an appearance in Times Square to bolster excitement for the TWA Hotel opening.

Woman walking up the stairs of Connie
Commissioned in 1939 by TWA’s eccentric owner, Howard Hughes. “Connie” broke the era’s transcontinental speed record on a flight from Burbank, California, to New York in 1946. The plane also served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. Image: Darci Marriott

Walking outside the hotel and toward the plane, I imagine it’s how you feel walking toward a private jet, with little to no personnel waving things around or yelling over intercoms. But it also just felt beautifully serene. No jet engine noise, just wide open space — a rarity in any airport or during any travel day.

Inside of Connie the airline cocktail bar at TWA Hotel
Grab a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail and pull up a seat. There are no seat assignments in Connie, and the cockpit is fair game!
Image: Eric Laignel

Lift up to the pool club overlooking JFK’s airstrip

There’s nothing like watching planes come and go to tap into that childhood wonder. Before or after dinner, take the elevator up to the hotel’s year-round pool club. The rooftop infinity pool is ready to cool you off in the summer and turns into a 95-degree pool-cuzzi in the winter. The Pool Bar serves mile-high cocktails and delicious fare year-round, but the view is the main event.

TWA Hotel Pool woman in pool watching planes take off
The pool, observation deck, and Pool Bar have two seasons — Summer/Fall and Winter/Spring. Each season has different reservation policies, which are explained online. Image: TWA Hotel

The observation deck boasts an unfettered view of the famous Bay Runway. Measuring almost 3 miles long, it’s the second-longest commercial runway in North America and served as the backup landing strip for NASA’s Space Shuttle. But the deck and bar are surprisingly peaceful despite the heavy runway traffic at this bank of JFK gates.

Dine in Paris Cafe: a Jean George restaurant

When appetites rear, head to your reservation at Paris Café. The Chef Jean George restaurant encompasses the entire footprint of the 1962 terminal’s original Paris Café and Lisbon Lounge, which were outfitted by famed Parisian industrial designer Raymond Loewy (the mind behind the 1955 Coca-Cola contour bottle, the 1959 TWA twin globes logo, the 1963 Studebaker Avanti, and the 1962 Air Force One livery). The butternut squash soup, half-roasted cauliflower, and perfect Caesar salad hit the spot before a peaceful night a few floors up.

Restaurant at TWA Hotel
The Paris Café by Chef Jean-Georges serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner — as well as fantastic views. Image: TWA Hotel

The only thing that pushed me to leave this hotel was the flight I had to catch to London, but I cannot wait to check back in.


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Zoe Yarborough
About the Author
Zoe Yarborough

Zoe is a StyleBlueprint staff writer, Charlotte native, Washington & Lee graduate, and Nashville transplant of eleven years. She teaches Pilates, helps manage recording artists, and likes to "research" Germantown's food scene.