Spoiler Alert: Absolutely! As a former flight attendant going back to experience the golden age of aviation at the TWA Hotel at JFK International Airport was beyond a dream for me. It was nostalgic and everything I envisioned when I first thought of flying and traveling for a living as a little girl.
I often mention my background in the airline industry because it was my dream career for as long as I could remember. As a kid of divorced parents, I frequently traveled with my sister alone to visit my mother. I can remember obsessively watching the flight attendants on our flights and taking in all their interactions between customers and each other. The classy, sexy, sophisticated way they talked and walked throughout the airport and then on the plane without ever breaking a sweat. That’s how I saw it in my preteen young mind. The uniforms, the hair, the heels, the lipstick. It was memorializing.
By the time I started my career with American Airlines, it was a few months before 9/11 and everything changed overnight. The airline industry was never the same again.
So I guess I still feel a longing for those days too.
Ok. So, Where is The TWA Hotel Located?
The TWA Hotel is conveniently located at the JFK International Airport. A base that I am very familiar with from my days of flying internationally. JFK has changed a lot in the last few years and thankfully so! The easiest way to access the TWA Hotel is from inside Terminal 5 – just follow the signs!
If you’re traveling by car as we did, once you enter the airport vicinity you can’t miss the signs that easily direct you to the hotel valet.
Another huge, kind of hard-to-miss sight is the gorgeous lineup of pristinely restored vintage classics perfectly parked at the entrance of this incredible time warp back to the 60s heyday. I had to snap a few photos of my daughter, Stella because she could never understand (at least not right now) how darn groovy it was to see her in this setting. It was a trip!
Check-In: Blast From The Past
As soon as you walk in, OH. MY. GOD. Talk about a Blast From The Bast! It truly is like stepping back in time 50 years ago. The lobby is the most authentic part of the entire hotel. As we walked in, I couldn’t help but feel this incredible sense of sentimental longing and nostalgia.
Traveling back then was so simple and innocent and exciting and SAFE. It was the true definition of an adventure. I felt all those things when we walked in and I couldn’t wait to share it with my kids!
Exploring The Lobby
The TWA Hotel lobby is full of some serious gems. First, let’s just go back and try to remember those pay phone days. Now, do you remember being able to call for just 10¢? Well, you can at the TWA Hotel lobby payphone!
How about TAB? Conceived in 1962 – The year the TWA Flight Center opened – TAB was one of the first diet colas. Check out its origin story in this fabulous promo board by the poppin’ lobby bar.
Twister back in 1966 was originally thought of as a bit too risqué for kids, but of course, now it’s just another reminder of simpler times. We loved seeing this little pop-up Twister vignette in the lobby not only as a fully functional interactive game but also as an awesome piece of vintage art.
The shoe shine was just too sweet to miss out on. It reminded me of my father’s boyhood stories of shining shoes to make enough change to buy candy when he was just about my daughter’s age. Priceless!
The TWA photo booth is such a fun detail as well. Old school with a modern twist – it prints your photos in color, black and white or you can have them digitally sent to an email address. Smart.
We arrived just in time for happy hour so I definitely need to get one of their fun cocktails served in a collectible TWA plastic cup. I had to sit back and take it all in. I imagined sitting at the bar back in the day, enjoying a cocktail as I waited for my flight to take me on another trip somewhere in the friendly skies… ahhh.
What Are The Rooms Like?
With authentic midcentury modern furnishings, the guest rooms along with the hallways are super groovy. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking for a room with a view of the airport or tarmac, you do have to pay a bit extra. Prices vary between each guest room and their location but overall, I thought the extra expense was SO worth it. Why visit if you’re not going to immerse yourself in the whole moment of it all?
The room is also equipped with a rotary phone which we immediately wanted to see if our kids had any idea how to make a phone call. Let’s just say it took a few minutes and it was incredibly fun to watch!
TWA Hotel Amenities
One of the best amenities of the TWA Hotel is its rooftop pool and Runway Chalet. It’s only available to TWA guests and with its heated pool and amazing views, it’s definitely one of the best spots in all of JFK airport. My kids loved it too! They immediately changed into their swimsuits and jumped right into the pool. The entire outdoor rooftop vibe is so cool and unique – ideal for a fun spring break staycation or a layover to your final vacation destination through JFK.
You can’t miss the Runway Chalet in the signature TWA RED. Although our visit was in November and it was a bit chilly outdoors, the chalet was warm, cozy and so much fun. The throwback to the 60s memorabilia was super neat to experience.
The Runway Chalet Bar also offers some really cheeky signature cocktails like the Quickie Vacation and the Vodka Is My Co-Pilot along with some great-looking food options like hummus, crudités, charcuterie platter, flatbreads, slider trios, and potstickers.
Ok, The Connie is EVERYTHING. The Connie is a fully restored Lockheed Constellation airplane converted into a bar /lounge moment and it is absolutely fascinating!
Commissioned in 1939 by TWA’s eccentric owner, Howard Hughes (second from right with New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia, far left, in 1939), the Lockheed Constellation “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 (top) for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.
Here’s What You Need To Know About Connie
- There is free and open access to it for all. You do not need a room reservation to see it up close.
- While the interior is converted to a fully functioning bar and lounge, the cockpit and forward section of the aircraft are fully restored and very much like a museum exhibit. It’s quite a sight!
- If you want to be absolutely sure that you’ll have the opportunity to grab a drink inside the Connie, be sure to make a reservation. There are certain times of the day when it gets very busy and without a reservation, you will be denied access (since seating inside is very limited).
TWA Museum Exhibits
One thing that is noticeably different throughout the TWA Hotel is the lack of staff greeting guests as you would normally see in other hotels. The hotel is set up like a museum with really fascinating vignettes and memorabilia that add to the overall retro-mod look that was the hallmark of the 60s design style.
The TWA Shop
The TWA Shop has everything you need to take a little bit of that nostalgia back home as a souvenir. On our way out I had to pick up a pin, a t-shirt, and some cute tennis socks. I really wanted it all but I was pleasantly surprised when they offered me this really cute shopping bag for my items!
At the end of every flight during my time with the airlines, the pilot would call the crew up to the front of the cabin for a recap or end-of-mission meeting, aka “debriefing” of the flight – so here we go!
My overall feeling about this hotel is gratitude. Let me explain. It’s not often that a group of people come together to rescue a passion project like restoring an old hotel and breathe new life into a forgotten time. I love that we get to “relive” the beautiful aviation era of the 60s and 70s and immerse ourselves in a simpler yet more vibrant time full of color and textures.
I also love that we got to share this with our kids, even if they don’t exactly understand the significance of the experience just yet. It’s a memory that I am so happy I captured in this blog and hope you enjoyed reading as well.
If you have any questions regarding this blog, the hotel, or would like more information on our family travel content, please leave a comment below and I’d love to reach out and help! You can also look us up on Instagram @weekendfamgoals
Thanks for reading and until the next adventure, bye-bye!