When I heard about the TWA Hotel and JFK Airport my first thought was, “How soon can I get there?” It took almost a year, but I can tick the mid-century modern mecca off my bucket list.
Not that I need an excuse to go somewhere special, but as Greg’s birthday approached, I wanted something that spoke to our mutual love of aviation, felt a little “splurgy” and would make it a birthday to remember. The TWA Hotel ticked every item on my list and exceeded my hopes.
We arrived in the darkness of a cold winter evening in New York City. The ride from terminal 8 to terminal 5 was super easy on the Air Train. Signs along the way made it almost impossible to miss a turn.
The hotel is the original TWA Terminal which has been painstakingly restored. The Eero Saarinen design still sends a weary traveler’s mind into the sky with its wing styling. The lobby soars and welcomes in a style that harkens back to days gone by.
Every detail was perfect! We checked in with a modern twist on the kiosk machines lining the counter that once housed check-in for passengers.
From there it was a stroll halfway down the classic red carpet-lined tube that led to the elevator.
Even the floor of the elevator was branded in classic TWA styling.
The hall to our room swept elegantly past wooden doors accented with gold trim, little shelves and period light fixtures.
I’d checked with the hotel before the trip to see if there was anything special I could arrange for Greg’s birthday. While COVID restrictions meant no cake or champagne, the hotel generously left a gift bag and “Happy Birthday” note that welcomed us to our runway-view suite.
We dropped our things and headed out to explore. The hotel features several exhibits that bring the 60s to life. There was a working photo booth (although the emailed pics still have not shown up in my inbox)…
A living room that took me back to my youth. It was there we ran into a foursome from the city who had come to take a Christmas card photo with a polaroid camera!
We snapped a pic for them and they offered us one in return.
Eero Saarinen’s office is recreated for guests to poke around in. The drawers of his cabinet opened to reveal blueprints of the hotel.
Howard Hughes, who owned TWA, had an office nearby. It, too, is recreated with all the little details you’d expect, including a really big ashtray!
Up one of the sweeping staircases off the lobby you can walk past the history of TWA stewardess (now flight attendants) uniforms designed by the likes of Stan Herman, Oleg Cassini and Ralph Lauren.
It seemed everywhere we turned we spotted something that made us stop and stare.
The rooftop “Runway Chalet” lounge offered drinks and bar bites in a setting that had me searching for my lift pass and ski boots. Teo, our waiter, snapped a pic as we warmed ourselves by the fireplace (OK, not really, it was fake, but oh so very perfect for the setting).
Dinner in the Paris Cafe dazzled our taste buds with smoked-chili rigatoni and crunchy fish tacos washed down with a fun and tasty bottle of Chianti.
It was hard to head back to our room, but once there we sat in the dark watching jumbo jets headed to international destinations take to the night sky. After a blissful night’s sleep in the shockingly comfortable bed, I awoke to that runway view just beyond Greg as he dozed next to me.
We’re already trying to figure out when and how to go back. There were a few things closed due to COVID-19 that we must go back to see … like the Lockheed Constellation parked outside that has been converted to a bar. We missed at least one display. The TWA shop was closed. A return trip seems necessary!
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Splurge a little and explore something on your bucket list.
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