Ever wanted to travel back in time and experience life from a different decade? Well, prepare to go back to the ethos of the 1960s when visiting the new Trans World Airlines (TWA) Hotel at New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport. The former airport terminal has been revamped and restored to its 20th-century charm, but this time with a catch — it’s a hotel! Despite its leap from an airport terminal to offering nightly accommodations, it still holds the same vintage 1960s flare, complete with TWA’s signature red and white color scheme.
Here’s what travelers think about the TWA Hotel experience, plus a bit of hotel — and terminal — history.
What’s The Verdict On The New Hotel?
People were bursting with excitement to visit the new hotel and catch a glimmer of the 1960s experience as soon as it opened on May 15, 2019. Did the new shiny hotel live up to its expectations?
Len Testa, a travel writer for TouringPlans, has stayed at the hotel twice — once on opening night and again in June. He told TravelAwaits that on opening night he got the impression of the hotel being “a disaster.” The first thing he noticed was that his suite didn’t have a bathroom door.
“At first I thought this was an intentional design choice, like, ‘Oh, in Europe they’ve done away with bathroom doors, so we’re going to do that here.’ But when I asked the hotel staff if my bathroom should have a door, they got a panicked look on their faces and said, ‘Oh Lord, yes.’” He had to move rooms.
On top of that, he said the bathroom lights and the window shades weren’t working. The furniture hadn’t all been fully put together and drawer handles were still packed away in the drawers for shipping. The elevators for one side of the hotel were down for most of the night and the pool wasn’t finished.
Despite the malfunctions of opening night, Testa said the 1960s theme was captured perfectly. The staff and most of the guests also kept positive attitudes. “I think most people were just excited to see it finally open,” said Testa.
Luckily, his second visit in June ran much smoother.
“I’m happy to say that all of the hotel issues were resolved by the time of my second visit earlier this month. The rooms are beautiful and stylish, the beds and pillows are comfortable, and it looks like everything works throughout the entire hotel. I’m looking forward to staying there again.”
Another visitor, travel blogger Rachel Heller of Rachel’s Ruminations, told TravelAwaits, “For me, it provided a bit of nostalgia since I passed through that terminal as a small child more than once. I was most impressed with the look of the place — the attention to detail and use of the TWA logo. It was all very effectively done.”
How The TWA Terminal Assumed Its New Identity
TWA’s territory inside of JFK was once one of the most traveled-through terminals in the world. The space was projected to have 7 million passengers travel through its lively terminal in its first five years, but wound up accommodating 11 million travelers in that time.
The terminal was designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the mastermind behind the construction of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, distinctive General Motors buildings, Washington Dulles Airport, and several other impeccably designed buildings. Unlike his other projects, the TWA terminal “had an experience to sell,” according to publisher City Lab. Highlighting the allurement of the ’60s, Saarinen made the TWA terminal quite the experience for those that had the chance to witness it.
The terminal, unfortunately, was forced to close in 2001 after struggling to keep up with modern terminals that offered more amenities and conveniences.
After 18 years of relative dormancy, the terminal was reopened — reimagined and redesigned into an elegant hotel with the same charm the terminal had during its prime in the ’60s.
Tyler Morse, the CEO of MCR and Morse Development, the company who won the renovation bid, told Time, “Right when you walk in, you’re going to feel like you’re in 1962. It was this amazing year, and anything was possible in America. So that’s the ethos and the spirit that we’re capturing as you walk into the building.”
Despite a somewhat shaky start, it appears that the TWA Hotel at JFK has accomplished exactly what it set out to do — bring back the glamour of the 1960s TWA terminal. For more information on the hotel’s amenities, booking, and prices, visit the TWA Hotel at JFK online.
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