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DESIGNER STAYS: The TWA Hotel... Catch it if you can.

Part-destination, part-museum, and entirely retro chic, The TWA Hotel captures the authenticity and glamour of mid-century air travel.

photos by David Mitchell; courtesy of The TWA Hotel

exterior of The TWA Hotel at JFK Airport

You know those people who arrive at the airport two hours before their flight like they're supposed to? As it turns out, I'm not one of them.

But all that has changed... at least when it comes to being on time - or better yet, early, for a flight out of New York's JFK airport, because with the creation of The TWA Hotel, I now have even more reason to arrive hours - if not days - in advance of my departure.

Backstory: When the TWA terminal - a masterpiece by renowned American-Finnish mid-century architect Eero Saarinen - opened in 1962, it epitomized the glamour and optimism of the Jet Age. The structure was designated a New York City landmark in 1994, and a few years after its 2001 closure, was listed on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places.

Eero Saarinen’s soaring terminal serves as the heart of the TWA Hotel.

TWA Hotel check-in; stairs to Flight Tube No. 1 and Saarinen Wing

Almost two decades later, in a massive endeavor led by the planning, architecture, and design firm Beyer Blinder Belle, the beloved building was restored, and through development by hotel juggernaut MCR and execution by the combined talents of Brooklyn-based studio Lubrano Ciavarra Architects and NYC-based architecture and design firm Stonehill Taylor, two brand new hotel wings were constructed behind it.

The result: JFK’s only on-airport hotel, featuring 512 soundproof guest rooms, the vibrant Paris Café by Jean-Georges where the thrill of watching planes take off enhances the tempting menu, the swanky Sunken Lounge cocktail bar situated in the terminal's legendary "chili pepper red" carpeted lounge, a rooftop infinity pool and observation deck with views of runway 4 Left/22 Right, and nostalgic museum exhibitions curated by the New-York Historical Society.

The Sunken Lounge features TWA's original "chili pepper red" carpet and authentic "penny" tile.

At the TWA Hotel's onsite restaurant, the Paris Café by French chef and world-famous restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten, patrons can watch planes take off while dining

While the hotel already captivated me with its vintage-y, nostalgic vibe (augmented with piped-in '60s music) I do also love a good convenience, so the easy access right from terminal 5 was swell by me. Repurposing is my jam, so the ingenuious transformation of the Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A aircraft into a cocktail lounge was not lost on me. If you've been reading my blogs, you've probably caught on that I'm a shopper, so if you think I didn't leave with a porcelain tray emblazoned with TWA's iconic penny tile pattern, a set of enamel pin-on wings, and a kitschy flight bag from the hotel gift shop, then you are sorely mistaken.

1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” airplane, now reimagined as a cocktail lounge

The hotel's rooftop infinity pool and observation deck overlooks JFK’s bustling runway.

TWA Hotel executive suite

Rare vintage TWA air hostess uniforms on display at The TWA Hotel are part of museum exhibitions curated by the New-York Historical Society.

But what really, really blew my TWA logo sport socks off (yup, bought those too) was the design. Everything from the sweeping, soaring architecture to the authentic Knoll furnishings (the Womb Chair, Executive Chair, and Pedestal Table punctuate the space in all their iconic glory) is a love poem for American-Finnish architect and Mid-Century Modern megastar Eero Saarinen - the visionary behind the original 1962 terminal. The TWA hotel was built in its image... and man, does it ever do it justice.

vintage suitcase packed with retro TWA memorabilia exhibited at the TWA Hotel

If your stressful holiday travels should lead to a layover at JFK, do not despair. Just check in, unwind, and then... ladies and gentleman, please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for takeoff.

For further information or to book your stay, visit:

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