June 16, 2024
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Not Going Anywhere This Winter? Head to the Airport Anyway

The interior of the TWA Hotel lobby.

In 1962, iconic mid-century architect Eero Saarinen completed the newest terminal at New York International Airport for Trans World Airlines. The terminal, which would later become known as the TWA Flight Center (within the airport, which would later become known as John F. Kennedy [JFK] International), boasted a futuristic, two-story head house made with a pioneering thin-shell structure — an architectural marvel of the era. The TWA Flight Center incorporated multiple new innovations, including closed circuit television, baggage carousels, split-flap electronic display boards and a central public broadcasting system. The new terminal became the pinnacle of air travel in the 1960s.

Fast forward to 2001, and after a rough decade of business, Trans World Airlines decided to sell all of its assets to American Airlines, including its flight center at JFK. After some deliberation, the Port Authority ultimately determined to shut down functional use of the TWA Flight Center and in 2004, JetBlue signed an agreement with JFK to build a brand-new terminal adjacent to the flight center, which received historical designation in 2005. The old terminal and head house sat unused for about a decade, until Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that it would become the new site of the TWA Hotel, which eventually opened its doors in 2019.

Fast forward again to this winter break and you’ve decided not to book any trips, perhaps to save some money, or due to some procrastination in planning or even because you simply don’t feel like going anywhere. But now that everyone is headed to the airport to embark on their vacations, you’re starting to feel like you should at least do something — even if it is less than an hour from your home — and that something should be a staycation at the historic TWA Hotel.

The exterior of the TWA Hotel.

Transport yourself back in time with a visit to this architectural sensation at JFK, which offers plenty to see and do during the day and has over 500 hotel rooms to choose from if you decide to stay overnight. The original Saarinen head house serves as the hotel lobby and contains beautiful mid-century modern furnishings and decor, with no reservations required to enter. Explore the TWA Hotel’s museum, curated in partnership with the New York Historical Society, which contains artifacts from air travel throughout the 20th century. Visit the Twister Room, a room completely covered wall-to-wall with the iconic 1960’s family game, to test your flexibility. Or, pay a visit to the rooftop pool, which is heated to 95 degrees year-round and open from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. In the evening, grab a drink at the Connie Cocktail Lounge, a 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” airplane that sits on the tarmac outside of the hotel and serves an assortment of liquors and spirits.

There are also cafes and lounges for dining at the TWA Hotel, less appealing for the kosher consumer. Thankfully, JFK is minutes from plenty of kosher restaurants in the Five Towns, which means that either you can plan to grab lunch or dinner on your way over or you can leave the hotel during your overnight stay for a nice evening on the town before returning to your room. Or, if you don’t want to leave, many kosher options are available for delivery to the hotel via couriers such as Uber Eats and Seamless.

Should you choose to stay overnight, rooms at the TWA Hotel start at $279 for a standard king and range all the way to the Saarinen Presidential Suite at nearly $700 for the night. Guests can select whether their room faces the JFK runway (don’t worry, the rooms are all soundproof). and can also opt to extend their stay after checkout by booking a “Daytripper” pass, which allows for continued access to the room and luggage storage as well as the hotel amenities. The beauty of visiting the TWA Hotel, however, is that there is no need to stay over to marvel at the time capsule; it’s there for you to see whenever and however.

The Connie Cocktail Lounge.

Parking at the hotel is valet only and no reservation is required. Rates begin at $28 an hour, with a daily maximum of $80. If you don’t want to spend money on parking, the TWA Hotel is accessible via JFK Terminal 5 which can be reached via the AirTrain ($8.25 fare).

So even if you weren’t planning on going anywhere this winter break, you should head to the airport; it’s the perfect staycation. More information and booking is available at twahotel.com.


Channa Fischer is the digital editor at The Jewish Link.

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