It’s been 57 years since it first opened, and 18 years it’s been closed to the public, but late last week the hotly anticipated TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport began taking reservations for stays later this year.
The effort to re-open Eero Saarinen’s masterpiece — it was declared a NYC landmark in 1994 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places — has been years in the making. An example of mid-century, space-age architecture with influences from a number of other architectural canons, the hotel has been lovingly restored by developer MCR and Turner Construction Company over the past two years and will welcome its first guests in May.
A highlight of the structure when it first opened in 1962, the reopened lounge looks much like it did five decades ago. Design details include floor-to-ceiling windows, a split flap departures board by Solari di Udine that reveals custom messages, authentic white penny tile and the original Chili Pepper Red carpet. Guests can take all this in while sipping 1960s-era cocktail favorites including the Old Fashioned and the Aviation.
Two, six-story wings took shape behind Saarinen’s original design to house the 512 guest rooms, designed by NYC firm Stonehill Taylor. The rooms feature mid-century era-appropriate details such as 4.5-inch thick Fabbrica glass-curtain walls that abate runway noise, custom wet bars built from walnut, glass, mirrors, brushed brass and crystallized glass, Knoll furnishings and warm wood accents, and vintage rotary phones on Saarinen Pedestal tulip tables that are retrofitted for today’s technology.
To get to their room, guests walk through the original TWA Flight Center departure and arrival tubes, which were featured in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can. Check out these unique walkways in the photos below.
With a painstaking restoration— including equipping the cockpit with controls — the TWA Hotel developers turned an original 1958 Connie airplane, one of only four left on the planet, into a cocktail lounge.
Design lovers will find so much more to explore at the hotel. From the custom-built Amish millwork walnut martini bars and tambour walls to the 10,000-square-foot rooftop renovation deck and pool area to the on-site museum devoted to the Jet Age, TWA and mid-century modern design, the TWA Hotel is definitely a bucket-list destination.
Photos by Max Touhey