TWA Hotel at JFK Review


I don’t remember how I stumbled on to knowing about the TWA Hotel a few months ago but ever since I did so I have had a real urge to visit it. The photos looked amazing in the articles I saw and I loved the ‘Mad Men’ / ‘Catch Me If You Can’ vibe of the whole place. So when I booked a trip to NYC on a whim to attend the ‘Beyond the Streets’ exhibition I decided to stun two birds with one stone and book a stay.

The Good

It really is beautiful. Real care has been taken with the restoration and it is truly a marvel of design. The staff wear reproduction uniforms and a lot of care has been taken with the decoration and details.

The ‘Connie’ (the restored 1958 Lockheed Constellation plane) cocktail lounge is extremely cool and an amazing Insta opportunity :) Albeit not really somewhere to settle in for the evening for drinks I suspect. Nevertheless one of the coolest places I’ve had a drink.

My room — a basic / no upgrade option — is lovely. Large, comfortable with loads of retro touches including a Herman Miller chair and rotary phone. The floor to ceiling windows are a real treat for someone more used to windowless ‘hub’ rooms in London (albeit I didn’t pay for a view!) and the sound proofing is amazing.

The rooftop pool bar is fabulous. Now as I don’t swim I can’t say what the pool was like but the views of the runway make for a really interesting location and the bar was cool without being too hipster and was well stocked and the cocktails we well made and suitably strong. The staff were also helpful and fun.

It is really easy to get to from the Airport when you land…if you read the instructions properly! It is a weird route and takes some concentration but I was pretty impressed.

The Bad

The ‘Sunken Bar’ area is stunning but unfortunately it feels too much like what it was — a departure lounge. The constant stream of people escaping JFK for a look around gives it a weird vibe — like you are part of a museum exhibition. Plus to be honest the bar wasn’t particularly well stocked — the beer selection was shocking and the wine options only slightly better. This is primarily I think as it is styled as a cocktail bar but still.

The food options aren’t great at all. ‘The Paris Cafe’ is overpriced even for an airport hotel and really doesn’t have a great menu. The bar food was also overpriced and the ‘butchers block’ I had was really average for the money.

The food at the ‘Food Court’ is much better — I enjoyed all the options there — but it often feels abandoned and needs more options to really work as a destination to eat. Breakfast is a particularly ghost town of options. Not great when you are sticking to UK time and are looking for food at 6am.

It is so far from everywhere. Basically whether by Subway or Uber/Lyft/Taxi you are an hour plus away from pretty much anywhere you want to visit. Which isn’t the end of the world unless you get stuck in traffic or there are Subway delays — both of which greatly dented my plans. I knew this going in of course but it was a bigger issue than I’d considered.

The Ugly

The wifi has been incredibly unreliable. Can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel where it was as bad. In fact that isn’t true — it was Rome and the wifi was stolen from the bar under the hotel! Given that work leaked in to this trip (my fault) the wifi issues were a bit of a headache (their fault).

The cost of things. $16 for a glass of wine. Not even a particularly good one. $9 for a bottle of Heineken (though it is a dollar cheaper at the Pool Bar). $20 for a sandwich (without fries!).

Some of my customer experience with staff around the check-in has been really poor — ignored, bad/incorrect advice and generally a bit rage inducing. Which is a pity as every other staff member have been great.

The verdict

I’m really glad I stayed here and if I ever had a long layover at JFK or needed just an overnight stay I would stay again — especially as I suspect that many of my niggles (the food options and wifi in particular) are things that will get ironed out over time. I’d never stay more than a single evening I think though. Back to staying on the Lower East Side or Williamsburg next time I visit.

If you are a design lover you really should come and take a look though — I totally recommend making time for an explore if you are ever at JFK.


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