See Inside the Hotel That Used to Be an Airport Terminal

This 1960s terminal is also a New York City landmark!

TWA hotel exteriorCourtesy MCR

Who likes sleeping in an airport? No one, right? In fact, dozing off at your gate is one of several things you should never do at an airport.

However, a new hotel opening in May is ready to change your mind about taking a snooze at the airport. In 1962, the Jet Age TWA Flight Center opened at John F. Kennedy Airport, where guests walked to their gates in cavernous red-carpeted hallways and awaited planes in a sunken lounge. The TWA Flight Center made flying seem more sophisticated until it was shuttered in 2001 when TWA was sold to American Airlines, according to Thrillist. Now, the flight center’s long, red carpet-lined flight tubes and sunken lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows will be making a comeback as a retro mid-century modern hotel.

Guests of the TWA Hotel can enjoy one of 512 guest rooms where they’ll have an expansive view of JFK runways. But, there’s no need to worry about jet noise—the rooms use the second-thickest glass in the world. At four-and-a-half inches thick, you can enjoy watching the comings and goings of planes from the vintage chairs in each room without the roar of jets disturbing you. Want to give a family member a call to update them that your flight is delayed? There’s a rotary phone in each room for that.

Courtesy David Mitchell

While the hotel also features six restaurants, eight bars, a rooftop deck with a pool and a museum of the history of the TWA, the centerpiece is perhaps The Sunken Lounge, where guests will be able to enjoy cocktails while watching custom messages pop up on an old-fashioned flip departure board. Decades earlier, fans gathered in the lounge to watch The Beatles touchdown in America in 1965. Another one of the most interesting aspects of the hotel? Sipping cocktails from “Connie,” an original 1958 airplane-turned-cocktail-lounge parked right on the tarmac outside The Sunken Lounge. These incredible amenities definitely help the TWA Hotel compete with some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and resorts.

The hotel exudes the style of the 1960s throughout with white tile, red carpeting, and plenty of warm wood accents. But don’t wait to book: with 4,000 parking spaces and a shuttle directly to JFK, this hotel is quickly becoming a hot commodity for travelers with booking rates starting at $224 per night. If you can’t book a room at this retro hotel right away, though, don’t worry—simply check out the most historical hotel in your state while you wait for a room to open up. 

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Erin Kayata
Erin Kayata joined Reader’s Digest as an assistant staff writer in March 2019, coming from the Stamford Advocate where she covered education. Prior to this, she was part of a two-year Hearst fellowship program where she covered crime and education in suburban Connecticut. She graduated from Emerson College and spent part of her undergraduate career writing for the Boston Globe. When she’s not writing articles about useful facts and pop culture, you can find Erin enjoying the local theater scene and working toward her goal of reading 50 books a year.