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TWA Hotel – OPEN! – time to have your retro stay

TWA Hotel – OPEN! – time to have your retro stay

There has been great anticipation about the opening of this hotel from both the aviation-geek community and the midcentury design crowd.

This iconic terminal designed by Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962 as the TWA Flight Centre at JFK Airport was commissioned by Howard Hughes. It has as of 15 May been re-opened as part of a hotel, using the original terminal as its public, restaurant and bar space, with two blocks of hotel rooms ‘behind’ it.

a building with a sign in front of it

I’m excited

Frankly, I’m excited about this hotel’s opening. Eero Saarinen is one of my favourite designers – even non-aviation geeks would know his innovative and iconic tulip table and chairs. The idea of seeing these design elements in one of the most fluid building designs of the 1960s, and staying overnight, and viewing the runway from my hotel room, or the swimming pool fills me with excitement.

a group of chairs around a table

Open but incomplete

It might be open, but from the initial reviews it definitely isn’t ready.

Things were a bit disorganized, but I guess that is what happens on a hotel’s first night. . . . There is a Jean Georges restaurant, but I couldn’t get into it (even though there were empty seats?!?!). . . . The room was $250 which was not bad. The best part is I was standing at the TSA check in line 18 minutes after I woke up! I can definitely see coming back with my kids.

bks33316 on Tripadvisor
a red couches and tables in a room with a score board

Its no surprise that all facilities were not available precisely on opening day – but to not have purchased rooms available . . .

Though check in was at 4:00, my room was not finished being built and available till 8:30pm. I was told that I would be notified by text when the room was ready, but that never occurred. I went back to the desk every hour until the room was ready. The room I booked was a executive king suite with historic TWA view (the hotel’s description). What I got was a view of a blank wall and construction lifts on the lower level (room 323). As previously stated the construction was not quite complete. In my room the electrical outlets and bedside lamps did not work.

Sterling P, Tripadvisor

Doesn’t sound like they had any form of ‘soft opening’.

a plane parked outside of a building

Reviewers wish the hotel the best

The average reviewer seems to be wishing the hotel the best, and trying to overlook the shortcomings at opening:

Overall this was a very disappointing experience, partially because I had such high hopes for this hotel. It was definitely not worth the cost of the room and food/drinks. However, they have done many things right and with a little more time to complete construction and train staff properly, this could be a great hotel.

Sterling P, Tripadvisor
a red carpet in a building

And signage seems to be an issue mentioned by many reviewers

So today is the 2nd day since the opening of the TWA hotel. We have an event at this property, and to be truthful, it’s not ready. It’s cool and everything, but it just wasn’t ready. Pool not open, Fitness centre wasn’t ready, power outlets on the main floor (where we check in) weren’t working, check in process was a joke – we were supposed to check in at 3pm….at 5:30 pm I FINALLY got a room. It was crazy. The whole theme is cool, (the) concept is cool, new property smell nice and all … but there’s still so much that it (sic) was missing. Like directions to your room! Lol.

Venus W, Tripadvisor

And if there is one thing that will upset any hotel guest at any hotel anywhere in the world at anytime . . .

And worst of all at 7:40am there was loud drilling going on in the hotel right near us so it was impossible to sleep after that. Right at 11am housekeeping was there to make sure we weren’t overstaying our welcome.

TerrapinFlyer99, Tripadvisor
a group of airplanes on a runway

And even the reviewers and YouTubers are not happy:

I’ve now spent 3 hours watching their meticulously restored flight board flip letters and this sucks. We spent a lot of money and made a big effort to do a great review of what should have been an epic hotel for our YouTube tube travel channel and it is now almost dark and we are nowhere.

DOUGandNIKI, Tripadvisor

Despite high expectations, the May 15th opening turned out to be more bland than grand. It was astonishing to see such a tremendous mountain of PR melt at the woeful unreadiness of the staff and the facility itself.

Take Out: Do I still want to stay here?

Certainly – Yes!

Very few hotels have a perfect opening, although it appears most do better than the TWA has. However it has all the potential of a destination hotel – literally – at an airport.

Let’s just say that next time I visit New York, I will be doing so with an eye to spend at least one night in this hotel.

For your stay – you will need to book directly with the hotel. And the best comprehensive review, demonstrating historical knowledge, and a certain flair for words can be found on, by the pen of Roger Hyde

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