Transit Travel

How an abandoned terminal at the JFK airport became a hotel

The TWA hotel

The TWA hotel   | Photo Credit: Max Touhey

An abandoned terminal of the JFK Airport, New York, is all set to open this summer as the new TWA Hotel

If you’re travelling through New York after May 2019, you may want to consider a long stopover at the John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport. And take a look at the unusual TWA (Trans World Airlines) Hotel, which will open at the once-abandoned TWA terminal.

The hotel, done up in themes inspired by the jet-setting age of the 1960s, will welcome guests beginning May 15, 2019.

Trans World Airlines, established in 1930, had its golden run when pioneered by business tycoon Howard Hughes through the 1940s and 1950s until the early 1960s. The TWA terminal was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and opened at the JFK International Airport in 1962. A rough turn of events led to TWA changing hands in later years, and eventually, declining fortunes. In 2001, TWA was absorbed by American Airlines. Subsequently, the terminal remained unused until 2016.

Tyler Morse, CEO of the New York-based firm MCR and Morse Development, which has been the driving force behind the redevelopment of the terminal into a hotel, says, in an email interview, that the hotel broke ground for restoration on December 15, 2016. “Restoring the 1962 former TWA terminal designed by Eero Saarinen has been a labour of love for our entire team,” he says.

  • Getting there: Passengers from every JFK terminal can take the AirTrain or the Saarinen passenger tubes to reach the TWA Hotel on Terminal 5.
  • The hotel will have 512 guest rooms, six restaurants, eight bars, a rooftop pool and an observation deck.
  • A 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane has been transformed into a cocktail lounge outside the hotel.
  • The 50,000 square feet of event space located within the original terminal building has been designed by architecture and design firm INC, inspired by mid-century modern design.

TWA hotel will have 512 soundproof rooms in 1960s-inspired themes. It boasts of 4.5-inch-thick, noise-cancelling floor-to-ceiling Fabbrica glass that allows guests to take in unhindered views of the airport, minus the noise of aircraft movement.

The hotel will have a 10,000 square feet fitness centre, six restaurants (including one by reputed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of Paris Café), eight bars, retail outlets, an Intelligentsia coffee bar and a cocktail lounge within a Lockheed Constellation L-1649A airplane. To top it all, there will be a Jet Age museum showcasing mid-century furniture and TWA memorabilia. Some of the elements from the 1962 terminal have been retained in the hotel. Tyler Morse explains, “At 200,000 square feet, the original terminal building will function as the heart of the hotel. Architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle is overseeing the preservation of the terminal building that has mid-century modern design influences from Raymond Loewy, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll and other greats. The restoration is sympathetic to the original design.”

The sunken lounge at the hotel

The sunken lounge at the hotel   | Photo Credit: Balthazar Korab

The new construction includes two seven-storey wings, designed by Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, behind the terminal building. These two wings house guestrooms designed by Stonehill Taylor. 1960s-inspired elements pay homage to that time period — think warm walnut accents, a martini bar in each room, Knoll furnishings, brass light fixtures and rotary dial phones.

Poised to be among the greenest buildings in New York, the TWA hotel has been certified ‘LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold’. “The hotel has its own power plant on top of one of the wings. The power plant lowers the hotel’s carbon footprint,” informs Morse.

A model guestroom at the TWA Hotel

A model guestroom at the TWA Hotel   | Photo Credit: David Mitchell

Room reservations began on February 14, solely through the hotel’s website (, and Morse states that there’s been “a tremendous, immediate spike in traffic from the US and across the globe. We’re expecting guests from India, Finland, England, Brazil, South Africa and more destinations from around the world.”

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Printable version | May 18, 2020 7:55:58 PM |

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