1. Updating a classic
The long-abandoned TWA Flight Center at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) officially began its second life in May, having been transformed into a luxe retreat for the jet-setting crowd following a US$265 million overhaul. Designed by visionary architect Eero Saarinen, the main building’s gravity-defying concrete ceilings and Mid-Century Modern curves look lifted straight out of a scene from AMC’s Mad Men. No detail was too small for Lubrano Ciavarra Architects, which spent years (beginning in 2014) researching how to breathe life back into the 1962 landmark – which closed in 2001 – while maintaining authenticity.
2. A throwback to the past
The hotel’s chilli-pepper-red carpeting and plush banquettes in the iconic Sunken Lounge were sourced from the original fabricators, as were the pair of modern Solari di Udine split-flap boards that display arrival and departure times. The latter were a special order – the company doesn’t manufacture them anymore – and fill the lobby with a signature click-clack sound. Restored shoe-shining stations, a bank of working rotary dial phones (calls cost 10 cents) and reimagined historic newsstands all help send visitors back in time.
3. Retro-chic rooms
The Swinging ‘60s vibe carries into the all-new guest rooms, which boast period-appropriate furnishings, vintage copies of the now-defunct Life magazine and even cans of Tab soda in the minibar. Half of the hotel’s rooms face the JFK tarmac directly, but seven-layer glass curtain walls create a nearly sound-proof system that ensures guests sleep soundly only yards from the bustling taxiways. All the better to enjoy a nightcap from each guest room’s personal martini bar, which comes outfitted with crystal glassware.
4. Swim up to your flight
The glamorous infinity pool, complete with white loungers and period Bertoia wire chairs, is open year-round. In winter, the 19.5m-long pool becomes an immense jacuzzi heated to a cozy 37.8°C. Sip a crisp glass of Chardonnay at the adjoining bar as you watch the planes land and take off.
5. Sky-high eats and drinks on solid ground
Before take-off, fuel up at the sleek Paris Café from famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, where one can find continental fare such as almond-crusted croissants and olive-oil-splashed avocado toast anointed with smoked salmon. Afterwards, settle into a dirty vodka martini (served with pin-on flight wings, of course) in the Sunken Lounge, the chic lobby bar operated by the Gerber Group. Do also make time for a drink at Connie, a decommissioned Lockheed Constellation plane painstakingly refurbished and transformed into a modern cocktail lounge which slings classics that would tempt the likes of Don Draper. The aircraft has a crazy-but-true backstory. Commissioned in 1939 by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes – TWA’s one-time owner – it was modified by a South American drug trafficker in the 1980s to airdrop marijuana. Abandoned in Honduras, Connie was recovered in 1986 and sat idle in the US state of Maine for three decades before finally being restored in 2018.
SEE ALSO: Review: Eastwind Hotel & Bar, New York
This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine