Photo by Lyndsey Matthews 

Nostalgic for airline travel of a bygone era?

Like everyone,  I dread red-eye flights anywhere.  So after a long trip back to the States last fall, the prospect of landing back in L.A. at 2 AM made the TWA Hotel at JFK airport an easy choice.  A hotel search close to the airport led to some rather mundane offerings, until my wife found this little gem hidden in plain (no pun intended) sight.  

The original TWA terminal building, opened in 1962, official closed in 2001, but was bought and repurposed into the TWA Hotel in 2017.  Never through the TWA terminal in my youth, this hotel is a veritable time machine, shooting you back in time, a rerun of yesteryear, and a blissfully wonderful experience.

You’ll find nicer hotels via a 45 minute, $52 ride to downtown Manhattan, but you won’t find anything more convenient and fun than the TWA Hotel.

The AirTrain shuttle speeds you effortlessly between terminals, jump off at Terminal 5, and it’s a short walk to the TWA Hotel’s entrance.

Book TWA Hotel Here

 

Just outside sat a Citroën Traction Avant as a sort of introduction to what I could just see through the lobby glass, a perfectly restored late 50’s Isetta, the little microcar that always seems to be smiling at you.

Immaculately clean, the TWA Hotel took me back to when I was a kid traveling with my parents, and the pilot use to officially welcome my sister and me on board with little metal wings to clip on to our clothes. The TWA Hotel is just the kind of place to bring all those memories back.

 

From the New York Times

 

  • On October 19, 1953, Ambassador Flight 2, an overnight service from Los Angeles to New York-Idlewild, operated with the Model 1049 Super Constellation, which could barely cover the distance in less than eight hours; it was scheduled for 7 hours 55 minutes. Prevailing winds would not permit a westbound flight within the time constraint, so a 15-minute stop was made at Chicago for a crew change with no local traffic allowed.A  TWA advertisement promoting their Super Lockheed Constellation service to California.  The video takes you back to a completely different and amazing time in aviation.  The 25 minute video is fun but if you’re pressed for time, here’s the bullet points:
    • Cruising at 300 mph, a steady course due west.  And now, meal time an always welcome part of air travel.  As part of the service of course, a full meal, soup, meat, salad, vegetables, dessert, coffee, milk, or tea.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, served hot from special galley equipment.
    • In-flight movie, a first for any airline
    • Only a matter of hours from home to California, it was almost too goo to be true, but it was true!

One more important point is how many airport lounges are extremely crowded or require long wait times to access, in some cases forcing you to eat at ever more clogged airport restaurants or resort to take-away salads and such to be balanced on your knees, if you get lucky enough to score a seat.  TWA Hotel offers a “day rate” allowing you to book a room between 4 and 12 hours.  While it won’t save you a bunch over the standard overnight rate, consider how valuable a good nap with electrically-controlled blackout shades,  a hot shower sounds, not to mention food and drinks.  This makes the “day rate” option something the travel weary will want to seriously consider. 

Even with masks and covid protocol, the food court was actually individual kiosks manned by a friendly group of people, all ready to serve everything from pizza to ice cream, and after a long flight, very friendly barmen will pour any nightcap you desire.

As a final thought, there’s a rooftop pool in summer that transforms into a ski chalet in the winter.  Very hard to beat this mid-50’s stop for the road warrior, and high on my list of recommendations.

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About the Author: Dave Miller

Dave Miller With Lotus GT
Dave Miller drives the fastest, coolest, sexiest cars on the planet. He travels the world uncovering the hidden gems in luxury transportation, meeting the owners, and connecting with extraordinary car enthusiasts. Dave is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and writes for various publications. In addition to DriveWithDave.com, you can follow Dave's adventures via Drive With Dave Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tune into the Drive with Dave Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

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