Recently I stayed at the new TWA Hotel in New York JFK. The 1960-retro styled built hotel, was opened just a while ago and I was excited to try it out. Since May 15th 2019, guests can experience the old style of traveling in the TWA mood. The hotel is the only accommodation situated in New York JFK that offers direct access to a Terminal, in this case the Terminal 5, home of JetBlue. It is clearly the place to be for aviation geeks and for time-centric travelers looking for quick access to their flight. As Terminal 5 is connected with all other terminals by AirTrain, people can access their departure gate within a maximum of 20 minutes. Although the place is amazing, I was also really disappointed by some aspects of the hotel. This article is a full review of the TWA Hotel JFK; I am going to walk you step by step through my experience.
Summary of this article:
- Access, Check-In & First Impression
- The Room
- The Pool & The Gym
- Food, Drinks & More
- The Staff
- Price, Costs & Taxes
- Hotel Feedback Management
- Last Few Words
The estimated reading time for this article is 7-14min. Read it through, we have two small surprises at the end!
Access, Check-In & First Impression
As mentioned before, the hotel is connected to Terminal 5 via a big tube. As I arrived in Terminal 7, I cleared immigration (which took an astonishing 2 hours) and then took the Air Train to T5. It’s really pretty easy to find the train. Once you arrive, you’ll find yourself at the baggage reclaim for JetBlue with plenty of signs showing directions to the hotel. A big red elevator takes you to the tube. Once in the tube, your experience starts. You can clearly recognize that you arrived in the hotel as you have this splendid red carpet on the ground and 1960-styled white walls. Taking a right after the tube, you pass the Super Conny standing on the re-created apron.
Next up is reception (called Check-In Area), which is really big. There are lots of counters and you are welcomed warmly by the staff. You can either do your check-in by yourself with an iPad or in the classic way with staff. Behind the desks is a rolling baggage belt. I guess this must be for the porter service, which was not offered to me.
This is a detail, but it would have been great as the hotel is designed with a lot of carpet, and rolling your baggage on such a material can be a bit tricky. Additionally, that there’s a lot of stairs, so it would be useful to have your baggage brought to your room.
Despite the baggage issue, my first impression I had was just: WOW! You arrive from a modern airport terminal to a completely re-created old-style area. The details are fancy, the areas are big and you feel like you’re back in the 1960’s.
I booked a Deluxe King Room with apron view. This is the highest room category you can book (I will detail & speak about prices later). The other room categories are:
- Standard King
- Standard Double Queen
- Accessible Deluxe King
- Deluxe Double Queen
- Executive King Suite
- Executive Double Queen Suite
- Eero Saarinen Presidential Suite
- Howard Hughes Presidential Suite
Most of the rooms have either no special view, a historic TWA complex view or a runway view. Having no view is the cheapest, with the apron view being the most expensive. You can check-in to all rooms starting at 4pm and check-out is open until 11am.
When I entered the room, I was shocked by the view. It is honestly the best apron view room I had ever experienced! It was just stunning. My room was located on the 8th floor (the highest floor they have). I highly recommend requesting a room on the higher floors (5, 6, 7 and 8). The problem with the apron view on lower floors is that you won’t see as much of the airport.
The room was quite spacious. This Deluxe King Room featured a bathroom on the right side just after the door, followed by a small office and finally a bed facing a big window with which you could see the apron. The space around the bed is limited, but it’s enough for up to 2 people. The eye for detail in the room is evident; there are items and logos everywhere, making the room even better. Pens, notebooks and some newspapers are complimentary.
The mini-bar features different non- and alcoholic drinks. It also features some small snacks like nuts or chips. The mini-bar works digitally. If you remove an item for more than 30 seconds, it will be billed directly to your room. This is pretty tricky, don’t watch the wine bottle for too long or put your own drinks in there… Furthermore, water bottles are not free of charge. For a 5* hotel I would automatically have assumed that that would be mandatory. With the water bottle from the mini-bar being quite expensive, I think there is clearly room for improvement here.
The Pool & The Gym
One of the coolest features of this hotel is definitely the roof-top pool with a birds-eye view over a part of the JFK apron. Simply the fact that they have a pool at this airport hotel is quite nice and something greatly appreciated by many guests. The pool itself is not really big, it is mostly there for the experience. The water is quite hot and the pool is accessible between late evening or early morning (Opening Times: 7am to 11pm).
Up to two people are allowed access to the pool if you have a room like I had. I could have taken a guest, as I slept alone. They check the room number and your name. There is no possibility to access the pool with no room at the hotel or no pre-booking (and this is good if you ask me). If you do not sleep at the hotel you can pre-book pool access. The rules there are completely and utterly ridiculous::
- From Monday to Friday a pool-deck day-pass will cost 25$ for adults and 25$ for children over the age of 2 (?!)
- On weekends the pool-deck day-pass will cost 50$ for adults and also 50$ for children over the age of 2…
- You can also book a table at the roof-top bar. Minimum spent is at least 50$ per person, plus tax and 20% gratuity. The reservation is valid only for 2 hours, after that you need to leave. You can swim in the pool during those 2 hours
I think it is really ridiculous to ask children over the age of 2 to pay up to 50$ for pool access. But what’s even more ridiculous and completely unacceptable is the fact that the roof-top bar reservation is only for 2 hours, they oblige and tell you how much gratuity you should give and the minimum spent is 50$ per person.
To summarize: If you want to spend more than 2 hours at the bar with no reservation prior, you have to pay up to 50$ to even get onto the deck in addition to all your other expenses you may have while. This is a really bad concept and only profit-focused.
Good to know about the pool:During winter (as temperature in New York can descend really low), the pool will remain accessible. It can be turned in a pool-cuzzi and heated to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Degrees Celsius). I think it is great to keep to pool opened in Winter!
The gym is really big and offers a variety of training options. In case you should forget your sport shoes at home, you can use (for free) some great looking 1960-style TWA shoes. So there is really no excuses for you to skip the gym 😉
Food, Drinks & More
The hotel offers a lot of options when it comes to food & drinks in terms of restaurants, cafés and bars. Those are (According to the TWA website):
- Paris Café by Jean-Georges
- The Sunken Lounge
- The Pool Bar
- Connie Cocktail Lounge
- Food Hall
- Intelligentsia Coffee
All the places were built in the TWA style. I had dinner and breakfast at the Paris Café by Jean-Georges and had a couple of drinks at the pool bar. I had no time for drinks at the Connie Cocktail Lounge.
The menu at the restaurant was not big, but it’s enough. The prices are quite expensive, but I guess you pay for the name. Unfortunately there is another negative point when it comes to food & drinks: There is no breakfast included in the room price and based on how expensive it is, it’s pretty disappointing. See more under “Prices, Costs & Taxes”.
I think the employees at the hotel were the biggest disappointment. Having good staff is the most important thing for me, when I visit hotels. You can have the best facilities of the world (like TWA) but if your staff is not friendly and good, the entire experience can be ruined. My experiences with some employees were rude, unfriendly and just moments to forget. Some of the staff were just untrained and this needs to change, because the expectations at a place like TWA are extremely high. But talking about the staff, I want to point out, that some were also very good and friendly. A special “Thank You” goes to Omar; he is the roof-top manager and took really good care of me and my friends, Thanks again Omar! (I hope you read this).
Prices, Costs & Taxes
Probably the most interesting thing for the end: The price! TWA is a luxurious and higher class place and you also pay for it. I think it is (by price) comparable to a Hilton in Manhattan. Prices for online advance booking start at slightly more than 210$ at the TWA Hotel for one night. If you want a room with a runway view, prices will start at around 250$ and for rooms with two beds and suites it will be around 275$. It is hard to give an exact price as those vary depending the dates of your stay. Prices can also go beyond this. The hotel also offers the option to stay over the day. Rates start at 139$ and go up to 189$ or more for a day stay. (139$ is only for 4 hours!). All those prices are excluding taxes (over 16% taxes in NYC!).
Then the hotel also has a “Facility Fee”. I asked what this fee is, and it turned out that it’s a fee for using the pool and the gym. So you pay over 250$ for a room and then you get another 10$ fee for the pool?! This is a very poor pricement plan, which has to be redone. So I ended up paying (all taxes incl.) 333$ USD. The displayed room price online was 278$…
So besides having some ridiculous fees, the hotel also has a pretty unclear price policy. They display the taxes on their website, but it’s written really small by saying “view price breakdown”. I think this is just unfair. The hotel is an expensive place, but you really get something for it.
Hotel Feedback Management
Following my visit at the hotel, I wrote a feedback e-mail to the hotel. This e-mail included all the points I mentioned in this article. The e-mail was treated by the Director of the Front Office and I got a response within a day. She reviewed the different points with me, and concluded that my issues with the staff were really not acceptable and she promised me that they will look into it.
In order to make-up for this “bad experience”, the hotel offered me a complimentary stay valid until August 2020. I guess I must return to NYC soon. I look forward to a second visit to see if the hotel has improved by then. Please note that this compensation has not affected my review. This article was not pre-checked by the hotel, neither was the YouTube video. It is my real opinion.
Last few words
I think the hotel is an amazing place and I can really recommend it to anyone into aviation. You just need to know that you will pay a lot for it. They clearly need to train their staff more, waive this 10$ fee for the facility use and review their price policy for third parties on the roof-deck. The hotel was opened 3 months ago, so I think it is not that bad to have room for improvement at this time. But by January 2020 I think it should be running well without those issues.
This Article was brought to you by Colin. Special Thanks to Leonard Niemann (team member) for his help and to Dillon Shah (not a team member) for their help on this review!Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this extensive article and review about the TWA Hotel JFK!
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