The TWA terminal at New York Airport is considered an icon of modern architecture. Today it is a hotel full of retro charm and loving details.

Lobby with red carpet, large window panes offer a clear view of the planes.

A sixties dream in white and chilli red: a look at the TWA Hotel's “Sunken Lounge” Photo: Scott Houston/Polaris/ddpa

One of the cynical methods used to prevent homeless people from staying in one place for hours is the use of music. I think about that after a while in the lobby of the TWA Hotel. However, here it is not Vivaldi, as before at Hamburg Central Station, nor atonal music, with which the BVG in Berlin tried, but old classics from the 50s and 60s: Elvis, the Beach Boys , Mas Que Nada and especially many Beatles. Love, love me, do it. You know I love you.

This creates opposite centrifugal forces in me, because everything else in this place invites you to linger, to walk, to rest and relax: the independent bar, which is now open in the late afternoon. The “Sunken Lounge”, slightly lowered, with seats spread over the different levels. And especially the building itself, the TWA Building. Is a feeling!

It opened in 1962 as a terminal at New York Airport, which shortly after received the nickname JFK, exclusively for the airline Trans World Airlines – TWA. This is a lavish building from a time when air travel was still luxurious and promising and not a mass processing operation with a latent poor environmental conscience. The Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen was allowed to design it based on purely optical aspects and not in the spirit of a solution that saved as much material as possible.

Snow White, flooded with light and without right angles.

He created an elongated roof construction without a right angle, which from the outside looks like a stingray or the head of a dragonfly, and which inside is reminiscent of a cathedral white as snow and flooded with light. A piece of the future in the present, which could also be imagined in the animated series “The Jetsons”, which started the year of its premiere.

It is a lavish construction from a time when air travel was something luxurious and auspicious, not public transportation.

The building quickly outgrew the growing number of passengers. Its condition deteriorated and after TWA was acquired by American Airlines in 2001, it remained empty for nearly two decades, although it was thanks to the New York City Historic Preservation Commission that it still stood. The TWA Hotel finally opened its doors in 2019, the first hotel on the grounds of JFK Airport.

Nowadays, airports are functional transit zones, gigantic non-places from which we want to leave as quickly as possible. Airport hotels further increase this lack of space, because who would voluntarily want to live at the airport, far from the city center? It must be something very special.

There is something to discover everywhere.

Therefore, the MCR operating group has taken the aesthetics of the TWA building as an elegant time capsule and created a retro-themed hotel in which everything is designed with what is called attention to detail. There is something to discover everywhere: here a row of old payphones, there the replica of Eero Saarinen's workplace. The hotel marketing person who proudly shows me around tells me that former TWA employees were involved in the interior design concept and contributed numerous memorabilia that now serve as décor, along with early advertising signs and a display of antiques. stewardess uniforms.

The original departures board is also still there, and the flysheet lists the pseudo-exits with clicks and noises to everyone. And behind the building is “Connie”, a former TWA Lockheed Constellation propeller plane, in which another cocktail bar has been installed.

Sometimes they go overboard, the existing real retro charm is overlaid with an extra portion of retro sauce, which then becomes… too much It is, as if the building were not already beautiful enough. Like the decorative “Sweet'N Glow” hair salon or the brightly colored room where you can play Twister (left hand in red, right foot in blue). And also with the penetrating music. Of course, it's supposed to create style and atmosphere, but a terminal like this really thrives on its own unique background noise, a crash, a creak and a general hum.

There is no obligation to consume.

This type of transit activity is caused by day visitors passing by with their luggage on their way to or from the flight. Since the TWA Flight Building is open to the public, you don't even need to consume anything to stay here. Of course, you still won't find homeless people.

This text comes from Laborable day. Our left-wing weekly! Every week, wochentaz is about the world as it is and as it could be. A left-wing weekly with a voice, attitude and a special vision of the world. New every Saturday on newsstands and of course by subscription.

For most people, this brief impression is enough. They walk around a bit, maybe have a coffee, and take some pretty photos for their Instagram account (the only impractical thing is that Eero Saarinen designed his curved, nested seating landscape in an extreme widescreen format). But if you, like me, really want to soak up the atmosphere of the TWA building, without time pressure, without a rolling suitcase, without a thick jacket, or if, like me, you don't have any connecting flights until the morning Next, you can get a room. Prices starting at $300 seem high, but unfortunately correspond to New York standards.

There are a total of 512 rooms and suites, for which two surprisingly discreet new blocks were placed next to the old building; the Saarinen building itself is just the gigantic lobby. Of course, the rooms are also furnished in the style of the 60s, but not in the bright white and chilli red of the hotel lobby, but in a discreet mid-century style. The “Womb Chair” designed by Eero Saarinen is in every room, but there are differences in the view: only in about 200 of the rooms can you see the building you're actually here to see.

The 50 runway-view rooms in the most expensive categories offer a different perspective: for some, the planes taking off every minute is a special experience. So that you can see the planes from your bed and still sleep, 11.5 centimeters thick glass was installed; Only the US embassy in London has thicker windows. Some air traffic still comes through and provides relaxing background noise as you fall asleep. But here the Beatles of the lobby are far away.

Transparency note: The overnight stay was covered by the TWA Hotel.