Airports aren’t typically destinations unto themselves. Travelers want to get in and out as quickly as possible. Of course, some have made concerted efforts to transform into more-inviting places: Hong Kong International has a golf club, Dubai International offers a sprawling shopping mall, and Singapore’s Changi Airport boasts a 6-acre forest and an indoor waterfall. And while New York City’s JFK International is no one’s idea of a good time, it does have one hallowed corner where travelers should stop and stay a while: The TWA Hotel.
The Trans World Airlines Flight Center opened in 1962, just as trans-Atlantic jet service was becoming more popular. The Boeing 707 had been introduced four years earlier, and suddenly, more people were crossing the Atlantic via air than sea. Not only was this the jet age, it was also the beginning of the Space Age: That year, President Kennedy asked Congress for more money to put a man on the moon, “The Jetsons” debuted, and John Glenn became the first man to orbit the earth. With its futuristic birdlike shape, the Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal captured the spirit of flight and perfectly embodied the time.
In 2001, when American Airlines took over TWA, the iconic terminal closed down. It sat underused for years, a memorial to the golden age of flying. Then, in 2014, it was rescued from demolition and underwent a meticulous $300 million restoration. Five years later, after expanding with two additional wings, it opened as The TWA Hotel, a 512-room property that pays homage to the airline and the decade in which the terminal opened.