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Destination Hotel: The TWA Hotel At JFK Airport

With Sinatra on the soundtrack, Jet Age fantasies come to life in a place drawing nostalgic Boomers and design-conscious hipsters alike.

Where: The TWA Hotel, JFK Airport in New York City, 212-806-900

Rates: Starting at $169 per night.

We recommend: Sparkly flats instead of high heels—you’ll want to feel a little glam here, but to explore everything there is to see, you’ll be doing a lot of walking.

Those adorable stewardess outfits! Those charming vintage suitcases! Leaning back in comfort with a glass of champagne before clicking your way back down to the tarmac in your highest heels! Why does the idea of the Jet Age still make us swoon, even as we carp about the realities of plane travel: tiny seats, crummy or nonexistent meals, harried flight attendants and fellow passengers?

Maybe those present-day annoyances are exactly why we dream of what must have been a more glamorous time to take to the skies—say, 1962, the year the Eero Saarinen–designed TWA Flight Center opened at JFK Airport (or Idlewild, as it was known at the time). The soaring terminal was an instantly iconic landmark, all swooping white walls and chile-pepper-red carpeting and oodles of light. But eventually, it could no longer support the size of modern airplanes, and closed in 2001.

It’s back, with the roar of a jet engine. Last year, the TWA Hotel opened as JFK’s first on-site hotel, packed with midcentury-modern details that transport you to the terminal’s past, like Saarinen-designed furniture and walnut minibars in each room; a cocktail lounge in a restored 1950s Lockheed Constellation airplane; and the Sunken Lounge, which has been returned to its original 1962 design, serving up retro cocktails like the Aviation and appropriately named signature drinks like the Come Fly with Me (are you not humming Frank Sinatra in your head already?). The minibars are stocked with classics like Tab cola and Big Hunk candy bars.

Lounge inside the TWA HotelTWA Hotel/David Mitchell

The 512 guest rooms are located in a pair of brand-new buildings that flank the original terminal, linked to it by Saarinen’s red-carpeted tubes. After self-check-in, you’ll roll your bags down one or the other of these vast tubes to your elevator—unless you get distracted by all the fun stuff in the lobby first. There’s a Photo Room filled with snaps from previous guests (squeeze into the photo booth to take your gang’s own shots). A Twister corner lets you play the ’60s game from wall to wall (and just happens to fit in perfectly with the mod decor). There’s a display of the vintage uniforms from the likes of Valentino, Cassini, and Balmain, spanning the 1940s to the 1990s.

The TWA Hotel exterior.TWA Hotel/David Mitchell

The world’s biggest hotel gym, a 10,000-square-foot fitness center stocked with Pelotons and borrow-able sneakers, is downstairs. And don’t you dare leave without popping up to the rooftop infinity pool, open for a swim even in the middle of winter, when it’s heated to a kind-of-balmy 92 degrees (it cools off fast).

Apres-swim, duck into the heated and tented Runway Chalet and snag a spot by the vintage fireplace, the perfect setting for sipping an Idlewild Hot Toddy (spiced rum and hot apple cider, garnished with a cinnamon stick) and sharing fondue for two as you watch jets set off into the night.

ACE THIS TRIP

Request: A room with a runway view, if your kids (or you) want to watch planes taking off. If you value your privacy, avoid rooms with “TWA views,” which have you gazing squarely down at the lobby—where people may be gazing squarely back at you. Pull down the blackout shades if you must. Either way, don’t worry about noise—the high-tech floor-to-ceiling windows block out the roar of the jets.

Splurge: The $18 Weather Delay cocktail (hot chocolate spiked with Belvedere vodka and topped with marshmallows). Delicious and surprisingly bracing.

Tips: If you’re hunting for prices before raiding the minibar, they’re only available on your smartphone—go to twahotel.com/minibar to find them. Sneaky. The crisp and sufficiently stiff Cutwater Vodka Mule is a relative bargain at $8. Also, don’t take anything out for longer than 30 seconds or the sensors will know, and you’ll be charged for it.

Gallery (Photos courtesy TWA Hotel/David Mitchell):

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