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First look inside TWA hotel at JFK New York



New York City (CNN) – A party in South Queens, one hour from Manhattan, might not seem like the city's most popular event.

But on the opening day of the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport in New York on May 15, it is the time of year in the areas of hospitality and aviation.

Fashion models and dancers dressed in 1960s clothing mingled with aviation fans, architecture enthusiasts and journalists – some sporting a "Mad Men" inspired look and retro aeronautical equipment – during the inaugural day of the long-awaited hotel, located inside the former TWA airfield designed by Eero Saarinen.

Family reunions

At 16. By the time guests were officially able to register, a 23-year-old man, Dan Mickevic, was anxiously waiting for a TWA brand bright red bedroom key. But it was not just about diving into the mid-century modern vibe or tasting the Intelligentsia coffee offered in the lobby.

Mickevic's grandmother, who died in 2009, was a reservation agent for TWA for nearly two decades.

Aviation works in the family. He is now working on JetBlue's field team at DCA Reagan National Airport and has flown over the city to Washington, DC, just for the opportunity to be there. one of the lucky few to spend the night opening at the hotel.

"It's my way of honoring him," he said.

Guest Billie O'Hagan, flight attendant at Alaska Airlines, is checking in.

Guest Billie O'Hagan, flight attendant at Alaska Airlines, is checking in.

Kevin Hagen / Getty Images North America / Getty Images

And Mickevic was not the only one to have an emotional connection with TWA.

Several former flight attendants, some wearing their original uniforms, came to the hotel to have a much anticipated preview of the building that many of them had called their base.

TWA Airlines ceased operations in 2001 and many employees were absorbed by American Airlines.

Deborah Doval, originally from New York, started working for TWA in 1976. She heard about the opening of the TWA hotel through some of her former flight attendants who went on to work for TWA. call the Silver Wings. Many keep in touch on Facebook and by email.

"It's very emotional," she told CNN Travel, her voice slightly cracked. "I never thought I'd have another chance [to come back]. It was wonderful to meet other women and hear their stories. We are a family. "

Fly on solid ground

Most visitors to the TWA Hotel were not there to stay overnight.

One of the biggest attractions is The Connie, an out-of-service Lockheed Constellation L-1649A propeller plane that was towed to New York and turned into a cocktail bar.

Visitors landed on the steps leading to the plane, and then on the upholstered seats inside the cabin to sip champagne and pose for photos. But the most popular cockpit was by far the cockpit, which was opened so passengers could see the controls and pretend to be a pilot.

The Connie: A 1958 Lockheed Constellation turned cocktail bar.

The Connie: A 1958 Lockheed Constellation turned cocktail bar.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / AFP / Getty Images

The Sunken Lounge is the centerpiece of the hotel, a ground-floor lounge covered in bright red TWA, where guests can order martinis at waiters dressed in a red tunic dress and admire the dashboard above it that changes rapidly.

The story is everywhere, even if you do not go to the rooms.

TWA-era uniforms, designed by fashion figures such as Ralph Lauren and Valentino, are on display in a mini-museum. Stroll through the famous white and red "Saarinen tubes", also created by the architect, from JetBlue's Terminal 5 and you will immediately feel transported to another era.

Inside

But even the most glamorous hotel in the world is still an airport.

The rooms, designed by Stonehill Taylor of New York, have crisp white sheets and touches of red TWA on the chairs and lamps, creating a retro atmosphere without relying too much on the theme.

Room amenities sure to be stolen include branded soaps, water glasses, notepads and terry bathrobes, and dial phones are no longer there for kitsch than practical use.

Toiletries really enviable.

Toiletries really enviable.

Courtesy of David Mitchell / TWA Hotel

Fortunately, not everything was trapped in the 1960s. Rooms have large flat-screen TVs, plenty of power outlets (though no USB ports) and window curtains. The rooms overlook either the Terminal 5 runway or the hotel, which makes the beauty of Saarinen's long white brooms even more striking.

Some visitors were excited about the branding and amenities of the TWA hotel, but some were simply relieved that JFK, one of the busiest airports in the world, has finally had an accessible hotel without having to go out or to wait for a shuttle.

The hotel has added the ability to book rooms in blocks of four hours during the day, making it a solid option for stopover travelers who want a place to sit and take a shower – with more character than the airport lounge.

In short? This hotel is a destination in its own right, with vintage items on display and fun dining and drinks options in common areas. But the beds are comfortable too.

TWA Hotel, JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY 11430; +1 212-806-9000

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