Picture this: You’re whisked away in a chic, glass “flight tube” passageway and step out into another era (yes, you read that correctly, flight tubes can be chic). Suddenly, everything is retro-mod. Flight attendants dressed in vintage uniforms greet and lead you down to a cocktail lounge full of tulip chairs and martinis. Sam Cooke, the Foundations, and other 1960s favorites score your entrance. Welcome to the newly (re)opened TWA Hotel at JFK Airport, where, if it weren’t for the charging iPhones and occasional selfies, you’d think you were waiting for a flight with Twiggy. No wonder Louis Vuitton set its latest Resort collection show here last week.
Originally known as the TWA Flight Center, the splashy terminal was the vision of Scandi design great Eero Saarinen, whose architecture forever channels the golden era of jet-set cool.
Today everything from the floor tiles to the sunken lounge area peppered with Eames chairs has been restored by interior design firm Stonehill Taylor and New York architecture firm Beyer Blinder Bell—elevating the property’s mod vibe of bright colorways (think: poppy red and gleaming white), rounded corners, and space-age accents with wood paneling and candy-stripe textiles. Take a seat and you can hear the click of the split-flap Solari boards overhead, or swing by the gift shop to flip through old Life magazines. And if that doesn’t make visitors nostalgic enough, the Ambassador’s Club and restaurants on the mezzanine level are all designed using (or inspired by) Saarinen’s original drawings and fabric swatches. In the guest rooms, his signature illuminated ceilings add a groovy touch.
The mod-chic trend is just taking off. At the new Standard Hotel in London, Shawn Hausman’s future-perfect design could have been dreamed up by Jane Jetson, with unexpected color combinations, geometric shapes, and mixed materials that instantly transport you back to the decade of Pop Art and boy bands (of the mop-top variety). We’ve even seen the futuristic vibe pop up in chandelier styles, where funky shapes and angles make the light fixtures almost look like UFOs. Clearly, retro is having a moment.
Allow yourself to be whisked away by the vintage travel guides, primary colors, and black rotary telephones. Thoughtful design should tell a story of one’s personality, history, or, in this case, an entire decade altogether. You don’t have to be a design geek to enjoy the TWA Hotel (although you might turn into one afterward), you just have to be willing to throw yourself into an experience. And honestly, you may never want to return to 2019 again.
Explore more unique hotels: