IT WAS like stepping into a time machine.
As the doors slid shut we looked at the two buttons in front of us, one marked Present Day the other, 1960s TWA Hotel.
A few seconds later my wife and I stepped out of the airport lift and had indeed been transported back to the Sixties (1962, to be exact).
Facing us was a mock-up of the office of Trans World Airlines boss and playboy Howard Hughes.
I couldnât resist sitting at his mahogany desk, giving the globe a spin and picking up the old-fashioned phone to demand we âbeat PanAmâ.
We had arrived at the TWA hotel at JFK airport, a gleaming, curvy, mid-century architectural marvel.
When, as an aviation geek, I had told my wife Laura the first night of our mini-break to New York would be spent at the airport hotel you can imagine the eye-roll.
Think airport hotel and you think grim, budget accommodation off a bypass then a miserable, overcrowded bus to the terminal and people drinking pints of lager at 4am.
Well, the TWA Hotel could not be further from that â a groovy reminder of the golden age of flight.
From 1962 to 2001 the building with its wings-shaped roof was the TWA terminal where passengers checked in before walking down tube-shaped, red-carpeted corridors to the departure gates.
Everywhere there are reminders of an age when flying was glam. The old check-in desks are now where you check in to the hotel, while a bubble car and old luggage truck complete the look in reception.
Thereâs a display of flight attendantsâ uniforms of old, and some classic phone booths: âJust ten cents to get connected.â
They shot a scene here from the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio, when he played a conman posing as a pilot.
Designed by Finnish-American Eero Saarinen, the building is a US treasure. Many features, like ceramic tiles and huge window panels, have been lovingly replaced with replicas of the originals.
Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs echo in the public spaces and you expect John Lennon or Jackie O to sweep around the corner, followed by reporters in pork-pie hats.
In the atrium there is a huge, restored departures and arrivals board. The clickety-clack of flight details is hypnotic, featuring names of long-gone airlines like TWA, PanAm and BOAC.
We sipped aviation-themed cocktails at the bar â and after a Floatation Device and a very strong Jet Fuel, Laura was coming round to this airport hotel.
On the Tarmac outside was a 1958 Lockheed Constellation nicknamed Connie, with triple tail-fin and dolphin-like fuselage.
We climbed the planeâs steps imagining we were Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren off to Europe to film a movie. The jet is now a bar, and the perfect place to down another cocktail, this time a Vodka Is My Co-Pilot.
For plane fans, though, the hotelâs roof is the place. Under the early-morning New York sun, we lounged in the year-round heated pool, watching planes take off and land.
The 512 bedrooms, in two new wings attached to the main building, are full of nods to the past â a mid-century Mad Men vibe means a rotary dial phone, Saarinen armchair and old TWA posters. Yet a flatscreen TV and fast wifi mean modern-day comfort, too.
So, did my travel companion enjoy her stay? This time there was no eye-rolling â she gave me a wink.
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