Layover In Style At JFK Intl. Airport Rooftop Pool
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
JFK International Airport in New York has a rooftop infinity pool with the best runway views of the entire airport that turn layovers into a day at the pool
Lets be real...layovers suck. They're no fun and the only things to do at an airport are eat, drink and sleep - in that order. So next time you're travelling through John F. Kennedy International Airport, and you have some time to kill, you need to check out the rooftop infinity pool at the TWA Hotel. It's pretty fly... See what I did there.
The pool is actually part of a $265 million renovation of what use to be TWA's flight center back in the 60's. They revamped it and turned it into a first class, retro themed hotel that has restaurants, bars and retail therapy. It's actually the only on-airport hotel and it's so unique, it has its own rooftop infinity pool with views of the runways and previously featured by the likes of Business Insider, Travel and Leisure, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Punta Cana Intl. Airport
In case you find yourself traveling to the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana International Airport also has a rooftop lounge with swimming pool similar to the TWA Pool Bar. The observation deck area isn't as big but it's still one of the only outdoor airport pools in the world with great views of the runway.
The TWA Pool Bar
The Pool Bar as it's called, is a seriously different experience and not something you see every day. First of all, it's located on the roof of an airport hotel so you can watch planes come and go which is pretty cool in and of itself; not to mention getting to do so from a swimming pool. Plus, the airport happens to also be one of the busiest airports in the U.S. and in fact, according to World Atlas and the Airports Council International (ACI), JFK International is the 6th busiest airport in the nation with over 59 million passengers in 2017. So watching planes fly by poolside at one of the top ten busiest airports in the country definitely ups the ante. Rooftop infinity pools, beware.
The view is also noticeably impressive even compared to some of the best outdoor airport observation decks in the world. It's lined in minimal glass railings and the pool deck offers complete, unobstructed views of the runways and terminals which isn't something a lot of observation decks have. I was actually surprised at how much safety barriers hindered the view at some of the outdoor airport observation decks I came across. Most of them have taller railings, safety glass or structures hindering the view or they're between buildings and only offer partial views of the runways. But the Pool Bars 10,000 sq. ft. deck has clear, open views of the tarmac so you can watch A320's and Jumbo Jet A380's from airlines like JetBlue, American, Delta, Lufthansa, Emirates, Singapore and 70 other carriers, all while relaxing poolside. Plus the pool is located next to JFKs busiest runways and the second longest commercial runway in North America. So you're getting a poolside view of the creme de la creme of air traffic.
And if you do decide to take a dip, you won't just be immersed in water. Given its obvious location, the entire pool area also smells of jet fuel, sounds of plane engines and blows like the backside of a 175,000 pound plane taking off. It's really an aviation geeks dream pool but whether you're into airplanes or not, the entire experience is pretty peculiar. At any given moment, you may be interrupted by the deafening sound of a jet engine or your glasses might be blown off your head but hey, that's what makes it worthwhile, right? And naturally, like any good rooftop pool, the TWA Pool Bar also serves aviation themed cocktails like the "Mile High Spritz" and has a full kitchen. So whether you're an aviation geek or simply have some time to kill before your next flight, you should make your way to the pool for a world class layover.
“Our rooftop pool provides a JFK runway view that rivals an air traffic controller’s vantage point. There’s simply no better place for plane-spotting and enjoying a cocktail, in the world.”
- Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR and MORSE Development.
He's got a point, too. I mean, it's not everyday you come across a swimming pool in an airport so even if you just get your feet wet, it's worth the visit. Plus, what better way to enjoy a layover or overnight stay at an airport than swimming in a pool, watching planes take off and drinking aviation themed cocktails? I'll wait...
But with all the hype that surrounds this almost one of a kind pool, it's easy to forget you're still at an airport and there are some additional pool rules you'll have to abide by. For instance, you might have to find a spot for your luggage depending on what you're toting around with you. Anything larger than 12-by-6-inches is not permitted on the pool deck and they make you place any personal items in a clear container. Don't ask me why. There's also a fee if you're not staying at the hotel. You can still hang by the pool but you'll have to purchase a day pass. It'll cost you $25 bucks on a weekday and $50 on a weekend but it's worth the experience.
They provide you with a towel but there's only 14 lounge chairs on the entire deck so depending on how busy it is, you may be S.O.L. if you're planning on laying out. I wouldn't expect to catch too many rays, either. New York isn't exactly known for it's sun bathing.
Lets talk design
This awesome experience of a pool was of course designed and built by one of the best in the business, Bradford Products. That means, even though the pool may not look it, it's actually fabricated entirely out of stainless steel. It also has an all tile interior finish which isn't exactly cheap. Tile is the best finish you can have on a pool because it looks better, lasts longer and it's easier on the skin. So it's no surprise that as part of this boutique hotel makeover, they went with a credible company like Bradford and opted for a tile finish. I think any other finish would have looked sub par and taken away from the retro theme. And speaking of retro, there's also a couple nice, big, red TWA logos in the floor which further blend the pool into the overall theme of the hotel.
Per commercial code, the entire pool also has to overflow so it has a couple cool edge conditions like a vanishing edge and a beach entry which is pretty diesel given it's size.
The vanishing edge actually speaks to the overall premise of the pool as part of the observation deck being that it's gives the appearance there is no structure on one side. Anything else would appear to "obstruct" that side of the pool and ultimately the view beyond. That is after all the entire premise behind a vanishing edge and why it's also referred to as an "infinity edge." The result, is a singular, free and open view without any intrusions into the runways.
But one of the coolest features is actually the beach entry. The water flows right up to the deck and falls into a gutter below so you can walk directly into the water and get your feet wet without any steps. It's really a subtle feature that has a much larger impact on the aesthetic and experience although you may not appreciate it at first. Believe it or not, walking directly into the water is a big deal but it's also one of those details you only miss or truly notice once it's taken away. The beach entry also brings the water level of the pool up to virtually the same level as the deck. It's another seamless transition like the infinity edge that speaks the same language as the rest of the deck. Open, clear and unobstructed views seems to be the design theme.
The pool is 64 feet long but it's fairly narrow since most of it is taken up by the shallow entry and steps. Some people have even complained the pool is not large enough and there aren't enough loungers given the amount of foot traffic it receives but it's still pretty sweet and hard to hate on given the overall experience. Even so, it's a different type of energy at the Pool Bar. So whether you love planes or just like cool experiences, this pool is definitely worth checking out. It's just a cool place to sip a cocktail and take a dip in the infinity pool with panoramic views of the busiest runways at JFK. I think Howard Hughes would be pleased.
Here's a quick video of the TWA Hotel Pool Bar: