Dark Mode On / Off

The Top 5 JFK Airport Hotels: by an Airline Pilot

Looking for the ultimate decently-priced hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport – JFK for your next layover in New York?

As an airline pilot who lives in the DC area and commutes to JFK for work, the early mornings and late nights my job requires have led me to spend many nights staying in all sorts of hotels around JFK airport.

I’ve tried all sorts of JFK Airport hotels; cheap and run-down ones, expensive and luxurious ones, and some hotels that strike the ideal balance between quality and price.

Though I still don’t stay exclusively at just one hotel – even after all this time – there are some I find myself booking much more than others.

So here’s everything you need to know about JFK International Airport area hotels – by an airline pilot that has actually tried most of them.

The Ultimate JFK Airport Hotel
The Cheapest JFK Airport Hotel You Need to Avoid
The Best Cheap JFK Airport Hotel
Which mid-range JFK airport hotel should I book?

The Ultimate JFK Airport Layover Hotel: the TWA Hotel

What is better than a 95F rooftop pool overlooking the entire airport? The TWA Hotel is clearly the best JFK airport layover.

TWA Hotel Pros

  • One of the most awesome hotels in the US, if not world
  • Rooms are comfortable, well-appointed, and nicely decorated
  • Rooftop pool heated to 95 degrees with views on the entire airport
  • 4 restaurants to keep you happy and fed on your layover
  • Only hotel right on airport property

TWA Hotel Cons

  • More costly, although prices are highly variable
  • The cheapest rooms face the airport roadway with little privacy
  • You won’t want to leave

My absolutely favorite JFK Airport layover hotel, and one I look forward to staying at again and again, is the TWA Hotel.

Related: Ask a Pilot: Which NYC Airport is Best, LGA, JFK, or EWR? (2021)

The TWA Hotel at JFK is the closest thing you can find to a time machine in 2021. Walk through the glass doors and you’ll find a retro (and fully functional) airport timetable, Convair convertibles from the 60’s, and even a “Connie” Constellation propeller airplane – with a bar inside!

The rooms at the TWA Hotel are clean, new, decorated, and overall lovely.

Even the rooms have a retro feel to them, with posters from the old TWA days of classic exotic cities; Cairo, Budapest, Cape Town, etc. Imagining what the golden days of aviation were like is not so much work anymore.

Plus the rooftop pool, heated to 95 degrees with sprawling views over the entire airport, is probably the most photogenic airport viewpoint outside St. Maarten.

Airport Plaza Hotel: the cheapest JFK Airport layover hotel and why you don’t want to stay there

Not picture: the smell. That’s the reason I wrapped my shirt around my pillow.

Look up the Airport Plaza Hotel JFK Airport on google and you’ll see decent reviews for amazing deals, typically around $79 per night. But dig deeper and you’ll find something isn’t right.

When you click on any of the links – booking, hotels.com, expedia – the reviews are suddenly much worse. Take expedia, where on over 780 reviews, it sits at 2.5/5. Why is this?

See, there used to be a decent Airport Plaza Hotel at JFK… but it closed down. This new “Airport Plaza” hotel, formerly known as OYO Hotel, is not the real deal. And as a relatively frugal airline pilot, I know – I tried it out myself.

The “new” Airport Plaza Hotel JFK Airport is the filthiest, most disgusting hotel in the JFK area. The entire hotel reeks of marijuana, and it feels like it would be heaven for roaches. But not humans.

Please. Please don’t stay there. Unless you desperately want to experiment with worst hotels. I’d rather sleep at the airport.

Related: San Francisco: The Ultimate Overnight Layover Guide & Top 5 Activities

The best cheap JFK Airport layover hotel: Wingate by Wyndham

These rooms at the Wingate Far Rockaway are perfectly fine, especially at the low prices offered.

JFK Wingate Hotel Pros

  • Excellent price
  • Above average, clean rooms
  • Free airport shuttle, or accessible by subway

JFK Wingate Hotel Cons

  • Very far from JFK Airport; takes about 30 minutes driving each way

So as another alternative for cheapest hotels in the JFK Airport area, consider the Wyngate by Wyndham JFK Airport in Rockaway. Typically in the low $80s, it strikes an excellent balance between price and quality.

It’s nothing fancy, but the Wingate does offer a free airport shuttle, a small gym, and at-least average rooms.

The main issue with the Wingate JFK Airport is its distance from the airport; it takes nearly half an hour driving from JFK. So if you’re wondering how it is you can find a decent hotel at a great price, now you know.

I’ve never stayed there; it’s just too far. You lose an hour of your layover, and it’s almost worth just staying in the city if you have extra time anyways.

Related: Seattle, Washington: 10 BEST Things On a Short Layover

The best mid-range JFK Airport Hotel: Hilton New York JFK Airport

From the Hilton New York JFK Airport website, a perfect example of how nice the rooms are – a great midrange hotel.

Hilton JFK Airport Hotel Pros

  • Reasonable prices
  • Great amenities, especially for HHonors members
  • Above average, clean rooms
  • Free airport shuttle

Hilton JFK Airport Hotel Cons

  • Prices and availability vary greatly
  • Airport shuttle is only every 30 minutes

Usually sporting decent rates and excellent benefits for HHonors members, the Hilton New York JFK Airport offers the ultimate combination of amenities, price, distance, and comfort.

There’s an average hotel restaurant, an indoor pool, and importantly, Starbucks coffee. Rooms are generally comfortable, clean, and comfortable. What more do you need?

As a result, it’s my go-to when prices at the TWA Hotel are too high for me.

Other great mid-range JFK Airport Layover hotel options include:

  • Crown Plaza JFK Airport
    • Super close to the airport, nice rooms, overall a great option
  • Five Towns Inn
    • Free, decent breakfast, decent rooms
  • Hampton Inn JFK
    • Free (but not great) breakfast, stylish rooms, great prices

They all include free airport shuttles, decent rooms, and good amenities. But they’re not the Hilton.

Conclusion: there are some great, and some not-so great JFK Airport layover hotel options

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes booking hotels at JFK over the years. And one of them was, as you can see, booking the Airport Plaza Hotel.

And I’ve tried my fair share of AirBnbs near JFK airport. Between the hassle of having to take an expensive Uber, taxi, or AirTrain, the noise and discomfort of many airbnb’s in Brooklyn, and the lack of amenities, it’s just not worth the (usually) minimal difference of cost.

But all of those nights over the years spent away from home weren’t for nothing. I’ve found genuinely good hotels in the vicinity of JFK airport, including the TWA Hotel that I actually look forward to staying at. And hopefully you will too.

Keep Exploring the World

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: