Style » Fashion

Refinery Hotel to Crown NYC’s Millinery District

Monday Jun 25, 2012

New York, NY - Tailored luxury, styled by history, sophisticated at every turn: that's the blueprint for Refinery, the latest addition to Manhattan's increasingly glorious boutique hotel scene. It's a particularly apt name, for Refinery has truly refined the boutique concept: instead of edgy quirk of dubious charm, guests will find a welcome brand of thoughtful, eclectic and intelligent design that layers cues from the past with tremendous contemporary flair.

Better still, instead of vague promises of "personalized service" and "attention to detail," the team behind Refinery has drawn up a unique menu of services and amenities that are perfectly attuned to the wide-ranging needs of savvy travelers, raising the bar for what a hotel can and should be.

Great Bones: A Stylish Pedigree

The Colony Arcade is one of those grand old New York buildings you can't help but notice. As you make your way down 38th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, you're drawn to Neo-Gothic arches and windows surrounded by sculptural accents. Or perhaps 39th Street - the Colony Arcade stretches through the entire block. Built in 1912, it quickly became home to hat manufacturers; this was in the midst of the growth of the Garment District and its various sub-sections.

This was prime real estate in the hat-making quarter, and remained the home of milliners until the 1980s, its great bones never compromised. Three decades later, architecture and design firm Stonehill & Taylor have revitalized the space with subtle riffs on period details and clever nods to the Colony's history. Case in point: a bar called Winnie's Tea Lounge after one Winifred T. McDonald, an original (and presumably hat-wearing) tenant.

"We are proud to announce the Refinery Hotel," says Charles Aini, owner of Refinery. "The style, sophistication and craftsmanship of this historical building combined with the creativity and energy of its Fashion Center location will fuel Refinery's beyond-great-service mantra, creating a one-of-a-kind experience and exciting new addition to Manhattan's hotel scene."

Re(de)fining the Boutique Hotel

The Refinery team has looked hard at what good hotels are - and what they can be. More importantly, they’ve studied the people who populate them: fashion industry titans, dot-com-hopeful billionaires, top chefs, and educated travelers with open minds. The results of their labor are evident throughout; more than a few boutique hotel ground rules have been tossed out on the way to a thorough transformation of the hotel experience.

"Our design was guided equally by historic fact and imagination," says Christina Zimmer, Stonehill & Taylor principal. "We thought about how the original tenants lived and worked. We thought about the owner of the tea room on the ground floor, and the ladies who frequented it as they took a break from shopping on Fifth Avenue. We thought about the incredible fashions of the time, and how they were made." Refinery reflects all of this thinking in an exciting brand of urban chic that literally could not exist anywhere else.

Public Spaces, Privacy-Perfect

The Refinery’s lobby is a modern take on the building’s past glories. Stonehill & Taylor have reinterpreted the neo-Gothic details of the facade with a fresh, contemporary sensibility. White plaster groin-vaulted ceilings and a 72’ entry take guests through a 21st Century arcade to the reception area, outfitted with warm wood and a custom installation of hat-making tools.

The previously mentioned Winnie’s Tea Lounge is an up-to-the-minute combination cafĂ© and bar, an irresistible day-to-night meeting place boasting stunning rich plaid-patterned wood walls that wink at Winnie’s vocation. Intimate lighting and true tea parlor furnishings evoke the sophisticated past, and custom gothic-inspired glass partitions encourage good old-fashioned rendezvous of - of all stripes.

Upstairs Flair: The Loft You Always Wanted

Guest rooms are tailored, but have a slightly raw aesthetic that is inspired by the original hat-making factories. The overall effect is loft-like and wonderfully individual. Concrete ceilings and distressed hardwood floors, custom area rugs. Sewing machines are referenced in the desks and coffee tables are reminiscent of old factory carts.

Chocolate and white are the dominant colors; the beguiling mix of materials includes cotton, wool, steel and leather. Spacious and luxurious bathrooms fulfill the rooms’ promise with inlaid mosaic stone flooring, polished brass and antique bronze.

The industrial-chic aesthetic continues in the upscale rooftop public space. This expansive 3,500 square foot terrace has stunning views of the neighboring Empire State Building and the city skyline beyond. Stonehill & Taylor are fashioning a unique year-round hangout that draws upon the best of inside-out design. Expect warmth and sheen, wood and glass, and the most flattering lighting since gaslight went out.

Three distinct spaces move from indoor to out. Inside, a fountain and a fireplace. Outside, a chic open-air lounge. And in-between, the main bar area, with salvaged French terracotta floors and an enormous retractable skylight.

A Final Tip of the Hat: Refinery Philosophy

Travel is an outward expression of inward vitality. Vital travelers need a vital environment and active hospitality. That’s what they will get at this groundbreaking new take on a timeless institution.




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