What is it? The Refinery is a new boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan. It's located on West 38th Street, in the heart of the Garment District, and set within a 1912 neo-gothic former millinery building, which has been completely revamped by architects/designers Stonehill & Taylor.
How new? Put it this way, when we stayed a few weeks ago, a team of painters were still finishing off the walls and the rooftop bar was still under construction. So yes, it's very new.
Rooftop bar? Yep, all 325 square metres of it. It's an inside/outside space with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, including the towering Empire State Building. It's likely to be a popular spot for local movers and shakers; everybody enjoys a manhattan in Manhattan.
Is the design funky? Not so much funky as industrial elegant. Take the lobby, for example, a long arcade with plaster groin ceilings. There's a nod towards the building's heritage in details such as the antique clock-face elevator indicators and the rug-motif depicting milliner's tools. The adjacent Winnie's Lobby Bar (pictured; named after a former tenant) is furnished with strap-leather sling chairs, chocolate brown leather ottomans and balloon-glass table lamps. The finishes incorporate rich wall panelling and egg-shell white walls.
What about the staff? Very attentive and incredibly attractive (many are obviously actors waiting for their next gig). Both the guys and gals wear a uniform of jeans, checked shirts and suspenders (braces, to anyone not from the US of A), as a tribute to the milliners who once worked in the building.
Phew, I'm bushed. Well, you'll have a comfortable place to sleep. The 197 guest rooms (pictured) resemble classic NYC lofts, with 12-foot ceilings, dark-stained hardwood floors, huge windows and big city views. Sewing machine-inspired desks continue the industrial narrative, as do the steel and leather headboards with brass buckles and upholstery with overlock seams. The bathrobes are too fluffy and luxurious to be folded small enough to fit into a light-fingered person's luggage and the bathrooms are spacious by New York standards, and feature custom inlaid stone mosaic flooring, marble-top vanities, full-size bathtubs and English brass fittings. Bliss.
All that design talk has made me hungry. There's a secret hotel entrance into the 140-seat Parker & Quinn restaurant downstairs (pictured); the rest of New York has to come through the front doors, on 39th Street. The restaurant resembles a 1920s prohibition bar - albeit one with mirror balls and textured baroque wallpaper. American cuisine is served from an open kitchen but the star of the show is celebrity mixologist Alex Ott, who enjoyed a cameo on Sex and the City, with his incredibly intoxicating cocktails.
What if I get bored? Are you kidding? You'll be right around the corner from 5th Avenue, Macy's, Herald Square, Bryant Park and the Empire State Building (the observatory is a must-see). Or camp it up in the Theatre District, before heading down to Hell's Kitchen for some ethnic cuisine. Flatiron and Chelsea are also pretty close. And if all that fails to excite you, the Museum of Sex is nearby. If you're feeling fit, a stroll of a few kilometres will take you to Central Park.
So what's the damage? The published room rate starts from about HK$3,500. However, there are opening specials available, with a 25 per cent discount. For more information, go to www.refineryhotelnewyork.com