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NYC's new Refinery Hotel draws on hat factory past

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BETH J. HARPAZ | May 17, 2013 03:14 PM EST | AP


NEW YORK — A new boutique hotel in Manhattan's Garment District is paying homage to its past as a hat factory.

The Refinery hotel at 63 W. 38th St. opened this week in a 1912 building that once housed a hat factory on its upper floors. The independently owned hotel with 197 rooms describes its style as "industrial chic" with furnishings related to its history, such as desks inspired by vintage sewing machines and coffee tables that resemble old factory carts. The lobby features a display of hat-making tools.

"We took the history of the building and tried to incorporate it in the design," said Carmen Koller, senior interior designer from the Stonehill & Taylor firm.

The building, known as the Colony Arcade, has neo-Gothic arches and windows. Hat-making businesses were located here until the 1980s. Lord & Taylor is located around the corner on Fifth Avenue, but the block still feels connected to its Garment Center roots, with a number of small businesses selling apparel and accessories.

The hotel's lobby bar and cafe is named Winnie's, inspired by an early tenant named Winifred T. McDonald and a tea salon that once occupied the ground floor. Afternoon tea is offered with a whisky-focused wink at the Prohibition era.

A 3,500-square-foot (325-square-meter) indoor-outdoor rooftop bar on the 13th floor offers an old-fashioned porch swing and views of the Empire State Building. A first-floor restaurant, Parker & Quinn, has liquor lockers where VIP guests can store their best bottles of booze and a 19th century-style wooden bar with 21st century amenities: electric outlets at every seat so patrons can charge their gadgets while drinking. Room service for food and beverages is available 24 hours a day.

Basic rooms are 250 square feet (23 square meters) with what the designers call a raw, industrial-chic aesthetic that includes 12-foot (3.6-meter) concrete ceilings and distressed hardwood floors. Larger rooms are available. Introductory room rates advertised online start at $259 but typically prices will be around $400.