If you follow me on instagram and twitter, you would have seen my countless posts about our most recent trip back to the US for my little brother’s wedding. Although we did manage to see quite a few places on this trip (NYC –> NJ –> MD –> DC), this was purely a family and friend affair, which meant lots of catch-ups, very little tourist-itinerary-happenings.
However, the one exciting and bucket-list worthy thing we were able to do was stay at The Refinery Hotel in New York’s Midtown. Their rooftop bar has been my longtime favourite, and after years of wanting to stay at this ulta-modern hotel, Stag and I finally managed to nab a deal (in the cheapest room, because #realworldbudgets) and stay for two nights.
After a lengthy trip from grey, oppressive-cloud-filled Newark Airport, we arrived at New York’s Penn Station, shuffling out of the train single-file and slowly making our way into the streets of New York. The hotel is a 15 minute walk from Penn Station (bonus: the best pizza place is across from the station), so we decided to skip the cab and get a walk in after our long flight.
On our first cross-street outside the station — a seemingly zillion people crossing at the same time — we begin to walk across it when I see a book drop next to a man. I stop to pick it up and ask him, “Excuse me, I think you dropped this book?” To which the man shakes his head to me and responds, “Nah man, I was just throwing it at that taxi there.”
Ahhh, New York, how I missed you, you sassy minx.
The walk seemed short even when lugging our suitcases behind us. We finally made it to The Refinery, which although doesn’t look like much from the outside, screams modern luxe as soon as you pull open the glass doors.
As we walked through the impressive reception hall to the reception desk, we were greeted no less than 25 times (a by-product of being in a good hotel or just being in America — one will never know). Because top-notch, were immediately handed small bottles of water when going to check in. Little touches like this are Stag and I love staying in boutique hotels over any chain.
Our room — while full of modern elements, like brass fixtures and bold artwork — disappointed slightly. If I’m honest, I was expecting a bit more with the decor (although Stag quite liked the minimal, clean look — perhaps it’s down to taste). We did book the most basic room due to our budget, however, which I think explains some of this. At the end of our stay, were shown a nicer suite for photographing (the ones you see here), which definitely felt more high-end. Something to keep in mind if you decide to book a stay at The Refinery.
However, we both agreed we were a little let-down with the ‘extra’s that you typically get with a boutique hotel room: no coffee or tea facilities in the room, no biscuits or any little snacks to munch on, and nothing really ‘extra.’ I think particularly a coffee-maker would have gone down well.
There was one way that The Refinery’s rooms stood out, though, and that was the soft-as-down comfy beds. A bed is not the aspect of a hotel room I tend to notice — “a bed is a bed,” I’d shrug and say, while Stag looks at me like I have two heads — but the ones at The Refinery. I can’t even. I slept better that first night than I have in ages. This may or may not have been aided by the insane jet-lag mixed with late-night Saturday drinking we had, but I still think it’s a lot to do with that bed. If I could have that and a TV remote to put on Law & Order: SVU, I think I’d declare it Nirvana.
Beyond the rooms, where The Refinery really stands out is its bars. The Refinery Rooftop is a destination of its own, and as a guest of the hotel you get priority access — even on a weekend. This was incredibly convenient (and fun!) when meeting up with friends on Saturday night. Even better: the rooftop is mostly covered (great for chilly evenings) but still with the incredible view of the New York skyline.
The snug ground-floor lounge bar, reminiscent of a classic speakeasy-style cocktail bar, excelled in its cocktails and understated, relaxed vibe. We capped off our night here, enjoying gin and tonics in comfy armchairs. Stag felt right at home!
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at The Refinery, although it doesn’t quite match other hotel experiences we’ve had. Would we stay there again? Absolutely — if we could have tea & coffee facilities in the room (or at least a communal one that goes all day). If you have the budget, stretch to an upgrade, as I think it’d make your whole stay that much more enjoyable.
The Refinery Hotel
63 W 38th St, New York