From Hat Factory to Hotel

Although New York City is far from lacking in the boutique hotel market, Refinery Hotel promises to offer something different to the city’s lodging scene.

Built in a former millinery building in the Garment District known as the Colony Arcade, the property is taking cues from the past to develop a loft-like, industrial-chic hotel that pays homage to the building’s hat-making history.

“We felt that Refinery should offer guests a very tailored, sophisticated experience,” says Charles Aini, co-owner of the hotel. “In the fashion world, every detail matters, and we’ve used that train of thought by looking closely at what travelers need, want, and will enjoy.”

The Colony Arcade building stretches over an entire city block—from 38th Street to 39th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The property was built in 1912 and quickly became home to hat manufacturers, a trade that remained part of the building until the 1980s.


Aini believes that the hotel’s former life will offer guests something different, and his team is working with architecture and design firm Stonehill & Taylor to revitalize the space with subtle period details. For instance, the desks in guestrooms will feature legs similar to those on antique sewing machines, in-room coffee tables will resemble old factory carts, and the reception area will include a custom installation of hat-making tools. The property will also feature Winnie’s Tea Lounge, named after former tenant Winifred T. McDonald.

“We’ve embraced the history of this property,” says Aini. “It was important to us to marry the building’s past life with modern style.”

The loft-like guestrooms were designed with the raw aesthetic of a factory setting with concrete ceilings and distressed hardwood floors, but warmth is added to the spaces with rich leather details, chocolate paint colors, and custom area rugs. Bathrooms feature inlaid mosaic stone flooring along with polished brass and antique bronze accents.

“The idea of a loft is appealing as it creates a residential feel—the rooms are spacious and individual,” says Aini.

The property will also feature a 3,500-square-foot rooftop terrace with both indoor and outdoor spaces for year-round use. Highlights of the space include a retractable skylight and the salvaged French terracotta flooring used in the rooftop bar area.

The multimillion dollar hotel, which began construction last July, is expected to be completed by late fall or early winter. And Aini expects the property’s location and history will appeal to a wide variety of guests.

“We invite travelers and New Yorkers to experience all the venues Refinery has to offer,” he says. “There’s a great creativity and energy in the Garment District, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

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