I don't recommend staying in Midtown if you visit New York City the weekend before Christmas. Wall-to-wall tourists make for slow-going (and a serious lack of personal space) on the streets, especially if you're making the trek from the Bryant Park Holiday Fair to Rockefeller Center. That being said, I CAN recommend a wonderful mid-town hotel that will quickly make the hubbub a distant memory; there's also a story behind my admiration of the place.
My husband was booked our trip, while I busily prepared for the holiday. "We're staying at The Refinery Hotel," he announced. "It's pretty new." When we arrived there a few weeks later, I still didn't know what we'd stumbled upon.
We walked through a beautiful arched entry, and up to the front desk, behind which hung an interesting wall sculpture. The modern decor was serene and inviting. Once in our room, we found a flyer, laid out like an old newspaper page, describing the property.
The Refinery Hotel, it said, was built on the site of the old Colony Arcade Millinery Factory. Wow, I thought. My grandmother had worked in a millinery factory in the 1920's when she first arrived in New York from Sicily. I noticed the writing desk in the room had a cast iron sewing machine base.
I began to notice the subtle touches the designers had specified to pay homage to the building's history. Along with the sewing machine bases, I realized the medallion in the center of the runner in the lobby had a beautiful custom design.
And the staff associates were wearing these wonderful pins....
As for that wall sculpture behind the check-in area? When I got closer, I saw that it was an artful arrangement of individual tools, which I later found were used to make flowers for the ornate hats that were once created in this place.
It was right about at this time that I got a little teary, thinking of my beloved Nonni and how she spent a great deal of her youth in this very building. She died in 2004 at age 104, and I still have her old Singer in my studio.
In fact, she's probably the reason why I love to do what I do.
Here's hoping everyone is finding his or her own oasis, and staying warm!