A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

The Refinery Hotel - New York

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The Refinery is a little heaven of tranquillity in Midtown's buzzing life.

Sweet scented candles and low-lit arches meet you at the lobby. They create a tranquil environment any time of day or night. In the evenings, a live jazz band plays downstairs, which is great, even if you come back from a whole day of exploring the city, you can still sit back and relax, without the need to venture out.

Fifth avenue and the Chrysler Building


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One of the rooms with a view of the Empire State Building

Location...
The Refinery is a stone's throw away from everything you have seen in the movies.
Within a five-minute walk you find yourself in Fifth avenue, Bryant Park, the Empire State Building, Grand Central station, the Rockefeller Centre and Times square.
Nordstorm Rack is ten minutes walk and so is Madison Square Park and the Flatiron Building.
Two subway stations (Bryant Park station is 3 min away and Times Sq station is 5 min away) provide access from Brooklyn to Harlem.
SoHo and the Meatpacking District are fifteen minutes away by subway too, or 20 minutes by taxi in normal traffic.  
 
 
Good for...
Spacious rooms with high ceilings - a welcoming escape from NYC's hustle & bustle. 
Rooftop Bar with a view of the Empire State Building.
Art Deco bathrooms with ma-hu-ssive walk-in showers.  
Comfortable beds with fluffy duvets.
Some of the Suites are decorated with pencil-like murals! (check availability)
Live Jazz band playing almost every night, right next to the lobby - great meeting space.  
Friendly and helpful staff - spot-on hipster attire bellboys and smartly chic front desk staff.  

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Spacious suite, home away from home...
Art deco bathrooms


Can I just take a moment to say how much I loved Bryant Park?  
We arrived late in the evening and my sister-in-law took us out for a little walk to stretch our legs after our long flight. Bryant Park was in full swing, people sitting around the park cafés, friends sitting on the grass and couples walking around this beautiful green space, surrounded by a fascinating mixture of skyscrapers and old turn-of-the century buildings.

The city Public Library backs on to the park too. It turned out to be one of my favourite buildings, not just because it was where Carrie from Sex and the City run down the Fifth Avenue stairs after Mr Big walked away, but also because it filled me with joy that such an impressive building is a functioning library that New Yorkers still use.
 
I kept returning to the park for morning walks, when the sunshine filtered through the tall trees and I had time to examine the impressive skyline.

Old and new, the impressive skyline around Bryant Park
New York Public City Library on Fifth Avenue
Morning stroll in Bryant Park

Sindhu at the Compleat Angler, Marlow


The Compleat Angler is an institution in Marlow. It sits like a white swan on the other side of the whimsical, white, suspension bridge. It's a destination for picture-perfect afternoon tea on the green lawns, by the Thames.
 
Atul Kochhar is the master-mind behind the uber-luxurious Benares. An elegant Indian restaurant, around one of London's most beautiful squares, in Mayfair.
 
The two have joined forces, creating Sindhu at the Complete Angler and quite frankly I haven't heard a bad review, since.
 
Forget what you think you know about Indian restaurants. This one is a riverside, wood-panelled room, with windows opening right over where the Thames overflows and roars with white foam. The windows are all along the room and it does feel like you are in a river barge; a very elegant barge, nevertheless.

Going over the menu attracted our interest; the dishes were innovative, yet the flavours were familiar, a nice play on the smells and flavours you think you know.  And the cocktails are all fragrant with mango, rose petal and lychee aromas, to keep you going while you are making your mind up.
 
Venison Samosa and Charred Chicory
 
The starters...
Venison Samosas with Charred Chicory - samosas are traditionally, heavy and stodgy pastries, stuffed with a mashed potato, onion and pea, spiced mixture. You can get keema (mince meat) samosas too, although not very often.
This version of samosa with venison was a real treat. The venison was minced really finely and the first bite was particularly fragrant, possibly with cinnamon and cloves. It was served simply with charred chicory, perfect balance that didn't take away from the delicious venison bites.   

The mains...
Tandoori Turkey Supreme with Tikka Masala Gravy - let's be honest, when we first saw the turkey on the menu we immediately thought...dry and too weak to handle Indian spices. We were wrong.
Firstly, there was a good chunk of it, no thin, dry slivers involved. It was juicy and because it was sitting on the gravy rather than  in it, it still maintained some of the Tandoori charred flavour. This was a lovely surprise!

Winter Vegetable Biriyani Parcel & Smoked Raita - Biriyani in a parcel? Well, it's the Christmas season after all! Biriyani is traditionally a layered rice dish, but in this case I was all tied up in a little pastry parcel that kept the rice soft and flavoursome.
I think that the raita was made with goat's cheese, instead of the traditional yogurt, which gave it the smoky flavour.

24Hours Lamb Shoulder, Spiced Turnip, Chickpea Hummus - the lamb! Oh the lamb!
Soft, succulent, in a velvety, spiced sauce, deep burgundy colour and a generous portion. That was our favourite dish all around!

The sides...
All mains come with Pilau Rice with golden, fried onions on top and the star of the show, Daal Makhani. Daal, was the one thing we still remembered form our visit to Benares, many years ago.
It involves black lentils, cooked for hours to soften and absorb all of the spices, tomato, ginger and garlic flavours, topped with cream for that final luxurious touch.
It's not an everyday dish and this was thankfully as special as we remembered it to be. Smiles all around.
 
Biriyani Parcel
Mint Paratha and Tandoori Roti
Turkey Supreme in Masala Gravy
 
The desserts...
Gulab Jamun Crème Brûlée with Pistachio Kulfi - let me start by saying that I am not a dessert person. Neither am I a gulab jamun person - it's too sweet and syrupy for me.
But I most certainly am a Brûlée person. This combination was light and the little bubbles of gulab jamun popped up here and there in the crème brûlée like planets in a child's colourful universe toy-set.
 
 
© Life Love London

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