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Part of what makes a hotel experience unforgettable is the staff. When staying in luxury properties, a certain level of service is expected and when executed properly, is delightful! A glass of wine at check-in from friendly staff, insider neighborhood recommendations, and top tier housekeeping services are just some of the examples of the standard of service that Refinery Hotel prides itself on instilling and improving.

Refinery Hotel will celebrate it’s 10th year being open this year in 2023. A former millinery in the 1900s, the building was a staple in the boom of the Garment District. Like the milliners who came before us, the attention to detail shown in the making of the Refinery Hotel are measured with care and precision.

As Refinery Hotel celebrates its 10th year, so does our Director of Housekeeping, Irena Dobrijevic! Irena’s bubbly personality lights up every room she enters. From loyal guests to longtime vendors to dedicated staff, Irena is a legendary thread in the fabric of Refinery.

Here, we get In Bed With…Irena Dobrijevic.

You are one of the original staff members at Refinery Hotel. How long have you worked at Refinery?

In March it will be 10 years!

What do you love most about your job?

I like to work with people. I’m very open and like to connect with people. I’m also not sitting for 8 hours in the office, it’s not for me. My job is very active. I’m always checking and inspecting the rooms and floors, that keeps me busy.

How has the hotel or neighborhood changed in the last 10 years?

In some ways, not much has changed. It’s still a vibrant area. Some stores close but then new stores open. It’s always evolving. Even new hotels are coming to the area.

So what sets Refinery apart and makes it special?

We are known for our final touches and service and that is what makes all of the difference. We’ve had time to finesse that and now it is our standard. Guests expect the best from us.

Now for some real insider questions. Is there any advice or tips would you give guests during their stay to benefit housekeepers?

To consolidate things like your garbage, if all bottles or containers were left in one area to throw away, that is helpful. Don’t leave the DND sign on for too long. As long as they’re on we won’t be able to refresh your rooms.

I think everyone wants to know this – how much should you tip a housekeeper?

No limit! Just kidding. Everyone is different. Some guests leave a few dollars every day, some wait until the end. There is no set standard honestly.

Let’s get a little more personal. Where are you from originally?

I’m from Zadar, Croatia.

What inspired your move to the States?

When my husband and I got married, we came to New York on our honeymoon. We fell in love with New York. We came back again and then we decided to stay here.

What do you love most about New York?

You can find everything in the whole world in this city. You can visit different parts of the world for their culture from Little Italy or Chinatown. You have a lot of activities too. You can never get bored here, you always have somewhere to go. Maybe you go to the zoo and then eat outside and then say let’s walk down Fifth Avenue and you had a full day.

Is there a little Croatia in New York?

Yes! In Astoria, where I live, there is the Istria Club, Rudar and Selo. They make up a little Croatia.

What are your top 3 recommendations for visiting New York?

A Broadway show, Rockefeller Center at Christmas time or the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. Okay that’s 4, but they’re all good.

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