Having admired the wonderful Victorian facade of the hotel on previous vists to Melbourne, we decided that it was time to actually spend a weekend here recently.
From the moment that we arrived it was pure class. Our luggage was whipped from the taxi and carried into the sumptious foyer, where the concierge greeted us with a welcoming smile, and walked us to the reception area. We were greeted by name and after registering, we were given our key. Before taking the lift up, I stood there and admired the elegance of this hotel foyer. Crystal chandeliers, huge displays of white orchids tastefully arranged, plush red carpet. This hotel has been a Melbourne institution for 125 years, and has retained the beauty and charm that has attracted many-some famous, some infamous, and others who just enjoy the best there is to offer. It has a long history, and in a side chamber off the foyer there is a pictorial history which we later enjoyed reading.
It predates many of the grand hotels of the Victorian era, including The Savoy, London (1889), The Plaza, New York, (1894), The Waldorf Astoria, New York (1894), the Hotel Ritz, Paris (1898) and The Raffles, Singapore (1887).
Once known as the Grand Coffee Palace and for a brief period, under the influence of the Temperance Movement, liquor was banned from its premises. By 1897, however, the hotel changed hands, and welcomed back its original name. It also regained a liquor licence.
Now owned by the Oberoi group, it has undergone a re-furbishment in the last few years, and no cost was spared ( I was pleased that the floor-boards still creaked, though)
Our room was a De Luxe, on the 4th floor, at the end of a long corridor. Four floors, 180 rooms including 20 suites
There are different catogories- traditional, superior, de luxe, junior-suite and the very fancy and exclusive Windsor, Victorian and Royal Suites.
The room we stayed in was very large- with a walk in dressing room, a marble bathroom with the deepest tub I have ever seen, and a completely separate shower cubicle. Gold-plated fittings completed the elegance, along with the best toiletries and cuddly white bathrobes.
Two comfortable velvet armchairs, a writing desk, various tables and two upright chairs in the sitting area. The bed was queen size, and...........divine. Needless to say, the furniture was of the Victorian era too- but newish. Heavy velvet drapes and a pretty floral carpet. And the windows actually opened- a rarity nowadays. We loved that, because I am not a fan of air-con, unless it is very hot. Our room overlooked Spring Street and the Houses of Parliament.
There is 24hour room service, a newspaper outside the door every morning, and mini-bar available. Cable TV and Internet too.
The staff have obviously had the best training- every contact with them was a pleasure, they aim to and do give the best attention to every guest.
The big attraction every day is the 'Afternoon Tea'- NOT cheap (A$59.00 pp) but served in the grand old style on the best silver with an array of cakes and finger sandwiches that would satisfy any appetite. Tea at the Windsor is an 'occasion' that actually needs a booking.
Dining is in the restuarant called 111 Spring Street- the menu a choice of a la Carte or set 3 course. The Executive Chef Jérôme Trémoulet does the hotel proud.
The Cricketers Bar has cricket memorobilia lining the walls, and was in full swing when we popped in for a drink.
I recommend this hotel to anyone who enjoys the 'old style glamour' of Victorian days, and to anyone who wants a really romantic stay.
Some notable previous guests include:
Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Gregory Peck, Douglas Fairbanks, Claudette Colbert . Rudolph Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. Meryl Streep, Sir Laurence Olivier, Muhammad Ali. Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Unique Quality: We enjoyed the ambiance and quiet elegance of the hotel . The sweeping Grand Staircase, with its wrought-iron bannisters- It was not difficult to imagine the many elegantly dressed ladies that made their way down the stairs to the ball-room, in days gone by.
The pillow-menu- (a selection of 10 different pillows)
The deep marble bath
The heated towels racks
The original wrought-iron lifts (we were not sure if they were in use)
The view of the park, Parliament House and the free City Circle Tram that stops every 10 mins outside the front entrance. Most attractions and great shopping within walking distance, or a short tramride away.
Directions: Top end of town, opposite Parliament House.