Photo courtesy of Windsor Court
This English-inspired hotel has been the place to stay in New Orleans for basically forever—well, since it opened in 1984, at least. It’s plush without being pompous, stately without being too serious, though it should be said that this is the kind of place where gents might wear a pocket square and watch fob and feel right at home. The $8 million art collection, which includes original works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Huysman, is museum-worthy (you can even take an audio tour), and the 4,500-square-foot spa, part of the 2012 $22 million renovation, is one of the city’s most luxurious. Other notable upgrades include the lobby cocktail bar—a more feminine alternative to the leather-clad Polo Club Lounge, and an outdoor pool.
Suites comprise more than 80 percent of Windsor Court’s accommodations—and that’s good news for guests. Each comes with a foyer, a wet bar, a sitting room, an oversized dressing area, and an Italian marble bathroom. French doors separate the sitting room from the spacious bedroom, with its king-sized bed, fine linens, and a large chair. Suites also include a private balcony or bay window for admiring views of the Mississippi River, Central Business District, and French Quarter. Windsor Court also offers Club Level suites on its top four floors, which comes with access to the comfortable Club Lounge, offering daily breakfast, tea, and an evening cocktail hour.
Museum Meets Hotel
Keep your eyes peeled as you move about the Windsor Court. Much of the 17th-to-20th-century art on display has a storied history—so much so that you there’s an audio tour available to give you a crash course. The hotel’s museum-quality paintings, sculptures, and tapestries primarily depict scenes of Windsor Castle or moments in British history. Two notable examples of Windsor Castle are a painting by W.R. Stone on the second floor, and an impressive scale model from the 1820s in the lobby.
A Serene Spa
With its quiet atmosphere and light color scheme, The Spa at Windsor Court put guests at ease from the moment they enter. It offers a wide array of treatments, from manicures provided in a space overlooking the Mississippi River to full-body treatments that relax and rejuvenate with the help of Naturopathica and Cellex-C products. If your idea of catharsis involves getting your heart rate up, Windsor Court can oblige with its fitness center featuring Precor cardio and weight equipment as well as a rooftop pool.
Taking its cues from the English countryside, this 316-room hotel exudes stately elegance from the art-swathed salon, which serves traditional afternoon tea, to the wood-paneled Polo Club. Thankfully stately doesn't translate as stuffy and the guest rooms, most of which are suites, are as palatial as they are plush. Two noteworthy additions, the cocktail bar and spa, were part of the recent $22 million renovation.
Holiday Tea at the Windsor Court
The Windsor Castle–inspired hotel hosts afternoon tea throughout the year (naturally), but it's especially festive from Thanksgiving to King's Day when the hotel is decked out with wreaths, garlands, and ornaments. There are 10 trees throughout the hotel, but the one in the lobby (where tea is held) is the most impressive. It measures 19.5 feet and twinkles with some 25,000 white lights.
Luxurious Decadence in a City of Decadence
Located close enough to the French Quarter to enjoy its charms in a few minutes' walk -- and far enough to escape its touristy bustle! -- the Windsor Court Hotel intoxicates you with luxury from the moment you step into the lobby. The gilded space, accented by a lively bar at one end, immerses you in elegance and sets the stage for your stay in this hotel mostly made up of suites. Devoted foodies will love taking a meal at the four-star, four-diamond Grill Room, or enjoying a cocktail from the outstanding drinks program at the lobby-level bar or the Polo Club Lounge. Traditional high tea can be had in grand fashion at Le Salon, and a full-service spa offers relaxating therapies and treatments galore. Visitors on business can take advantage not only of free wifi, but an office space open 24 hours a day. One of my favorite perks of the property is all the transportation options easily picked up right outside the front door. (Try the pedicab for a bit of adventure!)
By Farah Fleurima, AFAR Local Expert
300 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA