When it comes to hotels, I’m an old fashioned gal. Give me a striking façade, grand staircase and lots of hidden nooks and I’ll be enthralled. I thought I’d be hard pressed to find any grand hotels in Australia as everything is so new and shiny, particularly in modern metropolis Sydney so I was super excited to discover the Victorian-era Hotel Windsor in Melbourne. The hotel opened its doors in December 1883, harking back to the era of The Plaza in New York (1894), The Ritz in Paris (1898) and The Savoy in London (1889).
Steeped in history, Australia’s constitution was actually drafted at the hotel between February and March 1898, a fact that impressed me no end. The hotel has twice been recognised by Condé Nast UK for its service and was included in the Top 18 Hotels in the World for Best Service. It’s no wonder then that the Hotel Windsor has welcomed the likes of Vivien Leigh, Sir Laurence Olivier, Muhammad Ali and Kylie Minogue through its doors. To say I was looking forward to my stay is a massive understatement!
As I was only in Melbourne for a whistle stop stay, location was key for me. Enjoying a super central location, the Hotel Windsor is right in the heart of the city and opposite Parliament House and a short walk to the main shopping streets, Federation Square, Southbank arts precinct and pretty much all there is to see in Melbourne. There’s also a train station and tram stop a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel and despite the cold I hopped on the tram down to St Kilda beach, experiencing a lovely tram journey through Melbourne city centre.
When I arrived at the hotel, I have to admit I did audibly gasp – the façade is magnificently commanding. The sprawling lobby is equally grand with rich red carpets, sumptuous dark leather sofas and glistening chandeliers. Despite its size, the lobby and the rest of the hotel seems very homely and intimate – one of the best things about hotels from this era. For me, there’s nothing worse than rattling around in a huge, clinical hotel, I like to feel cosy and at ease.
Now, onto the best part – the room. One of the best reasons to stay at a Victorian era hotel is the spacious accommodation. My pet hate is walking through a swish, spacious lobby only to be faced with a hotel room that barely has room to shuffle around the bed. I don’t tend to stay in hotel rooms for too long but it’s nice to be able to relax and not feel claustrophobic! Luckily, Hotel Windsor’s rooms are spot on and there’s more than enough space to swing a cat. As well as a vast bedroom and huge bathroom, I also had a walk-in-wardrobe/storage room too. The room was so lovely and welcoming that I was loathed to leave the room and actually ended up cutting a night on the tiles short to cosy up in bed and watch the telly!
The one small gripe I have is while wired internet is complimentary; there is a surcharge for wireless internet. For a blogger, it’s a problem but for most travellers I don’t think it matters too much – you’re there to enjoy the city rather than sit in a hotel on emails/Facebook/Twitter etc. I had a lovely stay at Hotel Windsor and would definitely stay here again. If you’re looking for the grandeur of yesteryear and a stay in an unforgettable hotel, The Hotel Windsor is just perfect.