Windsor Court Hotel has quite a reputation, in the best possible way. Mention to those in the know that you have an upcoming stay, and they’ll sigh wistfully at your good fortune. After it opened some 30 years ago, Windsor Court’s subdued opulence and impeccable attention to detail swiftly raised the bar for New Orleans accommodations. Those same qualities have helped it maintain its position among the cream of the city’s hotels.
Although Windsor Court exudes sophistication, a genuinely kind staff and thoughtful amenities put families right at ease. Kids may not always be attuned to the finer points of luxury, but they know a warm welcome when they feel it.
The hotel is on the edge of New Orleans’ Central Business District near the riverfront. While this location doesn’t have the historic pedigree of the French Quarter, the tradeoff is that it’s less busy, particularly in the evenings. Walking in the area is easy; the Quarter is a few minutes by foot, and major kid-friendly sights such as the Audubon Insectarium and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas are a quick stroll away. There’s a streetcar stop within a couple of blocks as well.
Windsor Court feels much more intimate than its size suggests. The hotel has 316 generously sized rooms and suites, all fresh from a makeover and gorgeously appointed. A subtle palette of camel, pale blue and cream envelops the rooms in softness and serenity. The traditional decor is elegant yet sink-right-in comfortable. Each suite has a small private balcony or a bay window, many with beautiful river views.
My son and I shared a deluxe suite, with a double bedroom separated from the living area by pocket doors. This configuration works perfectly for small families; parents can put the kids to bed and then enjoy a glass of wine or watch a movie without disturbing them. Bathrooms are spacious and include two separate vanity areas — heaven during the rush to get everyone ready for the day. For larger families or those who want a bit of extra breathing room, Windsor Court’s premium suites can be configured as two-bedroom units.
The top four floors of the hotel comprise the club level. In my book, this amenity is worth every cent with kids — in addition to a continental breakfast buffet that includes hot cereals, pastries, lox, bagels and more, the club lounge offers heavy hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour and, best of all, divine late-evening desserts. As any parent will attest, having quick access to snacks or the promise of a sweet treat can do wonders to head off a meltdown.
Children of all ages are welcome in the lounge, but do bear in mind that the atmosphere is mannerly and there’s a dress code.
Windsor Court’s heated saltwater pool, tucked into the fourth-story rooftop, was one of the highlights of our stay. Surrounded by ample seating and backed by a view of the New Orleans skyline, it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. A poolside food and beverage service menu allows parents to unwind with a drink and a nibble while the kids splish-splash.
A full fitness center sits adjacent to the pool, and Windsor Court offers a luxurious spa as well. I didn’t have time to indulge in a treatment, but services such as the Monarch detoxifying wrap and East/West blend massage provide a just-for-parents mini escape. The hotel also has an impressive fine art collection and offers guided tours of the highlights.
Although there’s not an extensive menu of kids’ amenities, little guests are overtly welcome and the staff caters to them. Returning to our room after turndown one evening, we found plates of chocolates, macarons and other confections along with a sweet note addressed just to my son — a wonderful surprise that made him feel like royalty. Four-legged family members get in on the pampering as well; pets have their own special treats, bowls, beds and a map with walking routes in the area.
The refined Grill Room is Windsor Court’s signature restaurant and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to a Sunday jazz brunch. Dishes such as foie gras praline and breaded Gulf redfish with sunchoke puree and wild mushrooms riff on traditional Louisiana cuisine. The Grill Room Terrace, with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow light to pour in, is an especially lovely spot to enjoy a meal.
The Polo Club Lounge serves a menu of snacks and small plates. The hotel is also known for its high tea, which many locals claim is the best in New Orleans, served Thursdays through Sundays in Le Salon.
If you can leave the cozy Windsor Court cocoon long enough to venture out, two of New Orleans’ most beloved dining venues are right across the street. At one end of the spectrum is the elegant Restaurant August, owned by celebrity chef John Besh; at the other end is Mother’s, a hole in the wall famous for its po-boys, gumbo and other Cajun and Creole standbys.
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Editor’s Note: Windsor Court provided a media package for Ciao Bambino to review the hotel. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Lisa Frederick except where noted.
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