Weekend at the Windsor
Actually that’s a slight exaggeration. Because it was so heavily booked, on my recent trip down to Melbourne (check out last month’s My Favorite Things about the porcelain in the National Gallery of Victoria), I managed only one night at this venerable lady called the Duchess of Spring Street. And it was a Thursday, not a weekend.
I’ve always loved hotels. I think it stems from long ago when my parents did long trips (much of our extended family, well, EXTENDED!) and we got to stay in motels along the way. Dinky little packages for tea and coffee! Dinky little soaps! Usually a pool – I was a water-mad kid, the pool meant a lot. More fun than a tick could have in a tannery.
My taste for something more upmarket than the local equivalent of Best Western developed when I worked for a fairly swish hotel in Brisbane during Expo 88. Among the perks of the job was a trip to stay in some of Australia’s best hotels so we could check out the competition, aka steal the good ideas! Dinky little everythings again. Not to mention room service. And people to carry your bags. And lovely extras encompassing more than the luxury of a pool – music in the bathroom, clean towels every five minutes should I so desire, flowers on the basin (I thought this was a lovely touch in one of the hotels).
There’s something so beautifully decadent about curling up in a lovely big hotel room with all that clean bedding, tea and coffee on tap and a bathroom full of lovely stuff, a bathroom moreover that I don’t have to clean. Not to mention room service – I think room service is one of life’s great luxuries. And again, I don’t have to wash up afterwards!
One of the fun things about going to romance writing conferences is that usually the hotel is around the five star mark. I’ve stayed in some lovely places, thanks to working in this industry. One place in particular that comes to mind is the gorgeous Langham in Melbourne. Fabulous food. Beautiful room. Really warm service. Sadly the Romance Writers of Australia conferences have now become so big that the Langham can’t cope with us anymore. Sigh.
A hotel that has a wonderful reputation and that I’ve always wanted to try is the last of Australia’s grand Victorian hotels, the Windsor in Melbourne which was built in 1883, predating other grand hotels like the Savoy in London, the Plaza and the Waldorf Astoria in New York, and the Ritz in Paris (where one day I hope to have cocktails with Peter O’Toole dressed like Audrey Hepburn in How To Steal a Million – yeah, dream on!). The Windsor’s on a prime corner block right across the road from the Spring Street Gardens and the Victorian Parliament (I’ve included a photo of that magnificent building).
Luckily there was a special offer running when I was last in Melbourne so I finally got my wish. And now I think the Langham might have some competition for my favorite hotel in Australia. The greeting at the Windsor was warm and wonderful. The bedrooms were large. The bathrooms were marble. The room service was extremely nice! Glossy magazines in the room. Free internet. Even better, they had beautiful stationery featuring the rampant Windsor lion. Two of my closest friends copped letters which must have surprised them! The breakfast was copious and served in a beautiful room – there’s something to be said for those gracious Victorian proportions.
So all round a wonderful experience. My only complaint is that it was only for one night. I would have loved to settle in for a bit longer.
Actually one other complaint, when I got home to my place, room service was no longer available!