The area around the Mississippi River terminus of Poydras Street in New Orleans’ Central Business District is chock-full of massive, brand-name hotels, some of which are among the city’s largest buildings. They’re all clustered here for a couple good reasons, among them great views, ease of transportation, and proximity to the French Quarter. But none of them are quite as refined or luxurious as the Windsor Court, the entrance of which is tucked away on a private courtyard on South Peters Street about equidistant from Poydras and Canal. We recently spent a few nights there at the invitation of the hotel, and couldn’t have been more impressed.
Tell anyone with a fair amount of New Orleans knowledge that you’re staying at the Windsor Court, and they’ll most likely reply by telling you that it’s the nicest hotel in town. After our stay there, it’s hard to argue with that, especially considering the fact that the rooms are currently undergoing a thorough renovation and modernization.
The experience begins when you pull into the 23-story hotel’s peaceful, walled courtyard, whose centerpiece is a fountain with a tall sculpture of St. George, the medieval symbol of chivalry and valor, by John W. Mills. The lobby is spacious and warm, with a live harpist greeting guests and several ample seating areas (one of which is Le Salon, the city’s best spot for afternoon tea). There’s also a small lobby bar as well as a small café selling pastries, coffee, and sandwiches. There’s a small model of Windsor Castle on display, as well as plenty of framed artwork to complement the traditional English décor.
After checking in, we were escorted up to our room, a premium suite located on a high floor. It was recently renovated, and was simply stunning. The color scheme was primarily soft shades of tan and gray, with plenty of comfortable seating, French doors between the bedroom and living room, a wet bar, a private balcony overlooking the river, high-end furnishings, an incredibly comfortable king-size bed, and a bathroom loaded with Italian marble. There were also plenty of smaller touches that added to the suite’s upscale appeal: morning newspaper delivery, overnight shoe shine, framed antique English prints on the walls (as well as a three-part reproduction of an early map of New Orleans over the couch), high-end Frette linens, ample plugs, and a huge in-room dining menu.
We also had access to the hotel’s Club Lounge, which offered a welcome retreat on the top floor. The plush and elegantly-appointed space has a few different rooms: one has plenty of couches, a business center, a grand piano, and a television; and another has tables and comfortable chairs as well as a wide variety of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages along with a rotating selection of hors d’oeuvres and small plates (as well as breakfast in the morning and tea in the afternoon). The friendly employees there greeted us by name by the second day, and were more than happy to mix up our cocktails of choice for us. There are also two outdoor terraces that offer some absolutely stunning views of the city. If you have the opportunity to stay in a room that includes Club Lounge access, we highly recommend it.
Another highlight of the Windsor Court is its restaurant, The Grill Room. It’s upscale and luxurious (as expected), and when we visited for dinner we were seated side-by-side at a table that was actually inside a bay window, overlooking the courtyard. To say it was romantic would be an understatement.
The menu here is a unique concept: There are 12 items, and you can take your pick of three ($39), four ($54), or five ($69); more luxurious offerings like foie gras with caramelized apples and mini beignets, lobster Newburg, and a wagyu fillet with roasted new potatoes and dill crème fraiche add $10, $10, and $35, respectively. The categories are divided into salads, meat dishes, seafood, and New Orleans classics; it can be a bit tricky to figure out exactly what to order, how many courses, and in what order, but our server was adept in helping us decide. We decided to go with four courses, and executive chef Vlad Ahmadyarov’s cooking was delicious. A salad of beets and local citrus was well-balanced; duck breast with barley, charred okra, and huckleberry jus was perfectly cooked; short rib with grits, heirloom carrots, and Abita beer glaze was falling-apart tender and full of umami; the lobster Newburg with brioche toast, truffle aïoli, and crispy shallots was decadently delicious; Ora king salmon with mustard seeds and apple cider glaze was super-fresh; and Gulf shrimp with chili butter and corn maque choux was full of flavor. Jovial sommelier Bill Burkhardt also offered some creative and inspired pairings; the wine list is also expansive and full of surprises. Its Jazz Brunch is also quite popular.
Along with The Grill Room, the second floor is also home to the recently expanded and refurbished Polo Club Lounge, an elegant cocktail bar with plenty of dark woods and live music; as well as additional artwork including a portrait by Joshua Reynolds and a George V Cup from 1910, presented to the winning horse at Ascot. Other amenities include a day spa that’s been ranked the top hotel spa in the city, a spacious gym, and a large outdoor swimming pool.
Upscale English-style elegance isn’t something you’d expect to find in The Big Easy, but the Windsor Court has carved out a niche for itself among those looking to spend their time in the city in the lap of luxury. From start to finish, our stay was incredibly luxurious and refined, but not stuffy at all, largely because the staff was so warm and friendly. The next time you hear someone say that the Windsor Court is the nicest hotel in the city, believe them.
The hotel stay and meal in this review were provided at no cost to the writer.