High tea at The Windsor

The Windsor … a Melbourne institution.
The Windsor … a Melbourne institution.

There’s something about The Windsor that makes it a very special place. In fact, there’s a combination of things that also make it my favourite hotel in Melbourne.

Firstly, its 1883 opening, near the beginnings of a great land boom in Australia — one that was particularly spectacular in Melbourne — means that the hotel preceded such icons as London’s The Savoy, New York’s The Waldorf Astoria and Paris’s The Ritz.

Secondly, it has an understated elegance that I could only describe as exuding pure class. It simply reeks of old wealth and shows none of the brashness of new money. It could never have been built by Donald Trump.

The Windsor … accommodation in the grandest of traditions.

The Windsor … accommodation in the grandest of traditions.

Thirdly, the hotel has a marvellous asset in its people. People such as Russell, the tall, top-hatted doorman who seems totally unflappable and able organise just about anything in Melbourne.

He reminds me more than a little of Jim Burns, the famous doorman at Mayfair’s Athenaeum Hotel and widely recognised as London’s top hotel frontman.

Russell … totally unflappable and able organise just about anything in Melbourne.

Russell … totally unflappable and able organise just about anything in Melbourne.

And people such as Eddie, the waiter who so unobtrusively and efficiently looked after us at breakfast and high tea. He came with the knack of always seeming to know exactly what we wanted yet never seemed to be hovering over our shoulders.

One Eleven Spring Street … breakfast, high tea and signature dining.

One Eleven Spring Street … breakfast, high tea and signature dining.

And talking about The Windsor’s high tea, it has grown, like the hotel, into something of a Melbourne institution. It certainly pays to book, especially for occasions such as Mother’s Day and Easter Sunday … and indeed just about any Sunday.

Most of the food is served on a tiered stand. There are delicate ribbon sandwiches, a range of delicious savoury pastries such as sausage roll of pork with sage-and-pistachio stuffing, and an overly tempting array of sweets such as religleuse og gingerbread and pineapple (double-layered choux pastry filled with roasted pineapple mousse, ginger cream cheese and spices).

High tea at The Windsor … it pays to book.

High tea at The Windsor … it pays to book.

Then there’s a plate full of The Windsor’s famous scones, served with clotted cream, lemon curd and the hotel’s own jam.

And, of course, there’s French bubbly and a wonderful selection of teas, including an exclusive Hotel Windsor Afternoon Blend.

The accommodation in the suites is sumptuous and spacious. Our Windsor Suite had a bedroom and oval-shaped sitting room combining lounge and dining, plus walk-in robe, bathroom and servery, with outstanding views over the Victorian Parliament House.

A suite in Melbourne’s The Windsor … the epitome of luxury.

A suite in Melbourne’s The Windsor … the epitome of luxury.

There is plenty to do in the area, too. Carlton’s famous Lygon Street is within walking distance. Even closer is Little Bourke Street’s Chinatown, which features an amazing range of restaurants, some of them ridiculously cheap.

And then there’s Collins Street, the spiritual, and probably actual, home of Australian fashion. Things certainly aren’t cheap here, but you will emerge very well dressed.​

John Rozentals was a guest of The Windsor.