This hotel really provokes very mixed feelings. It's 5 star on many levels, but it still hasn't quite got there and I've stayed there a few times over the years. It's always a pleasant place to stay because of its history, it's location (which is ideal) and its elegance. Yet it's the attention to detail which always lets down a 5 star hotel, and it is also an added attention to detail that distinguishes it from other 5 star properties. This is where the Windsor lets itself down. This review refers primarily to the room I stayed in - 205. Meant to be a superior room, it had no outlook of any kind - I figure if a room is superior it should at least have an outlook. I won't linger on this, however, as maybe I got a lower end superior room as I got a ridiculously low Wotif special that included breakfast, an upgrade (to the so-called superior room) and a late checkout. The small things that one doesn't expect in a hotel of this rating: some pretty dated furniture (and I don't mean period furniture - history is great, but 80s bedside tables with inbuilt radios that don't work are just wrong!); a common annoying occurence in tacky motels is a remote control with no back on the battery panel - one doesn't expect this at The Windsor; I checked in at 13.00 at which time an old room service tray was in the corridor outside my door - when I checked out THE NEXT DAY it was still there; a full length mirror is great in a hotel room, but not when it is obscured by furniture and a curtain - it's use then?; broken sash chord rope on the bathroom window - wasn't annoying, but just looks tacky for 5 star; an air conditioner that took 30 minutes to actually work properly to temperature - not great on a cold night. All small things, but we don't expect this for 5 star. However, most upsetting thing as follows. I preface this by quoting from the hotel's website: "The Hotel Windsor staff go beyond expectations to ensure your stay is memorable and to deliver unsurpassed service excellence." Now, the point of this stay was for my partner and me a special night. But my partner wasn't able to come to Melbourne until the following night by which time we were booked into another hotel. I asked a simple thing: could I have the breakfast a day late, so my partner and I could at least have a bit of Windsor. The request was denied, the excuse being that the package precluded changing breakfast. This is utter nonsense. Having worked as a Food and Bev manager at a Sydney hotel, I know how easy it is to organise a comp breakfast for two on any morning - even a full occupancy morning - let alone on a day that it is not full occupancy (which it was not on the day I asked for). So, I felt that this request - so simply granted - was not beyond expectations. It was met with a friendly NO. I've stayed in lesser star hotels where things have happened that have been way more demanding than this request, so in this regard The Windsor really let me down as it is this kind of special extension of regular service that makes one remember the hotel, the staff and the experience. I stayed at The Langham in Hong Kong where NOTHING was too much trouble - including finding my lost passport in the spa change room of the hotel and bringing it to me personally to the airport AND CHARGING ME NOTHING EXTRA.
On more positive levels - it's a lovely atmosphere, the staff are all friendly (even when they're telling you they can't grant a simple request), everyone is very efficient and the general atmosphere is definitely special as it is certainly unique as there are no other hotels that have this kind of feel. The decor is elegant (save for the common areas in the corridors which are poorly lit, poor choice of paint colour and some rather odd furniture arrangements) and the location is very good indeed.