They say that walking into the Windsor is like stepping back in time. And indeed it is. Sadly, however, not the elegance and glamour of the 1890s Victorian era that they'd like you to believe but somewhere around a century later which is clearly the last time it was refurbished.
Old, tired and clearly living off past glories, you almost get the impression that the staff think you should feel privileged to stay in their slowly decaying relic of a hotel.
The Room: Lets start with our room, number 349, a "Traditional" room. To be fair we should have done our homework and discovered the size of the room before we booked. There was just about enough room to walk round both sides of the not very large double bed. Well, there was until our luggage arrived. As the only place to put it was on the floor beside the bed there was then only enough room to walk round one side of the bed, and then only if you didn't mind clambering over a chair.
The only window in the room had frosted glass and was firmly locked making the room dark, dingy and airless. The paint on it was peeling so badly that it seemed like the main reason that the badly fitting double glazing had been added at some point was because if you had tried to open the window the whole thing might just crumble to pieces in your hands.
The furniture consisted of a jumble of bits and pieces that looked like they'd been picked up from a local house clearance and in the corner was an air conditioning unit that clearly put most of its energy into clicking, banging, whirring and dripping as it seemed to put very little effort into cooling the air.
The Bed: The bed was actually very comfortable once we ordered another two pillows from their 10 pillow menu which includes the "High Profile" and "Low Profile" not to mention the "Anti Snore" option. I suspect we would have slept very well if it hadn't been for the game of all night elephant football being played in the room above, the constant banging of the door to the service lift opposite our room or the noises from the air conditioning unit two feet from my left ear as I lay in bed.
The Wardrobe: There wasn't one so unpacking wasn't even an option.
The bit between the Bedroom and the Bathroom: Squeezed between the bedroom and the bathroom was a space with enough room for one person to comfortably stand upright with their arms by their side. However, sadly not enough room to then close the door that blocked access to a small rail where you could hang a few clothes, a shelf, two drawers and a mini bar. Thankfully, before my girlfriend put some of my shirts on the shelf she ran her finger along it to make sure it was clean. Historians may be pleased to hear that the layer of dust was so thick that some of it dated back to 1883 when the hotel was originally opened. The Windsor is, by the way, very proud to claim that it is the oldest hotel in Australia. A fact that is clearly challenged by The Duke of Wellington Hotel, a quarter of a mile down the road, which has a plaque outside proudly claiming it is "Melbourne's Oldest Hotel" dating back to 1850. Anyway, why let facts get in the way of a good story.
The minbar: In a dust encrusted cupboard between the bedroom and the bathroom was a small half empty mini bar with about four or five random bottles of beer, wine and other drinks which were so expensive that only Richard Branson could afford to crack them open. By the way, apparently he has stayed here in case you were wondering. I know this because a big plaque by the lift proudly boasts of the many illustrious guests that also made the mistake of staying here at some point in history. (Please look at the Windsor website for the full list if you're interested). I wanted to write "Why?" at the bottom of the plaque but my girlfriend prevented me.
Anyway, to give you a run down of the mini bar prices, would you like the half bottle of plonk for just $34 or would you rather pay $5 for the pack of two biscuits?
The Bathroom: Boasting all the mod cons expected of a 5 star luxury hotel of the 1980s the tiny bathroom included some obligatory marble, a hair dryer attached to the wall, a telephone reminiscent of one my dad upgraded to in 1982 with push buttons and everything, a bath with a shower over it and two taps that required the skill of a Swiss watchmaker to finely balance the temperature between scolding and freezing. The three tiny bottles of shampoo and shower gel were only replenished once during our three day stay and there was enough dust under the sink to house a large colony of dust mites.
The Food: We didn't actually eat at the hotel because on our first morning we asked one of the doorman where to go for breakfast. He kindly suggested a cafe just down the road rather than the hotel dining room, a tip that we were quick to latch onto. Oh and he was right, the cafe down the road does an exceedingly good breakfast for less than half the price the hotel charges.
On a positive note, they do offer WiFi in the room for the princely sum of $15 per day or $25 per day if you wanted something faster that could download today's newspaper before tomorrow's issue was available. After connecting my iPad and iPhone I then tried to connect my girlfriends iPhone only to be told that I'd exceeded the number of devices I was allowed to connect. Seriously? Incidentally, free WiFi is available in several public places around the city.
We were so disappointed that we tried, through the agent that booked it for us, to either get us out after our first night or at least move rooms. The hotel, apparently, offered us an upgrade to a slightly bigger room for $27 more per night. The agent also asked whether we would be able to get a refund (as we'd prepaid) if we left after the first night and moved somewhere else. As I write this the agent has still had no reply to this request and we are sadly still here.
I've been fortunate enough to stay at some fabulous 5 star hotels; The Plaza in New York, The Observatory in Sydney, the Shangri-La in Hong Kong, The Venetian in Las Vegas, The Ritz in London, The Peninsula in Bangkok and The Fullerton in Singapore to name but a few. I've also stayed at a Premier Inn in Brighton, UK, and frankly the room there was bigger, cleaner, better equipped and considerably cheaper than our room at The Windsor.
So here's my advice;
If you're the owner or manager of The Windsor; stop trying to pretend that you're something you're not and clearly haven't been for a very, very long time. Then please go and stay for one night at one of the hotels listed above, including the Premier Inn if you want, and find out what's really expected of a 21st century 5 star hotel. And while you're away, I suggest you put Russell in charge. What a charming, helpful, knowledgeable and lovely chap. I reckon he'd have the place sorted by the time you got back.
If you're a traveller and thinking of staying of The Windsor, don't. By all means walk into the lobby, have a beer in The Cricketers Bar (we would have done but it was closed for most of our stay for some reason) or savour the history by taking afternoon tea. Then leave and save your money by staying somewhere much better and cheaper nearby. I'm sure the doorman would be happy to suggest somewhere suitable.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.