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Every city has a touchstone hotel. In New York, it's the Plaza. In L.A., it's the Beverly Hills Hotel. And in New Orleans, it's the Windsor Court. For years the Windsor Court was the luxury hot spot for celebs of all kinds—Paul McCartney, Oprah, Princess Anne, Justin Timberlake—and even as other hotels have made the city their home, the Windsor Court still holds top polish.
Founded by a New Orleanian anglophile, the hotel marries British tradition with Southern flair. Piles of its signature roses greet guests in the lobby, and a blue chip classic art collection winds its way throughout the entire building (one piece now under glass after a run-in a few years ago with a champagne cork). Visitors sway to jazz in the Polo Club Lounge, and locals drop in for lunch at the Grill Room. But the crown atop the Windsor Court, its Presidential Suite penthouse, is the reservation everyone covets.
The two-bedroom, four-bathroom, 2,800-square-foot suite recently underwent a $2 million renovation. In keeping with the hotel's American take on Britannia, designer Vesta Fort pulled inspiration from Elsie de Wolfe and Billy Baldwin. Old World prints like Schumacher's Xanadu wallpaper are toned down with warm neutrals that frame views of the Mississippi. The designer also tapped New Orleans's vibrant design scene. "There were a lot of beautiful things that were already in the room," Fort says. "I reused what I could but then added lots of rich layers, sourcing antiques around the area and tapping local craftspeople like Fifi Laughlin, who made the lamps throughout, and Kathy Slater, who designed the tortoise-print coffee table."
The results are less like a commercial hotel and more like the sumptuous apartment of a Southern grand dame you're lucky enough to know. But because this is a luxurious hotel and not someone's home, the amenities—like a private gym with river views, terraces for those balmy Louisiana evenings, a spectacular Calacatta marble bathroom with soaking tub, and a piano that reportedly Paul McCartney played when he stayed at the Windsor Court (top image)—are indulgent.
"Dignitaries, presidents, and rock stars have all stayed here, so I kept them in mind when redesigning the Presidential Suite," Fort says. "I also thought about brides who might book it for their wedding weekend. It is a very special place, the only place to go in New Orleans."
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