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The Cardinal Hotel

When you take that trip to Winston-Salem that I recommended, book your stay at the city's Kimpton property, The Cardinal Hotel. Originally the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. headquarters, the building is the architectural muse for the Empire State Building in New York City.  Built in 1929 in just two years, this 22-story building is quite an icon. When planning for the hotel, Kimpton saved every piece of the hotel they could while adding their signature details to create a fabulous and unique hotel experience.  

Walking up to the building, you immediately get that Empire State feeling, which only intensifies upon entering through the Benedict metal revolving door and standing in the elevator corridor. Upon stepping into the building, you will find the Katharine Brasserie & Bar to your left, the iconic elevators directly in front of you, and the welcome desk and the living room with comfortable seating for relaxing, gathering your morning coffee, and enjoying the evening wine hour. When I visited The Cardinal, I was immediately greeted and directed to whatever I required. If dinner at the Katharine didn't win me over, the tour I received with the sales manager most certainly did. 

When the 22-story building was commissioned in 1927, no expense was spared.  In this Art Deco structure you will find an Indiana limestone exterior, polished brass and marble, wood-paneled executive offices, one-of-a-kind lighting, brass elevators, and gold leaf tobacco leaves on the ceiling in the lobby.  The building was finished in 1929 and still to this day remains an icon in the Winston-Salem skyline. When Kimpton bought the building for a hotel and renovations began, all attention was made to ensure the history was kept and restored, and anything that had to be replaced was done so with items that would have been used then. The boiler room in the basement has been maintained with the original boilers intact, although not in use, and the space has been converted to a workout and play facility similar to the one you will find in the basement of Reynolda.  Here you will locate a small bowling alley, basketball court, two-story slide, and more where guests can relax, work out, and play.

Clearly, every detail was noticed and included. The building had its own security, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians, a nod to the community Katharine Reynolds built with Reynolda.  Today the sentiment of no detail missed remains the same. When transitioning to The Cardinal, Kimpton added their golden touch to the building and included many nods to its history, the development of Winston-Salem, and the state of North Carolina. Its name, the state bird, is the first of these unique Kimpton touches that draw you in from that revolving door. In the guest rooms, you will notice plaid chairs in Carolina Tartan and details around the room with nods to the city's fashion and textile industry's history.  You will find a fabulous seersucker robe in the closet, a timeless and very southern pattern, and an additional nod to the textile history. The custom wallpaper in the bathroom includes the cardinal and the dogwood, the state flower. If you look closely, you will see threads of clothing in the cardinal's mouth, another nod to the history of fashion and textiles as the triad cities, W-S, Greensboro, and Highpoint, are home to Hanes, Cone Denim, VF, and Polo. 

A few of my favorite highlights of the tour included the history of the building, the offices you can still see our now boardrooms on the 20th floor, the basement, and the view of the city from the boardrooms on the 20th floor.  Like the Empire State Building, the structure's tip can be lit up to celebrate holidays, memorable dates, and even companies hosting conferences.  The building, just like its younger counterpart, is an icon in the skyline, and the color of the tip is something they pride themselves on being able to change as need be.  I love that it shines pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month; anything pink and supporting this fantastic cause wins my heart. 

Not only can you stay at The Cardinal, but you can live there as well.  The Residences of the R.J. Reynolds Building make up the 7th-19th floor, and the lower lobby, fitness center, and rec room spaces are shared with those who choose to call The Cardinal their home.  With those views and the beauty of the building, I would absolutely choose to live there. Coming home to that incredible revolving door, brass elevators, and stunning art deco décor is a greeting like none other. 

Even if you stay at another property, attend dinner and drinks at the Katharine Brasserie & BarThe Katharine Brasserie is incredibly charming, and the food is delicious. With the décor and feel of a grand French café, the space is endearing, and the sight of the open kitchen transports you to a small corner café in France.  I did not learn until later that Katharine Reynolds studied French cooking, and the menu and vibe reflect her love of French food. We began our meal with an Old Fashioned, as their selections of my favorite drink are extensive. After spotting dessert nearby, we lightened our meals to enjoy two desserts.  We chose the French Onion soup (the best I have eaten) and split the Poached Shrimp Cocktail and the charcuterie plate. For dessert, I chose the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, and my friend Nicole chose the Pot de Crème, and neither of us left a bite behind.  Every single bite of our dinner was better than the last.  I can not recommend this choice enough.  After dinner, we walked the block back to our hotel and enjoyed the crisp air and the promise of a good night's rest. If only we had chosen to stay upstairs, I would have sat in the bar for a bit with a third (a rarity for me) Old Fashioned.

The idea of staying at The Cardinal has me dreaming of returning to Winston-Salem for the holiday décor.  I can't wait to see this beauty and the city dressed to the nines.  And if we decide to take one of our beloved pups, they are welcome, as all Kimpton properties are pet friendly.  I am sure they would pamper our girls even more than they would pamper us.  And that makes me oh so very happy!

When you go, you must email me.  Until then, I will dream of my trip and subsequent visit to a Kimpton property. 

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