The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
From $199 | 327 miles from Atlanta
Directory: Family-friendly, fitness center, hip, historical, restaurant
Built in 1929 as the headquarters for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, this art deco masterpiece famously served as the model for the Empire State Building, which was designed by the same architectural firm. Last spring the 22-story tower began its second life as a residential building anchored by the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel. Though cigar-chomping execs have been replaced by vacationing couples and young downtown residents, the building’s glamorous luster remains intact.
Art and architecture
Considered an exotic extravagance when it was constructed, the limestone building was awarded “Building of the Year” by the National Association of Architects in 1929. The grand design includes carved stone ornamentation, detailed metalwork, and a gleaming copper and bronze lobby—look closely to spot the tobacco leaf motif.
The updated look favors a modern, whimsical approach, with subtle nods to the building’s venerable place in local history. In the lobby, chairs are covered in Carolina tartan; the sconces are shaped like dogwoods, the state flower; and the cardinal, the state bird, pops up on the wallpaper. All furnishings were sourced in North Carolina. The handsome guest rooms were inspired by menswear, replete with navy, pinstripes, and leather.
Drinks and dining
Named for R.J. Reynolds’ wife, the Katharine is a traditional French brasserie often packed with couples and happy hour crowds. The menu is heavy on bistro classics with a Southern twist—think escargots alongside hush puppies. Pull up to the beautiful zinc bar for a cocktail (try the Visitor, made with bourbon, absinthe, lemon, and ginger beer) or a draft from Foothills Brewing, located just a few blocks away.
Fun and games
Kimpton hotels are designed with fun in mind. In the basement, find a two-story adult playground, with ping pong, billiards, foosball, shuffleboard, a basketball court, two lanes of bowling—even a spiral slide (we saw guests of all ages take a turn). Or grab a cruiser bike for a spin around town, then enjoy the complimentary 5 p.m. wine hour. —Jennifer Rainey Marquez
This article originally appeared in our May 2017 issue.