The Getaway: The Cardinal Hotel

Cardinal Rules

Kimpton dusts off an Art Deco icon in downtown Winston-Salem

THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Part of North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad, Winston-Salem is home to Wake Forest University and a Moravian history.

THE VIBE: Sophisticated Southern prep (furniture upholstered with menswear fabrics, sporting life memorabilia as décor, seersucker bathrobes in guestrooms).

THE DIGS: Tobacco and textile money built Winston-Salem, and in 1929, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company made its mark on the downtown skyline by erecting a grandiose tower to house their headquarters. After the company ceased using it in 2008, Kimpton scooped the property up for the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, one of its first forays into the South. Care was taken to maintain details original to the building—look up when you’re in the lobby to glimpse ornate gold foil designs adorning the ceiling—which are juxtaposed with modern art. The Cardinal is filled with nods to North Carolina, from renderings throughout of the eponymous state bird to the exclusive use of furniture made within its borders. Plus, the basement is outfitted with a basketball court, bowling alley, and slide sized for adults, inspired by a recreation room in the Reynolds’ family estate, Reynolda.


That Winston-Salem was lacking in the French dining realm was a principal motivation in opening a brassiere inside the Cardinal. The space is Art Deco cool with marble-topped tables, globe lights, and an open kitchen. It’s named for Reynolds’ wife, who worked for Reynolds Tobacco and was known to write menus for the family’s staff (but for dishes like “songbird on toast” so, no, you won’t find her favorites at the restaurant). Instead, it plays the bistro hits of beef tartare, escargot, and bouillabaisse, to name a few, but with some twists: the tartare is served with avocado mouse in lieu of egg yolk; the escargot is topped with a biscuit crumble. The Katharine’s cocktail menu is a standout, with house drinks dressing up classic combinations—the Visitor gussies up a bourbon and ginger with additions of absinthe and lemon. Come time to eat, Basque-style muscles (with chorizo, red peppers, and smoked tomato broth) and Le Grand Plat Katharine, a seafood tower or platter filled with oysters, lobster, and snow crab claws, lead nicely into the French-accented entrées—try the rainbow trout topped with fried capers or poulet roti with chicken from nearby Joyce Farms, heirloom carrots, and mustard spätzle.


For lunch: The duck confit salad studded with Turkish olives is at once fresh and decadent.

For dinner: The poulet roti (roast chicken) served atop vegetables, mustard spätzle, and chicken gravy showcases the beauty of simplicity.

For dessert: End your meal on a sweet and seasonal note with the pear crumble cake topped with cardamom gelato.

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