The Cardinal Hotel
Tobacco and Textile History Meets French FineryBy: The Local Palate
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.
DINING AT THE KATHARINE: What 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 steak frites, escargot á la bourguignon, and oeuf mimosa au foie gras, to name a few. The Katharine is also well-known for their elevated brunch menu. Share a plate of huîtres (oysters on the half shell with with rosé mignonette), a sweet Belgian waffle with macerated berries, or try a classic with the croque monsieur.
The Katharine’s cocktail menu is a standout, with house drinks dressing up classic combinations—L'espresso mixes Hanson Vodka with marshmallow simple syrup, Southern Star Bourbon Cream, and is topped with espresso beans—a game changer from morning to evening. Or, choose one of their barrel-aged cocktails for a smoky selection featured premium aged spirits.