The First 131 years
The Hotel Windsor 5 star hotel in Melbourne was the dream of shipping magnate George Nipper. He commissioned eminent architect Charles Webb to design the hotel and the original hotel opened its doors in December 1883. The Hotel Windsor therefore predates many of the grand hotels of the Victorian era, including The Savoy, London (1889), The Plaza, New York, (1894), The Waldorf Astoria, New York (1894), the Hotel Ritz, Paris (1898) and The Raffles, Singapore (1887).
Following difficulties in his other business ventures, George Nipper sold the "Grand", as it was then known, to the Honourable James Munro who, in association with the Honourable James Balfour, embarked on a massive expansion programme. This doubled the size of the hotel, and saw the addition of the renowned Grand Ballroom, the Grand Staircase, and the twin cupola-capped towers.
At this point the hotel was known as the Grand Coffee Palace and for a brief period, under the influence of the Temperance Movement, banned liquor from its premises. By 1897, however, the hotel once again changed hands, welcomed back its original name, and regained its liquor license. From then on and for the better part of the 20th century, The Hotel Windsor Melbourne was a pivotal centre in the city and, indeed, Australia, for the political and social milieu. This was clearly illustrated when Australia's constitution was drafted at The Hotel Windsor between February and March 1898. For decades, The Hotel Windsor was the preferred hotel in Melbourne for Prime Ministers, politicians, actors, performers and celebrities.
Under threat of demolition in 1976, The Hotel Windsor in Melbourne was bought by the Victorian Government to ensure the conservation of an essential part of Victoria's heritage. In 1980 the lease was acquired by The Oberoi Group which subsequently purchased the property in 1990, assuring the ongoing future of the 'Duchess of Spring Street'.
The Oberoi Group initiated a programme of renovation and refurbishment, under the guidance of heritage specialists, which restored the splendour of the property and fully returned it to its status of Grand Hotel. The roll call of pre-eminent guests continued.
In November 2005, The Hotel Windsor became independent once more with the purchase of the Hotel by the Halim family. A sensitive yet extensive refurbishment is being planned in order to ensure the property remains one of the world's finest grand hotels. Meanwhile the focus on exemplary service was recognized in 2006 and 2007 with Condé Nast UK including The Hotel Windsor in their list of the top 18 Hotels in the World rated ‘Best for Service.’