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Kimpton Cardinal Winston-Salem Is North Carolina's First Kimpton

Kimpton Cardinal

Photo Credit: Kimpton Cardinal

Winston-Salem, North Carolina was largely built by tobacco barons such as R.J. Reynolds, though the old city's past dates to the Moravian immigrants of the 18th century. Downtown on Main Street, the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel is the state's first property in the brand, one of several Southern Kimpton's, or ones coming online soon, between the Carolina's, Nashville and Austin. The Cardinal is strategically placed in what was formerly the headquarters tower of Reynolds Tobacco. It was the tallest building south of Baltimore, and the model for the Empire State Building. Today it is a study in art deco, with details everywhere providing homage to its corporate past, North Carolina fashion, Moravian culture and even longtime local resident Maya Angelou. They crop up in the furnishings, carpets, mini-bars and artwork. 

Winston-Salem's low-key downtown reveals the upper levels of other art deco edifices. There are taverns and trendy dining along Fourth Street, but at an easy pace. The cuisine is one of the best things about this city. Mozella's Fresh Southern Bistro is a cozy breakfast and lunch spot where the grits are as rich as a fancy stew, tomato pie is a favorite and Southern spring rolls are filled with pulled pork. At Mary's Gourmet Diner, owner Mary Haglund serves cornmeal cakes attributed to her Indiana grandmother, and showcases permanent and temporary artwork. Krankie's Coffee on Third Street, a short stroll from The Cardinal, also hosts hearty breakfasts, and sells baked goods in a funky setting. Work off the Southern eating back at the hotel, where the lower level recreation room has a bowling alley, billards table, table tennis, a basketball court and a giant Scrabble board. The Cardinal's own restaurant, The Katharine, is named for R.J. Reynolds' wife, who designed his estate, Reynolda. The lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry here make for a sumptuous breakfast, the lobster and potato gnocchi is a fine dinner. Another evening choice is a shrimp and grits with chorizo and tomato broth.

Explore Winston-Salem's downtown galleries, public art park Artistry on the Green, Black Mountain Chocolate, or Bardstown Chocolate. Those curious about the Reynolds legacy will wish to tour Reynolda, the home, art museum and estate of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds. One will encounter works by Grant Wood, John Singer Sargent, Mary Casatt and North Carolinian Romare Bearden. Nearby, visit the Graylin Estate of Reynolds president Bowman Gray, whose father founded Wachovia Bank. Schedule a butler tour of the first floor. There are rental residences and suites on the second floor. Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King stayed here when visiting Angelou. The SECCA (Southern Center for Contemporary Art) is another must-see attraction. And no visit to the region is complete without a guided tour of Childress Vineyards, owned by NASCAR magnate Richard Childress. Experience a tasting here, and have a relaxing lunch amid the views of the Bistro.

In the evening, dine at Spring House, or the Tavern in Old Salem. The former features an appetizer of pork belly and sea scallops atop white bean, bacon and pumpkin cream, and Center Cut Lamb Loin or Bison Meat Loaf as mains. The latter serves duck three ways. Try the Tavern's ginger bread and ice cream dessert. Old Salem is known for its candlelight historical tours, daytime tours and weekend farmer's market. Winston-Salem is steeped in tradition, from the campuses of Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State, to the University of North Carolina School For The Arts, and the city's biennial National Black Theatre Festival, which returns in 2019. There's also minor league baseball, and college football and basketball. For calm, cuisine, and culture, it's tough to top Winston-Salem. And the Kimpton Cardinal is the ideal space to take it all in.

Bijan Bayne

Bijan C. Bayne is an award-winning Washington-based freelance columnist and critic. Bayne's travel articles have appeared in AAA Horizons, Family Digest, Atlanta Goodlife, Ohio magazine, Arrington’s Inn Traveler, and Hotel Executive, and his book reviews have been featured in Washington Post Book World, The Boston Herald, Wild River Review, and The Crisis. He has served as a consultant for film,...(Read More)

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