Impressively located in a much-favored area of central London, the Langham Hotel this year celebrates its 150th birthday, making it one of the world’s most venerable purpose-built grand hotels. When it opened in 1865 it was the city’s largest and most modern hotel and featured the first hydraulic elevators in England. Determined to show that old does not mean unfashionable, the owners have completed a refurbishment that cements its place in London’s best.
You get a sense of class when you enter via the staircase fronting onto Portland Place. There’s marble everywhere in the lobby, with eye-catching chandeliers, gigantic floral displays and a delicate ginger flower fragrance piped through the building’s air conditioning system. That same perfume is found in every Langham from Pasadena to Hong Kong. To your left is the Artesian Bar, straight ahead is the Palm Court, where the hotel’s famed afternoon tea is a ritualized affair. Nearby, the Landau Restaurant showcases father/son duo Albert and Michel Roux’s culinary skills.
The Artesian Bar is what has much of London talking right now. For the past three years it has been voted best bar in the world by Drinks International magazine. Cocktails are listed in three sections: classic, surreal and innovative. Expect anything from a well-crafted martini to a surreal Bedroom Escapade blended from geranium, sherry, lime, coriander, patchouli and Argan or an innovative Americano Bolognese featuring Campari, Martini Rosso, orange and tonic water.
On higher levels are the hotel’s 344 guest rooms, 33 suites and three apartments with kitchens included. Accommodations are large with high ceilings, and each offers the group's signature Blissful Bed and pillow menu. The most recently refurbished rooms sit in the Regent Wing, and have an Oriental ambience to them blended with impressive purple velvet headboards and upholstery. The bathrooms have a large tub and walk-in rain shower. The Sterling suite is the newest addition and is the largest in London, spreading over 4,800 square feet of space and offers six bedrooms. It comes with 24-hour personal butler service, several living areas and a home theater.
When you’re ready to venture outside, many of the city’s attractions are just a stroll away, including Oxford Street, home to some of the best stores. Wander through a tangle of streets and you’ll reach massive Regent’s Park, home to the London Zoo, and in the opposite direction is Grosvenor Square, where the American Embassy sits.
This Langham has played host to notable guests including Mark Twain, Napoleon 111, Oscar Wilde, Diana, Princess of Wales, Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle and Noel Coward. Following its mass renovations, there’s sure to be more of those prestigious figures walking through its doors in the coming years.