Contributor/ Michelle Lewis
Best Known For
The Langham has serious history: it was Europe’s first grand hotel when it opened in 1865. Arthur Conan Doyle included the Langham in two of his Sherlock Holmes stories, and notable guests include Napoleon III, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Princess Diana. The British Army occupied it during the Second World War. The BBC bought it in 1965 and tried to knock it down, but they didn’t succeed: it was bought by a hotel group and underwent two major renovations between 1991 and 2009. The hotel also claims to be the birthplace of the afternoon tea.
The Good Stuff
Well, the afternoon tea for a start: we enjoyed their special summer Bijoux afternoon tea in the flower-filled Palm Court, which featured creamy foie gras, lobster sandwiches, incredible pastries (one was wearing a Royal Ascot Victoria sponge hat), Laurent Perrier champagne, special tea blends, and perfectly baked scones. We didn’t need dinner – we were full. But the Langham’s true forte is their uncanny ability to anticipate all you could possibly need: they think of everything. Outlet in the safe so you can charge up your phone while it’s locked up? Yup. Free milk (not UHT! At last!) in the fridge to go with your Nespresso? You got it. A beautiful leather box full of toiletries in the bathroom in case you forgot anything? That too. There were fresh roses in our room. They have European, US and UK outlets next to the desk. We were also greeted upon arrival with rose macarons and rose lemonade, which we devoured while lounging on our super-comfy feather duvets and pillows.
This is five-star, old-school glamour – think Mrs Peacock and Miss Scarlett meeting for tea (before they kill someone with a candlestick and a wrench). Staff are extraordinarily friendly, so they put guests at ease, and there was a rather groovy three-piece jazz band in Palm Court, which just made our afternoon tea that much more special. Plus, they’re family friendly: they made my 13-year-old daughter a fruity mocktail so she didn’t feel left out.
Inside the hotel – 8/10
The David Collins-designed Artesian Bar is a fabulous place for some rum cocktails, and they offer Middle Eastern and dim sum snacks to soak up the alcohol. Fine-dining Roux at the Landau (as in, Albert and Michel Roux) is a light-filled space with booths and huge windows. We enjoyed breakfast in the Landau, which was superb – all fresh and beautifully presented, with a multitude of choices and excellent service. After buttery scrambled eggs, fluffy pancakes, fresh fruit and toast, we ended up full again. Chuan, the hotel’s spa, uses traditional Chinese medicine principles, so it has an Asian feel.
Outside the hotel – 9/10
The Langham is a stunning Victorian building on Regent Street in the centre of London – nearest tube is Oxford Circus – so it couldn’t be more convenient. We took a walk through buzzing Soho to burn off some of those afternoon tea calories. My 13-year-old asked if we could frequent “smoky jazz clubs”. Alas, Ronnie Scott’s was full that night, so we window shopped on Oxford Street instead.