Visions of grandeur
Located in the heart of one of Europe’s busiest cities, The Langham, London continues to represent the epitome of elegance, poise and style
“The Langham, London opened its doors in 1865 and immediately became the capital’s first purpose built Grand Hotel, the first of its kind in all of Europe,” states Katie Benson, managing director of The Langham and Group vice president of Europe and North America. “The origins of the hotel itself date back even further to 1814 when an architect by the name of John Nash bought the site and constructed a 275 foot wide mansion. It wasn’t until 1863 that the site began its transformation into The Langham with the start of a construction project costing £300,000, which, for its time, was an enormous sum of money.
“Lead by architects John Giles and James Murray, the building was quickly turned into one of the largest in London, boasting seven floors, 600 rooms, 300 water closets and the first ever set of hydraulic lifts. After an extensive construction process The Langham, London was finally opened on Saturday, 10 June 1865 by the, then Prince of Wales, future King of England, Edward VII.”
Right from the offset The Langham made no hesitation in publicising its unrivalled location, heartily declaring that its foundations lay 95 feet above the River Thames high water mark, ‘much healthier than the peat bogs of Belgravia’. Today it can still be found at the very epicentre of the West End, lying between the bustling shopping districts of Regent Street and Bond Street and the city’s many theatres, and just a short stroll from the picturesque Regent’s Park.
The centrepiece of the hotel, ever since its first day of business, is the stunning Palm Court. The mid-19th Century saw the cream of Victorian society gather here at the Palm Court to enjoy, and indulge in, the splendours offered by the hotel, and it was here that the tradition of afternoon tea was born. This legacy continues in 2011 with light dining served with timeless elegance all through the day.
Another reputation the hotel has built over the years is its ability to host beautifully arranged and realised wedding ceremonies: “The Langham, London, with its own wedding license, Grand Ballroom for receptions, private dining room, pink taxis, fleet of Jaguar XJ’s and wedding co-ordinators, has everything needed to plan and host a couple’s special day,” Katie continues. “With the ability to assist with wedding dress fittings, arrange delivery of wedding stationery supplies and co-ordinate flower arrangements, The Langham strives to create a home-from-home experience for the blushing bride-to-be. 2011 also sees the grand unveiling of the hotel’s Middleton Rose Garden, a beautiful outdoor reception venue for summer ceremonies, which can cater for up to 250 guests.”
Between 2009 and 2010, The Langham, London went through an extensive £80 million restoration and refurbishment programme, one which Katie explains has brought the hotel up to a whole new level of excellence: “Today The Langham arguably looks even more beautiful than when she first opened in 1865 and this has been achieved by ensuring no expense has been spared in achieving the highest level of comfort, whilst providing service the way it was always meant to be.
“The painstaking work that has gone into this iconic London landmark building has led to the creation of a hotel containing 380 luxurious guestrooms and suites, 15 function rooms and new public areas and facilities, including Europe’s first Chuan Spa, incorporating the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine with more signature treatments.”
Under one roof The Langham hosts three fine dining establishments offering its guests some of the most gratifying gourmet experiences imaginable: “The newest of The Langham’s three restaurants is the Roux at The Landau, where the respected duo of Albert and Michel Roux Jr. have come together to work in the same kitchen for the first time in 19 years, a landmark moment the Langham is delighted to play host to,” Katie enthuses. “With its own dedicated entrance on Portland Place, opposite BBC Broadcasting House, Roux at The Landau is the stunning, David Collins designed signature restaurant. It is here that Roux protégé Chris King works as Chef de Cuisine, following hugely successful spells at Per Se in New York, Le Gavroche and Roux at Parliament Square in London.
“Elsewhere within The Langham guests will find the aforementioned Palm Court, as well as the David Collins designed Artesian cocktail bar. Named after the 360-foot deep artesian well situated under the hotel, Artesian combines exotic Orientalism with the romance of new nostalgia. The range of classic and imaginative cocktails on offer is surpassed only by its unrivalled collection of more than 70 rums from around the globe.”
Focused expert team
As with any hotel, it is an essential part of providing an unrivalled experience that the best possible dining is awarded to all guests and, as Katie says, The Langham has an expert team focused on ‘creating memories and experiences’ so that guests will return time and time again: “Service is of the utmost importance here at The Langham, as is the quality of the food its restaurants serve. Working closely with its suppliers, The Langham ensures it sources its products locally and that they always arrive fresh. Furthermore at the Roux at The Landau, The Langham can also count upon the assistance of the legendary team that is Albert and Michel Roux Jr.”
The storied history and heritage of The Langham, London ensures the hotel is not only a very special place for guests to stay, but also for its employees to work in. These same employees come together to supply a product which is truly unique and unmatched, something that Katie reveals has helped The Langham, London go from strength to strength: “The overall business climate in London has been resilient in the last two years and that has been one of the many factors that has helped The Langham, London enjoy continued success. Looking to the future, as the flagship hotel of The Langham brand, there will always be something on the horizon for The Langham, London to look forward to with optimism, so in the meantime the message we have to all our customers is simply, watch this space.”