by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, February 7, 2017
Having celebrated its 150th birthday in 2015, The Langham London can incontestably be considered one of the capital’s grande-dame hotels, but it’s fair to say this stalwart just off Oxford Circus hasn’t always offered the sense of calibre associated with the likes of Claridge’s and The Dorchester .
The property’s managing director Bob van den Oord is hopeful that this will change. Frank about his team’s campaign to “cater to a more esteemed and discerning clientele” of late, he is overseeing a succession of ambitious enhancements that have included the launch of a new executive club akin to those found throughout luxury hotels in Asia (complimentary afternoon tea, free-flowing champagne and meeting facilities all feature) and the unveiling of the £25,000-a-night Sterling Suite. At 450 square metres, it is one of the capital’s largest and also one of its most impressive - it was recently included in The Telegraph’s pick of the world’s best hotel suites.
Less sensational but far more relevant to most of the hotel’s potential guests is a broader programme to overhaul one third of the hotel’s inventory, a strategy that is seeing the staggered launch of 115 new guestrooms, including 25 suites, and five residences. Now open, the residences serve as miniature apartments in the centre of the city and feature a kitchenette fitted with Miele appliances alongside a more conventional hotel-suite lounge area, master bedroom and additional connected bedroom if required.
Though the hotel will stock longer-term residence occupants’ fridge-freezers with consumables from the Selfridges Foodhall, it remains to be seen how much use guests will make of their oven and stockpile of pots and pans (all still immaculate during my recent stay) given the innumerable culinary delights of Soho and Mayfair are minutes away.
The setting is, however, an inviting place in which to linger - just as well because access to the club lounge isn’t automatically provided to those booked in residences (despite being a benefit granted to those in cheaper executive rooms and other suite categories) - and round-the-clock butler service is available.
The hotel’s new suites are attractive additions too. Like the Sterling Suite and new lounge, they are designed by Richmond International and offer the same restrained, refined aesthetic. A palette of taupe and pale gold or pale green and grey predominates, bathtubs are often freestanding, a tasteful selection of Asian prints line the walls. Most attractive of all, however, is the aforementioned unfettered access to the hotel’s club lounge.
Though still not up to scratch during breakfast - with cooking facilities limited in comparison to those offered in the main restaurant, we waited far too long for staple dishes - it is otherwise an attractive and genuinely useful resource. When not serving afternoon tea or proffering evening champagne, cocktails and canapes, the team is available to provide concierge services, complete check-in and -out, and assist with whatever other enquiries arise. Guests also receive two hours’ complimentary use of the club’s boardroom and media room, and a well-stocked library provides distraction on rainy days.
It’s a resource that will be much appreciated by the high-end clientele the hotel is so clearly aiming to attract, and other enhancements are forthcoming too. Though a disappointment during my visit (due to occasionally surly staff and surprisingly dilapidated facilities) the spa and gym area will soon be refurbished and there are plans to revitalise its drinking options too.
Named the world’s best bar for four years in a row under the stewardship of its previous team, the hotel’s Artesian bar has recently taken on a new staff and is hoping to again catch the judges’ attention with its collection of playful, creative cocktails served in bespoke glassware.
One-bedroom suites at The Langham, London (020 7636 1000) start from £950; one-bedroom residences cost from £1,300 and two-bedroom residences start at £1,700. Rates include breakfast.
This article was written by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.