The Langham Hotel enjoys one of London’s most central locations just off Oxford Street and recently unveiled an £80m refurbishment.
I was curious enough to drop in a few days ago to see what had changed since I interviewed the former MD of the hotel a while ago.
The hotel’s renovation took an eye-popping five years to complete. Could it be the reawakening of a Sleeping Beauty?
The Langham (founded 1865) is certainly one of London’s most historic and evocative hotels.
It’s also known for having one of London’s most expensive suites (The Infinity Suite) – yours for several thousand pounds per night.
Between 1991 and 2004 the hotel was controlled by Hilton, so many still know it as the “Langham Hilton”. But the current owners seem to be keen to put their own mark on the hotel.
I decided to turn up unannounced and have a bit of a snoop around.
I just walked in off the street dressed rather scruffily and was impressed to be so warmly greeted at the hotel by a sea of smiling faces.
When I said I just wanted to look around, a member of staff enthusiastically led the way and gave me a guided tour. She didn’t know me from Adam but was obviously proud to work at the hotel.
The new entrance and lobby are definitely much grander than before. Internal areas have been given a contemporary makeover, including the flagship Landau restaurant.
Most importantly of all, the staff I could see had smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. They looked alert and poised.
As is common in London hotels, they were a cosmopolitan bunch and I was served by an Italian, Spaniard, German-speaker and probably another nationality or two during my short visit.
They had that little glint in their eye that you expect in a 5 star hotel.
I make a point of observing the body language of staff and was impressed at their efforts to interact engagingly with guests, managing to strike the difficult balance between friendliness and professionalism.
Even when I gave little “tests” such as needing my laptop bag monitored while I went to the bathroom (which by the way had so many doors to access it was like a secret maze!), they passed with flying colours.
The Palm Court offers an environment well-suited for afternoon tea. Being too early for this, I invested in a smoothie and soaked up the atmosphere.
There’s a very pleasant cocktail bar, “Artesian” (rum-based drinks are a speciality as are its grazing “mini-cocktails”). They claim to use special “high-density ice” if that’s important to you!
I also sneaked a peek at the Landau restaurant during my visit.
It is a flamboyant dining room with a striking circular design. It is perfect for taking a date you want to impress and yet somehow understated at the same time. The set lunch and theatre menus offer reasonable value.
There are also good fitness facilities and an up-to-date business centre as you would expect at such a hotel.
The contemporary-traditional fusion has been carried into the refurbished guest rooms, with colours chosen to reflect therapeutic properties.
As is the norm in London luxury hotel refurbishments in recent years, new technology has been tastefully integrated into rooms.
Being just a few minutes walk from Oxford Street and Marylebone High Street, the hotel provides a great base with a touch of luxury.
Shopping fanatics could not be better placed. Not surprisingly, there’s currently a special “Shopaholics” package on offer at the hotel. Check our London shopping guide and you’ll see how well-placed the Langham is.
The Hong-Kong based group which owns the hotel has recruited a new Managing Director to run it and I felt a certain vibrancy in the hotel.
This is confirmed by recent guest reviews, which suggest that the hotel’s staff do go the extra mile.
Guests also comment on the wonderfully-comfy beds. This is a key detail which not enough hotels pay attention to in my experience.
The size and style of rooms at the hotel can however vary, so don’t be afraid to look at various options and ask to change if necessary.
It’s always fun to stay in a recently-renovated hotel, particularly one with the Langham’s reputation and heritage. Given the recent changes, now might be a great time to give it a try.
Bear in mind though that you need a decent budget to stay there. In return however, it offers a splendid location with good facilities and service.
It looked to me like a refined thoroughbred of a hotel that has just been given a new lease of life.
There are currently some creative special offers to celebrate the relaunch, which was officially inaugurated by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Try to make your booking in advance and you may grab a significant discount on your room. For other 5 star options, you may wish to read our head-to-head comparison of The Dorchester and Claridge’s.
Photo credits: Langham Hotel.