The Langham

“New Hong Kong owners are providing a welcome change of direction at London's first 'purpose built' hotel”

Review by Fiona Duncan, published 6th September 2009.

I can't decide where to have breakfast in this scintillating hotel. I could take it in bed, one of such exceptional comfort that I am loath to leave it, ever. Mine is a Grand Room, in a new wing of panelled bedrooms and marble bathrooms that are meant to evoke the comfort of a private residence, and largely succeed. But it's the sugar pink touches – exotic pink flower, pink-edged stationery, pink-wrapped chocolates, handy pink guide to Regent's Park, even a pink-ribboned Ethernet cable in the desk drawer, that really appeal.

Or I could descend to the glittering, spacious, marble-pillared ground floor of this historic hotel on which £80 million has just been lavished. And in particular to the Landau restaurant to indulge in a full English breakfast as devised by its head chef Andrew Turner. But the flesh, however tempted, is feeling rather weak: last night I scampered through Turner's triumphant tasting menu, with marvellous accompanying wines. How impressive that he is back in the kitchen to oversee an equally sumptuous start to the day for the Langham's guests; not something that big name chefs in destination hotel restaurants normally bother with. "They should do; it's just as important as dinner," asserts Turner.

Landau is a beautiful oval room designed by David Collins (also responsible for the hotel's romantic new cocktail bar, Artesian). It is overseen by Franco Becci and sommelier Zack Saghir who worked together for many years at the Savoy Grill and bring old-school, beneficent service to the proceedings. Turner himself is credited with having invented the ''grazing menu'', paired with wines by the glass, and here it is done with exceptional flair, well worth its £72.50 price tag. (If you want to eat less expensively, there's a set menu for £28.) The evening was a real treat and Landau must currently be one of London's finest restaurants.

Which is fitting, because in my opinion the Langham is currently one of London's finest hotels, the equal of any rivals. Previously run with wretched indifference by Hilton, especially considering its pedigree as London's first purpose built ''grand hotel'' opened in 1865. It is now in the hands of hoteliers from Hong Kong and once you get over the fact that there is absolutely nothing British about the way the Langham now looks, you realise that its new oriental slant is really very welcome and well executed.

But I'm still deciding on where to breakfast. Not in the first floor Club Lounge, reserved for those in business-oriented Club Rooms or suites or for a supplement: too like a sealed-off first class airline lounge.

No, it's got to be the rather too gold-spattered Palm Court, where fruits and pastries are temptingly laid out. Afternoon tea here was a delight, and breakfast this morning turns out to be no less enjoyable. Even the coffee pot is a thing of beauty.

1c Portland Place, Regent Street, London W1 (020 7636 1000; Classic doubles from £199, Grand from £229 per night, including breakfast. Two specially adapted rooms for guests with disabilities.

The Hotel Guru verdict

4 out of 5

Choose classic (old style), club or grand – or london's most spectacular suite, infinity

4 out of 5

Tip top

3 out of 5

More international than british now; superb attention to detail

Food and drink
5 out of 5

High standards (great tea and cocktails) and a sophisticated treat in landau

Value for money
5 out of 5

No complaints as long as standards remain impeccable

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