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Don’t you ever wonder what it would be like to go back into the gilded age of 1865 when the legendary The Langham Hotel was born – one of London’s oldest grand hotels, located off Regent Street. An advert from the late 19th century declares that the Langham is situated in the “most healthy, convenient and fashionable position in London.” Today this still holds true, the hotel is smack in the centre of London, with the shops of Oxford Street, the village feel of Marylebone, Soho’s nightlife, the elegance of Mayfair, the gardens and zoo at Regent’s Park all on its imposing doorstep.
Here is a true “grande dame”, standing perfectly poised after countless years, with so many stories to tell, including its many famous visitors, such as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Toscanini, and Dvorak. The Langham is well-remembered for the bomb damage it suffered at the start of the 2nd World War, after 25 years of sitting vacant, but in more recent times it has acted as host for many lavish parties, all fit for royalty. As such, it is comfortingly self-assured and everything feels as if it has been running the way it should have for a long, long time. A recent refurbishment means that the lilac butterflies which once graced the lobby and hall have flown, to be replaced by more understated elegance, icicle-like chandeliers and enormous vases of fresh iconic pink roses remarkably glorious as it’s seen today. When you step into the lobby, you are greeted by The Langham hotel group’s ginger signature scent, a refreshing, serene and subtle essence of the ginger flower, a truly fragrant iconic scent owned by The Langham.
The Langham Hotel is situated in between the Four Villages which included Marylebone, Soho, Mayfair and Fitzrovia. Each of the villages has its own identity and, within five minutes’ walk, you will suddenly feel as if you are in a completely different part of London. I’ve been privileged to try an experience in Mayfair, which is located next to leafy Hyde Park. Mayfair is an upscale district of elegant Georgian townhouses, exclusive hotel, and gourmet restaurants. Its world-famous retailers include bespoke tailors on Savile Row and designer fashions on Bond Street. Shoppers also head to high-end Burlington Arcade and Shepherd Market, a cluster of independent boutiques and traditional pubs. Cool modern art galleries line Cork, Dover and Albemarle Street.
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Walking along the spotless pavement in Savile Row, Mayfair, known principally for its traditional bespoke tailoring for men, I soon enter the quintessentially British tailors shop, Huntsman and Son. First founded in 1809, Huntsman was originally a “gaiter and breeches maker” operating from a shop at 126 New Bond Street. In 1849, the company was bought by a tailor, Henry Huntsman, who promptly renamed it and moved it to a new outpost on London’s Albemarle Street. Here, it earned the now sadly retired royal warrant of Leather Breeches Maker to the then-incumbent Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), followed by Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred in 1876, and then by Queen Victoria herself in 1888. Working to supply uniforms to the military during the First World War, Huntsman moved to its current location at 11 Savile Row in 1919 – just in time for the start of the Jazz Age.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the connection between Huntsman and Hollywood, which began in the Twenties, got even stronger. While its major clients included film stars such as Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable and, during his acting days, future US President Ronald Reagan, perhaps most important to the brand itself was Gregory Peck. Huntsman dressed Peck for fifty years from 1953 until his death in 2003, during which time the actor (and his film studios) ordered over 160 suits from the house for use both on screen and off. By the early 2000s, with the boom in men’s ready-to-wear, Huntsman was looking for new ways to bolster its income. With countless suits to choose from, you can select your very own fabric, from Prince of Wales to Houndstooth, or even Tweed, to meet your individual requirements. And as I am presently looking for a bespoke suit to wear for Royal Ascot in a few months, this is simply perfect timing!
Few facts about Huntsman and Son
What’s on offer?
The Huntsman silhouette was developed when the house’s cutters spliced the coat of classic riding attire and a dinner suit. The elegant result was a jacket with a firm shoulder, high armhole, defined waist and a flared skirt – the most notable feature being a single, one button fastening. This results in a silhouette that, unlike the more traditional “boxy” Savile Row style, is slim, structured and particularly flattering on men of a smaller stature.
How long does it take to make a bespoke suit?
The lead time for a Huntsman bespoke suit is 8 weeks. Over 60 hours of tailoring go into each of our bespoke suit orders.
How much does an entry-level wool two-piece suit cost?
Ready-to-wear – £2,200. Made-to-measure – £2,900. Bespoke – £4,997.
Where are bespoke suits made?
All of the company’s tailoring is done in-house at 11 Savile Row. The majority of the team served their apprenticeships with Huntsman itself.
Gregory Peck; David Bowie; Alexander McQueen; Paul Newman; Katherine Hepburn; Lawrence Olivier; Lucien Freud; Winston Churchill; and a selection of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands!
After a wonderful village experience in Mayfair, it’s soon time to head back to the hotel’s chic and glamorous bar, Artesian. The bar conjures up classic and innovative cocktails and has received the coveted “world’s best bar” accolade (as voted for by Drinks International). The bar is named after the 360ft-deep artesian well under the hotel and specialises in exclusive rum creations. Even the ice here is special – produced using the very latest technology, Artesian’s ice is purer, colder and with a higher density, making it last longer, keeping your cocktails cooler. The room itself is a stylish space designed by the late David Collins, compact without being cramped and decorated in a smart, loosely oriental style.
I cool off, sipping a delicate Espresso Martini while my colleague has the unique Gimlet cocktail, which shown in one ice block with three coloured glasses filled with different spirits. But, mind your hands don’t get too cold with holding it for so long.
Feeling famished? Luckily, the hotel has everything under one roof. The hotel’s signature, Michelin-starred restaurant, Roux at the Landau, is one of London’s most exquisite and celebrated fine dining venues. The cuisine features a modern interpretation of classic French cooking from father and son chefs Albert and Michel Roux Jr. Michel Roux Jr and his father Albert have been heading up Roux at the Landau for nearly five years. Tables, set simply with pink-edged roses, are well spaced in a light-filled, wood-panelled oval chamber. Entrance is through a corridor stocked with rare wine. Or perhaps one of the highlights of the hotel is the art deco inspired Palm Court, which connects to the majestic lobby. This dazzling salon, with its high ceilings and 3 massive entrance gates, is famed as the place where the tradition of afternoon tea was born over 150 years ago, an indulgence that lives on today as ‘Tiffin at The Langham’. Also, this is where you can enjoy a feast of a breakfast, light lunch or you can escape to your room for in-room service for a more tranquil retreat.
The Langham London Guide offers bespoke experiences to meet every need, including the Four Villages nearby. Not forgetting to mention the bike rental, which will allow you to explore all the villages in one day, so remember to bring the map with you, London is terribly big but yet so much fun!
The Langham London, a five-star hotel located in Marylebone, London.
Photos by Diana Martin Photography