It might be slightly perverse to start with the water when there’s so much about The Langham Hotel in New York deserving of rhapsody: Fifth Avenue address, superlative service, rooms big enough to host an American football match. And we’ll come to those, I promise. We’ll come to The Langham Club as well, and you’ll want to hear about that one, believe me.
But first, the water! The massive cooler of water in the main foyer, filled with water, obviously, but also ice, lots of ice, and lemons, strawberries, more fruit than you’d find in your local Wholefoods. I am not exaggerating when I say that the cooler dispensed the single most refreshing cup of water that I’ve tasted. You can feel it cleansing you from within: physically, spiritually. The version of you who finishes a cup of The Langham’s water is better than the version who raised it to their lips a few seconds earlier. Brighter of eye, clearer of skin. Any hangover already halved in intensity.
The Langham has the best water because The Langham has the best everything. The London hotel has spent more than 150 years at the forefront of the hospitality; the Fifth Avenue incarnation is 140 years younger – the hotel joined the Langham portfolio in 2013 – but stands alongside its transatlantic ancestor as the last word in luxury. You needn’t be a baller to stay here but it helps. (Actually, you probably do need to be a baller.)
The location is ridiculous. Standing on the sidewalk, we spent a few minutes scanning the skyline for the Empire State Building before realising it was right next to us. You’re bang in the middle of Manhattan, within walking distance of basically everywhere: Times Square, Central Park, Madison Square Garden, the Met, Broadway. There’s also Peter Dillon's 36th, a charming Irish bar directly across the street. Slightly less renowned than the destinations listed in the previous sentence but one you might find yourself returning to.
Anyway, you’ll want to leave The Langham because then you can return to The Langham – and returning to The Langham is one of the great joys of life. Doormen greet you on the way in. The foyer ceiling exists several miles above your head. Huge paintings by New York artist Alex Katz hang behind the front desk. Everyone is smiling, everyone is happy. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re staying in The Langham after all.
I had an Executive Club Room. The luxury was obscene: rainfall shower, king-sized bed, marble bath deep enough to drown in. And the space! The room measured 700sqft, the size of a decent one bed flat. (The presidential suite, if you’re wondering, clocks in at 1905sqft and frankly I’d worry about getting lost.) The distance from the bed to the sofa will put a fair dent in your daily step target – handy if you indulge in the welcome treats left by the hotel team, which include a pink chocolate Empire State Building. Rude not to.
Now here’s the really cool part. Anyone staying in Executive Club Rooms or suites gets complimentary access (with plus 1) to The Langham Club. Situated on the fourth floor, The Langham Club is basically the airport lounge of your dreams. There’s a buffet bar, fully stocked throughout the day from breakfast to dinner. There’s an actual bar, offering premium spirits and champagne. There’s a wide-screen TV. Several bookshelves. Fridges packed with ice-beer. And you don’t pay a cent for any of it.
(OK, you pay for the necessary hotel room and that don’t come cheap. But take the early hit and that whisky will feel free, which is the important thing. Alternatively it’s $195 plus tax for access during high season. I still reckon you could make your money back over an afternoon.)
As for dining – remember when I said The Langham has the best everything? That includes restaurants: the second-floor Ai Fiori is widely recognised as among the finest in the city. The name means ‘among the flowers’ in Italian, the menu has French and Italian influences, the wine list numbers more than 1,000 bottles. There’s also a Bar Fiori if you fancy an aperitif, a nightcap or both. Burn off your indulgences at the hotel gym.
I suppose if you stayed at The Langham long enough then the sight of Fifth Avenue from your room – the Empire State Building if you’re lucky – would eventually lose its buzz. But I reckon it would take a while, and even then you’d still have The Langham itself to console you. This is a superlative hotel, a palace in the heart of Gotham. Come for the water, stay for everything else.
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400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018, United States; The Langham Hotel, Fifth Avenue