Why shop till you drop when you can have a Shopping Butler at your beck and call, if you book one of the packages now on offer at The Langham, London, which is trading on its enviable location in the heart of the West End.
Apart from its prime position, Europe's first grand hotel – a fine example of classic Victorian architecture – is undergoing an £80m facelift that has introduced light, space, and a real sense of place to this venerable hotel.
The "classic" dark wood panelling has gone, opening up the lobby to offer views down Portland Place to Regent's Park. And interior designer David Collins has breathed new life into the listed interiors of the restaurant and bar. While retaining that sense of pedigree, he's also brought them right up to date with a luxurious combination of light and aged-panel walls; accents of muted mauve, green and yellow; leather and suede; and ambient lighting, ensuring the mood is as glamorous by day as by night.
The Langham's history hasn't been forgotten in all this. The elegant Artesian bar has been named after the well that once supplied the hotel's water. While, fashioned from the ballroom, The Landau restaurant, with its equine motif, recalls the carriage in which the Prince of Wales arrived to open the hotel back in 1865.
Some of the 380 rooms have been enlarged to feature living areas and large marble bathrooms (with Penhaligon's toiletries). Beds are very comfortable, as are the other modern yet classic-style furnishings. A palette of dark browns and greys is given a lift by accents of the hotel's house pink. Flourishes include the colour-therapy, infinity-edge bath in The Infinity – one of London's largest two-bedroom suites – and the services of the Langham Book Butler, available in certain packages, who leaves guests personally tailored bedtime reading as a souvenir.
The food and drink
A Bijoux Tea, featuring delicate pastries inspired by the collections of top Bond Street jewellery designers, is served in the glittering Palm Court – The Langham claims it served the first ever afternoon tea in this salon. Come evening, put the expert mixologists to the test in the seductively low-lit Artesian where you can snack on sharing plates. The Landau offers fine dining in a smart but unstuffy dining room with a menu that focuses on modern European cuisine with British seasonal ingredients. Take advantage of set menus which are excellent value: a two-course lunch without wine costs from £21.50.
The gym and the 16m swimming pool housed in a former bank vault keep clients limbered up. The Chuan Spa, due to open next autumn, will offer therapies based on the principles of Chinese medicine. And walking tours of Fitzrovia and Marylebone village are in the pipeline.
There are five family rooms and children have their own swim times. There are two accessible rooms for guests with disabilities, a DDA lift from the main entrance to the lobby and an average wheelchair can fit in all lifts. Guide dogs are welcome; there's a hearing loop at reception, and room numbers are in Braille.
Your Heart's Desire shopping packages start at £295 per room, including accommodation in a grand double, breakfast, shopping discounts and late check-out. A newly refurbished executive double costs from £229 per night per room, based on two sharing.
The Langham, London, 1c Portland Place, Regent Street, London W1B 1JA (020-7636 1000; langhamhotels.com).